Well, it is a long time coming, but I finally have some sort of information on the 12th Annual GMCBCA Senior All-Star Game that was held on Thursday, April 27, 2006 at Perth Amboy High School. This was the first time since the inaugural season of GMCHoops.com that I was able to get out and watch this showcase event for the Greater Middlesex Conference. Being away from the game so long, you forget about what a special event this is. All of the rivalries and battles that occurred during the season are put aside, and a great display of not only athleticism and talent, but also of sportsmanship is demonstrated.
Now with the advent of AAU teams, and individual camps, many of these players all have gotten to know each other quite well prior to this particular event, but there are still a few, who don’t get the chance to get to see many of these other players during the year. Although the free throw shooting left much to be desired with the all stars in the light uniforms making only 4 of 17 at the line while the all stars in the dark uniforms only went 11 of 21, both teams still managed to put on an offense display with a combined total of 195 points in two halves of action. 107 points were scored in the second half alone. There was a combined thirteen treys shot in the contest while Metuchen’s Marqus Blakely put on a show with seven dunks.
Not to be outdone was Woodbridge’s Shamar Graves, who threw down a spectacular dunk in the first half. He brought the house down when he took a rebound, dribbled down the floor, threw the ball off the backboard, and slammed it home. Graves had tried a similar dunk in a slam dunk contest at the 2004 HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic All-Star Bash, but failed on two attempts. Blakely, who was MVP for the game for the all stars in the light jerseys, ended up with 26 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and a block. A.J. Rudowitz was the MVP for the all stars in the dark jerseys.
Following a Girls Senior All-Star game that had its share of excitement with a three pointer with three seconds to go in overtime for a 76-75 thriller, the Boys Senior All-Star game got going with introductions for all the senior players on both squads. Even those, who didn’t play in the game including Cory Rosenbaum of JFK, Rodney Freeney of Piscataway, Manny Sanchez of Piscataway Tech, and Kevin Sidenburg of South Plainfield were mentioned. The light team got out of the gates fast with a 10-0 run in just the first 2:36 as Blakely had a dunk, two assists, and a steal while North Brunswick’s Patrick Brown and St. Joe’s Sean Baptiste each added four points.
Despite only one of six foul shooting by St. Joseph’s, Kenny Widgeon, the light team continued to roll with a 16-9 showing over a span of 7:11 for a 26-12 lead as we approached the midway point of the first half. However, the dark team, led by Old Bridge’s Khahlil Bennett rallied back with 12 of the next 14 points over a span of 6:32 to make the score 28-24. Bennett ignited the run with a fast break dunk. The light team would respond though with Graves phenomenal jam that sparked a 21-15 showing over the final 7:41 of the opening half to make the score, 49-39.
The Rutgers bound Graves, who will be playing for the Scarlet Knights football team, picked up where he left off at the start of the second half. The former Woodbridge standout buoyed a 10-4 spurt over the first 2:18 as he collected four points, a block, and a rebound to help increase the light jerseyed all stars to a 59-43 lead with 17:42 to go in the contest. The dark team led by the likes of Nick Allan and Jeff Totin of Colonia, responded with a 21-13 showing over the next 8:10 to pull their team to within eight at 72-64 with under ten minutes to play. The next four and a half minutes saw the game get a bit sloppy as both teams matched each other with 14 points each to make the score, 86-78 in favor of the all stars in light jerseys.
Then, the dark jerseyed all stars made a run to tighten the contest up even more as East Brunswick’s John Byrne netted a three pointer off an assist by New Brunswick’s Davar Watson. The three pointer followed a trey by Colonia’s Totin, and a pair of free throws by A.J. Rudowitz to key a 15-10 run to pull within three at 96-93 with just 34 seconds remaining. The dark team had a chance to perhaps tie the contest, but the light team avoided a turnover and called timeout with 26 ticks left on the clock. Following the timeout, South Brunswick’s Tommy Hill was fouled, and missed the front end of a one and one, but Blakely grabbed the offensive rebound, was fouled, and connected on both foul shots to give the light team all stars some much needed breathing room at 98-93.
J.P. Stevens’ Kenny Melford scored on a drive in the lane to pull the dark team all stars to within three again at 98-95 with 14 seconds to go, but the light jerseyed all stars would pull out the victory as Hill alleyooped to Blakely for the final points and a 100-95 win for the all stars in the light jerseys. Following the game, I introduced myself and touched base with a number of players including St. Joe’s Kenny Widgeon and Sean Baptiste, Highland Park’s Jaron Mayfield, Monroe’s A.J. Rudowitz, Woodbridge’s Shamar Graves, Middlesex’s Phil Barnes, Bishop Ahr’s Ernst Ambroise, and Cardinal McCarrick’s Steve Calvarusso. I was really happy to take the time out of my schedule to see this game. Hopefully, I will be able to cover it again next year.