Tyus Battle Stood Tall for St. Joseph’s This Season
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–Before this season, I had only seen Tyus Battle play once, and that was opening weekend of his sophomore year at Gill-St. Bernard’s when the Knights took on Hun School of Princeton in the 2013 Hoop Group Tip-Off Classic at West Orange High School. However, I knew that he was a special player not only because he was ranked as one of the top players in the country, but also he was the son of Colonia legend, Gary Battle.
|St. Joseph’s senior, Tyus Battle skies for his 2nd dunk of the game in the first quarter of the Falcons 98-69 victory over Notre Dame in the Non-Public A South semifinals on March 8th. Battle is GMC Hoops choice for the 2016 Player of the Year.|
The elder Battle played at Colonia High School from 1983-1987. During that time, Colonia was one of the top teams in Middlesex County. During that span, the Patriots had a 56 game home winning streak, won the 1985 Central Jersey Group 3 Championship over Ewing. The Patriots, which were then coached by the legendary, Bob Tisdale, also reached the inaugural GMCT Quarterfinals in 1986 before losing to the Andre Heard and William Pennyfeather led Perth Amboy team, and the 1987 GMCT Semifinals as the top seed before falling to the Tony Newsom and Rocky Pravato led J.P. Stevens Hawks.
Later on in that 1987 season, Colonia took on Bridgewater-Raritan West, which was led by Eric Murdock in the Central Jersey Group 3 Championship. It was a clash of two great players of that era in the elder Battle and Murdock, which the Golden Falcons of BR-West won en route to the first of three straight Group 3 State titles. Gary Battle ended his career with 1,120 points, which currently places him fifth on the all time scoring list at Colonia after being passed by Chase Barneys this season. However, it is very important to note that the elder Battle played when there was no three point line. The three point shot didn’t come into effect in New Jersey High School Basketball until the 1987-88 season, six months after Battle had graduated.
Battle played with the likes of Fred Herzog, who went on to play Division I hoops at Fordham, and played in the CBA as well as professionally in Australia and Japan. Herzog was also on the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls pre-season roster according to the Fordham Athletics web site. “Tank” Haines, the father of 2015 Colonia graduate, Brandon Haines, a member of the 2014 North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 finalist Patriots football team, and the 2015 GMCT and N2 Group 3 championship boys basketball team, was also a teammate. So, as you can see, Tyus Battle comes from a great basketball background. The younger Battle had played his first three years at Gill in Somerset County, and tallied 973 points. Then, towards the end of last summer, Battle transferred to St. Joseph’s, to join his younger brother, Khalif Battle, who was entering his freshman year.
St. Joseph’s already had several good pieces in place with the likes of the athletic Bree Tyree and Branislav Vujadinovic along with a talented group of players from a JV squad that finished second in the 2015 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament that included the likes of Xavier Townes, Malachi Walker, Dexter Jackson, and Jose Medina Jr. Coming in to Joes at the same time were Alanzo Frink from St. Anthony’s and Letrell West from Piscataway Tech, but it was Battle that would be the one that tied all of these pieces together into a team that would reclaim the GMCT Championship after losing to Colonia in the final a year ago. Battle tallied 535 points, or an average of 19.1 points per game, but he was much more than just points. He was what college basketball analyst, Clark Kellogg would call a Stat Stuffer Deluxe. According to NJ.com, Battle also averaged 9.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 2.7 steals per contest.
Battle, who was recently recognized, as the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year, helped lead St. Joseph’s to a 22-6 record, the school’s third straight GMC red crown, sixth division title in seven years, sixth GMCT title in seven years, and fourth appearance in the Non-Public A South Championship Game. In that epic sectional final, St. Joseph’s rallied from a 55-42 fourth quarter deficit to force overtime before losing to eventual Non-Public A State Champion, St. Augustine’s of Richland, 69-67. Battle finished his career with 1,508 points, which ranks him 7th on the St. Joseph’s all-time scoring list, and 14th on the GMC Hoops Grand Club list behind another former Falcon, Sean Baptiste. Battle, who will be attending Syracuse in the fall, could beat you in so many ways with his passing, perimeter game, and ability to score in the paint. He also had tremendous athletic ability that could rival that of his teammate, Tyree.
Battle was especially dangerous in the open court. When he got the ball in transition, he was like a train roaring down the tracks. In the Non-Public A South semifinals against Notre Dame, he played with so much energy. He had two dunks in the first quarter that brought the house down. The first one was pure energy and power as he got the ball in transition by the St. Joe’s bench, and dribbled with a full head of steam to the basket for an emphatic two handed jam. On the very next possession, he got the ball again in transition on the side opposite of the scorer’s table, and drove in for a one handed slam. These two dunks coupled with one by Tyree that was waived off due to a charging call, turned the game on its head, and helped the Falcons cruise to a 98-69 victory over the Irish. Battle, who collected a triple-double of 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assist in the win over Notre Dame, played with a similar fury in the first meeting against East Brunswick on January 7th.
In that game, Battle collected 28 points including another emphatic dunk that got the crowd going at Maglio Gymnasium as the Falcons pulled away from a 37-36 early third quarter lead with a 16-2 tear to take a 15 point advantage into the fourth, and cruise to a 75-53 win. Two days later, Battle was back at it again with collected 21 points including a one handed jam in the first half, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in a 60-53 victory over Westfield in the 2016 SFIC Festival at Kean University. Battle also earned game MVP honors with 19 points including the 1,000th of his career in a 55-49 victory.