2017 GMCT First Round (Round of 16) Preview

Eight Games Set for Thursday

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–On Thursday evening, the First Round, or what I like to call the Round of 16 in the 2017 Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament will take place with eight games played at the higher seeded teams.

GMC Hoops will be taking in two of the match-ups. First, the site will travel over to Carteret High School to take in the contest between 22nd seeded Monroe and 6th seeded Carteret After that, GMC Hoops will take a drive over to North Edison again to take in the remainder of the game between 10th seeded J.F. Kennedy and 7th seeded Bishop Ahr. In addition, James Corrigan of GMC Hoops Radio will be doing a radio broadcast of the contest between 14th seeded J.P. Stevens and 3rd seeded Sayreville from the Bomb Shelter.

The eight first round games of the GMCT break down like this: Two games are at 5:30 PM. Two are at 6:00 PM while another four are at 7:00 PM. Below is both the 2017 GMCT brackets and First Round or Round of 16 schedule.

To view the 2017 GMCT Play-In Round bracket, visit: http://www.bracketmaker.com/tmenu.cfm?tid=465760.

To view the 2017 GMCT Championship bracket, visit: http://www.bracketmaker.com/tmenu.cfm?tid=465760.

2017 GMCT Preliminary Round–Schedule

  • #9 Piscataway at #8 Perth Amboy Tech, 5:30 PM
  • #12 East Brunswick at #5 Old Bridge, 5:30 PM
  • #22 Monroe at #6 Carteret, 6:00 PM
  • #15 Perth Amboy at #2 South Brunswick, 6:00 PM
  • #10 J.F. Kennedy at #7 Bishop Ahr, 7:00 PM
  • #13 South Plainfield at #4 Woodbridge, 7:00 PM
  • #14 J.P. Stevens at #3 Sayreville, 7:00 PM
  • #16 Edison at #1 St. Joseph’s, 7:00 PM

Of the eight contests, four of them are rematches: #12 East Brunswick at #5 Old Bridge, #15 Perth Amboy at #2 South Brunswick, #10 J.F. Kennedy at #7 Bishop Ahr, and #13 South Plainfield at #4 Woodbridge.

East Brunswick and Old Bridge split ther two games with EB winning the first time they played on January 3rd at EB (59-47) while the Knights won the rematch in Old Bridge (55-51) on January 26th. The Bears might be getting their act together with the three pointers flying in the win over South River. EB has now won 4 in a row. Old Bridge is the only team to beat St. Joseph’s, but the Knights also lost to Stevens a few days earlier.

South Brunswick defeated Perth Amboy twice this season. The Vikings got the 2nd seed over Sayreville, and had a bye all the way to the First Round while Perth Amboy rolled past 18th seeded Timothy Chrisitan (77-57) on Tuesday night. Two years ago, these two teams were duking it out for the right to play St. Joseph’s in the semifinals with the Panthers coming out on top. South Brunswick will be tough to beat this time around at home with new 1,000 point scorer Mike Ugarte leading the way.

After starting the season at 1-7, Kennedy has won 8 of its last 10 games with one of those two losses coming at the hands of Bishop Ahr on January 21st (60-34) in North Edison. Ahr also started the season on the wrong foot with five losses in their first six games, but have rallied with 13 wins in their last 16 games including a 72-64 win at Piscataway and a 38-35 victory over East Brunswick at home. The Trojans and Mustangs are long time neighborhood rivals as well so that will add to the mix. Both teams played each other in the GMC Blue a year ago and split their two contest with JFK winning in Iselin and Ahr winning in North Edison.

Woodbridge rolled past South Plainfield in their GMC crossover game played in Barrons Country on January 31st (83-59). The Barrons earned the fourth seed over Old Bridge despite the Knights win over St. Joseph’s. South Plainfield, the 13th seed, is coming off a come from behind win over 20th Middlesex (56-53) in the GMCT Preliminary Round. The Tigers, which trailed by 15 at one point in the first half, beat the Jays for the third time this season. Both of these teams are old rivals from the GMC White Division. Woodbridge beat South Plainfield twice in divisional play last year.

Three of the match-ups involve teams that played each other in divisional competition at one point in GMC History: #22 Monroe at #6 Carteret, #14 J.P. Stevens at #3 Sayreville, and #16 Edison at #1 St. Joseph’s.

The last time Carteret and Monroe played one another was when they were both in the GMC White Division during the period from 2003 to 2008 when they were both in the GMC White Division. Since then Carteret has returned to its roots in the GMC Blue while Monroe moved up this year to the GMC Red for the first time ever. Monroe is trying to make-up for a tough season with a Cinderella run in the GMCT. The Falcons defeated Dunellen in the GMCT Play-In Round and then knocked off 11th seeded North Brunswick (64-52) in the GMCT Preliminary Round. Carteret earned the 6th seeded ahead of Ahr, P-Way and Amboy Tech, and had a bye until the First Round.

J.P. Stevens and Sayreville played to very contentious battles in the GMC White last year including a game covered by GMC Hoops at the Bomb Shelter in February. Both games were won by Sayreville in the closing seconds. The Hawks have since moved up a division to the GMC Red while Sayreville added St. Joseph’s transfer, Xavier Townes to a roster full of returning veterans. Stevens has a talented junior class led by guards Tyrese Conniver and Elijah Smith. Tempo and the style of play will determine the outcome in this one.

The last time Edison defeated St. Joseph’s was in the third game of the 2006-07 season, which was Steve Rennard’s freshman year at St. Joseph’s. In a low scoring game filled with fouls and turnovers, the Eagles managed to pull one out at the Eagle’s Nest. St. Joe’s went on to go 20-6 that season though despite losing to Old Bridge in the GMCT Round of 16. Edison’s previous win over Joes happened in the inaugural season of GMC Hoops in 2000-01 when the Eagles knocked the then top ranked Falcons from the ranks of the unbeaten at the Eagles Nest. Perhaps Mike Meagher’s best squad ever with Thomas Johnson (Felician), Frankie Eckert, and Tim Banos. The Eagles have not played in the GMC Red in a number of years.

The Blue Division is 20-18 in crossover games while the Red Division is 19-6 including 5-0 in the GMCT Preliminary Round on Tuesday. The GMC White is 9-15 in crossovers while the GMC Gold is 3-13. Old Bridge is 4-0 in crossovers. Perth Amboy is 3-0. South Brunswick is 3-0. Woodbridge is 2-0. Sayreville is 1-0. Bishop Ahr is 5-2. East Brunswick is 3-2. Edison is 3-2. Monroe is 3-2. J.P. Stevens is 2-1. Carteret is 3-3. J.F. Kennedy is 2-2. Perth Amboy Tech is 1-1. Piscataway is 1-1. St. Joseph’s is 0-0. South Plainfield is 1-3.

In the eight Greater Middlesex Conference Preliminary Round games played on Saturday, the Red Division went 5-0 in crossovers while the GMC White went 1-2 with Edison and Colonia playing a third time against each other. The Blue Division went 0-2 with South Plainfield and Middlesex going head to head for the third time. The Gold Division went 0-1. The GMC Gold went 0-5.

Let’s take a closer look at today’s GMCT Preliminary Round Match-Ups:

#9 Piscataway (12-8) at #8 Perth Amboy Tech (18-3)—Somehow the Patriots managed to get the eighth seed and the home court for this game while P-Way had to play Spotswood in the Preliminary Round and won easily, 93-53. Amboy Tech has not fared well in the GMCT the previous two years with the Patriots losing to Woodbridge in the 8-9 game two years ago and then losing to 25th seeded South Plainfield in the Preliminary Round last year. Expect P-Way to win with its defense, length, athleticism, and depth. Prediction: Piscataway wins 75-53.

#12 East Brunswick (12-10) at #5 Old Bridge (15-7)—Old Bridge might have been hoping for the four seed just to avoid a potential third game with the Bears, which have given the Knights, and their top player, Kyle Parris trouble in the two contests. East Brunswick is playing hot right now with four straight wins including a 77-50 decision over South River in the Preliminary Round. Old Bridge has won three straight, and is the only team to beat St. Joseph’s this season. The Knights get a slight edge at home, but it won’t be easy. Prediction: Old Bridge wins, 54-53.

#22 Monroe (5-17) at #6 Carteret (17-5)—Both teams come in with records exactly opposite of each other, but Carteret better be careful, and not underestimate Monroe. The Falcons have been playing better, and have won two in a row including an upset of 11th seeded North Brunswick. At the beginning of the year, GMC Hoops picked these Falcons to be 9th in the Pre-Season Top Ten. The Purple Birds have plenty of talent at the junior level, a nice transfer in Sashank Sindhia, and a sophomore sharpshooter in Mike Kides. Carteret does find a way to win though with Jemar Jordan, Isaiah Daniels-Porter, Kahir Raymond, Jalen Harris, and Nasseir Moore. Prediction: Carteret wins, 58-52.

#15 Perth Amboy (7-14) at #2 South Brunswick (19-3)—At the beginning of the season, Perth Amboy looked to be a surprise team after defeating East Brunswick. Despite struggles though, the Panthers have had moments of brilliance with crossover wins against Carteret (69-62), North Brunswick (75-67), and Timothy Christian (77-57) in the GMCT Preliminary Round on Tuesday. South Brunswick, which defeated Perth Amboy twice during the regular season, has only lost to St. Joseph’s (twice) and Piscataway. The Vikings are a balanced squad that is led by 1,000 point scorer Mike Ugarte, and are tough to beat at home. Prediction: South Brunswick wins, 62-50.

#10 J.F. Kennedy (9-9) at Bishop Ahr (14-8)—This is a rematch of two of the hottest teams in the GMC right now with Kennedy winning 8 of its last 10 while Ahr has won 13 of 16. These two teams played on January 21st at Ahr in North Edison with the Trojans winning big, 60-34. BGA has a lot of size and length with the likes of Deontae Crawford, Sean Kudelka, and Kieran Hodder along with some great guard play led by Alex Santiago. Kennedy counters with the likes of Pete Obertan and Bendji Pierre in the front court and Tamaj Coleman and Kobie Wells in the backcourt. This game will be closer this time, but Ahr will advance. Prediction: Bishop Ahr wins, 63-49.

#13 South Plainfield (9-11) at #4 Woodbridge (16-4)—South Plainfield has had an amazing turnaround this season with 8 wins in its last 11 games after starting the year at 1-8. The Tigers are coming off their third win of the year against Middlesex with a come from behind 56-53 victory in the GMCT Preliminary Round on Tuesday. However, Woodbridge easily disposed of the Tigers in a GMC Crossover Game on January 31st, and won both division meetings when SPHS was in the GMC White the past two years. Woodbridge has better shooters and are solid defensively with their various zone presses and traps. Prediction: Woodbridge wins, 75-57.

#14 J.P. Stevens (7-14) at #3 Sayreville (17-6)—Last year, Sayreville and Stevens went at it in two very closely contested games that went down to the wire, and were won by the Bombers. The Hawks remain one of the toughest defensive teams in the conference and with junior point guard, Tyrese Conover, they know how to control the tempo. Conover’s match-up against Xavier Townes will be the key to the game with Townes looking to push the tempo and use his size and length while Conover will try to elude him with his quickness while trying to keep things under control. Stevens must keep the score down in the 40s and perhaps the upper 30s for a shot. Anything going higher than 50 in this one and Sayreville will win. .Prediction: Sayreville wins, 62-37.

#16 Edison (10-13) at #1 St. Joseph’s (21-1)—The Eagles, which haven’t played the Falcons in several years, and have only beaten Joes several times since the inception of GMC Hoops in 2000-01, have been one of the hotter teams in the GMC besides Piscataway Tech, South Plainfield, J.F. Kennedy, and Bishop Ahr with 8 wins in their last 10 games since starting the season at 2-11. Edison has a great combination of veteran players such as Joe Cudakiewicz and Justin Turner along the newcomers like sophomore Christian Wantong. However, they will have a tough time against a St. Joseph’s team led by Latrell West, who has averaged 33.5 points per game in his last two games and a defense anchored by perhaps the best shot blocker in the conference in Malachi Walker. Prediction: St. Joseph’s wins, 60-35.