Red Division Looking to Put 4 Teams in Final Four for First Time Ever
EDISON, NJ—The day is here. Once again Super Sunday in Greater Middlesex Conference Boys Basketball is upon us with the 2019 GMCT Elite Eight returning to where it had been for many years, Middlesex County College.
The last time the GMCT Boys Quarterfinals were held at Middlesex County College, St. Joseph’s was the top seed, and led by the Fab Five of Karl Anthony Towns, Wade Baldwin, Marques Townes, Bree Tyree, and Raven Owen. All five of those players would sign and play for Division I schools.
It was also the year that the lowest seed ever made it to the GMCT Elite Eight. South Amboy, then coached by current Piscataway Tech head coach and 1,000 point scorer at J.F. Kennedy, Lenny Reyes and led by two 1,000 point scorers in Steve Herdman (FDU-Florham) and Joe Fruncillo, had a Cinderella run that included wins over 25th seeded South River, 9th seeded Monroe, and 8th seeded Timothy Christian to reach MCC.
The year was 2014, and St. Joseph’s would roll past the Gold Division Guvs en route to its fifth straight GMCT title under head coach, Dave Turco, who is now the men’s basketball coach at Middlesex County College. Also in the quarterfinals that year were East Brunswick, Colonia, North Brunswick, Sayreville, Woodbridge, and Spotswood.
Not only have the GMCT Quarterfinals return to Middlesex County College, but both the Boys and Girls GMCT Championship games will be played at MCC later this week. It is a good idea to bring the Elite Eight back to MCC since it is the only other college in the county besides Rutgers, and these games should be played on a higher stage. In addition, Middlesex County College lies in the heart or center of Middlesex County, which is where all these later round games should be played.
The Finals will not be at Rutgers this year for the first time since 2016 when they were held at Kean, and it is only the sixth time since 2000 that the GMCT Finals will not be taking place at the RAC. Other years include the following:
2002—South Brunswick HS—Carteret defeated Colonia for Boys title.
2003—South Brunswick HS—Cardinal McCarrick defeated St. Joseph’s for Boys title.
2008—South Brunswick HS—Cardinal McCarrick defeated St. Joseph’s for Boys title.
2010—Woodbridge HS—St. Joseph’s defeated Monroe for Boys title.
2016—Kean University—St. Joseph’s defeated South Brunswick for Boys title.
The matchups for the 2019 GMCT Boys Elite EIght are intriguing ones. Four GMC Red Division teams have the opportunity to reach the GMCT Final Four for the first time ever. There have been years where three teams from a division reached the Final Four:
1988—Blue (Metuchen, St. Peter’s, and Carteret)
1992—Red (St. Joseph’s, Perth Amboy, and Piscataway)
1993—Red (St. Joseph’s, Perth Amboy, and Piscataway). NOTE: South Brunswick was in White Division back then.
2013—Red (St. Joseph’s, East Brunswick, Old Bridge).
2014—Red (St. Joseph’s, East Brunswick, Colonia). NOTE: Colonia was in its last season playing in GMC Red.
2015—Red (St. Joseph’s, East Brunswick, and Perth Amboy).
2016—Red (St. Joseph’s, South Brunswick, and East Brunswick).
Top seeded Old Bridge will be looking to make its 3rd GMCT Final Four berth since 2013 while 2nd seeded Colonia will be looking to make its 2nd straight semifinals berth and 4th in the past 6 years. 3rd seeded St. Joseph’s will be looking to make its 12th straight Final Four appearance while 4th seeded Bishop Ahr will look to make its first GMCT Semifinals berth since 2011. Fifth seeded Piscataway is making its third straight GMCT Elite Eight appearance, and looking to advance to the semis for the first time since 2011 as well. Sixth seeded Carteret has reached the Elite Eight five times in the past 7 years, and is looking for a 2nd straight semifinals appearance. Seventh seeded Monroe and 9th seeded New Brunswick are making their first GMCT Quarterfinals appearance since 2012.
Four teams from the GMC Red are in the GMCT Quarterfinals: Old Bridge, St. Joseph’s, Piscataway, and Monroe. Two teams from the GMC White are in the Elite Eight: Colonia and New Brunswick, and two teams from the GMC Blue are at MCC today as well: Bishop Ahr and Carteret. St. Joseph’s comes into this Elite Eight as the lowest seed it has been in the GMCT Boys Tourney since reaching the Championship Game as a third seed in 2009 (lost to Piscataway). The year before (2008), the Falcons reached the final as a sixth seed, and lost to Cardinal McCarrick. Let’s take a look at the match-ups:
GMCT Quarterfinal #1—#6 Carteret (15-7) vs. #3 St. Joseph’s (15-8) at 12:00 PM
This is a rematch of that classic GMCT Final Four game from a year ago that was won by St. Joseph’s on a buzzer beater by Luke Fresco. Both of these teams appeared to be either favorites are good contenders for the crown this year, but encountered problems in the first half of the season.
At one point, Carteret was 3-3 while St. Joseph’s was 5-6, but since then, both the Ramblers and Falcons have righted their ships with Carteret winning 12 of its last 16 while St. Joseph’s has won 10 of 12 games including victories over St. Peter’s Prep and Old Bridge. Two of Carteret’s four losses have come at the hands of Bishop Ahr by a total of eight points including a 62-58 loss to the Trojans in OT in North Edison on February 1st.
The keys to this game will be the play of both K-Shawn Schulters and Tyree Ford for the Falcons and Timmy Ellis, Thamir Lamar, and Starell Hearns for Carteret. Schulters and Ford have struggled at times for St. Joe’s this season while Ellis, Lamar, and Hearns have stepped up in the absence of big man, Malik Austin.
GMC Hoops Pick: St. Joseph’s 66—Carteret 58.
GMCT Quarterfinal #2—#7 Monroe (14-9) vs. #2 Colonia (19-3) at 2:00 PM
For the first time since 2012, the Monroe Falcons are in the GMCT Elite Eight. Back then, the Purple Birds were led by the likes of Victor Sorrento (went on to play baseball at Sacred Heart University) and Ryan Genevieve, and lost to top seeded and eventual champion, St. Joseph’s in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Colonia is back in a familiar place with an unblemished GMC White record, and only losses to American History (59-36) of Newark, Rahway (48-47), and Linden (40-37). Last year, the Patriots, which were coached then by Brandon Hall, who is now on the coaching staff at Seton Hall, became the first 7th seeded team to reach the GMCT Finals before losing to St. Joseph’s in heartbreaking fashion.
The Monroe Falcons moved up to the Red Division since its last GMCT Elite Eight appearance while Colonia has been back down in the White since the 2014-15 season when they won the title. Monroe started the season at 7-2 and has even swept 5th seeded Piscataway, but have gone 7-7 in its last 14 games including 3 of 4 before defeating 10th seeded South Brunswick (57-52) in the Round of 16 on Friday evening. Colonia has not lost against GMC competition all year (16-0) including an early season win over Carteret (49-41), and late season crossovers victory against South Plainfield (69-26) and 8th seeded Dunellen (50-40) prior to the tourney.
Keys to this game will be how Colonia handles the Monroe trio of Josh Daniels, Mike Kides, and Andrew Turco. Daniels is averaging over 19 points per game this season, and is one of the top players in the conference. Kides, a four year starter, has broadened his game by going to the basket more, and making plays in addition to his potent perimeter shot. Turco is a solid playmaker who sees the floor very well, attacks defenses in a variety of ways, and has improved his jump shot over a year ago. On the other hand, how will the Falcons handle the Colonia duo of Chad Baker and Luke Valeriano. Baker can do it all on both sides of the court. He is a solid ball handler and perimeter shooter, can score in transition, and still be dominant in the paint. Valeriano has taken the mantle from Frankie Lehman in the sense that he is such a dangerous threat in the open court. Monroe will have to force Colonia to get others to step up and make plays.
GMC Hoops Pick: Colonia 65—Monroe 53.
GMCT Quarterfinal #3—#5 Piscataway (14-9) vs. #4 Bishop Ahr (20-4) at 4:00 PM
This should be the most entertaining match-up of the day. Both teams have a lot of athleticism and love to play up tempo and make highlight reel plays in transition. You can flip a coin on this one, which is not surprising since it is, after all, the 4th seed vs. 5th seed game.
Piscataway has played a very tough schedule. Not only have they played the usual GMC Red docket, but they have also faced serious non-conference competition including: Linden (lost 53-45), Elizabeth (lost 54-38), West Orange (lost 67-64), Barringer (won 68-64), Trenton (lost 62-53). In addition, the Chiefs have also defeated J.P. Stevens three times. The Hawks defeated Ahr back in the first full week of the season (59-47) in North Edison.
Meanwhile, Ahr has turned in its most solid season since not only 2011 when it reached the GMCT Semis, but perhaps since 1992 when it won the GMCT Championship with Anthony Rosa, Greg Fowler, Darren Nicholas, and Gerard Wilson. The Trojans rolled through the GMC Blue with a 12-0 mark, and only lost to the likes of a 20-3 Notre Dame team (70-65), a 19-3 Toms River North (79-67) program that has won over 120 games in the last five years, and Nazareth of New York’s Catholic League (62-47) in the Prime Time Shootout.
Piscataway’s keys will be how to stop Quadry Adams and force Ahr to play more halfcourt, and take more shots from the perimeter. The Chiefs will have to also mind Roselle Catholic transfer, Zayon Marsh, who is unselfish and can make plays without scoring. Bishop Ahr will have to contend with the P-Way trio of Antonio Chandler, Tyree Barba-Bey, and Andre Emden. Derrick Grant could also be an X-factor in this game for BGA since he played at Piscataway last year, and transferred in from there this summer. Grant is long and athletic. Mark Davis could be a force for the Chiefs as well.
GMC Hoops Pick: Bishop Ahr 69—Piscataway 68.
GMCT Quarterfinal #4—#9 New Brunswick (15-6) vs. #1 Old Bridge (18-3)
New Brunswick comes into the GMCT Elite Eight for the first time since 2012 when it lost a heartbreaker to eventual finalist and neighborhood rival, North Brunswick, which was led back then by Dion Rogers. Old Bridge returns to the quarterfinal round for the 5th time in the last 7 years under the direction of Jim Macomber.
This is an intriguing match-up since current Old Bridge assistant, Rory Levine had previously served at New Brunswick as an assistant under Antoine Allen for several years, and as head coach there for a season. Samir Sanu, a former standout at Sayreville, and older brother of NFL wide receiver Mohammed Sanu (played for Cincinnati, and now is with Atlanta), has quickly turned the fortunes around in The Hub City.
Led by 1,000 point scorer and junior guard, Ahyan Brown-Miller and big man, Tahjay Moore, aka, Mr. Double-Double, the Zebras have returned to prominence. New Brunswick finished second behind Colonia in the GMC White, and have won the most games at the school since 2012. In just three years, Sanu has turned the program around from just 3-21 in 2015-16 to 15-6 this season. The Zebras are also coming off two thrilling victories over 24th seeded Metuchen in overtime (61-53) and 8th seeded Dunellen (60-54) on the road.
Meanwhile, Old Bridge is the top seed in the GMCT for the first time in school history. The 18-3 Knights have been battle tested in a very competitive GMC Red with a 13-1 record and the only loss coming to the defending GMCT champions, St. Joseph’s (54-52) the night before the seeding meeting on February 7th. Leading the way for the Knights is point guard Julius Belton along with sharpshooter Mike Oliva. Sean Williams, a transfer from St. Joseph’s has also been a very good addition with a nice combination of inside out play. Old Bridge also has a very stronger perimeter game with not only Belton, Oliva, and Williams, but also Ryan DeLaCuesta and GMC Hoops Comeback Player of the Year favorite, Jared Meyer.
Keys to the game will be how well will Ahyan Brown Miller and Tahjay Moore play against an Old Bridge defense that is solid. Also, the Zebras have been without Divine Hayes for the past two games at least, and will need others like Josiah Brown, Ny’dir Harmon, Tajee Welcome, Alquan Brown-Taylor, and Wildes Pierre to step up and make big plays at both ends. Moore’s defense was huge in the win over Dunellen. Not just in terms of shot blocking, but also his coverage of the Destroyers top player, Tyje’ Kelton and his total work on that end. Old Bridge has some size added to the lineup since the beginning of the year. How will it neutralize Moore and prevent Brown-Miller from getting into the paint.
GMC Hoops Pick: Old Bridge 64—New Brunswick 54.
GMC Hoops will be covering all four GMCT Boys Quarterfinal Games on Sunday.