GMC Hoops Play-By-Play–South River vs. Robbinsville–Monroe Sports Center Fall League–September 25, 2012September 26, 2012 on 9:12 am | In Hawks Fall-Ball Classic, South River Hoops, MSC Fall League | Comments Off
MONROE, NJ–On Tuesday night, the third week of play began at the Monroe Sports Center Fall League with only one game. However, it was quite a competitive one. Trailing 19-9 at the half, the Robbinsville Ravens put together a 27-14 surge over the first 15:28 ofthe second half to take a 36-33 lead with a little more than four and a half minutes to go. South River responded though with a 13-2 run including two huge threes by Dondre Moore to win the game by the final score of 46-38. Below is play-by-play from the second half of the contest.
South River leads 19-9 at the break.
19:11–ROB–drives down middle for floater attempt and draws foul–makes both FTs for a 19-11 SR lead.
18:01–SR–steals ball at midcourt and goes in for layin and a 21-11 lead.
17:43–SR–traps Robbinsville player and tie him up to force a jump ball–ROB keeps possession.
17:22–ROB–drives in for layup and a 21-13 SR lead.
16:44–ROB–fouled on layup attempt off break–makes both FTs for a 21-15 SR lead.
15:37–SR–gets carom off missed ROB three, and then gives outlet pass to Tyler Harris, who drives in for layup and a 23-15 lead.
15:01–ROB–fouled on shot attempt–makes 1 of 2 FTs for a 23-16 SR lead.
14:12–ROB–connects on baseline jumper from right side for a 23-18 SR lead.
13:46–SR–swats away shot.
13:32–SR–taps in miss for a 25-18 lead.
13:15–ROB–scores on follow for a 25-20 SR lead.
12:44–ROB–fouled on jumper–makes both FTs for a 25-22 SR lead.
11:45–ROB–steals ball away from Tim Darrar.
11:29–ROB–gets several offensive rebounds for putback and a 25-24 SR lead.
11:15–SR–Harris scores on layin while being fouled, and makes bonus FT fora 28-24 lead.
10:43–ROB–sinks three pointer from top of the key for a 28-27 SR lead.
10:14–SR–Darrar picks pocket of ROB player, and goes in for layup from left side for a 30-27 lead.
9:30–SR–Harris drives the lane, and draws a foul–makes 1 of 2 FTs for a 31-27 lead.
8:38–SR–puts back miss off nice dish by Darrar for a 33-27 lead.
8:19–SR–deflects pass out of bounds.
8:04–ROB–banks in jumper from right elbow for a 33-29 SR lead.
6:23–ROB–three pointer from left wing for a 33-32 SR lead.
6:04–SR–swipes steal and goes in for layup from right side for a 34-33 lead…first lead of the half for ROB. Outscored SR 25-14.
4:32–ROB–takes outlet pass off SR miss, and goes to the basket for layup attempt that draws a foul–makes both FTs for a 36-33 lead.
3:32–SR–Dondre Moore connects on key three from right side of the key for a 36-36 tie.
2:30–SR–Moore splashes three from left wing for a 39-36 lead.
2:08–ROB–loses ball out of bounds after missing shot.
1:42–SR–Harris backs defender in near right low block for layup and a 41-36 lead.
1:03–SR–knifes in from left side for layup attempt that draws foul–makes 1 of 2 FTs for a 42-36 lead.
47.0–ROB–layup from left low block for a 42-38 SR lead.
36.2–SR–Darrar fouled–gets kind bounce on 1st FT and swishes 2nd for a 44-38 lead.
18.7–SR–Harris fouled–makes both FTs for a 46-38 lead.
0.0–SR–Rams dribble out the clock after miss by ROB for the 46-38 victory.
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–There has been a different feel to this fall league season. Over the years, the fall has been increasingly popular for teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference, which tried to get ready for the upcoming basketball season.
In the past, there were leagues such as the Hawks Basketball Fall-Ball Classic, which ran for almost 15 straight years, and the recent TBSA Fall League, which went for three years straight. However, both of those leagues didn’t happen this year. For the second straight year, the HBA did not have a league, and TBSA, which is under new management, tried to put one together, but there was no interest.
Last year, there were 14 teams competing in the TBSA Fall League and at Rebounds. This year, there are only 10 teams playing in the Immaculata Fall League and the Hoop Group Headquarters Fall League. Five teams are playing at Immaculata including Cardinal McCarrick, Colonia, Middlesex, Monroe, and St. Joseph’s while another five are playing at Hoop Group including East Brunswick, South Amboy, South Brunswick, South River, and Spotswood, with McCarrick being the only team from the GMC playing in both leagues.
The Immaculata Fall League is a new league that came on to the scene this fall as teams tried to find a league to play in after the TBSA Fall League didn’t go ahead this season. Eighteen teams from Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Somerset, and Union counties compete in the IHS Fall League. At the Hoop Group Headquarters, the league is having its best year yet with 30 teams, many of which are from the very large Shore Conference. There were reports of a league in Millburn as well as one in Ridgewood, but both were very far away for any GMC team to compete in although there was some interest. In the case of the Millburn league, it ended up not being able to have its season after some things didn’t come together.
In addition to the two fall leagues this year, there was a Hoop Group Showcase event that took place this weekend. Three teams from the GMC competed in that including Piscataway, which is not playing in either of the two fall leagues being covered by GMC Hoops this season. Recently, the site learned that several teams including: Bishop Ahr, Edison, J.F. Kennedy, North Brunswick, and Sayreville are not playing anywhere. Some of those teams have players on their squads that play football, and their participation on the gridiron left these teams without much of a roster to compete.
WOODBRIDGE, NJ–Earlier this month, GMC Hoops learned from Bob Gaydos, the Director of the HawksBasketball Association, that there will not be a Fall-Ball Classic this year. The league, which had been running over at Plainfield High School the past several years, was unable to get a gym to play games. Since 1994, the Fall-Ball Classic had been one of the top fall leagues in the area, and it reached its zenith in 2003 and 2004 with 24 teams competing both years. Gaydos hopes to have the league back in 2009. See summaries from last year’s Fall-Ball Classic.
Good morning everyone. Well, I’ve just finished editing and posting another set of highlights from the 6th Annual HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic All-Star Bash. These video highlights are of GMC players competing in the 2007 Fall-Ball Classic Boys All-Star Game. Only three GMC teams (Metuchen, Spotswood, and Woodbridge) competed in this year’s Fall-Ball Classic, and two players from each of these teams competed: Codey Preston and Evan Carberry for Metuchen, Cody Pace and Ross Gerhart for Spotswood, and Richie Ng and Tim Weber for Woodbridge. Take a look below at the highlights.
Good evening everyone. I’ve been working on getting stuff updated on the web site in recent weeks as you have probably noticed. Part of my efforts has been to post video from the recent 2007 HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic All-Star Bash including the Slam Dunk Contest portion of the night. Below you will see a montage video of the best dunks of the night that I saw from this particular competition. Three of them were by the winner of the contest, Yvon Raymond of Columbia, which is located in Maplewood and competes in the Iron Division of the Iron Hills Conference.
PLAINFIELD, NJ–GMC Hoops traveled out to Plainfield High School one last time to take in the first HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic Championship it has seen since 2003 when South Plainfield defeated Plainfield for its second straight Fall-Ball Classic Championship. Ironically, Plainfield was in this year’s title tilt as the Cardinals were making their third straight appearance, and fourth in the last five years. There would be another source of irony though because like in 2003, the Cards would fall short this time as the Cougars of Columbia in Maplewood not only avenged last year’s Championship Game with a 57-48 victory, but also earned its first ever Fall-Ball Classic crown. The Cougars, which compete in the Iron Division of the Iron Hills Conference, managed to do this despite having standout player, Yvon Raymond in foul trouble in the second half, and with Plainfield having one of its top players, Isiah Epps back in the lineup after missing the semifinal game against Watchung Hills.
Columbia got solid efforts from role players such as Floyd Melvin, who knocked down a couple key trifectas at the beginning of the second half, Kenny Rubenstein, who drained a couple key treys himself a short time later in half number two, and Jamal Reynolds, who played well in the paint for the third straight game. Jameel Grace did a great job of pushing the ball upcourt, penetrating and kicking to his teammates for open shots while stepping up and knocking down pivotal foul shots down the stretch to put the game away. Speaking of foul shots, from the time GMC Hoops arrived in the gym at the 7:31 mark of the first half until the 6:56 mark of the second half, the Cougars shot only 1 of 8 at the free throw line. However, in the final 6:56, Columbia came up big with 12 of 15 from the charity stripe to go 13 of 23 overall in the final 27:31 of the contest. Meanwhile, on the other hand, Plainfield started strong at the line with a 6 of 6 showing at the free throw line in the final 7:31 of the first half, and then made only 3 of 6 attempts in the second half. Another key was the three point shot as Columbia made four threes over the final 27:31 while Plainfield only had a trey by Mike Price at the 35.3 second mark of the first half. To the Cardinals credit, they battled like a defending champion should after being down 22-9 in the first 12:29 of the game. Plainfield fought back with a 13-5 spurt to end the half including nine points by Price and four by Anthony Baskerville to make it a five point, 27-22 lead for Columbia at the break.
Unfortunately for Plainfield, it couldn’t get any closer as Columbia went up by as many ten once, and as much as nine five times in the second half (40-31 at the 12:32 mark, 47-38 at the 6:00 mark, 51-42 at the 1:21 mark, 55-46 at the 52.32 mark, and the final 57-48 score). Twelve of those points in the second half came by way of the three pointer as both Melvin and Rubenstein connected for both of their treys within the first 9:51 for a 43-33 lead. Now, while the Cardinals would fight back with a 9-4 rally over the next 6:49 to pull within five at 47-42 at the 3:02 mark, the hometown team couldn’t get any closer than that as the Cougars pulled away down the stretch with a 10-6 showing for the nine point, 57-48 victory. The Cougars scored 22 of the first 31 points over the first 12:29 to open the game, and Plainfield didn’t get another point until the 5:50 mark so that Cardinals were held under ten points for the first 14:10 of the contest. Shortly after our arrival, John Wrool picked up a blocking foul for the Cardinals, but it didn’t have any consequence as Columbia didn’t cash in on it. Plainfield finally broke through with a little less than six minutes remaining in the first half as Baskerville was fouled on the drive, and netted two free throws for a 22-11 Cougar lead.
A little less than a minute later, Columbia went back up by thirteen as Raymond got the ball on the right side, and made a spin and drive past Isiah Epps for a score over several Plainfield defenders to make it a 24-11 game at the 4:55 mark. On a subsequent Cardinal possession, Mike Price got an offensive rebound, and was fouled on the follow, which resulted in a pair of free throws for a 24-13 Cougar lead at the 4:20 mark. Thirty seconds later, Columbia went back up by thirteen again at 26-13 as Raymond got an easy layup off a fast break opportunity at the 3:50 mark. Plainfield refused to let the lead get any bigger than that though as Baskerville cashed in on being fouled during a putback attempt by making both his foul shots for a 26-15 Columbia lead at the 3:26 mark. After Raymond made one of two from the line at the 2:32 mark for a 27-15 advantage, Plainfield scored the last seven points of the first half as an offensive rebound by Dominique Blackmon off a missed jumper by Price was cashed in for a score with under a minute left, Epps stripped the ball from Jamal Reynolds for a steal and assist on a three point by Price with 35.3 remaining, and then Price got a steal himself, and converted that into a layup at the 18.8 mark to make the halftime tally, 27-22 in favor of Columbia. In the second half, the Essex County school outscored their opponent by a four point, 30-26 margin to come away with the win.
It would be Plainfield though with the first points of the second half as the Cards got a basket within the first 17 seconds after the intermission for a 27-24 Columbia lead. However, the Cougars reasserted themselves thanks to Floyd Melvin, who connected for a three pointer from the right wing for a 30-24 lead at the 19:24 mark. The Cardinals then turned the ball over on a carrying call assessed to Epps at the 18:58 mark, but Columbia couldn’t take advantage. Eventually, Plainfield was able to cut the lead again to four on a steal by Shaun Blackmon, who passed downcourt to Price, who then dished to Wrool for a layup that made the score, 30-26 at the 18:29 mark. Once again though, Melvin scored from downtown on a shot from the left side to help his team keep Plainfield at arm’s length as the score now read 33-26 with 18:15 to play. The Cards then scored the next three points over a span of 1:33 with a basket, and then one of two at the line by Baskerville at the 16:42 mark to close the gap again to four at 33-29. Approximately 1:16 later, Columbia pushed its edge back up to six with a score before Grace found Reynolds underneath for a layup attempt that resulted in a foul at the 15:26 mark. Unfortunately, Reynolds couldn’t cash in as he missed both free throws, and the score remained 35-29.
A little more than a half minute after that, Baskerville connected on a jumper from the right wing to cut into Columbia’s lead again, and make the score, 35-31 at the 13:54 mark. Once more though, the Cougars used the three pointer to give them much needed breathing room as Grace found Rubenstein in the left corner for a trey that made it a seven point game at 38-31 with 12:54 to play. Grace, who was constantly on the attack, then followed that up some twenty-two seconds later with a short jumper to make it 40-31 with 12:32 remaining. Columbia could have gone up by even more as Rubenstein was fouled on a putback attempt off a Grace miss, but went 0 of 2 at the line with 12:02 left so it remained a nine point lead. Plainfield then got a basket to pull within seven at 40-33 before Grace penetrated and kicked out to Rubenstein on the left wing for another key three to make it a ten point lead at 43-33 nearly midway through the second half. On the ropes, Plainfield tried to bounce back into the contest as Baskerville got a score while being fouled for a three point play at the 9:33 mark for a 43-36 lead. Epps followed that up with a layup while being fouled himself, but misfired on the bonus free throw for a 43-38 Columbia lead with 7:15 left.
Adding more fuel to the fire was the continued poor shooting at the foul line by the Cougars. With 6:56 to play in the game, Grace made a nice drive and spin for a shot attempt that he was fouled on. However, the senior point guard, who went six of eight at the line in the second half, misfired on a couple attempts from the charity stripe. Picking Grace up was fellow teammate, Reynolds, who took in a pass by Rubenstein following a rebound by the Columbia guard off a miss by Price, and went in for a layup attempt and was fouled resulting in two free throws for a 47-38 advantage at the six minute mark. Price got those free throws back with two from the line himself after getting an offensive rebound, and being fouled on the follow at the 4:33 mark for a 47-40 Columbia lead. About a minute and a half later, Baskerville made a sharp pass from close range underneath to Epps for a layup that made the score, 47-42 in favor of the Cougars with 3:02 remaining. However, that would be as close as Plainfield would get the rest of the way as Columbia pulled away thanks to a strong finish at the free throw line by making 10 of its last 13 shots for the nine point victory. With the victory, Columbia finished the fall unblemished at 13-0 while Plainfield ended up at 8-5.
Note: As mentioned earlier, it was Columbia’s first ever Championship in the Fall-Ball Classic. The Cougars joined the HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic in the 2003 season, and each year they went further in the playoffs. In its inaugural season in the league, Columbia lost to Roselle Catholic in the second round. The following season, 2004, the Cougars were defeated by Bridgewater in the Quarterfinals. The following year, 2005, the Cougars lost to Immaculata in the semis. Last year, Columbia was defeated by Plainfield in the Championship, and finally this year, they broke through by dethroning the two-time defending champs. A salute should be given to the two-time defending champs, which over a five year period, went 51-13 as a program including an unbeaten 13-0 in 2006, won two championships, and made four finals appearances.
PLAINFIELD, NJ–On Halloween night, GMC Hoops traveled out to Plainfield High School again to take in one of the two semifinal games in the playoff round of the 2007 HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic between the host school Cardinals of Plainfield, and second seeded Watchung Hills. The winner of this game will take on top seeded, and top seeded Columbia of Maplewood, which advanced to its second straight Championship Game with a convincing 60-37 victory over third seeded Roselle. Plainfield, which is trying to achieve a three peat in the Fall-Ball Classic, has made its fourth Final Four appearance in the HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic in the past five years: 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Meanwhile, Watchung Hills, which went through last year’s regular season with a fourth place finish at 7-3 before being knocked out in the first round by Westfield, earned the second seed in this year’s edition of the Fall-Ball Classic with an 8-2 mark, and won its opening round game over Woodbridge, 58-52.
Plainfield Pulls Out Thriller Without Epps For Third Straight Championship Game Appearance, 46-45
Both teams provide contrasting styles of play with Watchung Hills more of a halfcourt offensive team with a tendency to execute very well on the break, and Plainfield being more of an up tempo full court offense. The Cardinals are talented and athletic while the Warriors have great fundamentals. Both schools come from leagues that are very competitive in the Watchung Conference and the Delaware East Division of the Skyland Conference. Watchung Hills was able to keep the score low, and the tempo at a more manageable pace, but Plainfield still managed to pull out the win despite all that as well as not having one of its top players in the lineup as Isiah Epps did not play. In a game that saw ten lead changes and five ties throughout, and neither team having a lead bigger than six points, the Cards were able to prevail thanks to two straight threes over a 26 second span by guard Anthony Baskerville to take a 44-38 lead at the 4:14 mark, and by withstanding a fierce charge by the Warriors down the stretch for a 46-45 victory.
For the game, there were a total of eleven lead changes and five ties in the contest with neither team holding a lead bigger than six points, and had a run larger than 7-0. In other words, it was quite a nip and tuck game with fine play by both teams. GMC Hoops arrived at the game with the score tied at 10-10 with 8:10 remaining in the first half. A little more than thirty seconds later, Jim Chmielewski made a nice entry pass to Brandon Ward for a layup that made the score 12-10 in favor of the Warriors at the 7:31 mark. Plainfield came back with a three point play some 52 seconds later by John Wrool to give the Cardinals a one point, 13-12 lead with 6:45 to play in the first half. Wrool’s three point play ignited the largest spurt of the game as Watchung Hills made a turnover courtesy of Jesse Ross stepping on the end line at the 6:17 mark, and then after Mike Price came up empty in two attempts at the foul line with 5:42 to go in the half, Shaun Blackmon got a steal and handed out a nice assist on another layup by Wrool at the 4:50 mark for a 15-12 edge. Following a Plainfield timeout at the 4:02 mark, Anthony Baskerville put together a nice quick drive and dish to Shaun Blackmon for a layup to give the Cardinals a 17-12 lead with 3:32 to go before halftime.
Watchung Hills would actually go scoreless for a little more than six minutes before Matisak got a steal, passed upcourt to Ross, who dished to Chmielewski for a layup to make the score, 17-14, and end the Plainfield 7-0 run with 1:34 left in the half. While the Cardinals were scoreless over the final 3:32 of the half, WHHS continued to fight back as Matisak picked up another steal, and was fouled on a subsequent layup attempt that resulted in two free throws for a 17-16 Cardinal lead with one minute remaining before the brief break. Kyle Rawson then closed out the first half scoring with a pair of foul shots at the 28.13 mark for an 18-17 Warrior lead at the intermission. Watchung Hills closed the half with a 6-0 spurt in the final 1:34 that pretty much matched Plainfield’s earlier run, and helped the Somerset County school not only stay in the game, but also reclaim the lead at halftime. In the second half, Watchung Hills managed to get the alternate possession in the opening moments after Ross tied up a Plainfield player for a jump ball at the 19:38 mark. However, the Warriors couldn’t take advantage as the Cardinals then took the lead with a rebound, drive downcourt, and assist by Ricky Terry on another three point play by Wrool at the 19:06 mark for a 20-18 advantage.
A little more than a minute after that, Watchung Hills tied the game up when Ross made a nice skip pass over the top of the Plainfield defense underneath to Eric Kane for a layup attempt that rolled out, but there was a foul, and that turned into two free throws for a 20-20 score at the 18:03 mark. Wrool, who had ten of his points from the time of our arrival at the game until 17:18 mark of the second half, came right back though with a layup off a nice feed inside for a 22-20 lead some two minutes and forty-two seconds into the second half. Ricky Terry then got a steal and converted it into a layup for a 24-20 lead with 17:02 left in the game. The Cardinals had an opportunity to increase its lead to six or seven, but couldn’t convert following a timeout at the 15:44 mark. Watchung Hills then cut the deficit in half as Rawson made a nice pass inside to Matisak for a layup, and a 24-22 score at the 12:01 mark. The home team pushed its edge back to five on a three point play at the 11:31 mark that made the score, 27-22. However, the Warriors got those three points right back on the very next possession with a three pointer at the 11:11 mark to make it a 27-25 contest.
Plainfield pushed the lead back to five when Anthony Baskerville converted a conventional three point play on a layup as he was fouled at the 10:51 mark for a 30-25 score. Nearly a minute and fifteen seconds later, the Warriors closed the gap to three Ward got a steal off Steve Butatunde underneath for a layup that made the score, 30-27 with 9:37 to play. Darryl Gordon, the younger brother of 2004 graduate, Mike Gordon, who led Plainfield to a North Jersey Section 2 Group IV Championship over Watchung Conference rival Elizabeth, netted one of two at the foul line at the 9:06 mark for a 31-27 lead. Kevin Baglin did one better than Gordon at the charity stripe by making both of his attempts for a 31-29 lead at the 8:21 mark. Ricky Terry then made two foul shots of his own at the 7:44 mark to make it a four point game again at 33-29, but Baglin retaliated with a layin to make it 33-31 with exactly seven minutes to play. Terry promptly responded with a left handed scoop shot on very next Cardinal possession to once again make it a two possession game at 35-31 with 6:53 left, but Baglin answered with a three pointer from the left side for a 35-34 Plainfield lead at the 6:36 mark. Following a Plainfield timeout at the 6:04 mark, the Warriors took their first lead since 12-10 at the 7:37 mark of the first half when Rawson got a steal, and turned it into an assist on a Ross layup for a 36-35 score at the 5:43 mark.
On a subsequent Plainfield possession, Gordon, who has a taller twin brother that is now playing at St. Patrick’s, connected from long distance on the right wing to give his team a two point, 38-36 advantage with 5:24 to play. The lead would be short lived though as Kyle Rawson came back down the floor for a layup at the 5:11 mark to tie the game once again at 38-38. Then, the deciding sequence of the game took place. First with 4:40 remaining in regulation, Price inbounded the ball to Baskerville for a three pointer from the left wing that gave the Cardinals the lead for good at 41-38. Then, the Cardinals got the ball back, and a short time later, Baskerville came through again with another clutch three pointer from the right wing that made it a six point, 44-38 lead with 4:14 to play. Rawson continued to symbolize the fight that the Warriors still had left in them with a drive from the left baseline for a reverse layup that made the score, 44-40 at the 3:56 mark. The Warriors then had a couple opportunities to get closer, or better yet, tie the game, but Ward traveled at the 3:10 mark, and then Rawson made only one of two at the foul line after being fouled on a drive to make the score, 44-41 in favor of Plainfield with just 2:04 remaining. Watchung Hills started to show some aggression on defense, and produced a turnover when Terry dribbled into trouble in the form of a Warrior double team at the 1:44 mark. However, the Cardinals got a big play again from Baskerville as the point guard swiped a steal for a layup, and a 46-41 lead at the 1:33 mark.
Once more, Watchung Hills showed resolve with a Matisak tip in off a Kane miss from the left side for a 46-43 Cardinal lead at the 1:17 mark. Several seconds later, the Warriors called for time, and following that timeout, they set up a trap to force a jump ball that after some deliberation by the officials, was awared to Watchung Hills on the alternate possession at the 1:05 mark. Less than seven seconds after that, Kane found Matisak for a baseline jumper along the left side to cut the lead to one at 46-45 with 58.3 seconds remaining. The Somerset County school, which defeated Piscataway in the first round of the 2007 North Jersey Section 2 Group IV State Tournament after the Chiefs won their first GMCT crown since 1995, attempted to force another turnover in front of the Plainfield bench with 37.53 left, but was called for a foul. Off the side out of bounds by the Cardinals, the Warriors triple teamed the ball, and forced a steal that fell into Rawson’s hands. The senior guard then went in for the layup, but missed, Matisak tried to follow, but couldn’t convert, and then Baglin got the offensive rebound, and passed to Ward for a jumper that didn’t go down with 25 seconds remaining. Watchung Hills managed to get the ball back as Matisak made a save off a Plainfield player with 10.47 seconds remaining, but the Warriors were unable to convert as Rawson failed to score on a drive with 2.1 remaining, and the Cardinals pulled out the squeaker to advance to its third straight Fall-Ball Classic Championship, and its fourth in the last five years.
With the win, Plainfield improved to 8-4 on the fall while Watchung Hills fell to 9-3. The Cardinals advance to play Columbia in the Championship Game for the second year in a row. Last season, the Cards defeated the Cougars in a battle of one versus two seeds for the school’s second straight Fall-Ball Classic title. Columbia reached the title tilt by virtue of defeating Roselle in its semifinal game, 60-37.
|Watchung Hills (9-3)||18||27||45|
Raymond and Grace Help Cougars Roll Into Championship, 60-37
The Cougars of Columbia from Maplewood and the Iron Division of the Iron Hills Conference, rolled easily again for its second straight playoff win, and second consecutive Fall-Ball Classic Championship Game appearance by defeating a much improved Roselle team that earned the third seed in this year’s tournament, 60-37. Behind a 19 point performance on nine field goals and a free throw by senior forward, Yvon Raymond, and a game high 23 point effort on three treys and seven field goals by senior point guard, Jameel Grace, the Cougars jumped out to a commanding 38-21 point lead at the half, and then outscored the Runnin’ Rams by a 22-16 margin in the second half for the easy victory. Raymond and Grace both combined for 42 of their team’s 60 points, or 70 percent of Columbia’s offense in the game.
Senior forward, Jamal Reynolds chipped in with 9 points for the winners while Kavon Cornwall had a team high 12 points for Roselle and teammate Antoine Smitty added 10 points in the loss. With the victory, Columbia stays undefeated at 12-0, and will face fifth seeded Plainfield in a rematch of last year’s final that was won by the Cardinals. Both teams played each other during the regular season, and the Cougars came away with a 45-44 victory on September 19th that they could have easily lost. Roselle ended its fall season with an 8-4 record, but a lot of positives to build on as it tries to emerge from a rebuilding of the program that began with the graduation of the multi-talented Jesse Holley, and retirement of long time head coach Stan Kokie earlier in the decade.
GMC Hoops plans to be in attendance on Thursday night when top seeded and undefeated Columbia faces fifth seeded, and two time defending champion, Plainfield in the Championship Game of the 2007 HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic at 7:45 PM.
PLAINFIELD, NJ–GMC Hoops traveled out to Plainfield High School on Monday night, October 29th to watch two of the Elite Eight games in the playoff round of the 2007 HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic. Both games involved the only two GMC teams in the post-season tournament: Woodbridge and Metuchen. In the first game, which took place at 8:00 PM, the Barrons faced off against Watchung Hills of Somerset County and the Delaware East Division of the Skyland Conference while in the nightcap game at 9:00 PM, eighth seeded Metuchen took on top seeded and undefeated Columbia of Essex County and the Iron Divison of the Iron Hills Conference. Unfortunately for the Greater Middlesex Conference, it was a tough night as both member schools lost. After jumping out to an 18-15 lead in the first half, Woodbridge managed to only get one of two free throws and two field goals on a jumper and a layup over the final 7:09 of the opening half as Watchung Hills finished the half strong with a 13-5 run for a 28-23 lead. Then, in the second half, the Warriors opened things up with a 14-9 showing for a ten point, 42-32 lead with 12:15 left, and never looked back in a 58-52 win. Meanwhile, in the nightcap, Columbia’s Cougars jumped scored seven of the first nine points, and after Metuchen crept to within four at 11-7 with 10:21 left, went on a 17-2 rampage over a span of 3:06 for a 28-9 lead with 7:15 to go in the first half, and were never threatened again in a 71-36 rout of the Bulldogs.
Half Ending Tear Propels Warriors Past Barrons, 58-52
The second seeded Watchung Hills Warriors, which have been steadily improving as a program in recent years under the direction of Bob McAteer, had squared off against Woodbridge during the regular season, and the game was a close affair with the Warriors edging the Barrons by a score of 53-48 on September 17, 2007. The rematch between the two teams was just as close although WHHS outscored Woodbridge by one more point, and both teams combined to score ten more points in the contest. Led by the likes of Gerard Bullock, Richie Ng, Kirk Zambrana, and Blair Dolphin, the Barrons were able to take a three point, 18-15 lead with a little more than seven minutes to play in the first half as the higher seeded, and slightly favored Warriors appeared to be out of sync in the early going. Gradually though, things began to turn, and Watchung Hills began to play like it was capable of with well executed fast breaks, good fundamentals, and nice shooting. The result was a 13-5 spurt by the Somerset County school to close the half to turn the three point deficit into a five point, 28-23 lead at the intermission. In the second half, the Warriors, who have a number of players competing for Mike “SHOTMAN” Lanza on the AAU team, Jersey Stallions, scored 14 of the first 23 points to take a 42-32 lead with 12:15 remaining. So, in summary, Watchung Hills outscored Woodbridge 27-14 over a span of 14:54 to take control of the game.
During the first seven plus minutes of the first half, Woodbridge could only muster a Zambrana layup at the 5:50 mark, one of two free throws by Dolphin at the 3:38 mark, and a short jumper along the right baseline from Bullock at the 2:15 mark. Meanwhile, in the first nearly eight minutes of the second half, the Barrons could only get two layups for four points by Zambrana, a layup and one of two free throws by Bullock, and an offensive rebound and a turnaround jumper by Dolphin. During last two minutes or so of this stretch, Woodbridge was scoreless. Both teams had balanced scoring in each half with Watchung Hills winning both by a 28-23 margin in the first, and a 30-29 edge in the second. The web site arrived with just over seven minutes remaining with Woodbridge in front. Watchung Hills had a chance to cut the lead to one shortly afterward, but Kyle Rawson was called for traveling at the 6:50 mark. Forty-five seconds later, the Warriors did get on the board as Brandon Ward netted a jumper with a hand in the face from Ng to make the score, 18-17 with 6:05 to go in the half. On the very next offensive possession for Woodbridge, the Barrons got a nice back and forth play as Zambrana passed to Weber, who gave it right back to Zambrana for a layup to make the score, 20-17 at the 5:50 mark.
Twenty seconds later, Watchung Hills got right back on the board, and the team came downcourt for a score to pull within one at 20-19 with exactly 5:30 remaining before intermission. Neither team would score for over a minute and a half before Warrior pressure forced Dolphin to battle for a loose ball and avoid a turnover as the Barrons called for time at the 3:56 mark. Emerging from the timeout, Woodbridge set up for a score as Dolphin drove along the left side for a layup attempt, and drew a foul, which resulted in a one of two showing from the foul line to push the Barron advantage back up to two at 21-19 with 3:38 to go in the half. A little more than a minute after that, senior forward Justin Matisak scored on a nice drive and spin move to knot the game at 21-21 with 2:28 left before halftime. Bullock then gave WHS its last lead of the game with a short jumper along the right baseline on the very next Barron possession to make the score, 23-21 at the 2:15 mark. Watchung Hills then closed the half with the final seven points including a short jumper along the right baseline by Jesse Ross at the 2:09 mark, a score by Kyle Rawson at the 1:14 mark, and a nice pass by Jim Chmielewski to Kevin Baglin for a three pointer that made the score 28-23 with 35 seconds left before the brief break. Woodbridge, which was held scoreless for the final 2:15 of the first half, would fight an uphill battle the rest of the way.
In the second half, Watchung Hills made it a 9-0 run over a three minute span by making a score at the 19:15 mark for a 30-23 advantage. Woodbridge then ended its 3:12 scoring drought as Ng drove to his right into the key, kicked to Zambrana for a driving right handed layup to close the gap to 30-25 at the 19:03 mark. Bullock then followed that with an offensive rebound and putback attempt off of a Zambrana miss, and drew a foul for one of two free throws to make the score, 30-26 at the 18:09 mark. Ross then struck again for the Warriors with a jumper that got a kind bounce for a 32-26 lead with 17:15 left before Bullock replied by driving for a layup to pull the Barrons within four at 32-28 with exactly seventeen minutes remaining. Watchung Hills responded promptly again as Ross got on the board again with a drive for a layup to make it 34-28 at the 16:48 mark. The pace continued to be a bit frenzied as Zambrana gave Woodbridge another quick response with a layup underneath for a 34-30 Watchung Hills lead at the 16:32 mark. A little more than forty-five seconds after that, Ross, who scored eight points over a span of 6:25 from the 2:09 mark of the first half to the 15:44 mark of the second half, netted a pair of free throws to make it a six point Warrior lead again at 36-30. Neither team scored for a little more than a minute and a half before Dolphin trimmed the deficit to four again with an offensive rebound and turnaround jumper on the follow to make it 36-32 with 14:11 to play.
Over the next 1:56, Watchung Hills took command of the game with six straight points including a drive for a layup by Rawson for a 38-32 lead at the 13:55 mark, a steal and drive up the length of the floor for a layup by Ward that made it 40-32 with 13:36 to go, and then a score by Eric Kane at the 12:15 mark for a 42-32 advantage. Ng helped the Barrons bring the deficit back down under single digits with a jumper at exactly the twelve minute mark for a 42-34 score. At that point, my pen ran out of ink, so I had to go to my car, and get another one. During the 4:48 interlude, the Warriors pretty much maintained their lead with a 9-8 showing that made the score, 51-42 with 7:12 remaining. Ross then made one of two at the line for a 52-42 advantage at the 6:08 mark, and then Rawson scored on a drive along the baseline from the right side for a reverse layup for a 54-42 lead at the 5:17 mark after his teammates came up with a blocked shot on Dolphin at the other end. Chimelewski then gave a nice pass to Ross for a layup at the 5:01 mark to make the score, 56-42. Over a span of 9:00, the Warriors had outscored the Barrons by a two to one margin for its biggest lead of the game.
Now in dire straits, Woodbridge needed to call for time to see if it could turn the tide, and somehow get back into the game and perhaps force overtime. However, with a running clock, and less than five minutes to play, the odds were heavily stacked against the Barrons. Nevertheless, WHS didn’t give up, which is a good sign the Barrons won’t be the push-overs they were last season. Over a 2:52 span, the GMC White Divsion team, which finished last season at 1-21, rallied with a 10-0 run to pull within four at 56-52 with one minute left. Highlighting the run was a Zambrana drive and dish to Bullock for a score to ignite the rally for a 56-44 Watchung Hills lead with 3:52 to play. Ng then passed to Bullock for a three pointer from the top of the key at the 2:39 mark to make it 56-47. Bullock then picked up a steal for a layup from the left side of the floor for a 56-49 Warrior lead at the 1:52 mark. The Barrons then capped the run after Matisak miss at the 1:31 mark as Bullock penetrated and kicked to Ng in the left corner for a three pointer to pull within four at 56-52. Unfortunately, the Barrons couldn’t overcome the hole they had dug for themselves in the second half as Eric Kane got an easy layup with 53.2 left to close out the 58-52 Warrior win.
With the victory, Watchung Hills not only improved to 9-2 on the fall, but also advanced to the semifinals, where it will play Plainfield at 9:00 PM on Wednesday night. The Cardinals advanced by virtue of its 71-61 victory over Watchung Conference rival Shabazz as they avenged a 56-51 loss to the Bulldogs on October 3rd. The winner of the semifinal will play for the Championship on Thursday night against the winner of the other semifinal between top seeded Columbia and third seeded Roselle at 7:45 PM at Plainfield High School. For Woodbridge, the fall season ends, but the Barrons also made some strides this fall despite some struggles. Considering that Woodbridge didn’t have all their horses for every game, they played well and competed. Just need to carry that momentum over to the start of practices after Thanksgiving, scrimmages, and into the regular season.
|Watchung Hills (9-2)||28||30||58|
Team Effort Helps Columbia Roll Past Metuchen, 71-36
Unlike the first of the two games covered in the Quarterfinals here at the HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic, this game was not as close. Metuchen, which had some trouble in the early going before pulling to within four late in the first half in its last meeting with Columbia back on September 26th, stumbled out of the gate again, and never recovered as Columbia cruised to victory. Despite getting ten first half points from junior forward, Codey Preston on three field goals and four foul shots, the Bulldogs only managed to connect on six field goals and five free throws for a total of 17 points. Meanwhile, Columbia doubled the Bulldog offensive output with five three pointers, nine field goals, and 2 of 5 at the foul line for a 35-17 halftime advantage. The Bulldogs were basically done in by a 17-2 thrashing over a span of 4:21 that turned an 11-7 deficit into a 28-9 rout. During that stretch, Metuchen managed only one field goal, and was held scoreless for 3:54. In the second half, things didn’t get much better as Columbia picked up right where it left off as Yvon Raymond connected twice from three point range within 34 seconds to make it a 41-17 lead to ignite a 23-11 surge over the first 7:50 for an insurmountable 58-28 lead. So, over a span of just 12:11 of this contest, the Cougars outscored the Bulldogs by a margin of 40-13, which proved to be too big a hole to climb out of for the GMC Blue Division member.
For the game, Columbia ended up with ten three pointers in the matchup including three by Kenny Rubenstein, two each by Raymond and Jameel Grace, and one each by Melvin Floyd and Willy Summer. Meanwhile, Metuchen struck for a few threes in the second half including two by Codey Preston, and one each by Elijah Sellers, Akeeme Greene, and Mike Crusco. So, in total, there were 15 treys between the two teams in the contest. Kenny Rubenstein and Yvon Raymond helped lead the charge with 13 points each while Jameel Grace chipped in with 10 points and 5 assists, and Melvin Floyd added 9. Reserve Aaron Baritma came off the bench for 8 points as well for the winners. For Metuchen, Codey Preston turned out another solid effort to go along with his fine game against Plainfield on October 17th with 16 points on three field goals, two threes, and four foul shots. The story in this game was the fact that Columbia, which is located in Maplewood, New Jersey, was able to set up the tempo with a fast pace, and its defense forced Metuchen to either turn over the ball, or become out of sync on offense. In a play that gave a strong signal of how things were going to go, Columbia took advantage of two offensive rebounds when senior forward, Jamal Reynolds scored to give the Cougars first blood, and a 2-0 lead at the 19:43 mark.
Codey Preston did what he could to get his team on the board with a nice spin move and touch on a one handed shot inside to tie things up at 2-2 with 18:51 to go in the first half. Melvin Floyd then passed to Raymond for a layup attempt that resulted in a Metuchen foul, and one of two at the line for a 3-2 lead with 18:13 to go before halftime. Raymond then added his first field goal of the contest as he got a turnover, and scored off an offensive rebound for a 5-2 advantage at the 17:54 mark. Grace then scored on a drive and scoop shot to make it 7-2 with a little more than two and a half minutes gone by in the opening half. In a theme that would play out through the entire contest, Preston was a one man gang for the Bulldogs with an offensive rebound and putback off his own miss to make it a three point game at 7-4 with 16:09 to go in the first half. Grace then retorted with a three pointer from the top of the key a little more than a minute after that for a 10-4 Columbia lead at the 15:02 mark. Metuchen then got three of the next four points on one of two from the line by Collas at the 13:08 mark, and then a drive through the middle for a layin by Preston to make the score, 11-7 at the 10:21 mark. Reynolds got his third point of the game earlier when he took a pass from Raymond and was fouled on a layup attempt that resulted in one of two at the line.
With Columbia hanging on to just a four point lead, images of Metuchen’s scrappy play in the first meeting between the two schools, and the Bulldogs fine effort against Plainfield on October 17th started to make Metuchen fans wonder if they could give the Cougars a run for their money. Those thoughts were quickly extinguished when Columbia scored 17 of the next 19 points to essentially blow the game wide open. Grace sparked the onslaught with a three pointer at the 10:08 mark for a 14-7 advantage. Then, after Collas made a shot on the inside that got a kind bounce for a 14-9 Columbia lead, the Essex County school reeled off fourteen straight points including a three pointer by Rubenstein at the 9:41 mark, a steal and score off the ensuing Metuchen inbounds by Raymond at the 9:37 mark, and a steal and layup by Rubenstein at the 8:53 mark for a 21-9 lead before Metuchen coach, Corey Preston called for time. Following the timeout, Columbia continued its assault with a rebound on the defensive boards by Grace, who drove upcourt, and dished to Rubenstein for a layup that made it a 23-9 Cougar lead at the 7:55 mark. Kelil Brown got into the mix with an offensive rebound and follow off a missed shot by Rubenstein at the 7:33 mark to make the score, 25-9. Floyd then capped the outburst with a three pointer to make the score, 28-9 with 7:15 left in the half.
Metuchen didn’t score for another 1:15 after that until Evan Carberry scored on a hook shot in traffic to make the score, 28-11 with exactly six minutes remaining before halftime. Columbia then closed out the first half with a 7-6 showing for the eighteen point, 35-17 lead. Metuchen’s scoring was made up of 10 points by Preston, three by Collas, and two each by Switzer and Carberry. Things didn’t get better in the second half either as the Cougars nearly outscored the Bulldogs again by a two to one margin, 36-19. Raymond was raining threes down on Metuchen to open the half as he struck from long distance twice to begin the second half including a trey from the left wing off a pass from Grace to make it 38-17 at the 19:03 mark, and then another one from the right wing set up by a steal, drive upcourt, and dish by Reynolds to make the score, 41-17 at the 18:29 mark. Floyd then knocked down a foul line jumper for a 43-19 lead with 17:51 remaining as the Bulldogs tried desperately to stem the tide by calling for time. Following the timeout, Codey Preston knocked down a three pointer from the left side for a 43-22 Columbia advantage at the 17:27 mark, but Floyd replied quickly with a jumper at the 17:05 mark to make it a 45-22 game. Then, in what was an emphatic exclamation point on the romp by the Cougars, Summer came up with a steal, passed ahead to Grace, who dished to Raymond for a one handed slam from the right side to make it 47-22 with 16:06 remaining.
Following Raymond’s dunk, Columbia, which used a great deal of its reserves throughout the game including diminutive reserve guard, Matt Stevens, who played well also, scored 11 of the next 17 points including two threes by Rubenstein for a thirty point, 58-28 advantage. Codey Preston and Elijah Sellers proved to be the bright spots during the stretch with a trey apiece. From there, Columbia cruised easily to victory although it rubbed the difficult to swallow defeat in the face of the Metuchen reserve players at the end with poor gamesmanship while running out the clock. Nevertheless, the Cougars advanced with a convincing 71-36 victory over a Metuchen team that had made great strides during the course of the fall. With the victory, Columbia advances to the semifinal round, where it will take on third seeded Roselle, which has been a pleasant surprise this fall, at 7:00 PM on Wednesday night. The Running Rams advanced to the semis by defeating Hunterdon Central by a score of 62-44 in its Elite Eight contest. The winner will take on either Plainfield or Watchung Hills in the Championship on Thursday at 7:45 PM.
PLAINFIELD, NJ–For the first time in three years, GMC Hoops took in the HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic showcase, 6th Annual All Star Bash, at Plainfield High School on Tuesday night. The last time the web site took in the All Star Bash was in 2004 when the league was still being run out of Woodbridge High School. Once again, the event was made up of four parts: Girls All-Star Game, which kicked things off at 6:30 PM. The game was then followed by the traditional Three Point Shooting and Slam Dunk contests that preceded the nightcap event, the Boys All-Star Game, which was played at 8:30 PM.
Hunterdon Central’s Silvas Wins Three Point Shooting Competition
Robbie Silvas of Hunterdon Central stood out from the crowd in the three point shooting competition at the 6th Annual All-Star Bash. Silvas, who has helped the Red Devils finish strong at the 2007 HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic, outshined a competitive field that included: Anthony Baskerville of Plainfield, Kenny Rubenstein of Columbia, Kyle Rowson of Watchung Hills, Smitty Antoine of Roselle, Frank Mitchell of Hillsborough, and Codey Preston of Metuchen. The last time GMC Hoops saw the three point competition at the All-Star Bash, Colonia’s Rob Gardella won it all with a memorable shooting performance in 2004.
Columbia’s Raymond Brings Home The Gold In Slam Dunk Competition
Columbia High School’s Yvon Raymond, who was created quite a stir this fall with his play in this year’s Fall-Ball Classic, and has drawn some attention from college coaches in attendance, came in as a strong favorite, and didn’t disappoint, particularly in the final round of the Slam Dunk Competition. While the two other finalists: James Grooms of Roselle and Daevon Boardingham of Newark Shabazz, were unable to seal the deal with the bright lights shining on them, Raymond pulled away with two dunks that drew a roar from an awestruck crowd. Other competitors in the slam dunk competition were Kevin Morris and Saheed Williams also from Shabazz.
South Rallies In First Half And Then Pulls Away Late To Defeat North, 85-77
In a game that had its share of runs and back and forth play typical of a high school all-star game, the South All-Stars fell behind early to the tune of a 17-11 deficit at the 12:16 mark, and trailed by four at 35-31 with 3:44 remaining in the first half when they turned things around with an 8-0 run over a span of 2:17 to take a 39-35 lead with 1:27 to go before the brief intermission. Then, after going into halftime with a two point, 43-41 lead, the South All-Stars broke away from a 67-67 tie with a decisive 16-5 tear over a period of 5:08 to take an insurmountable 83-72 lead, and went on to win, 85-77 before a good crowd at the Americo Parenti Gymnasium at PHS. Jameel Grace, Raymond’s teammate at Columbia, who has also drawn a lot of attention the past couple years, sparked the late first half rally with one of two at the foul line with 3:30 to go in the period, and then capped the run with a layup off an assist by Shabazz guard, Saheed Williams to make it a 39-35 lead with 1:27 to go before halftime.
In the second half, Williams was fouled on a three point attempt at the 4:12 mark that resulted in three free throws for the Bulldog guard to break a 67-67 tie, and then Grace scored on a layup as he was fouled to make it 74-67 nearly a minute later. The Columbia Cougar point guard, missed the bonus free throw, but it was rebounded, and put back in by Raymond for a 76-67 lead with 3:10 to play. The North All-Stars tried to rally with five of the next seven points to climb within four at 78-72, but Grace came up big again with an assist on a layup by fellow Essex County player, Williams, to make the score, 80-72 at the 1:01 mark, and then Raymond capped the game breaking spurt with a three pointer from the top of the key at the 37.3 second mark for an 83-72 advantage. From there, the North All-Stars closed out the game with five of the last seven points to round out the final 85-77 score. Grace ended up with MVP honors as he collected 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a blocked shot.
The Greater Middlesex Conference was well represented again this year despite there only being three member schools in the league. Each GMC team had two players representing it in this game. Metuchen was represented by Evan Carberry and Codey Preston while Spotswood had Ross Gerhart and Cody Pace on the South squad. On the other hand, Woodbridge’s Richie Ng and Tim Weber competed for the North squad. All six players performed well while they were in the game. At one point in the game, the South team comprised of all four GMC representatives as Carberry, Preston, Pace, and Gerhart all played at the same time early in the second half. As a matter of fact, Gerhart got a steal and assist on a layup by Pace at the 18:25 mark for the first points of the second half that made the score, 45-41 in favor of the South All-Stars.
Preston, who went 3 of 4 at the foul line, then made a pair of free throws at the 17:09 mark to make it 47-43, and Carberry took in a pass from Columbia’s Melvin Floyd to put a halt to a 4-0 run by the North to make the score, 49-47 at the 16:15 mark. Carberry, who connected on a baseline jumper from the left side to cap a 5-2 run towards the end of the first half, then struck again with two free throws at the 15:05 mark for a 51-47 score. Meanwhile, Ng didn’t back down from the very talented field of players competing in this game. The Woodbridge guard continued his aggressive play as he led all scorers with ten points including six in the first half. Weber, his Barron teammate, made a splash with a nice drive and pirouette around Grace for a layup with less than 30 seconds to go in the first half. Floyd Melvin, a Columbia forward, who has gradually made strides since last fall, made a solid impact on the game as well with two free throws at the eight minute mark that made the score, 64-59, and a little more than a minute later after a one of two showing at the line by Epps for the North, he made a three pointer to push the advantage to 67-60 with 6:57 to play.
Speaking of Epps, the do it all Plainfield guard, did what he could to keep his team in it along with fellow Plainfield teammates Anthony Baskerville and Mike Price. Epps scored a basket to cap an early 5-0 run for a 17-11 lead at the 12:16 mark, and then almost converted a traditional three point play at the 10:20 mark to highlight a 7-3 North run for a 24-19 lead. Then, after Carberry’s jumper around the six minute mark, Epps struck again with a jumper from the left wing to push his team’s advantage back to four at 31-27 with 5:45 left before intermission. Anthony Baskerville helped the North squad jump out to an early lead with an assist on Ng’s score to open the game, and then added a layup at the 16:56 mark to make it 8-5, and an acrobatic scoop shot for a 10-8 edge at the 16:10 mark. Price contributed during the 7-3 spurt midway through the first half with a three pointer from the left wing at about the eleven minute mark. Neither team had a lead bigger than six in the first half, and for the game, the biggest lead was only eleven at the very end. In addition, there were a total of nine lead changes and four ties in the contest. Both teams also combined for twelve runs in the game as momentum was swinging back and forth like a pendulum.
In a game that saw a combined total of 162 points in just 40 minutes under a running clock, the two squads combined for 84 points in the first half, and 78 in the second. The North drew first blood early on with the game’s first four points within the first minute of action including the opening score by Ng. Raymond put the South All-Stars on the board with a two handed layup from the left side to cut the deficit in half at 4-2 with 18:47 to go in the first half. Raymond’s Columbia teammate, Grace then followed that up with a three pointer from the right side to put the South squad on top by a slim 5-4 margin with 18:33 left in the half. The North then scored the next four points including a pair of free throws at the 17:35 mark, and then a layup by Baskerville at the 16:56 mark to make it 8-5. Grace, who had at least 16 points in the contest, then made a conventional three point play to square things up again at 8-8 with 16:36 left before halftime. Baskerville answered by putting the North team up by two again with an acrobatic scoop shot that had the crowd in awe, and made the score 10-8 with 16:10 to play in the first half.
The North All-Stars then took a 12-8 lead before Raymond plucked a steal, and joined forces with Grace on a give and go that resulted in a layup for the senior forward from Columbia that closed the gap to 12-10 at the 15:07 mark. Codey Preston then got his first points on the night with a one of two showing at the foul line to make the score, 12-11 with 13:52 to go before intermission. The North squad then reeled off the next five points over a span of just 1:36 including a basket by Epps to increase its advantage to six at 17-11. The South rallied though with five straight points of its own including a bucket by Tony Willis from Shabazz to make it a one point game at 17-16. However, the North continued to keep the South at arm’s length with seven of the next ten points including the trey by Price, the near three point conversion by Epps, and an offensive rebound and follow by Rob Champouilon of Hillsborough to make it 24-19 nearly midway through the first half.
Both teams exchanged three points for a 27-22 North All-Star lead with about eight minutes remaining in the opening half when the South All-Stars scored five of the next seven points including a jumper by Carberry that capped the run, and made the score, 29-27. The North replied thanks to the efforts of Epps, who connected on a jumper from the left wing at the 5:45 mark to make the score, 31-27. Each team then had two scores each as the North maintained its four point advantage at 35-31 with 3:44 left before halftime. Rich Ng highlighted North’s scoring with both baskets. Grace then made one of two at the line to not only cut the deficit to 35-32 at the 3:30 mark, but also spark a pivotal 8-0 run that gave the South its first lead of the contest since it lead 5-4 at the 18:33 mark. Ironically, that lead came about thanks to Grace as well on a trey. The South team capped its late second half rally when Grace scored on a layup off of an assist from Williams to make the score, 39-35 at the 1:27 mark.
The North fought back though with a 6-2 rally of its own to tie the game at 41-41. Highlighting the run was a nice play by Weber as he drove down court, made a nice pirouette around Grace, and went in for the layup to make the score, 41-41 with about 30 seconds remaining. However, the South All-Stars took the lead at the half on a late score to make it 43-41 going into the brief break. The second half saw the South pick up right where it left off in the first half as the mostly GMC laden squad came up with the first points of the new half. Ross Gerhart of Spotswood got a steal, and passed downcourt to his Charger teammate, Cody Pace, who drove in for the layup to make it 45-41 at the 18:25 mark. Another GMC player, Codey Preston, then sank two free throws at the 17:09 mark to answer a previous score by the North to make it a four point game again at 47-43. Scoring the next four points, the North All-Stars managed to tie the game up again at 47-47 before Melvin found Carberry for a layup to give the South the lead once more at 49-47 with 16:15 remaining in the contest.
Carberry, who has shown increasing amounts of poise with every game he plays, sank two free throws that not only padded his scoring on the night, but also padded his team’s lead at 51-47 with 15:05 to play. Grace then capped the 7-0 spurt with a three pointer from the right wing to make the score, 54-47 with 14:26 left. Once again though, the North showed resolve and fortitude by rallying once more with eight straight points including an offensive rebound and follow by Epps at the 12:42 mark to take a one point, 55-54 lead. Unfortunately for the North All-Stars, that would be their last lead in the game. The reason for that was that the South quickly retook the lead, and raised it back to seven with another patented 8-0 run highlighted by a three point play by Raymond at the 11:58 mark, and then a pair of free throws by Grace at the 11:06 mark to make the score, 62-55. The North attempted to climb back into the affair once again with four consecutive points to trim the deficit to three at 62-59 with 10:07 remaining, but Melvin made another key contribution with a couple free throws at the eight minute mark for a 64-59 advantage.
The North made it a four point game again with one of two from the line by Epps, but the South responded immediately as Melvin came up big again with a three pointer to make the score, 67-60 with just under seven minutes to go in the showcase. Once more though, the North All-Stars battled back with seven unanswered points in a span of just 1:12 to knot the game up again at 67-67. The South then pulled away with a key 16-5 game deciding tear sparked by Williams, who was fouled on a three point attempt from the right wing at the 4:12 mark, and promptly canned three foul shots for a 70-67 lead. Adding to the lead, the South All-Stars got another score to make it 72-67, and then Grace scored on a layup while being fouled to make it 74-67 at the 3:22 mark. The Columbia High point guard missed the bonus free throw, but his teammate, Raymond was there to get the offensive board, and put it back in for a 76-67 lead with 3:10 left. Continuing to fight valiantly to the end, the North All-Stars rallied with five of the next seven points to close the gap to 78-72, but Grace registered another assist on a pass to Williams for a layup that made the score, 80-72 with 1:01 to play. Raymond then finished off the final onslaught with a three pointer at the 37.3 second mark for an 83-72 lead.
Once again, the North rallied with five of the game’s last seven points to make the score a more closer 85-77 final. With the 6th Annual HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic All-Star Bash behind us, it is now time to take a peek at the upcoming playoffs, which get underway on Monday, October 29th with the Quarterfinal round. The top eight teams made the playoffs including: 1. Columbia (10-0), 2. Watchung Hills (8-2), 3. Roselle (7-3), 4. Shabazz (6-4), 5. Plainfield (6-4), 6. Hunterdon Central (4-6), 7. Woodbridge (4-6), and 8. Metuchen (4-6). Two teams that did not qualify were Hillsborough and Spotswood while Franklin left the league after the first four games. The Quarterfinal games will be held at 6:00 PM, 7:00 PM, 8:00 PM, and 9:00 PM at Plainfield High School. In the first game at 6:00 PM, host school and fifth seeded Plainfield will take on Watchung Conference rival and fourth seeded, Shabazz in a rematch of a tremendous game that was played on October 3rd with the Bulldogs winning, 56-51. The next game at 7:00 PM features another rematch between Roselle and Hunterdon Central, which played a thrilling overtime game that was won by Roselle, 47-45 on October 3rd. Then, at 8:00 PM, Watchung Hills takes on Woodbridge in a rematch of another close game from the regular season that was won by the Warriors, 53-48 on September 17, 2007. In the nightcap, top seeded Columbia will face off against eighth seeded Metuchen in a rematch of not only an early season game, but also another first round playoff game from last season’s tournament. Both games were won easily by Columbia although the Bulldogs showed some fight in the regular season clash this year before losing, 58-41. Metuchen has been steadily improving, and gave Plainfield a hard time before the Cardinals pulled away at the end for a 55-46 win on October 17th.
The Quarterfinal winners will meet in the two semifinal games at 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM on Halloween night, and then the two semifinal winners will play in the Championship the following day on Thursday at 7:45 PM.
|South All Stars||43||42||85|
|North All Stars||41||36||77|
PLAINFIELD, NJ–GMC Hoops traveled out to Plainfield High School once again to renew its coverage of the fall league season with a night of action in the 2007 HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic. On this night, the web site covered two games that both involved schools from the Greater Middlesex Conference, Woodbridge and Metuchen, which have also recently earned playoff berths in the league’s post-season tournament that gets underway in twelve days. The Barrons played first against Hunterdon Central in a game that took place on Court #1 at 6:30 PM while at 7:30 PM, Metuchen faced off against the host school, Plainfield on the same Court #1. Both games were very competitive, which can be a rarity in this league, but the Bulldogs really showed tremendous improvement over the beginning of their fall campaign with perhaps their best effort against a very talented Plainfield squad.
Hunterdon Central Pulls Out Victory Over Barrons In A Hard Fought Battle, 57-53
The Red Devils of Hunterdon Central, which compete in the Delaware West Division of the Skyland Conference, have been steadily improving this fall. Early on in the season, Hunterdon Central took on another GMC team in Metuchen back on September 19, 2007. On that day, the Bulldogs, a Group I school, defeated the Red Devils, a Group IV school, by a 39-28 score. Woodbridge also took on Metuchen the week before on September 12, 2007, and the Barrons came away with an easy, 44-24 victory. However, since that time, Hunterdon Central has steadily improved, and that improvement led to a key victory over Woodbridge that gives them a shot at landing the sixth seed in the upcoming playoffs. Using a 10-0 run over a span of 5:07, the Red Devils took an early 16-5 lead, and despite a rally by the Barrons over the final 8:28 of the half, HCHS was still able to hold a tenuous 26-23 lead at the break. Then, in the second half, Woodbridge overtook Hunterdon Central with a 15-10 run over a span of 10:43 span for a 52-51 lead with 1:30 left, but the Red Devils pulled out the 57-53 win with six of the game’s last seven points.
Arriving late to the game, GMC Hoops arrived at the gym at the 13:35 mark of the first half with Hunterdon Central leading by a 6-5 score. The Red Devils then began their 10-0 run with a score some twenty seconds later for an 8-5 lead at the 13:15 mark. Then, HCHS got a steal off Woodbridge underneath its own basket, went on a fast break for a layup attempt that was no good, but rebounded by another Red Devil player. The ball was then kicked out, and then passed back inside for another layup attempt for a foul, which was turned into two free throws for a 10-5 lead at the 11:55 mark. A little more than a minute and a half later, Hunterdon Central scored again off an inbounds play to a player on the right wing for a jumper that made it 12-5 at the 10:23 mark. Thirty seconds after that, the Barrons were forced to call a timeout when Hunterdon Central put in another score for an 8-0 run for a 14-5 advantage with less than ten minutes remaining before the intermission. The timeout didn’t appear to be the remedy at first since Mike Kirkin scored on an offensive rebound and follow to make it a 10-0 run for a 16-5 lead with 9:18 left before halftime. However, Tim Weber broke the schneid with a drive for a layup at the 8:28 mark to make the score 16-7. The two teams went back and forth for a bit as the Red Devils scored on another offensive rebound and putback to make it 18-7 at the 8:20 mark, Woodbridge made two free throws at the 8:13 mark to cut the lead in half at 18-9, and the Red Devils made it a double-digit lead again with a score at the 8:04 mark to make it 20-9.
Weber then put Woodbridge into double digits with another nice drive through the middle for a layin to cut the deficit to 20-11 at the 7:43 mark. Twelve seconds later, the Barrons used great teamwork to score again as Rich Ng picked up a steal, passed ahead to Weber, who in turn dished to Zambrana for a layin off the fast break to make it a 20-13 Hunterdon Central lead at the 7:31 mark. Gerard Bullock then made it a 6-0 Woodbridge run when he drove to his right from the left baseline, and then through the middle for a layin to make it a 20-15 game at the 5:41 mark. Keeping Woodbridge at arm’s length for the time being, the Red Devils came up with the next two scores including an offensive rebound and left handed layup on the follow to make it 22-15 at the 5:23 mark, and a nice feed for a layup at the 5:07 mark to make the score, 24-15. Ng closed the gap to seven again with a drive through the middle for a layin as the Barrons made it 24-17 with 4:52 left in the half by repeatedly taking advantage of the fact that no Hunterdon Central player would step in to either defend the drive through the middle, or better yet, take a charge. Unfortunately, the Barrons stubbed their toes a lot in this one thanks to several technical fouls including the first one assessed at the 3:34 mark. The good thing for Woodbridge was the fact that Hunterdon Central went 2 of 6 collectively as a team for the game in technical foul shots.
After the two technical foul shots were missed, Woodbridge went right back to work with a score from Bullock to make it a 24-19 Red Devil lead at the 3:34 mark. Bullock, who had eight of Woodbridge’s 18 points over the final 13:35 of the first half, scored again 1:13 late on a foul line jumper that trimmed the Hunterdon Central lead to just three at 24-21. The Barrons then crept closer when Edrise Pope-Wright grabbed a rebound and passed upcourt to Ng, who drove to the basket for a spin and off-balanced shot as he fell to the floor that was off the mark, but rebounded by Zambrana, who passed to Bullock for a shot attempt and foul. Bullock then made two free throws for a 24-23 Red Devil edge at the 1:34 mark. The Barrons then actually had a chance to take the lead, but Hunterdon Central double teamed Bullock for a steal that was turned into a layup with 1.5 seconds remaining for a 26-23 halftime lead. In addition, the Red Devils got another break when Woodbridge was assessed its second technical of the game, which resulted in a 27-23 lead at the start of the second half. The technical had put a damper on what was a strong finish to the first half by the Barrons, which closed out the period with an 18-10 showing to close within three going into the brief break. Besides Bullock’s eight point effort in the final 13:35, Weber added four points while three others including Ng and Zambrana each chipped in with a field goal.
Following the technical foul shots to start the half for the four point HCHS advantage, Woodbridge got on the board to cut the deficit in half when Ng scored on a one handed shot to make it 27-25 with 19:25 to go in the game. Then, Zambrana followed that with a layup to tie the contest at 27-27 with 18:30 to go. Hunterdon Central got its first field goal of the second half with a layup to take a 29-27 lead at the 17:46 mark. For the game, there were a total of 11 lead changes and five ties in the contest although Woodbridge didn’t have its first lead of the game since our arrival until the 6:13 mark of the second half. Less than twenty-five seconds later, the Red Devils made it a four point lead when a player drove the length of the floor for a layup at the 17:22 mark to make the score, 31-27. The Barrons then cut the lead to two again as Bullock came up with a drive of his own for a layup from the right side to make it 31-29 with 17:05 left. Hunterdon Central promptly responded with penetration to the middle of the key, and kick out to the left baseline for a jumper that was good for a four point, 33-29 lead with 16:55 to go. Woodbridge came right back with a score of its own as Blair Dolphin connected on a jumper from the left wing to make it 33-31 with 16:42 remaining. The volleys of baskets continued as HCHS went back up by four as a player pump faked on the left low block to score on a layup for a 35-31 lead with 15:52 to play.
Nine seconds later though, Woodbridge replied with another score as Dolphin made a nice pass underneath to Bullock for a basket to pull within two again at 35-33 with 15:43 to go. A little over a minute later, Woodbridge tied the game up as Ng made a pair of free throws to make it a 35-35 game at the 14:40 mark. At this point, the Barrons had outscored the Red Devils by a 30-19 margin (including a 12-8 run in the first 5:20 of the second half) over a 14:38 span since trailing 16-5 early on. Yet, Hunterdon Central stayed in control of the situation as it got a score off a jumper for a 37-35 edge at the 14:00 mark, and then had numbers on the break for a layup sixteen seconds later for a 39-35 advantage with 13:44 remaining in regulation. Once again though, Woodbridge hung on thanks to Bullock, who got a kind bounce and roll on a shot for a 39-37 HCHS lead at the 13:15 mark. The Red Devils then went back up by four, 41-37, when a player made two foul shots at the 12:34 mark. HCHS then got a steal off Bullock at the top of the key in the Woodbridge forecourt at the 12:13 mark, and promptly called timeout. Following the stoppage, the Barrons managed to cut the lead to two again as Bullock rebounded a missed Hunterdon Central shot, drove upcourt, and dished to Ng on the right wing for a layup to make the score, 41-39 with just under twelve minutes to play.
A minute after that score, Dolphin forced a jump ball situation, and the Barrons got the ball back to set up a tying score as Ng returned the favor by passing to Bullock for a jumper to knot the game at 41-41 with 10:29 left. Quickly responded to reassert control of the game, the Red Devils scored a layup for a 43-41 lead at the 10:22 mark. The Hunterdon Central lead went back up to four again as they took advantage of the great hustle and save by Dolphin for a drive along the left baseline and dish across the pain for a layup to make it 45-41 exactly midway through the second half. Once again, Woodbridge wouldn’t let Hunterdon Central get to far ahead as Ng connected on a jumper from the left wing for a 45-43 score at the 9:40 mark. Speaking of the lead, neither team had a lead bigger than eleven points in the game, and no lead was bigger than four points in the entire second half, and in the final 22:21 of the contest. More than a minute and a half later, Bullock rebounded and outlet a pass upcourt to Zambrana for a layup that tied the game again at 45-45 with 8:05 left. The Barrons had a chance to take the lead some 45 seconds later, but Bullock’s rebound and drive upcourt for a layup attempt was blocked by a Hunterdon Central player, and despite being fouled on the play, couldn’t convert the two free throws. The missed second foul shot was rebounded by Pope-Wright, but the Barrons ultimately couldn’t convert the second chance opportunity.
Over a minute later, Woodbridge seized on an opportunity as Weber drew an offensive foul on an HCHS player. Three seconds later, the Red Devils were given a technical in a contest that saw four of those. The Barrons then took its first lead since very early in the game with one of two free throws that made the score, 46-45 at the 6:13 mark. WHS then took its biggest lead of the game with a layup by Weber off a nice feed from Bullock for a 48-45 score at the 4:49 mark, but the Barrons pretty much gave the lead right back to HCHS as they were assessed their third technical foul of the game, which first resulted in a pair of free throws by the Red Devils to make the score, 48-47 at the 4:45 mark, and then a field goal by the Hunterdon County school for a 49-48 lead as the Barrons called for time at the 3:05 mark. After the timeout, Woodbridge fell behind a bit further as Hunterdon Central, which is based in Flemington, scored again with a left handed hook shot down low following an Ng turnover at the 2:47 mark to make the score, 51-48 with 2:21 to play. Woodbridge rallied back to not only end the HCHS 6-0 run, but also take the lead with a jumper by Bullock from Ng at the 1:55 mark to make the score, 51-50, and then a layup for a 52-51 lead with 1:30 left.
Unfortunately for the Barrons, that would be the last lead they would have in this one. Hunterdon Central took the lead back on the next offensive possession by outhustling their GMC opponent for a loose ball, and offensive rebound that resulted in a jumper from the right wing that was true to make the score, 53-52 at the 1:14 mark. Woodbridge tied the game up as Bullock came up with a steal, and drive upcourt for a shot that missed, but Dolphin was there for the offensive rebound and putback attempt that he was fouled on for one of two from the charity stripe that squared the game at 53-53 with 43.17 left in regulation. The Red Devils then took the lead for good with an offensive rebound and putback of their own at the 21.1 mark to make the score, 55-53, and then closed the game out with two free throws off an intentional foul by Bullock to make the final score, 57-53. With the win, Hunterdon Central goes into its final game with a record of 3-6, and all they needed was a victory over Spotswood on Monday, October 22nd, to seal the sixth spot, and a probable matchup against Roselle in the Quarterfinal round. Meanwhile, Woodbridge, missed a golden opportunity to get the sixth seed themselves with the defeat, and despite a win due to forefeit by Franklin on Monday, will need help to get seeded higher than seventh.
|Hunterdon Central (3-6)||26||31||57|
Metuchen Gives Plainfield Fits Before Falling, 55-46
It was perhaps Metuchen’s best performance of the fall, but it still wasn’t good enough. With the score tied up at 8-8 at the 11:05 mark of the first half, Plainfield outscored the Bulldogs by a 12-2 margin over the next 7:52 including an 10-0 run during 4:02 of that period to take a 20-10 lead. The hometown Cardinals then outscored Metuchen with four of the last six points of the half for 14-2 half closing tear, and a 24-12 lead at the intermission. Consequently, the home team managed to pull out the win, 55-46 in the 7:30 PM game despite the Bulldogs outscoring Plainfield by a slim 34-31 margin. Metuchen had scored almost as many points in the second half as both teams had in the opening half (36). There were four lead changes and three ties within the first 11:45 of the contest, but Plainfield, which didn’t have a lead greater than a dozen in the contest, led the rest of the way in the final 28:15 thanks to the decisive mid first half run. The Cardinals held the twelve point advantage at several points in the game including halftime (24-12), the 16:37 mark of the second half (30-18), about the 15:30 mark of the second half (32-20), and with 4:07 left in the game (49-37).
Metuchen was able to make it interesting through a combination of getting back on defense to eliminate fast breaks and easy basket opportunities, deploying a 2-3 zone that forced the more talented Cardinals to attempt to score more from the perimeter, and better execution on offense thanks to the play of point guard, Mark Switzer, who ensured Metuchen’s control of the tempo. While Plainfield did have its hands full, the Cards started the game with its reserves and the starters didn’t enter the contest until the 16:31 mark. In spite of that, PHS, which competes in the rough and tumble Watchung Conference during the regular season, couldn’t seem to take off as most would think they would at the start of the game. Another factor could have been the shorter court that the game was played on since there was a game going on at the same time. Nevertheless, Metuchen competed very well against a school that is much bigger in size, and is more talented. At the beginning of the contest, neither team scored for the first 2:42 until Switzer got the Bulldogs on the board first with a drive and bounce pass to Akheeme Green for a short jumper along the baseline to make it 2-0 at the 17:18 mark. The Cards tied the game up on the next possession with a shot along the baseline to make the score 2-2 at the 16:58 mark. Plainfield then got the ball back moments later, and had a chance to take the lead, but was called for traveling at the 16:31 mark as the regulars entered the game.
Almost exactly a minute later, Metuchen had an opportunity to take the lead as Codey Preston stepped to the line. However, the tall and lanky junior forward misfired on his two foul shot attempts, and the game remained knotted at 2-2. On a subsequent Cardinal possession, Ricky Terry gave his team the lead with a drive to his left into the key for a score that made it 4-2 at the 15:06 mark. Anthony Baskerville then increased Plainfield’s lead to four with a jumper that made the score, 6-2 at the 14:23 mark. Neither team scored for almost a minute and a half until Switzer hooked up with Green again with a nice entry pass for a score that made it 6-4 at the 12:54 mark. Mike Price made it a four point advantage again on a jumper from the right wing with 12:06 remaining before halftime to make it 8-4. The Bulldogs hung tough though with a 4-0 run that consisted of a score nearly half a minute later to close the gap to two again at 8-6 with 11:40 to go until the intermission, and then a pair of free throws from Preston at the 11:05 mark to knot the game at 8-8. MHS had a chance to take the lead when Nick Collas grabbed an offensive rebound, and fired an outlet pass upcourt to Switzer for a drive that drew a foul at the 10:26 mark, but it was on the floor rather than on the shot, and the Bulldogs couldn’t capitalize.
A bit more than a minute later, Plainfield took the lead again as the Cards scored on an offensive rebound and putback off a missed jumper from the left wing to make the score, 10-8. However, Green, who had one of his better offensive efforts of the fall, scored his sixth point of the half on a layin to square the contest again at 10-10 with 8:51 to go in the half. Unfortunately for Metuchen, that would be the last time it would tie the game. Over the final 8:51 of the opening half, the Cardinals found their stride, and put together what would ultimately be, the game deciding run. During this stretch, Plainfield would score 14 of the last 16 points of the half with the Bulldogs getting their only points on a layup by Collas off a nice assist from Preston at the 2:38 mark. The Cards had six field goals including five layups (three came off steals), and netted a pair of free throws over this key span. For a little more than four minutes, the Bulldogs became a bit unglued from their game plan, and it proved to be the difference. You’ll often hear the phrase made by coaches during the course of a high school basketball game that you have to play 32 minutes. Metuchen’s unraveling during this key juncture is proof of how valid that phrase is.
The home team started the tear with an offensive rebound that led to a Baskerville layup for a 12-10 lead at the 8:15 mark. A little more than ten seconds later, the diminutive Cardinal guard was back at it again with a steal for another score that increased Plainfield’s edge to four at 14-10 with 8:04 remaining before the brief break. Nearly twenty-five seconds after that, the Cards were on the move once again as they got another offensive rebound that resulted in a putback attempt and foul. Two more points were added as the foul shots were good to make the score, 16-10 at the 7:40 mark. Following a Metuchen timeout at the 7:32 mark, the pivotal onslaught continued as the Bulldogs failed to convert an opportunity created by Evan Carberry when he passed to Collas for a layup attempt and foul with 6:20 remaining in the period. Collas was unable to make either free throw, and nearly a minute later, PHS pushed its lead to eight as Ricky Terry picked up another steal for a layup, and an 18-10 advantage. Four seconds later, Metuchen coach, Corey Preston, called for time once more. However, like the previous Bulldog stoppage some two minutes and change earlier, this didn’t seem to have an effect as Isiah Epps dribbled in on the right wing for a short jumper to make it 20-10 at the 4:13 mark. The Bulldogs finally ended a scoring drought of 6:13 when Preston, who has very good court awareness for a big man, found Collas for a layup to trim the deficit to single digits again at 20-12 with 2:38 to go in the half.
Plainfield then closed out the half with four straight points to double Metuchen’s score at 24-12 going into the short intermission. The Cardinals capped the late first half tear with a steal off of Preston that ended up in the hands of Price for a layup with 24.6 to play before the break. In the second half, there was much more activity on both offensive ends as the two teams combined for 65 points. Surprisingly, Metuchen outscored the home team, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the halftime deficit. The Bulldogs opened up the second half scoring when Carberry pulled down a rebound of a miss jumper by Epps, drove the ball upcourt, and dished left to a cutting Vinnie Sardone for a layup to make it a ten point game again, 24-14 with 19:39 to play. Epps atoned for his misfire with an offensive rebound and putback of another missed shot for a 26-14 lead at the 18:12 mark. A half minute later, Carberry registered another assist with a pass to Green for a jumper from the right side to make it 26-16 at the 17:42 mark. Switzer then got into the act with a basket of his own on a jumper from the left wing that got a kind roll to make it an eight point game at 26-18 with 17:16 to play. Baskerville then scored four unanswered points with a basket at the seventeen minute mark, and two free throws at the 16:37 mark to make it a twelve point lead again at 30-18.
Carberry continued to play unselfishly with his second assist in nearly two minutes as he passed to Switzer for a jumper from the left wing for a ten point, 30-20, Plainfield lead with 15:50 left. Plainfield would get another score to go up by twelve with about 15:30 remaining before Sardone got on the board again with a layup to trim the deficit to 32-22 at the 15:17 mark. Codey Preston brought the Cardinal lead back down into single digits when he made two more charity shots at the 14:44 mark to make the score, 32-24. A little more than a half minute later, Mike Price found a teammate on the right wing for a jumper that made the score, 34-24 at the 14:06 mark. Matt Knight then followed that up with one of two from the line at the 13:33 mark for a 35-24 advantage. The younger and more inexperienced Bulldogs continued to scrap like its mascot would for a bone or chew toy as Preston made one of two at the line for a 35-25 score, and then Green blocked a shot on the defensive end, which was then rebounded by Elijah Sellers, who drove upcourt and dished right to a cutting Carberry for a layup as he was fouled, but he missed the bonus free throw for a 35-27 at 11:30 mark.
Following a timeout called by Plainfield coach, Tony Graham at the 9:54 mark, Metuchen battled on the offensive glass and surprisingly came down with four offensive rebounds it was able to convert as Carberry scored on a putback to make it a 35-29 game with 9:20 left. The Bulldogs weren’t able to get any closer though as Ricky Terry picked up a steal off an errant pass by Codey Preston, who was trying to be a bit too cute with a behind the back pass to Carberry underneath amongst several Cardinal defenders. Terry then came back up the court for a layup that made it a four point turnaround for a 37-29 lead. Terry scored again shortly afterward with a layup that compelled Metuchen to call for time trailing 39-29 with 8:16 remaining in the contest. The Bulldogs continued to hang tough though as Codey Preston and Sellers combined on a nice give and go for a Preston layup to close the gap to eight again at 39-31 with 8:03 left. After another Plainfield score, Preston, who ended up with three field goals, and made 7 of 10 at the line for 13 points, notched two more at the foul line to cut the deficit to 41-33 with 7:21 to go. The Cards got another score before Sellers plucked a steal for a layup to bring the deficit back down to eight again at 43-35 with 6:01 left. Following a timeout at the 5:55 mark by the home team, Plainfield went back up by double digits as Baskerville found Shaun Blackmon for a layin to make the score, 45-35 at the 4:58 mark, but Metuchen came right back down the floor for a Greene layup that made it 45-37 at the 4:52 mark.
Keeping their opponent at bay, the Plainfield Cardinals pushed the margin back to its largest of the game as Epps connected on a jumper from the left wing for a 47-37 lead at the 4:31 mark, and an easy layup by Price to make it 49-37 with 4:07 to go as the Bulldogs called timeout. Emerging from the stoppage, Metuchen tried to climb back into the game as Switzer did a nice job of stepping into the gaps of the Plainfield defense, and giving a solid bounce pass to Preston for a layup to close the gap to ten again at 49-39 with 3:31 left. Collas then followed that up with a short jumper from the left side to trim the deficit to single digits again at 49-41 with 3:02 to play. The Cards went back up by double digits as Epps knocked down a jumper from up top for a 51-41 lead at the 2:44 mark. Collas made one of two at the line for a nine point Plainfield lead with exactly two minutes to go before the Cards picked up a layup for a 53-42 advantage with 1:47 left. On the very next Metuchen possession, Preston then made a nice skip pass along the baseline to Carberry for a jumper from the left corner that was true for a 53-44 Cardinal lead at the 1:33 mark. Plainfield then added a layup for a 55-44 edge with 1:21 remaining before Metuchen got its final points of the game on a score at the 1:02 mark. The home team had a chance to finish the contest with a double digit win, but Price missed an uncontested layup as time expired for the 55-46 score.
With the victory, Plainfield raised its record to 6-3 on the fall while Metuchen dropped to 3-5. Both teams will be back in action on Monday as the Cardinals will face off against Watchung Hills in a game that could determine, who gets the second seed in the upcoming playoffs. The Warriors will enter the pivotal contest with a 7-2 mark, and a win by Plainfield could vault it into second place by virtue of winning tiebreakers against Watchung Hills and Roselle, which the Cards defeated by a 73-46 margin back on September 12th. Meanwhile, Metuchen faces off against Shabazz in a battle of Bulldogs that also play a role in the standings since the Newark school could also move into second place with a win if Plainfield defeats Watchung Hills since the Bulldogs of Essex County defeated Plainfield back on October 3rd.
GMC Hoops plans to be out at Plainfield High School again next week to see HBA’s traditional All-Star Bash, which includes a Girls All-Star Game, Slam Dunk and Three Point Shooting Competition, and the Boys All-Star Game. Action gets underway at 6:30 PM. The following week, the playoffs get underway with the top eight finishing teams in the regular season competing including GMC member schools, Woodbridge and Metuchen. Both teams earned playoff spots thanks to 4-6 marks compiled during the fall, but the Barrons got the higher seed thanks to a early season 44-24 win over the Bulldogs on September 12th.