PISCATAWAY, NJ–On Sunday morning, GMC Hoops took a trip out to the Rutgers Athletic Center to take in the full morning schedule of games in the 2008 edition of the Rutgers Elite Team Camp. All in all, the web site took in all or part of seven games. Contests included matchups between Bishop Loughlin of New York and St. Patrick’s, Linden versus Bishop Ford, White Plains versus Union, Blair Academy against ANC, Christ the King versus Linden, Bishop Ford vs. St. Patrick’s, and Blair against St. Anthony’s. There were no teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference involved in this event, but there were a couple players with GMC ties competing. More importantly though, it gave GMC Hoops an opportunity to see some of the area’s elite basketball programs play, and to speak with some of the people involved with running the Rutgers Basketball program. While the site did not get there for the exact start of the action at 9:00 AM, it did manage to capture some of the second half of play in two of the games including St. Patrick’s of Elizabeth and Bishop Loughlin of New York, and Linden versus another parochial school from New York in Bishop Ford.
St. Patrick’s Cruises Past Bishop Loughlin, 66-38
In the least competitive of the two games witnessed at the 9:00 AM hour, the perennially ranked team nationally from Elizabeth had already amassed a 54-32 lead with about four minutes remaining when GMC Hoops took a peak over at some of the action that was going on there. Then, at the 3:45 mark, the Celtics made one of two from the foul line for a 55-32 lead. St. Pat’s then followed that up with a jumper in the key to make the score, 57-32 with 3:19 to play. Bishop Loughlin, which is a proud basketball program from the New York City area that has competed in many showcase events over the years, finally got on the board with two free throws at the 2:30 mark for a 57-34 St. Pat’s lead. The Celtics then added to the lead with another field goal at the 2:11 mark for a 59-34 lead.
Following a St. Patrick’s timeout with 1:26 to play, Bishop Loughlin scored four of the next five points to make the game a bit more respectable at 60-38 with 42 seconds to go. However, St. Patrick’s closed out the easy win with the final six points including a jumper at the 30 second mark, and another jumper from the left side as time was running out for the final 66-38. Next game for St. Patrick’s would be at 11:00 AM against Bishop Ford of New York. Speaking of which, the latter was involved simultaneously on another court with Linden, a team that has become a powerhouse program not only on the public school level in New Jersey, but throughout the region. Despite falling to Piscataway in the Championship Game of the North Jersey Section 2 Group IV State Tournament, the Tigers still turned in a fine season after having very little coming back from the two consecutive Group IV state title teams.
Bishop Ford Edges Linden, 34-30
With 9:18 to play in the game, GMC Hoops picked up the action with Bishop Ford leading by three, 21-18 in a defensive struggle typical of many Linden games against its rivals from the Mighty Watchung Conference. Shortly after our arrival, Linden notched a field goal to close the gap to one at 21-20 with 9:15 left. A minute and forty-five seconds later, the Tigers tied the contest up with one of two from the foul line that made the score, 21-21 at the 7:30 mark. Nineteen seconds later though, Bishop Ford took the lead again as a player swiped the ball away from Linden big man, David Bruce after he had gotten a steal just moments earlier. The result was a fast break opportunity that ended with a layup for a 23-21 score with 7:11 left in the game.
The New York based school went up by four as Bishop Ford netted two free throws at the 5:45 mark after Bruce misfired on a three point field goal attempt from the right wing at the other end just moments earlier. The Tigers would close to within two again with a jumper at the foul line for a 25-23 Bishop Ford lead with 5:15 left in regulation. After spending several minutes over at an adjacent court watching St. Patrick’s of Elizabeth down Bishop Loughlin, 66-38, GMC Hoops picked up the action again with 1:36 to play and Bishop Ford still on top, 27-26. Thirty-two seconds later though, Bishop Ford put Linden on the ropes with a layin and the foul for a traditional three point play that made the score, 30-26 with only 1:04 remaining. Bruce tried to return the favor by responding with a bucket of his own as he was fouled, but couldn’t convert the conventional trifecta as he missed the bonus free throw, and the score stood at 30-28 with 40 seconds left.
Both teams would exchange scores again for a 32-30 Bishop Ford lead in the waning moments when the New York squad drew a foul, and made one of two at the line. Then, on the missed second shot, Bishop Ford scrambled to get the critical offensive board, and finished off the win by drawing another foul, and making one of two again at the line for the final 34-30 verdict. Both teams were in action one more time on Sunday with games at 11:00 AM. Bishop Ford was taking on St. Pat’s at that time while Linden was battling powerhouse program, Christ the King of New York. GMC Hoops would take in a good deal more action on this Sunday, and get some box scores to share with you all as well. One of the games in the 10:00 AM hour involved Union of the Watchung Conference, which had a splendid season under second year coach, Tony DiGiovanni, who previously had two coaching stints in the GMC at Piscataway and New Brunswick.
White Plains Hangs On To Edge Union Township, 41-39
While taking a break from some of the action between Blair Academy and ANC, GMC Hoops took a look at some of the play between White Plains and Union Township. In the first half, White Plains, which is an arch rival of Mount Vernon in New York, took a 25-17 lead at the intermission. Then, in the second half, White Plains scored the first points of the second half with a field goal some 2:37 into the new period for a 27-17 lead. Five seconds later, White Plains forced a turnover, and converted it into some points with a layup while drawing a foul at the 17:18 mark. Unable to make the bonus free throw to complete the traditional three play, and to convert on the offensive rebound it picked up off the missed second free throw, White Plains remained in front, 29-17.
A little over a minute later, White Plains scored down low off an inbounds play for a short jumper that made the score, 31-19 at the 13:50 mark. Union began to claw its way back into the matchup with a three pointer from the right wing for a 31-22 White Plains advantage with 12:35 left. Union then continued its march back with nice passing that led to a layup for a 9-4 run that trimmed into the White Plains lead, which stood at 33-26 at the 11:19 mark. Union then added a triple from the top of the key to pull within four at 33-29 with 10:45 to play. A bit more than a half minute later, the Farmers picked up a steal, and converted the resulting fast break opportunity with a dish for a layup and the foul for a traditional three point play dwindled the deficit to one at 33-32 at the 10:14 mark. Following a stint watching the ANC and Blair Academy, GMC Hoops picked up the action again with 16 seconds to play, and Union trailing by two at 41-39. At that point, White Plains missed a free throw. The ball eventually went out of bounds to Union, which now had a chance to tie. However, White Plains sealed the victory with a steal despite missing both free throws moments later.
Blair Hangs On For Win After Fast Start, 42-36
One of the more intriguing teams to watch on this Sunday at the 2008 Rutgers Elite Team Camp was Blair Academy. This prep school, which competes in the Mid Atlantic Prep League (MAPL), and battles the likes of Lawrenceville and Peddie from Mercer County year in and year out, has two players on its roster that have GMC roots. First and foremost, Sayreville’s Chris Matagrano is going to be attending the school in the fall for a year of postgraduate hoops. Secondly, and to the surprise of some, who may not be aware, the oldest son of former South Plainfield hoops coach, Jeff Lubreski is also at the school. Ryan Lubreski, who will be a senior this year, has come a long way since Greg Machos, a former Volunteer Assistant Coach at SPHS, first witnessed him on the basketball court as a young tot. The oldest of the three Lubreski siblings (Sean and Bret are the other two with the former born around 1993 while the latter was born during the 1994-95 season), Ryan plays guard and does know how to knock down the three point shot.
For those who may not be aware, the Lubreski family lineage doesn’t end with the former SPHS head coach. The two time GMCT championship coach also has a younger brother named Don, who helped lead Bishop Ahr, which was then St. Thomas Aquinas, to a Middlesex County Tournament title over St. Joseph’s in the 1981-82 season. The younger Lubreski was selected to the MCT All Tournament Team that year. Returning to the current generation of Lubreski basketball players, the Blair Academy senior played his first two years at Immaculata of Somerville, and did make some contributions to the Spartans during his tenure. Blair Academy ended up reaching the Prep A Championship Game before losing to St. Benedict’s Prep and former Colonia standout, and Pennsylvania bound Zach Rosen.
Moving on to the game, neither team scored for the first minute of play until Blair got on the board with a one of two showing at the line. Ryan Lubreski then fired in a three pointer from the left side for a 4-0 lead at the 15:14 mark. Lubreski then followed that up with another three pointer for a 7-0 lead at the 14:25 mark. Blair got another three pointer to take a 10-0 lead with exactly 14 minutes to go in the first half. ANC finally called a timeout with 13:31 to go in the first half, but after the stoppage, Blair picked up right were it left off with another score for a 12-0 advantage at the 12:09 mark, and then Matagrano added a layup for a 14-0 lead with 11:30 to go in the first half. ANC didn’t get on the board until it exposed a missed defensive assignment to score on a two handed flush for a 14-2 Blair lead at the 10:19 mark. Blair would get another score before Matagrano handed out a pass to Lubreski on the left wing for a three pointer that made the score, 19-2 with exactly 9:00 to go before the intermission.
This fast start was all that Blair would need for the win, but it would get interesting the rest of the way. ANC would embark on a 7-0 run over a span of 3:50 to pull within ten again at 19-9 with 5:10 to go before halftime. Both teams would then exchange scores over the next 1:08 before a timeout is called with Blair leading 21-11 at the 4:02 mark. Following the stoppage, Blair added another two points on a pair of free throws for a 23-11 advantage with 3:11 remaining in the half. ANC then scrapped back with 7 of the next 9 points to pull within seven at 25-18 before Blair struck for a three pointer from the top of the key to close out the first half scoring as the scoreboard read 28-18 in favor of the prep school nestled in Warren County. GMC Hoops would spend much of its time in the second half watching the contest between White Plains and Union, but still managed to capture the final six plus minutes of action between Blair and ANC.
Returning to watch at the 6:10 mark of the second half, GMC Hoops arrived to find out that ANC had outscored Blair by a 13-7 margin over the first 13:50 of the second half to pull within five at 35-30. Lubreski then scored a layup on the right low block for Blair Academy off an inbounds play for a 37-30 lead with 6:08 left. A bit more than a minute later, Blair increased its lead to nine with a pair of free throws at the five minute mark. ANC would score the next three points including one of two from the line at the 4:30 mark, and then a jumper by its big man at the 3:23 mark to pull within six at 39-33 when it called for time. Following the timeout, and a subsequent double technical with 2:39 to go, ANC would get a steal off Matagrano, who lost the handle, and had a layup attempt that drew a foul when Lubreski’s attempt to draw a charge didn’t work out. ANC then made one of two free throws with exactly two minutes left for a 39-34 Blair lead.
Unfortunately for ANC supporters that would be as close as it would get as Blair scored the next three points including two free throws by Matagrano with 22 seconds left for a 42-34 lead. ANC would get a field goal, but that was all the scoring in this one with Blair Academy winning, 42-36. Blair was scheduled to be back in action during the 12:00 PM hour when it faced off against St. Anthony’s of Jersey City.
Christ The King Overcomes Linden In OT, 33-30
The matchup that captured a great deal of GMC Hoops attention in the 11:00 AM hour was the one between Linden and Christ the King. Like Bishop Loughlin of New York, the last time the web site (well, actually the site wasn’t in existence) saw Christ the King in action was in the 1999 Prime Time Shootout when it took on St. Joseph’s at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Then, the Falcons were led by their all time leading scorer, Jason Williams, who eventually went on to Duke, and played in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls before suffering a career ending injury in a motorcycle accident. In that game, St. Joe’s had a double digit lead midway through the fourth quarter before Christ the King, which was actually ranked second nationally at the time in the USA Today, rallied for a come from behind victory.
Meanwhile, Linden was looking to recover after losing its initial game of the morning against another New York Catholic school in Bishop Ford. The game was another overtime battle as Christ the King rallied from a fourth quarter deficit to force overtime, and then won in the extra session, 33-30. The first half started off with Linden getting a field goal some 25 seconds into the contest for a 2-0 lead. The bucket sparked a 6-0 game opening burst for the Tigers that also consisted of a running shot off the break by big man, David Bruce at the 17:13 mark, and then a baseline jumper from the left side by Bruce at the 16:09 mark. Moments later, Christ the King would call for a timeout, and following that, the Royals would rally back with eight unanswered points over the next 4:33 for an 8-6 lead at the 11:34 mark.
Highlighting the run was a score at the 15:04 mark for the Royals first field goal of the game, two free throws with 14:15 left in the half, an off-balance shot that fell through to tie things up at the 12:51 mark, and a fadeaway jumper that capped the run for an 8-6 lead. The game would seesaw again though as Linden rallied for the next four points including another baseline jumper by Bruce at the halfway mark of the first half for a 10-8 lead. The mini-run would grow into a 13-3 tear over a span of 9:59 for a 19-11 lead with 1:35 to go in the first half. Christ the King would then close things out in the half with a pair of foul shots at the 31 second mark for a 19-13 Tiger lead at the intermission. GMC Hoops took advantage of the brief break by checking out the action between St. Patrick’s and Bishop Ford for a bit, but would return moments after the second half began.
Over the first 2:41 of the second half Christ the King would make the opening salvo in its comeback attempt with a steal for a layup at the 16:54 mark, and then after a fine move for a reverse layup by Bruce at the 16:35 mark for a 21-15 lead, the Royals struck again with a trey from the right wing to close the gap to three at 21-18 with 15:19 to play in regulation. Bruce then came up with a solid defensive play to prevent Christ the King from getting closer, and his teammates took advantage with a scoring opportunity that drew a foul, and produced one of two free throws for a 22-18 lead. The lead grew to five when the Tigers got a player to put together a fine move along the right baseline for a layup attempt that resulted in one of two again from the charity stripe for a 23-18 advantage with exactly 13 minutes to go. Christ the King wasn’t going away though with a three pointer from long distance on the right wing that pulled the New York school to within a basket at 23-21 with 12:14 to go in regulation.
The Royals then pulled to within one when a player drew a foul on Linden, and made the first of two free throws. After Linden called for a timeout at the 10:32 mark, Christ the King misfired on the second charity shot, and despite grabbing the offensive board, couldn’t take the lead as a three point attempt was off the mark. The defenses took over in this half, and really began to have a stranglehold on things at this point as both teams didn’t score for about five minutes until the Tigers scored on a layup attempt that drew a foul, and produced one of two free throws for a 24-22 lead at the 5:30 mark. Christ the King would then tie the game up at 24-24 with 4:16 to play in the second half with a score, and the game bounced back and forth on a tenuous pendulum for the rest of the way. On Linden’s next offensive possession, the Tigers took the lead with a score for a 26-24 lead with exactly four minutes left.
Two minutes would go by before the next score, and that would be by Christ the King at the 2:00 mark. Once again, Linden promptly replied a short time later with a score for a 28-26 lead with 1:33 to go in regulation. However, Christ the King would force overtime with a score down the stretch to knot things up at 28-28. In the extra session, Linden got on the board first with its only field goal of the stanza on a Bruce putback for a 30-28 lead with 1:27 to go. The Royals promptly responded though with a three pointer from the left corner that gave them the lead for good at 31-30 with 1:11 to play. The Tigers did have their chance down the stretch though. With 30 seconds left Linden’s defense manufactured a turnover in the form of a steal that created a fast break opportunity, and a layup attempt that drew a foul with 30 seconds left. However, the Tigers misfired on both free throws, and Christ the King netted two from the line for a 33-30 lead with just 9 seconds left. Linden called for time with 5 seconds to go, but after the timeout, it couldn’t get itself in position for a tying three pointer.
With the loss, the Tigers came away winless on Sunday morning with two defeats by a combined total of just seven points against two very prominent Catholic school teams in the New York City area.
|Christ The King||13||15||5||33|
St. Pat’s Edges Bishop Ford, 49-43
While Linden and Christ the King of New York were entangled in an overtime duel, Bishop Ford was taking on St. Patrick’s. The Celtics had a bit more of a struggle in this one, but still managed to win its second game of the morning with a 49-43 decision. The Elizabeth based school jumped out to a 31-23 lead at the half, and still managed to hang on despite being outscored in the second half, 20-18. Bishop Ford actually got as close as 45-41 on a three pointer with a little more than three minutes remaining. However it couldn’t get any closer. GMC Hoops spent more time covering the Linden-CTK matchup, but it did still manage a good chunk of this one.
The Celtics, which will be looking to regain the throne after being dethroned this past season by St. Anthony’s of Jersey City. With 7:45 to go in the first half, the web site picked up the action with St. Pat’s leading 18-15. Twenty-two seconds later, the Celtics scored on a layin to go up by five, 20-15. Bishop Ford would reply though with a layup off the break for a 20-17 St. Patrick’s lead at the 7:07 mark. Over the next 58 seconds each team got a score to maintain the Celtics three point lead at 22-19 with 6:09 left before intermission. Bishop Ford then got another score to pull within one at 23-21 before the Celtics made one of two from the line for a 23-21 edge with 4:30 to go in the half.
Neither team would score over the next two minutes before St. Patrick’s came up with a score on an offensive rebound and putback off a missed three pointer from the left wing for a 25-21 lead at the 2:30 mark. Bishop Ford cut the deficit in half to two again with a pair from the charity stripe that made the score, 25-23 at the 1:55 mark. Twenty-five seconds afterward, St. Pat’s netted a three pointer for a 28-23 lead at the 1:30 mark, and then the Celtics closed out the first half scoring with another trey from the left corner for a 31-23 advantage going into the brief break. Then, in the second half, St. Patrick’s led by as many as 11 points before the New York based Catholic school rallied to close to within a couple of possessions late.
After checking out more of the Linden and Christ the King matchup, GMC Hoops rejoined the action in this one at the nine minute mark of the second half with St. Pat’s up by nine, 40-31. Both teams then exchanged scores for a 42-33 Celtic lead at the 8:22 mark. St. Patrick’s then went up by eleven with a fast break layup that made the score, 44-33 with 7:52 left. Thirty-four seconds later, Bishop Ford made one of two from the foul line, and although it would come up with the offensive rebound on the missed second shot, it couldn’t take advantage with a turnover. Trailing now by ten at 44-34, Bishop Ford pressed on, and continued to chip away at the deficit. Nearly a minute and a half later, the New York school came up with a fast break layup for a 44-36 Celtic lead with 5:52 remaining. Thirty-three seconds later, St. Patrick’s had an opportunity to push its advantage back up to ten, but missed the layup off the inbounds play at the 5:19 mark.
Taking advantage of the missed chance by St. Pat’s, Bishop Ford closed to within three possessions thanks to a high arching foul line jumper on the right side for a 44-38 score with 4:27 to play. On a subsequent possession, the Celtics made one of two at the line for a 45-38 lead with 4:02 left. Bishop Ford then got its three to pull within four with a bit more than three minutes left, but the Celtics put away the game with four of the final six points including two free throws at the 2:47 mark for a 47-41 lead, and a drive through the middle for a floater that raised the lead to eight at 49-41 with 1:33 to go.
St. Anthony’s Rallies To Defeat Blair Academy In OT, 45-43
In the final game of the day covered by GMC Hoops, Blair Academy was taking on St. Anthony’s of Jersey City. The Friars have been long known for producing great talent. They’re lineage of championship trophies and banners are a testament to that. However, Blair has had its share of successful players as well including Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls, Charlie Villanueva, who played in the NBA after being at UConn, and Royal Ivey, who played for the University of Texas. Recently, Summit’s own Wellington Smith played at the school along with Shamari Spears, who gave Colonia all it could handle in the 2005 Prime Time Shootout’s opening night of action at South Brunswick High School.
These two schools would do battle on this day to see, which could get somewhat of an upper hand going into the regular season. More importantly though, these two schools were finishing off a very hot day with temperatures on the rise. It was the first significant heat wave of the season. The moisture of the gym grew with each passing game as players left it on the floor with their toil and sweat. So, the atmosphere in the gym was one that thick and smothering for one trying to even breathe let alone keep track of what was happening in the games. Like its game against ANC, Blair Academy jumped out to an early lead only to see it evaporate, and disappear completely in overtime as St. Anthony’s won, 45-43.
Neither team didn’t score until the 16:24 mark of the first half when the Warren County based prep school from the Mid-Atlantic Prep League knocked down a three pointer to open the scoring. Fifteen seconds later, Blair had a chance to increase its advantage, but Ryan Lubreski was unaware of where he was on the court, and stepped out of bounds with 16:09 to go in the first half. Nevertheless, the Buccaneers registered a field goal to go up by five with 14:40 left before halftime. The Friars finally got on the board with a three pointer for a 5-3 Blair lead at the 14:28 mark. St. Anthony’s then tied things up with a jumper from the right wing that made the score, 5-5.
Blair Academy then made one of two from the line for a 6-5 lead at the 13:30 mark, and followed that up with an offensive rebound and putback while being fouled for an 8-5 lead. The Bucs had a chance for more, but misfired on the bonus free throw to convert the traditional three point play so their lead remained at three. Over the next 3:55, Blair would push its lead up to four with a 6-5 run before calling timeout with the score, 14-10 at the 8:25 mark. Following the stoppage, Blair went back to work with a three pointer for a 17-10 lead, and that sparked a 11-0 run over a span of 4:35 to take a 25-10 lead. Highlighting the tear was a field goal at the 6:01 mark, a layup at the 5:36 mark, a Lubreski layup with 5:12 to go in the first half, and then after a St. Anthony’s 30 second timeout with 5:08 left in the half another layup off a loose ball with 3:50 to play before the intermission. Dominic Cheek tried to get his team going with a pump fake at the foul line, and then a drive along the left side of the key for a layup attempt that drew a foul, and produced one of two from the charity stripe with 3:05 to go in the first half.
The Friars then added an offensive rebound and putback attempt that drew another foul, and picked up two free throws for a 25-13 Blair lead inside of two minutes left in the half. The Buccaneers would get another basket before Cheek nailed a three pointer from the right wing for a 27-16 Buc lead at the 1:17 mark. The Friars then added another basket for an 8-2 run to close out the half, and a 27-18 Blair Academy lead. In the second half, GMC Hoops did some catching up with Anthony Graham, who helps out with the Plainfield High School Basketball program. Graham, who was a standout at Piscataway during his high school days back in the early to mid 80s, worked with me when I was a year out of high school at Prudential in Iselin. Nevertheless, the site still was able to keep up with most of the action in the final period of regulation.
The second half began much like the first half ended with St. Anthony’s scoring the first two baskets including a layin at the 17:30 mark, and a another field goal at the 15:54 mark that prompted Blair to call for time with the score, 27-22. Both teams would exchange scores as Blair got a basket for a seven point lead before the Friars answered with a layup at the 14:22 mark to keep it a five point game at 29-24. Over the next 1:17, the game continued to step up its pace offensively as both teams went back and forth with scores including a three pointer from the top of the key by Blair that was set up by a Ryan Lubreski assist for a 5-4 run, and a 34-28 lead with 13:05 to go in the game. St. Anthony’s battled back to get within four at 34-30 with 8:14 to play, but Blair seemed to be in control with five of the next nine points over a span of exactly six minutes for a 39-34 lead at the 2:14 mark.
Cheek would help St. Anthony’s close the gap to a three point, one possession game just seconds later when he scored on a dunk at the 2:06 mark for a 39-36 Blair Academy. On their next possession though, the Bucs answered with some nice passing that produced a key layup for a 41-36 lead with 1:45 to play in regulation. Nearly a minute would go by before St. Anthony’s got a much needed layup for a 41-38 Blair lead with 48 seconds to go in the second half. Blair gave the Friars a gift by missing the front end of a one and one, and St. Anthony’s took advantage with a three pointer from the top of the key that banked in with just two seconds remaining for a 41-41 tie after regulation. The extra session would reveal St. Anthony’s as the victor with the Jersey City based school closing out the come from behind win with four of the six points in overtime.
In the extra period, the Friars took the lead when Cheek, who was overshadowed by the presence of Rutgers bound guard Mike Rosario, continued to assert his will with a drive through the lane for a layup that put St. Anthony’s on top, 43-41 with 55 seconds to play. Lubreski then evened the contest up again with a jumper for a 43-43 score at the 42 seconds to go. St. Anthony’s would get the final say on a layup with 15 seconds left for the 45-43 win.