Conference Teams Combine For Over .500 Record Entering Final Stage Of Season
EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ–On Monday, state tournament play began for 25 of the 31 teams in the Greater Middlesex Conference that qualified for the various tourneys categorized by school enrollment. As of the end of play, Wednesday night, the GMC has gone 9-9 against teams outside Middlesex County in state tourney play.
Entering the state tournament season, the 31 teams in the GMC had combined for an 82-76 record during the regular season against teams from other conferences. The conference is now 91-85, and has gone 22-16 since dropping to .500 in the middle of February. It has been an up and down, and streaky season for GMC schools against non-conference foes. The GMC began the year with 8 wins in its first 9 games, and then was clobbered over the holidays.
From that point on, the GMC schools have been on a roller coaster ride against teams outside of Middlesex County. For the most part though, the conference has held its own against many of the conferences in the Central Jersey area. Entering play on Thursday, the GMC is 4-3 against the Colonial Valley Conference, 23-22 versus the Skyland Conference, 10-10 against the Union County Conference, and 16-19 versus the Shore Conference. While the conference has not been dominant against schools from these other conferences, it has been able to hold its own.
A couple conferences that have done fairly well against the GMC this year have been the Burlington County Scholastic League, which has won 5 of 8 games against GMC schools, and the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic Association, which has won 6 of 9 against the GMC. Breaking down the 91-85 GMC non-conference record by division: The Gold is 32-19. The Red is 27-21. Blue Division is 20-17 while the White has struggled at 12-28. Teams that have done well against non-conference schools this season are: Perth Amboy Tech (8-1), St. Joseph’s (7-2), South River (7-3), East Brunswick Tech (6-2), Dunellen (4-0), Old Bridge (5-2), East Brunswick (5-2), Middlesex (3-0), Piscataway Tech (4-2), and Spotswood (3-1).
Carteret’s Win Over Spotswood Makes It A Three Team Scramble In Blue While Four Teams Separated By One Game In Gold
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–Prior to the season, I had indicated that the Blue and Gold Divisions were going to be tough. With the additions of Piscataway Tech and South Plainfield in the Blue, and the exit of P-Way Tech from the Gold, competitive races were expected this year in these two divisions. So far the season hasn’t disappointed. At the midway point we have a three way tie in the GMC Blue, there are three teams separated by one game.
If there is any parity in the GMC, it lies in these two divisions mostly. For instance, of the seven games that were played on Wednesday, five of them were decided by single digits, and six were determined by 10 points or less. Oh, by the way, the sixth game, the one that was decided by ten points, went to overtime. South River needed an extra session to defeat Timothy Christian, 72-62.
Gold Division Free For All
Speaking of the Rams, they have come back from the dead in divisional play. After losing its first three league games, South River has battled back with victories over Wardlaw (57-36), East Brunswick Tech (78-44), Amboy Tech, and TCS. A big part of that was the play of Tyler Harris, who had a monster week in week four with 89 points in three games.
Besides the rally in the GMC Gold, the Rams also have beaten a very good Group I school from the Shore in Keansburg twice. First time was a come from behind overtime victory in the Genevieve Hawley Tournament Championship (73-71) at Henry Hudson Regional HS over the holidays, and the second time was last Saturday at home (79-77). Matt Martinez has also played very well for the Rams. He pumped in 27 points in the win over Timothy Christian, and had a double-double in the first win over Keansburg with 16 points and 10 assists. Martinez has a great handle, shoots the ball well, and plays with great confidence. He is probably the best point guard at South River since this site was launched in 2000.
Let’s not forget Sean Darrar, who was the hero in the first win over Keansburg. The younger Darrar scored all 11 of his points in the final 5:35 of the contest including three treys. One of the threes tied the game at the buzzer to force overtime, and then another was the game winning with 18.7 seconds remaining. Against East Brunswick Tech, South River opened the game with a 28-6 first quarter rampage that included five threes. Two of those treys were by Harris, who scored the first 9 points of the game for the Rams, and had 14 of the points in the period. He ended up with 22 in the first half, and 30 for the game. Another of the two treys came from Bobby Applegate, who can provide scoring from the perimeter as well as length on defense, and rebounding.
Back to the rest of the Gold Division, there is a lot more competitive balance this year with the departure of Piscataway Tech. For instance, even though Amboy Tech is 2-5 in the league, they have lost a number of close games including a one point loss at home to Dunellen, and overtime losses to Timothy Christian and East Brunswick Tech. They also suffered a loss to South Amboy without two top players in Agnel Etienne and Jonathan Sosa. Jordan Little is a solid player in the middle for the Pats while Kelvin Perez has been the most consistent. Wardlaw is also 2-5, but they have been a strange team.
The Rams have lost twice to Amboy Tech by four and defeated Dunellen. Wardlaw also lost by one in non-conference play to North 13th Street Tech of Newark in the Joe Silver Holiday Tournament. Justen Davis is a solid rebounding and scoring combination, who is closing in on 1,000 points. Noah Ganz gives the Rams some perimeter punch while Ish Menns and John Newman provide athleticism. Matt Rosado gives much needed experience at the point while John Pohopin gives additional scoring from the outside. East Brunswick Tech has struggled since a 2-0 start with six losses in its last 10 games. Mark Alston and Brett Carmen have been solid for the Tigers.
Moving up to the top half of the Gold, Dunellen, South Amboy, and Timothy Christian are all locked in a three way battle for first place at 5-2. The Guvs appeared to have control of the division late last week, but three straight single digit losses including one at the buzzer to Highland Park, have brought them back down to .500. Thankfully, South Amboy only has won loss in the division during this recent tough stretch, a 50-42 defeat at the hands of Dunellen on Wednesday. The Governors are led by a group of juniors that includes Steve Herdman, Joe Fruncillo, Nick Kales, and Dan Murphy. They also have sophomore Tim Kales and senior Matt Lavan in the rotation.
The Guvs could easily be 9-3 at least if it weren’t for tough crossover losses to Cardinal McCarrick (54-51 in OT on December 15th), Sayreville (54-46 on January 12th), and the buzzer beater to Highland Park. In all three games, South Amboy had the held including an 11 point advantage on McCarrick. If this group begins to figure out how to close out close games against these bigger schools from the upper divisions of the GMC, they could make a bit of a rumble in the county tournament. Herdman, who recently had his 37 consecutive game streak with at least one three pointer broken, came back the next game with four in the first period as the Guvs defeated Wardlaw, 60-38. Fruncillo has had game high in each of the last three games.
Despite losing two 1,000 point scorers in Dan “Triple” Decker and Kristian Svendsen to graduation, and another key player from last year’s team in Devon Johnson, who transferred to Edison this year, the Tigers of Timothy Christian are still a factor in the GMC Gold. Led by senior Jeff Parker and junior Brandon Summers, this edition of the Tigers are a solid shooting bunch that still play solid defense and great team ball. Trailing by four near the end of regulaton and in overtme at Amboy Tech last week, TCS found a way to win (54-51) as Summers came up with two scores to tie the game with a minute to go in overtime and Parker won it with a three from the left wing with 31.8 seconds to go.
Jarret Locke is a nice little playmaker, who was just a split second shy from winning the contest in regulation with a heave just inside halfcourt. He also had a runner that tied the contest. Mike DiLeo provides some additional scoring punch while reserve Zach Coyle helped the Tigers stay in front for a while in the third against the Patriots with a trey from the left wing. Evan Waldron clogs up the middle, and gives TCS some much needed size down low. Head coach Chris Hobbs has some help on the bench this year with an assistant, and that has helped him find ways to keep the Tigers in the hunt despite the turnover from last year.
Finally, we get to Dunellen, which could be the most intriguing team of all in this division. The Destroyers did take some hits to graduation by losing the likes of Sean Gibney and Jeff Puckett, but they still had a lot back this year with Deon Brown, Dylan Hoski, Matt Heidinger, Tony McGuane, and Orville Thompson. However, DHS has had some struggles that included losses to Wardlaw, Middlesex, and more recently, Timothy Christian. Keep in mind though that Dunellen has always gotten off to tough starts under head coach Bernie Buniak only to come on strong and either win or challenge for the division crown in late January and February.
Three Way Horse Race In GMC Blue
While four teams are in the hun in the Gold Division of the Greater Middlesex Conference, three teams are battling for first place in the Blue. Carteret moved into sole possession of first at 8-1 with a come from behind, 75-72 win over Spotswood on the road on Wednesday night. The Chargers, which came into the week undefeated in both division and conference play suffered two straight conference losses including a 74-59 defeat to North Brunswick at home on Monday night.
Tied with Spotswood, and only a half game back of Carteret in the standings is Piscataway Tech at 7-1. The Raiders rolled over Bishop Ahr, and have a tie breaker over Carteret thanks to a thrilling, 54-52 win on the road at CHS on January 4th. Spotswood defeated the Raiders at P-Way Tech to start the new year. Despite moving up a division, and losing the likes of Galen Smith, Khairi Mosely, and Mo Pierre to graduation and the likes of Will Joyce and Jalen Jackson to transfer, Piscataway Tech has managed to not only stay in contention, but get some early season quality wins on the road at Carteret and over Group IV schools, Passaic and Paterson Kennedy in the Jingle Bells Jubilee over the holidays.
Turell McClendon, Jordan Lackey, and Aziz Austin carry much of the load for PVT, but role players Robby Pierre, Inderpaul Pingahila, and Willie Patterson have contributed nicely as well. Head coach Karl Towns has also made some defensive adjustments, and now he is looking like a strong GMC Hoops Coach of the Year candidate. He may have mellowed a bit on the sideline as well, but he was very close to top form in the win over Carteret two weeks ago. Carteret also took some heavy losses to graduation by losing the likes of Avery Carter, Tanveer Dosanjh, Joe Nigro, and Kevin Van Dyke among others, but still had the likes of sophomores Jaquan Robertson and Brandon Gilder back along with senior Elijah Torres.
Younger brother Zach Torres has also contribued off the bench while newcomers Tyrell Lockley and Joe McRae provide athleticism and versatility. Forward Andrew Stam gives CHS some length and scoring ability from the perimeter. The team in the Blue with the most experience back is Spotswood. Even though the Chargers lost 1,000 point scorer, Tommy Soulias, who is now playing well at Kean, they had the likes of Jake Dadika, Dalonte Grant, Jamal Lewis, Corey Brown and Kevin Fox all back this year. In addition they have some solid newcomers such as freshmen Marlon Hart and Eric Dadika coming off the bench. Jake Dadika is one of the top scorers in the GMC this year whle Grant provides additional scoring punch to make this one of the best backcourts in the conference.
Lewis may be undersized, but his athletic ability and tenacity help him compensate for that as he has put up a number of double-digit scoring games recently including 18 in a victory over Bishop Ahr. Corey Brown brings his football toughness on the boards while scoring from either the perimeter or by going to the basket. Kevin Fox demonstrated a nice knack of perimeter shooting to help the Chargers put the game out of reach against BGA. Hart and the younger Dadika also find ways to contribute any way they can.
For a while, Bishop Ahr appeared to be a contender with five wins in six games after an opening night loss to Carteret, but since then, the Trojans have come back down to earth with three straight losses including an overtime defeat at Metuchen, and double digit setbacks to division frontrunners Spotswood and Piscataway Tech. The BGA was hit hard by graduation with all but two players graduating last June. However, head coach Dennis O’Keefe has a solid sophomore class headed by Tom Weiler, and a couple transfers from St. Joseph’s including Owen McLeod. Mike Jensen, one of the two holdovers from last year, has a knack for getting to the basket while Greg Patuto provides some scoring from the perimeter. Senior guard, Tom Duffy has the ability to make plays and score.
Like Ahr, Middlesex had also been playing well for a stretch before suffering several setbacks. Although the Blue Jays are presently hovering around the .500 mark, they look to be more improved this year, especially with Rutgers Prep transfer, Austin Bardaji in the lineup. Prior to Bardaji getting into the rotation, the Jays had won 5 of its first seven games with the only two losses to division contenders Bishop Ahr and Piscataway Tech. Middlesex also defeated Dunellen in a crossover for the 2012 Shello/Santy Christmas Tournament Championship. However, the Jays have stumbled as of late with losses to divsion heavyweights Spotswood and P-Way Tech before falling at home to JFK.
Speaking of the Mustangs, Kennedy is starting to play better. After a 1-4 start the Stangs have split their last six with wins over Metuchen, South Plainfield, and Middlesex while losing to Spotswood, Piscataway Tech, and Point Pleasant Boro. JFK suffered close defeats to Warren Hills (54-47) and Mater Dei (51-47) over the holidays at the Gene Haley Tournament in Edison. Head coach, Chris Banos was hit hard by graduation as he lost his entire starting lineup from last year, but he is not making excuses and hopes his young bunch that includes Kyle Alvarez, Darrin Perez, Mike Weinstein, and Joe Duffy will continue to grow.
Metuchen has struggled in the early going this season, but second year head coach, Jon Korellis pretty much had figured that. He felt his team would start playing better come January. The Bulldogs have only won three games this season, but two of them included the overtime win over Bishop Ahr and a solid win over Group IV Howell of the Shore Conference. Metuchen also gave Piscataway Tech some trouble before falling in overtime (57-51) in the first full week of the season. Artie Flaherty Jr. is playing much like his dad did when he scored over 2,000 points to become the all time leading scorer at the school in the early to mid-1980s. Tom Chalker continues to grow at the point while Brian Eustace, Hunter Clarke, Frank McGuire, and Evan Collier have contributed well.
South Plainfield, which looked to be one of the favorite’s in the division entering the season, conntinues to go through some growing pains under second year head coach, Justin Chiera. The Tigers have lost a ton of close games including to Perth Amboy (48-39 OT), Middlesex (60-53), J.F. Kennedy (57-52), Bishop Ahr (64-57), and Carteret (55-50). Claude Payne has been the bright spot for the Tigers with a solid consistent effort in the paint this season. Justin Glover has also had some solid games while youngsters Jordan Hankerson and Jason Lee have come up from the JV to make key contributions. SPHS has come up with some wins over Metuchen and Highland Park over the last week. Hopefully, they can use the recent successes to turn things around.
Finally, we have Highland Park, which has talent with the likes of football standouts, Nadre Hepburn, Jordan Long, and David Webb, but the Owls have not been able to get it to translate into more victories. HPHS does have a couple recent wins over neighborhood rival Metuchen and South Amboy to hang its hat on.
Here are some video highlights from the first half of South River’s 78-44 victory over East Brunswick Tech in early January 2013. The Rams got off to a fast start thanks to a technical foul before the game even started on E.B. Tech, and the hot hand of senior Tyler Harris, who scored the first nine points of the game, 14 points in the first quarter, and 22 in the first half en route to a game high 30. South River, which had five first quarter threes, led 16-2 midway through the period, and then finished the first with a 12-0 run for a 28-6 lead. The Rams lead grew to 41-19 by halftime despite 8 second quarter points by the Tigers Mark Alston, who finished with 12. Sean Darrar chipped in with 11 including 9 in the second half for the Rams while Brett Carmen scored 10 in a losing cause for E.B. Tech.
Here is a slideshow from photos and video captures from South River’s, 78-44 victory over East Brunswick Tech in Gold Division action back in early January 2013. The Rams jumped out to a 16-2 lead as Tyler Harris scored the first 9 points, and ended up with 14 in the first quarter as the visitors increased their lead to 28-6, and never looked back. Harris ended up with 22 of his 30 points in the first half while Sean Darrar scored 9 of his 11 points in the second half as South River continued to pour it on after taking a 41-19 halftime lead. Mark Alston led the way for EB Tech with 12 points while Brett Carmen added 10, and Eugene Campbell chipped in with 8 in a losing cause. There are also some photos of South River’s new gym in this collection.
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–Week four play gets underway on Monday afternoon and evening with several contests involving GMC teams. A couple of interesting matchups between Blue and Gold Division teams as Spotswood travels to South River to play its neighborhood rival while Timothy Christian takes on Bishop Ahr in North Edison. Both the Blue and Gold Divisions have been struggling in crossover games as of late. Below is a schedule for all of the games on Monday.
- Warren Tech at E.B.Tech, 4 p.m.
- Spotswood at South River, 5:30 p.m.
- East Brunswick at Colonia, 6 p.m.
- Timothy Christian at Bishop Ahr, 7 p.m.
GMC Hoops will be back in action on Tuesday night, and plans to see three games from the Gold Division on Wednesday.
Tech Tourney Being Run At Sussex And E.B. Vo-Tech
EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ–On Sunday, GMC Hoops learned that the 2012 NJTAC Holiday Tournament will take place over three days at two different sites. The first two rounds will be held at Sussex Tech on Thursday, December 27th and Friday, December 28th while the Championship will be played on Monday, December 31st at East Brunswick Tech. Six teams will be competing in this tournament including: East Brunswick Tech, Morris Tech, Perth Amboy Tech, Sussex Tech, Warren Tech, and West Caldwell Tech. Below is the schedule for all three days.
2012 NJTAC Holiday Tournament–Schedule–Day One–December 27th–At Sussex Tech
- West Caldwell Tech vs. Warren Tech, 11:00 AM
- Morris Tech vs. Sussex Tech, 12:30 PM
2012 NJTAC Holiday Tournament–Schedule–Day Two–December 28th–At Sussex Tech
- Consolation: West Caldwell-Warren Tech loser vs. Morris Tech-Sussex Tech loser, 11:00 AM
- Semifinal: West Caldwell–Warren Tech winner vs. Perth Amboy Tech, 12:30 PM
- Semifinal: Morris Tech-Sussex Tech winner vs. East Brunswick Tech, 2:00 PM
2012 NJTAC Holiday Tournament–Schedule–Day Three–December 31st–At East Brunswick Tech
- Championship: Semifinal #1 winner vs. Semifinal #2 winner, 12:30 PM
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–The start of the 2012-13 season is upon us, and the new season begins with a number of key match-ups among the four newly realigned divisions of the Greater Middlesex Conference. Below is the opening day schedule of games.
2012-13 Opening Day Schedule
- New Brunswick at North Brunswick, 4:00 PM
- East Brunswick Tech at Morris Tech, 4:00 PM
- Bishop Ahr at Carteret, 5:30 PM
- Dunellen at South Amboy, 5:30 PM
- South River at Timothy Christian, 5:30 PM
- Wardlaw at Perth Amboy Tech, 5:30 PM
- South Plainfield at Spotswood, 6:00 PM
- Cardinal McCarrick at Edison, 6:00 PM
- Highland Park at J.F. Kennedy, 6:00 PM
- Sayreville at J.P. Stevens, 7:00 PM
- Woodbridge at Monroe, 7:00 PM
- Colonia at South Brunswick, 7:00 PM
- Old Bridge at Perth Amboy, 7:00 PM
- Metuchen at Middlesex, 7:00 PM
- East Brunswick at St. Joseph’s, 7:00 PM
GMC Hoops has changed its schedule for opening day to see New Brunswick take on North Brunswick at 4:00 PM. Then, the site will travel over to Spotswood to see the Chargers take on South Plainfield in a GMC Blue clash at 6:00 PM. After that, the site will try to head on over to Perth Amboy to see the Panthers take on Old Bridge.
Some Schools, Coaches And Players Change Addresses
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–While GMC Hoops went on hiatus for much of the off-season, there were still a number of changes around the Greater Middlesex Conference. There were players transferring, coaches taking over programs at different schools, and players making college commitments. Below is a sampling of what occurred since St. Joseph’s played Plainfield in the T of C Semis and the GMCBCA Senior All-Star Game.
There have already been several notable college commitments involving players from the Greater Middlesex Conference. Over the summer, East Brunswick’s Rob Ukawuba decided that he will be attending NJIT next year. He will be joining a Highlanders team that is improving and competing in the Great West Conference. Teammate and junior guard at EB, Amir Bell gave a verbal commitment to Princeton in late November. More recently, North Brunswick’s Iverson Fleming indicated that he is close to making a verbal commitment to Hofstra, and St. Joseph’s sophomore, Karl Towns, Jr. announced that not only is he going to attend Kentucky, but he also intends to graduate from St. Joe’s with the Class of 2014.
Familiar Faces In New Places
There was quite a bit of activity over the summer with players moving to new locations. Most notable was over the summer when Cardinal McCarrick’s big three of Marques Townes (St. Joseph’s), Alonzo Hamilton (Linden), and Jonathan Rodriguez (Bound Brook) all left the school. The three combined to average about 42 points per game for the Eagles last season.
There were additional changes over at McCarrick as well. Two reserves from last year’s varsity team, Anthony Manning (Sayreville) and Carlos Morales (Perth Amboy) also transferred. The Eagles did have a couple players transfer in with Sky Harris (J.P. Stevens) and Jaquante Madden (St. Patrick’s). Meanwhile, St. Joseph’s, which lost out on the Tyus Battle sweepstakes (the son of former Colonia 1,000 point scorer Gary Battle decided to attend Gill-St. Bernard’s), got another player coming in with Wade Baldwin from Immaculata.
Other players that were on the move this off-season were Will Joyce and Jalen Jackson, who both left Piscataway Tech.
There were several coaching changes around the Greater Middlesex Conference during this off-season. First and foremost, long time McCarrick head coach, Joe Lewis stepped down over the summer after 17 seasons. Lewis is looking to spend more time with his family, and support his youngest son, who is a wrestler at Toms River North High School.
Lewis won three Non-Public B South Championships (2003, 2005, and 2011), two GMCTs (2003 and 2008), and 11 division titles among three different divisions (Gold, Blue, and White). The Eagles also made seven GMCT Final Four appearances between 2003 and 2012, and 11 GMCT Elite Eight appearances since 1998. Replacing Lewis at McCarrick is Eric Woroniecki, a graduate of Old Bridge High School, and a member of the Knights team that last to Trenton (54-40) in the 2003 Central Jersey Group IV Championship and also included Tim Lucas, Shawn Williams, Spencer Corbett, and Fichel Cuffy.
Other coaching changes included Piscataway where Guy Jensen stepped out at the end of last season. He was replaced a couple months later by New Brunswick head coach Antoine Allen, who helped rebuild a Zebras team from a 1-19 squad in 2007-08 to two GMCT Elite Eight berths in his last three seasons at NBHS. Jensen helped P-Way win GMCT titles in 2007 and 2009 as well as a North Jersey Section 2 Group IV championship and State Finals appearance in 2008.
Replacing Allen at New Brunswick was assistant coach Rory Levine. In Woodbridge, Antoine Patterson, stepped down after four seasons at the school. He helped the Barrons qualify for the state tournament last season, and also coached two 1,000 point scorers at the school in Kyle Pearson (FDU) and Keith Hughes (Robinson School). Taking over for Patterson at Woodbridge is former Monroe standout and assistant coach at MTHS and St. Joseph’s, Matt Gigliello.
Gigliello graduated from Monroe in 2002 after helping the Falcons to earn a 10th seed in that year’s GMCT before losing to Highland Park in the round of 16. After playing college ball at Western New England College, Gigliello became an assistant and eventual JV coach at Monroe, where he guided the Junior Falcons to an East Brunswick JV Tourney title over Cardinal McCarrick in 2009 (70-66). He then moved on to St. Joe’s in 2010, where he coached the Falcons freshmen program, and guided the St. Joseph’s Green team to a Perth Amboy Frosh tourney title in 2011 (defeated South Plainfield 54-41), and did a terrific job getting St. Joseph’s-White, a 20th seed in the 2012 Amboy tourney to the Final Four before losing to North Brunswick (38-35) in the semifinals, and to Monroe in the consolation.
There were some changes in all four of the divisions this year for boys basketball. Seven teams are in the Red, Eight teams are in the White, Nine are in the Blue, and 7 in the Gold. Moving down from the Red to the White was J.P. Stevens. Moving down from the White to the Blue is South Plainfield, and moving up to the Blue from the Gold is two time division champion, Piscataway Tech. Below are the list of teams again:
Red Division: Colonia, East Brunswick, Old Bridge, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, South Brunswick and St. Joseph’s.
White Division: Cardinal McCarrick, Edison, J.P. Stevens, Monroe, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Sayreville, and Woodbrige.
Blue Division: Bishop Ahr, Carteret, Highland Park, J.F. Kennedy, Metuchen, Middlesex, Piscataway Tech, South Plainfield, and Spotswood.
Gold Division: Dunellen, East Brunswick Tech, Perth Amboy Tech, South Amboy, South River, Timothy Christian, and Wardlaw.
Teams: Dunellen, East Brunswick Tech, Perth Amboy Tech, South Amboy, South River, Timothy Christian, and Wardlaw.
Contenders: South River, Timothy Christian, and South Amboy.
Outlook: With Piscataway Tech moving up to the GMC Bllue after dominating the Gold for the past two seasons, the division should be a little more up for grabs.
Right now, the Destroyers of Dunellen look like the top dog this year with the likes of Dylan Hoski, Deon Brown, Casey Wenzel, Kevin Puckett, and Orville Thompson returning from last year. DHS has overcome a lot of injuries at the start of the season the past two years so if they can stay healthy that would be a big help. Head coach, Bernie Buniak does a great job of getting his teams to not only play up against teams from the upper divisions of the GMC, but also play competitively. Dunellen also has toughened up its non-conference schedule in recent years. While lacking in size, the Destroyers play solid defense, and scrap.
South River is a solid contender for division honors this year. The Rams could at least be one of the most improved teams in the conference with the likes of Tyler Harris, Tim Darrar, Sean Darrar, William Simmons, and Dondre Moore in the rotation. Harris has become a very versatile player with a solid perimeter game to go along with a good inside game. He also is a good playmaker, and works well with Tim Darrar when they’re both on the court. Simmons has some athletic ability while the younger Darrar has a good shooting touch. The Rams will put up a lot of poitns offensively, especially if they get the three ball going, but they will need to tighten up defensively, box out better, and do the little things like getting after loose balls and drawing charges.
Timothy Christian, which had one of its best seasons ever, took a bit of a hit to graduation with the losses of its two 1,000 point scorers in Kristian Svendsen (Raritan Valley Community College) and Dan Decker. They do have several key players coming back though in starters Jeff Parker and Brandon Summers, and reserves Devon Johnson, Matt Ziegler, Ben St. Jean, Brandon McDougal, Mike Ji, and Jarret Locke. Summers had a coming out party in the biggest game of the year for TCS with his performance in the win at Piscataway Tech. The Tigers also had a solid JV squad, which played in the East Brunswick JV Tournament as a 15th seed. Chris Hobbs always has a great team approach, and with an assistant coach to help him out this year, he should be able to get his kids to overachieve.
South Amboy could be one of the most improved teams in the division and conference this year. The Guvs have most of its core back from last year including Steve Herdman, Nick Kales, Dan Murphy, Joe Fruncillo, Tim Kales, and Kyle Krzyzanowski. These kids have been playing a lot together, especially during the off-season at the Raritan Bay Summer League. Fruncillo gives South Amboy some much needed size while Herdman and Kales are a solid backcourt combination. Herdman has the ability to hit the three while Nick Kales isn’t afraid to draw charges despite his small frame. The Guvs were competitive in many games last year, and had a few upsets including a victory over Perth Amboy Tech with its two 1,000 point scorers Rashad Adams and Malcolm Batts. Last year at South Amboy, third year head coach Lenny Reyes has gotten the team to improve the Guvs by four games in the win column. This year, he is hoping to make a bigger jump.
Wardlaw will be looking to improve upon its 5-17 record from last season, and try to contend. Led by senior forward, Justen Davis, who should break 1,000 points this season, the Rams have a lot coming back with 6 seniors, 4 juniors, and 3 sophomores that should be returning from last year. Davis has versatility with a decent outside game along with a solid inside game. He rebounds well, handles the ball, and does a fine job of getting the ball to teammates as well. Noah Ganz will provide help from the perimeter. Perth Amboy Tech lost its two 1,000 point scorers in Rashad Adams and Malcolm Batts (Middlesex County College) so it will be tough for the Patriots to fill all of that void. Kelvin Perez will try to pick up the slack for the Pats. East Brunswick Tech won three in a row to finish the season at 8-16, but will pretty much have to start over again with the losses of Mike Hardy, Branden Lenahan, and Dequan Calimese.
Here are video highlights from the first three quarters of action in a Gold Division Clash between South Amboy and East Brunswick Tech at The Maze in EB. After a slow start in the first quarter, the Guvs took control in the second by scoring the final six points over the last 1:49 of the half for a 15-9 lead at the intermission. South Amboy then outscored E.B. Tech by a 10-6 margin in the third quarter to take a 25-15 lead with about a minute remaining in the period. From there, the Guvs won by the score of 51-34. Steve Herdman led the way with 14 points while Joe Fruncillo chipped in with 12 for the winners. Mike Hardy scored 12 in a losing cause for the Tigers.