SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–Over the past couple months since the first draft of the 2007-08 predictions came out, GMC Hoops has seen enough to make some adjustments. So, here’s what we’re thinking as of right now. We will break this off into several parts: 1.) Top Ten, 2.) GMC Red, 3.) GMC White, 4.) GMC Blue, and 5.) GMC Gold. First our initial look at a pre-season Top Ten.
2007-08 GMC Pre-Season Top Ten–Revised Draft
Here’s an update to the original top ten predictions made at the end of September. Just some minor changes that affected a couple slots. St. Joseph’s moves up to fourth by virtue of its solid performance at the TBSA Fall League including a victory over Trenton on September 30th, and Edison breaks through the top ten rankings with the last spot. Monroe moves up into the next best position outside of the top ten thanks to the fine run by the Falcons including strong wins over Roselle Catholic and Bridgewater coupled with a close loss to Elizabeth to end their season at TBSA.
- Piscataway (16-9)–With the likes of James White, Omar Smith, J.D. Griggs, Tristian Benjamin and Brian Waluk all coming back along with others such as Thomas Bennett, Wayne Newsome, Malcolm Griggs, and Jeff Adkins coming up, the Chiefs are a good bet to repeat again in the GMC.
- Colonia (24-4)–With Brandon Hall, J.J. D’Amico, Nnamdi Usuwa, and Jeff Mentzel returning along with a talented junior class that consists of the likes of Mike Nweme, Mike Karabin, Jordan Edmonds, Xavier Coleman, Julian Smith, Brian Negrey, and Tyler Jackow, the Patriots will be right there again despite losing Kevin Edmonds and Joe LaSala to graduation.
- Cardinal McCarrick (19-7)–With the leading favorite for GMC Hoops Player of the Year in Mike Burwell as well as Julio Rosario and a talented junior class moving up, the Eagles will be right in the thick of things again in the GMC. Cardy Mac had a good summer playing at Linden as well as at Eastern and Rebounds Team Camps. As a matter of fact, the Eagles went undefeated, and won the team camp at Rebounds in August. McCarrick is also playing in the fall leagues at TBSA and Rebounds.
- St. Joseph’s (20-9)–True the Falcons lost Darrell Carroll and Lamar Fisher to graduation, but the Falcons have sophomore Steve Rennard back, and he continues to improve. In addition, they have the athletic Paul Konopacki returning to run the floor, and use his leaping ability to his best advantages against the likes of Piscataway’s front line. Gerard Lewis and Nikko Vastola will be coming up from the JV, and varsity reserve Steve Brandenberg will be back as well. In addition, St. Joe’s has a very talented sophomore class that includes the likes of Mike Simpson, Najhi Talley, and Mark Bauer as well as members of the St. Joseph’s-White team that won the 2007 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament.
- South Brunswick (27-3)–What? Top Four ranking for the Vikings? How is that? They lost their entire starting five from last year as well as Brian Morgan, and head coach Chris Balent is at Elizabeth. Simple, they still have Arman Wilson and reserves from that team such as Mohammed Sanu, Jordan Tiecher, Sean Lease, and Chris Weir that were members of a JV squad that reached the Final Four of the East Brunswick JV Tournament the past two seasons. In addition, new coach Joe Hoehman has a pretty good track record as a coach at the Freshmen and JV levels with three final four appearances in the Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament, and two final four appearances in the East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament. They’ll be ok.
- J.P. Stevens (9-16)–Despite the last place finish in the GMC Red in 2006-07, the Hawks began building the foundation for what could be a couple special seasons. With the likes of Alex Cacoilo, Patrick Lem, Teryl Dunlap, Matt Margon, and Conner Medler along with the talented crop of juniors consisting of Ken Bland, Myles Reuben, Nick Pol, and Tahir Swinton, J.P. Stevens will not be an easy win to say in the least. The Hawks played very well this summer at the Hoop Group HBC and the TBSA Summer League, and have competed quite well so far this fall at the TBSA Fall League.
- Carteret (11-14)–For the first time since Omar Alston, Andrew Hill, and Wilfredo Fuerte led the Ramblers to the GMCT Championship in 2002, the Ramblers qualified for the state tournament in 2006-07. Not only did they qualify, but the Ramblers also went on the road and defeated Raritan in the opening round. Returning a number of key players this year including Brian Williams, Robert Jackson, Al Tampa, Alvin Rodriguez, Manny Rivera, and Desean Lane, Carteret made big strides this past summer by reaching the semifinals of the TBSA Summer League playoffs as well as going 7-4 overall.
- Sayreville (10-14)–Don’t be fooled by the overall record from last year, and the fact that the Bombers lost Kofi Genfi to graduation. The Bombers, which lost a ton of close games in 2006-07, have plenty returning including solid guards in Ricky Harding, LaVone Graham, Paul De La Costa, and front line people in Chris Matagrano and James De Mild, and Ray Rodriguez. In addition, the Bombers JV was very successful last year with an Elite Eight appearance before losing to eventual finalist, Bishop Ahr. Over the summer, the Bombers competed at Middlesex County College, where they went 8-1 during the regular season, and avenged its only loss by defeating previously unbeaten Franklin in the semifinals before losing to Middlesex in the Championship Game without Matagrano in the lineup.
- Bishop Ahr (14-9)–True the Trojans lost Corey Francisco to graduation, but the BGA still has a fine group of seniors this season including Mike Williamson, Billy Rooney, Kevin Uszenski, Martese Street, Derek Figueredo, and Jordan Madsen. In addition, Ahr has a fine junior class including Matt Sheehy, Matt Fiorino, Tom Lancey, Matt Melnick, and Steven Grant. The sophomore class at Bishop Ahr is not too shabby either with a Final Four appearance in the Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament.
- Edison (10-15)–Even though the Eagles lost the likes of Mike Campbell, Zach Manfre, and Terry Roland, they have plenty returning to be competitive again in the rough and tumble GMC Red. With a senior class that consists of Josh Williams, Barry Holmes, Nathan Otokiti, Ron Lordi, Andy Hernandez, and Sharrod Shuford as well as solid junior Erik Janz, Edison will give teams in the Greater Middlesex Conference trouble, particularly in their division. Although J.P. Stevens looks to give a run at such top teams as Piscataway, St. Joseph’s, and South Brunswick, it may have to keep an eye on its rear view mirror for their arch rival across town.
GMC Red Division Preview–Revised Draft
Our next part is the predicted finish of the teams in the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division with last year’s record in parentheses. These have been updated to reflect St. Joseph’s new position in the division. The Falcons did very well at TBSA while South Brunswick had some struggles at Rebounds during the fall. In fairness to the Vikings though, they have not had their full roster throughout the offseason including the fall with Mohammed Sanu playing football and Troy Confessore playing soccer. Below that are some notes concerning why we are thinking they way we’re thinking.
- Piscataway (16-9)
- St. Joseph’s (20-9)
- South Brunswick (27-3)
- J.P. Stevens (9-16)
- Edison (10-14)
- East Brunswick (15-11)
- Perth Amboy (5-17)
- Old Bridge (7-17)
Notes: Piscataway is the favorite to win the GMC, and thus the GMC Red as well. The Chiefs have their entire starting five returning, and a number of good reserves as well. They have plenty of size up front, and they’re a solid team defensively. For P-Way to be successful, it will need to continue to play the way it did during the 2007 GMCT. South Brunswick and St. Joseph’s will pose formidable obstacles to the Chiefs as well as an up and coming J.P. Stevens squad. Stevens will have to get off to a good start, and with games at home including St. Joseph’s on Dec. 20th, and the always rough holiday tournament schedule, they need to come out firing to not only make a statement, but build confidence.
South Brunswick will have to work hard in the fall league at Rebounds, and in the pre-season scrimmages to gel as a team after Wilson played mostly AAU in the summer, and Sanu and Confessore are playing fall sports. St. Joseph’s will have to find a way to replace the solid inside play of Carroll along with the athleticism of Fisher and Kyan Hines. Edison could sneak up on some people in the division this year with the likes of Holmes, Williams, Otokiti, and Lordi returning along with junior Erik Janz. While EB will have a tough road to hoe following two years of heavy losses to graduation, they still have Mike Mello and Scott Stolzenberg along with the likes of youngsters such as Mayo, and a great coach in Bo Henning.
GMC White Division Preview–Revised Draft
Our next part is the predicted finish of the teams in the Greater Middlesex Conference White Division with last year’s record in parentheses. This has been updated to reflect the positions of Monroe, North Brunswick, and New Brunswick in light of the Falcons fine finish at TBSA. Regardless of where the teams place outside of Colonia, this division is going to be a dogfight. Below that are some notes concerning why we are thinking they way we’re thinking.
- Colonia (24-4)
- Carteret (11-14)
- Sayreville (10-14)
- Monroe (13-14)
- North Brunswick (15-9)
- New Brunswick (8-12)
- Woodbridge (1-21)
- South Plainfield (18-8)
Notes: Before I get into explaining why I’m thinking the way I’m thinking in the GMC White, let me say this. The GMC White will be even tougher than it was last year. The reason is that teams such as North Brunswick and Monroe have good underclassmen talent moving up, and although South Plainfield appears at the outset to be down this year without the likes of Shamai Santiago and Opie Muse, the Tigers still have Mike Burton, Bennie Gibson, and Tremaine Miller back as well as solid JV talent led by Aaron Wright and a good junior class. The problem with SPHS this coming year is who is going to replace Dontae Johnson, who transferred to Pennington Prep. But, here is the real kicker, Woodbridge, yes 1-21 Woodbridge will be much better this year. The Barrons not only have good seniors coming back including Anthony Graham, Kirk Zambrana, Tim Weber, Rich Ng, and Edrise Pope-Wright, but also the JV squad was very good last year earning a nine seed in the East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament thanks to the likes of juniors Gerard Bullock and Blair Dolphin.
Like last year though, Colonia will be head and shoulders above everyone else with Carteret, Sayreville, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Monroe, Woodbridge, and South Plainfield all fighting for leftovers. Although the Pats lost key starters in Kevin Edmonds and Joe LaSala, and reserves such as Mike Salvador, they still have a solid junior class led by the likes of J.J. D’Amico, Nnamdi Usuwa, Mike Nweme, and Mike Karabin along with returning players Jeff Mentzel, and top point guard, Brandon Hall. Carteret and Sayreville are returning many of their players from last year, and lost a lot of close games during 2006-07. New Brunswick and North Brunswick are question marks although there is enough there to make them a formidable challenge for the rest of the division. Brandon Smith and Marquis Hamm are talented enough to make the Zebras a state and county tournament contender. The question is will they play? In addition, North Brunswick did lose a lot to graduation in 2007, but still have Brathwaite, Ashamole and a talented junior class led by Mike Cole and Ricky Harris. However, the Raiders did not impress much at the Middlesex County College Summer League this past summer.
Could Monroe sneak up in there too? Bob Turco managed to get his team into the state tournament, and finish 13-14 despite losing perhaps his best player in Shamil Graham in the middle of the season, and having to go down into the freshmen and JV ranks. Every time I saw the Falcons play during the summer, they progressed and showed signs of improvement. In addition, Monroe has a lot of good youngsters coming up. Not only a talented sophomore class led by Tim Brix, Jr., Ken Pace Jr., and Blake Bascom, but also a freshmen class that consists of the likes of Kayshon Stroughn. If you’re in the GMC White this year, you better have your ducks in a row every night. And, just think, next year, it doesn’t get any easier with Cardinal McCarrick moving up from the GMC Blue.
GMC Blue Division Preview–Revised Draft
Our next part is the predicted finish of the teams in the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division with last year’s record in parentheses. Below that are some notes concerning why we are thinking they way we’re thinking.
- Cardinal McCarrick (19-7)
- Bishop Ahr (14-9)
- Metuchen (15-12)
- Middlesex (7-14)
- Spotswood (17-10)
- J.F. Kennedy (8-14)
- Highland Park (6-13)
- South River (3-20)
Notes: Again McCarrick and Bishop Ahr will more than likely be the class of the division in 2007-08. Although the Eagles lost Vince Rosario to graduation, they have the likes of Mike Burwell, Julio Rosario, and Branten Widgeon returning along with the likes of a junior class that head coach Joe Lewis is very high on. Cardy Mac’s JV and Freshmen made big strides at the respective Colonia Summer Leagues as well. True BGA lost Corey Francisco as well as the likes of interior players Zach Widdoss and Justin Dews leaving the Trojans with not a lot of size. However, the Trojans have a solid group of seniors including Mike Williamson, Billy Rooney, Kevin Uszenski, Derek Figueredo, and Martese Street. In addition, Ahr has solid juniors as well such as Matt Fiorino, Matt Sheehy, Steven Grant, Matt Melnick, Tom Lancey, and Jordan Smith. On top of that, the sophomore class isn’t too bad either. A team that reached the Final Four of the Perth Amboy/GMC JV Tournament in 2007, BGA has the likes of Justin Peoples, Brandon Vitabile, Immanuel Krogmann, and Darius Griffin coming up.
Going further down the GMC Blue it gets more interesting. Right now, my thinking is that Metuchen will be fighting for the third spot in the division, but the question with the Bulldogs is the status of forward Dejuan Miller. Miller plays football, and he has generated a lot of interest from top programs including Oklahoma, which is where he is originally from. Having Miller in the lineup will definitely give Metuchen an edge over teams such as Middlesex and Spotswood. Speaking of which, the Blue Jays finished the year on a tough note after coming close to making the state tournament for the first time since 2002. Middlesex competed over at the Middlesex County College Summer League this summer, and went 8-1 during the regular season, earned the second seed, and ended up winning the tournament championship over Sayreville, the team that handed them their only regular season loss, although the Bombers were without center, Chris Matagrano. Spotswood did lose a ton with the loss of John Berner, Bryan Osofsky, Justin Carlson, Mike Hohman, and Zack Becker. However, they have talent returning with the likes of Cody Pace, Pat Dwyer, Ross Gerhart, and Tyler Osofsky as well as reserves Nick Olesinski, Vinny Vizzi, and Joe Petosa. In addition, the Chargers have a good group of talented sophomores that finished third in the Perth Amboy/GMC JV Tournament, and defeated Bishop Ahr in the consolation to earn third place.
A wild card in this race could be JFK. During the off-season, Jamie Panko stepped down as head coach to pursue an administrative position in the Woodbridge district, and Chris Banos became the new coach. Banos has enjoyed some success at the Freshmen level, where he coached the current senior class to the Championship of the 2005 Perth Amboy/GMC Tournament, where the Colts defeated then twelfth seeded South Brunswick. The Mustangs have the likes of Jelani Davis and Joe Marciano returning from last year’s squad along with Jonathan Toczynski and Brian Reilly. The question is will other players such as Chris Galadyk, a member of that successful freshmen team Banos coached several years ago before joining his brother on the wrestling team the past couple of years, come out for the team as well. Highland Park, which lost everyone except Alfred Matias and James Boyd from a team that was just 6-13 last season, and South River, which has struggled the past several years, will have it tough competing in the GMC Blue again this year.
GMC Gold Division Preview–Revised Draft
Our next part is the predicted finish of the teams in the Greater Middlesex Conference Gold Division with last year’s record in parentheses. Below that are some notes concerning why we are thinking they way we’re thinking.
- South Amboy (13-12)
- Dunellen (16-8)
- Piscataway Vo-Tech (4-14)
- Perth Amboy Vo-Tech (14-10)
- East Brunswick Vo-Tech (4-20)
Notes: With St. Peter’s closing, this should be South Amboy’s division for the taking although Dunellen will have something to say about it especially if Tim Schleppenbach is healthy. The Cardinals probably would have been a solid favorite to win the division with everybody set to return including Travis Evans, Justin Morgan, and Dominic Appiah (now at McCarrick). However, politics from an unlikely source at the Diocese of Metuchen forced the long time school, and power in the GMC to shut its doors this past June. Meanwhile, the Guvs have put in a solid off-season that included participation in the Rebounds Spring League, Rebounds Summer League, and Rebounds Fall League. Mark Simko has is doing well, and continues to steadily improve. In addition, Larry Lenahan and Steve Poltrictzky are beginning to realize the potential they had as incoming freshmen in the Raritan Bay Summer League.
Lets not forget Colin Krzyzanowski can knock in a few from the perimeter too, and Joe Charmello and Matt Richmond are showing promise from the underclassmen levels too as well as Tommy Reilly. Dunellen should be in the thick of things this year with Schleppenbach returning as well as T.J. Wenzel and Brock Mundy. In addition, the two Francisco brothers, Luke and Nick Francisco as well as Matt and Eric Cianfrone should be expected to make contributions. Perth Amboy Vo-Tech and Piscataway Vo-Tech will battle for third with the Raiders getting the edge for now since they have the most returning from last year while the Patriots took a hit to graduation with the losses of Jose Tavares, Freddy Espinal, Wilson Diez, and David Laboriel. East Brunswick Vo-Tech will look to improve on last year’s 4-20 record, and should do that, but it will be tough to break through against opponents in this division.
Well, those are all my thoughts for now. Trust me, these are not set in stone, and even if most of them are, they are just that…thoughts. We still have to play the games, and that’s where the surprises will come. Please don’t take offense if I didn’t put your team where you think it should be. Keep in mind, I’m considering all the teams involved, not just your team. More importantly, just because I think that a team isn’t going to do well doesn’t by any means mean that I don’t like the players, school, or coach, or that the team is terrible.
Good afternoon everyone. On Tuesday, GMC Hoops continued its college coverage with a game between Centenary College of the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference and Berkeley College. For those, who aren’t aware, Centenary, which is one of the fastest growing colleges in New Jersey, is located up in Hackettstown in Warren County. I had never traveled up that way before. The only times I had ever been out that way at all was for trips in high school. Well, everything worked out ok as far as getting there without getting lost, and making it in time for the contest, but the route I selected to go to the game is not one that I will take again for a future night game involving the Cyclones. Using the directions off of the school’s athletics web site, I took Route 287 North to Route 78 West, and then to County Road 517 in Hunterdon County. County Road 517 also travels through Warren County, and takes you directly into the heart of Hackettstown as does Route 46 and Route 80.
First and foremost, I left the house after 6:00 PM, which for an 8:00 PM game in a place that I’ve never been to before was not a good idea. On top of that, I had to stop and get gas. The problems began when I got on the Route 78 West headed toward Easton, Pennsylvania. Getting on there at Exit 26, I didn’t have to travel far to get to the exit for County Road 517, but I had to endure a good deal of traffic. There has been a lot of construction going on that portion of the Interstate. Coming home from my job in Bedminster, I would usually see traffic backed up for miles at the Route 78 West exit so this wasn’t exactly a surprise. Thankfully, I was able to get off quickly at Exit 24 for County Road 517. Taking the road north, I traveled through a good portion of Hunterdon County and a lot of Warren County. The road wasn’t well lit at all, and it took many twists and turns. On top of that, I was going into a part of New Jersey that is perhaps the most mountainous. Thoughts did go through my head about turning back, and going home, but I had made a commitment to see the game so I continued onward.
After traveling this long and winding road, I finally reached some sort of civilization as I entered the outskirts of Hackettstown near the Hackettstown Mall. Much to my relief, I had arrived at Centenary College with about twenty minutes to go before the scheduled tip-off. Moreover, the women’s game was still playing with about nine minutes to go in the second half when I entered the gym. On the way home, I took a different route by taking Route 46 East to Route 206 South, and then to Route 287 South. I got home much quicker, and the trip was much less stressful. Overall, the trip was worth it though. Centenary’s Reeves Student and Recreation Center, which has undergone a facelift, looked superb, and the atmosphere was probably the best of all the colleges that I have gone to for games so far this season. Special thanks goes to Josh Huber, the Director of Sports Information at Centenary for providing me with information and stats, and the rest of the Centenary Athletics staff for their hospitality.
MIDDLESEX, NJ–After traveling up to South Amboy and watching the Cardinal McCarrick Eagles go at it with the Trojans of Bishop Ahr in their Thanksgiving Rivalry game at Waterfront Park earlier in the evening, GMC Hoops got back into the car, and traveled back up Route 287 North, and eventually to Route 28 to reach the final destination of the evening, Middlesex High School. At MHS, the Blue Jays and Dunellen Destroyers had already started their Turkey Day Eve football contest. These two schools have become tremendously fierce rivals over just the past several years. Aided by their close proximity geographically, these two schools have played each other at least twice a year for the past several years in boys basketball. In addition, there is not a whole lot of love lost between these schools. A couple years ago, a good deal of the trash talking on the now extinct GMC Hoops Message Board, went back and forth between the Middlesex and Dunellen fans.
Middlesex has had a lot to be upset about as Dunellen has enjoyed a great deal of success on the basketball court while it has not. Since 2002, the Blue Jays have not qualified for the state tournament while the Destroyers have made it every year for the past six seasons. On top of that, the Blue Jays, which entered this year’s contest with five wins in the previous eight meetings, lost to Dunellen last year, 36-6. Both teams just missed qualifying for the state tournament due to not having enough power points. DHS actually began the season at 4-0, but lost three of its last five for a 6-3 mark. Meanwhile, MHS entered the game at 5-4. Each team is a member of the Greater Middlesex Conference’s Gold Division, which includes the likes of Highland Park, Metuchen, and Cardinal McCarrick as well. With a victory, the Blue Jays, Destroyers, and Bulldogs would all end up in a three-way tie for second place at 6-4 overall and 2-2 in divisional play.
Coming into Wednesday evening’s contest, Dunellen had outscored its opponents 184 to 122 this season, or by an average of 20 to 13 each game while Middlesex was actually outscored 156 to 152, or by an average of approximately 17 to 16. Like the Destroyers, the Blue Jays started the year strong with four straight wins, but then lost four of their next five contests. Middlesex was 2-3 at home entering the game while Dunellen was 2-3 on the road. Looking at the last three years of this rivalry, the Blue Jays have won in 2004 (19-7) and 2005 (33-19) while Dunellen won in 2006 (33-6). Since 2004, the Destroyers have compiled a record of 15-23 overall, and 7-11 in divisional play while the Blue Jays have gone 25-14 overall, and 12-8 in division.
Many thought that this game would come down to which team had the ball last, and convert the most two point conversions since Dunellen doesn’t kick many extra points. However, while both teams did move the ball well, the defenses held their own, and made big plays to prevent scores. As a result, the game was a low scoring affair with both schools scoring on back to back possessions that bridged the late first quarter and the middle of the second quarter. Blue Jay Quarterback, Nick Farriella, who started for the boys basketball team at Middlesex in 2006-07, scored on a keeper play from about five yards out with a minute remaining in the first quarter, and then the team scored two more points on a conversion run by Steve Krutz for an 8-0 lead. The Destroyers then took the ensuing kickoff, drove back down the field by making a few third down conversions and one on fourth down, and scored a touchdown on a run up the middle off a direct snap by Chris Hartje to make the score 8-6 with exactly six minutes to play in the first half. However, the biggest play of the game was on the two point conversion attempt by Dunellen following their only touchdown. Senior cornerback, Ernest Prempeh, managed to stop Destroyer running back, Owen Harshaney from getting in on a sweep to the right toward the Dunellen sideline, and the score remained 8-6, and that would be the difference as Middlesex won by the same margin.
According to the statistics from an article on the game in the Thursday Star-Ledger, Dunellen, a team that averaged exactly 21.1 points per game coming into the contest, ran 15 more plays, and outgained the home team by a 252-150 margin. However, the Destroyers shot themselves in the foot with turnovers including three interceptions by Quarterback T.J. Wenzel, who also played basketball for DHS in 2006-07. The most critical interception in the contest came with under a minute remaining when Wenzel threw to his right toward the Destroyer sideline, and the pass was picked off by junior linebacker, Mike Little to preserve the victory. The Blue Jays took a total of six minutes with a 13 play drive that encompassed some 74 yards to get on the board in the opening quarter. Similarly, Dunellen go its score on a 14 play drive that covered 64 yards as well as nearly seven minutes of play. The Destroyers managed to keep the drive alive with a 3rd Down and 2 conversion with a run up the middle by Hartje at the start of the second period, a Wenzel pass to Harshaney on 4th Down at 6 with 9:12 to go in the half, and then a 3rd Down and 3 conversion by Harshaney on a run to the 19 yard line with 7:04 remaining in the first half.
After Hartje completed the drive by taking a direct snap and knifing through the middle for a seven yard touchdown run at the 6:00 mark, and the missed subsequent two point conversion play, Dunellen kicked the ball off to Middlesex, which was picked up by wide receiver and defensive back, Dave Maloney, who collected two key interceptions on the night, and the senior had a nice return up the Middlesex sideline to the Blue Jay 47 yard line with 5:52 left in the half. Following two plays that produced short gains to the midfield stripe, Farriella snapped the ball, faked the option, and kept it with a run through a hole on the left side that turned into a 19 yard gain on 3rd and 7 to the Dunellen 31 yard line for a first down at the 4:16 mark. On the next play, Farriella kept it again, and ran right this time for about six yards to the Destroyer 25. Then, Farriella executed the option, by running left, and pitching to diminutive running back, Vinnie Zaccardi, for another first down at Dunellen’s 13 yard line with 2:50 to go before halftime. However, the Blue Jays went to the well once too often as they tried the option again, and when Farriella’s pitch to Prempeh was fumbled, DHS recovered the ball at the 17 yard line with 2:32 to go in the half.
Following an incomplete pass intended for Ryan El-Halim by Wenzel with 1:25 left in the half, the 6′3″, 190 senior went back to the air again with a throw over the middle to Harshaney for a completion to the Dunellen 44 yard line with 1:17 to go before the intermission. After making the first down completion, Wenzel attempted to connect with El-Halim again on the right side, but the ball was incomplete at the 1:01 mark, but a flag was thrown. Discussing the play, the officials decided that there was no penalty, and so Dunellen had a 2nd and 10 from its own 44. The Destroyers went to the run on 2nd and long as they handed off to Hartje for a seven yard gain up the gut to inside midfield with 41 seconds left in the period. Facing a 3rd and 3 situation with close to a half minute left in the half, Wenzel took the snap, dropped back to pass, and uncorked a deep one toward the Dunellen sideline for Harshaney, who battled with Zaccardi for the ball that went off the Destroyer running back’s hands at about the eight yard line. On fourth down, DHS went with a direct snap to Harshaney, who tried to run a sweep to the right side, but Middlesex’s defense stayed in pursuit to stop the play, and get the ball back with 23 seconds remaining in the half. Both teams then went into their respective locker rooms with the Blue Jays still clinging to an 8-6 lead.
In the third quarter, MHS put together a nice drive to get in range for a score, but Dunellen’s defense came up with a big stop, and got the ball back on downs. The Blue Jays started with good field possession for this drive as they took the second half kickoff, and got another nice return from Dan Skazenski to near the Blue Jay 44 yard line. On first down, Middlesex ran up the middle for a seven yard gain to get to about the 49 yard line of Dunellen with 11:35 left in the third. On the next play, Middlesex ran up the gut again for a short gain, and on third down, Farriella ran another keeper, and tried to hurdle a Destroyer defender, but was taken down at about the 45 of Dunellen for a first down with 10:27 to go in the third. Getting the first down, the Blue Jays went to the ground again, and ran the option to the left as Farriella pitched to Zaccardi near the Middlesex sideline for a gain of three yards to the 42. Farriella then kept it himself on the second down play, and ran to his right for about a yard or two to about the Dunellen 40. With a third down and four situation, Middlesex went back to the option as Farriella ran to his left, and pitched to Zaccardi, but the ball fell short, hit the ground, and the Blue Jay running back picked it up on a kind bounce, and got back to about the line of scrimmage, but the drive was kept alive thanks to a face mask penalty on DHS.
Rejuvenated by the penalty, Middlesex now had the ball in range for a score. With a first and ten on the Dunellen 28 yard line at the 9:11 mark of the third quarter, Farriella called his own number again, and ran it down inside the 20 yard line to the Destroyer 19 for a 2nd and 1 with 8:46 left in the period. But the Blue Jays were assessed a five yard penalty for a false start that made it a 2nd and 6 at the 24, and then got most of that yardage back with a run up the middle by the fullback to set up a third down and short situation. On a 3rd and 2 from the 20, Farriella handed off to Prempeh, who found a nice hole on the right side of the line, and ran through it to the 15 yard line, and another Middlesex first down at the 7:38 mark. Continuing the drive, MHS went back to the ground as Farriella handed off to Zaccardi for a run through the left side of the line that gained several yards to about the Dunellen 13. With a 2nd and 8 situation at the 6:44 mark, the Blue Jays had a busted play as Farriella recovered a fumble, but managed to get three more yards for a 3rd and 4 at the 10 with 6:12 to go in the third. Dunellen came up with a stop on third down to force a 4th down play, and that’s when Wenzel stuffed a running play by Zaccardi on the left side for a loss to give the Destroyers the ball back at their own 14 with 5:15 left in the third.
Dunellen would get a first down on its next possession, but wouldn’t get much farther than that as the Destroyers were forced to punt. Fielding a low snap, Harshaney punted the ball with some pressure from the Blue Jays, and the ball traveled to about the Middlesex 40 yard line, but took a very friendly Blue Jay bounce to about the 48 of Dunellen with about a minute left in the period. MHS was then stopped for a loss on first down to its own 48 as the fourth quarter began. In the final period, Middlesex appeared poised for a knock out as it won the battle of field position throughout the quarter, and got another interception from Maloney at the 9:17 mark. However, on the very next play, the Blue Jays fumbled the ball back to the Destroyers with 9:08 remaining. Dunellen then spent the next 2:35 driving the ball down field as it had all night, but once more, Middlesex’s defense didn’t break as they came up with a big stop on fourth down. With 6:33 remaining in the contest, the Destroyers were facing a 4th Down and 4 situation at the MHS 31 yard line. Chanting defense, the Blue Jay players on the sideline urged their teammates on the field to make a play, and junior linebacker, Curtis Vestol answered the call by stopping Harshaney on a pitch play up the middle just short of the first down marker.
The next big play by Middlesex would come from its special teams as on a 4th and 6 from the 35 yard line, senior Kevin Rivera, who shanked a punt earlier in the period, drilled a booming punt that bounced and rolled to the Destroyer 17 yard line with inside four minutes to go. Dunellen managed to get the ball up field thanks to another clutch play on 4th Down and 3 from the 24 yard line with a bit more than two minutes remaining. However, after getting to the 40 yard line, Wenzel’s pass to the right toward the Dunellen sideline was picked off by Little at the Middlesex 45 yard line with 44 seconds remaining. Farriella then closed out the win by kneeling down twice to run out the clock. With the 8-6 victory, Middlesex finished the season with a 6-4 record overall, and a 2-2 mark in division while Dunellen dropped to 6-4 overall and 2-2 making it a three-way tie for second in the GMC Gold behind Highland Park, which finished its season at 8-3 overall, and a perfect 4-0 in division. The Blue Jays have now won three of the last four years in this series despite being outscored by the Destroyers 68-66. View the video highlights of the game courtesy of YouTube.
SOUTH AMBOY, NJ–On Wednesday evening, GMC Hoops traveled down to Waterfront Park in South Amboy to watch the second annual Thanksgiving Rivalry Game between the Eagles of Cardinal McCarrick, and the Trojans of Bishop Ahr. It was the first Thanksgiving Day game played at the Park, which also hosts high school baseball games for both the Eagles and the Guvs of South Amboy. This game would be the season finale for both teams as McCarrick entered the game with only a 2-7 record while BGA had compiled a 5-4 mark including a first round game loss to Holy Spirit (61-3) in the Non-Public Group III playoffs. It was also senior night at Cardinal McCarrick, where standout players such as Dontre Merricks, Melvin Smith, and Sammy Wright along with the rest of the seniors were honored before their last game in an Eagle uniform.
Although this is a young rivalry in football, the two schools have already had a fierce rivalry in boys basketball. Starting in the 1999-2000 season, these two schools have played each other each year at least once with McCarrick owning the series so far with an 11-2 mark in 13 games played including a 64-61 victory over the Trojans at home on January 27, 2007. While the Eagles have dominated in basketball, Ahr has dominated in football. Last year in the series opener, the Trojans steamrolled Cardy Mac by a score of 46-0 to finish the season at 4-7. Bishop Ahr has historically been a solid program in football with dominant teams in the Greater Middlesex Conference going back to the days when the Trojans were coached by Tony Aschettino, and competed in the GMC White Division when the league was born in the mid 1980s. On the other hand, McCarrick is a fledgling program that was reborn in the late 1990s. Since the 2004 season, the Eagles have compiled a record of just 6-23 including three losses to BGA in this contest. The past two seasons, the Trojans have outscored the Eagles by a combined total of 91-0.
While the home team would finally get on the board for the first time in over ten quarters against its rival, and the game was a bit more respectable, the result was still the same as Bishop Ahr won easily, 41-12. After jumping out to a 7-0 first quarter lead, the Trojans poured it on in the second quarter to break the game open. The visitors from Edison rolled up 27 points on four touchdowns in the frame (one missed extra point). According to the article in the Thursday Star Ledger, Quarterback Larry Belotta, who ended up with over 1,000 yards passing on the season, completed 62.5 percent of his passes for a 160 yards, and threw a TD pass while teammate and running back, Moses Negron, had touchdown runs of 24 and 34 yards as he tallied up 135 yards rushing on 12 carries for an average of 11.25 yards per carry. Negron, who also recorded a milestone in the contest, by going over 1,000 yards rushing on the year, opened the scoring with a 24 yard run in the first quarter that made it 7-0. Then, in the second quarter, BGA put the game away on an 18 yard touchdown run by Jesse Long made it 14-0, and then Belotta followed that up with a 70 yard punt return. Belotta then went to the air for his only touchdown pass of the night when he connected with Matt Sheehy, a member of the BGA basketball team, for a 45 yard touchdown that made the score, 27-0. Capping the first half scoring was Trevor Brummer, who picked up a McCarrick fumble, and ran it in from 28 yards out for a 34-0 halftime lead. Negron wrapped up the Trojan scoring by making it 41-0 in the third quarter on a 34 yard touchdown run.
Arriving at the game late in the third quarter, the web site learned from our Bishop Ahr Hoops Volunteer that the game was well out of hand. Nevertheless, we stayed until the end of the contest, and happened to capture the Eagles only offensive touchdown in the game. The Eagles started their drive at midfield in the fourth quarter, and then got a couple nice runs including one for a first down by Wright. Merricks, who followed Wright’s first down gain with a nice run on a keeper, dropped back to pass on fourth down, scrambled around, and then near the McCarrick sideline, let go a pass to junior wide receiver, Ryan Brock for an eight yard touchdown. The Eagles missed the two point conversion, and that was all the scoring that there would be in this game. With the 29 point victory, Bishop Ahr finished the season at 6-4 overall, and 2-2 in the GMC Blue while Cardinal McCarrick dropped to 2-8 overall, and 0-4 in the GMC Gold. Since 2004, the Trojans have compiled a record of 21-20 overall while going 12-8 in division play. In addition, over that same period, BGA has outscored McCarrick by a combined total of 164-26, or by an average of 41 to 7 each year. View the video highlights of this game at YouTube.
|Bishop Ahr (6-4)||7||27||7||0||41|
|Cardinal McCarrick (2-8)||0||0||6||6||12|
Good evening again. I’ve continued to work on the video highlights I compiled from the games I saw on Wednesday night between Bishop Ahr and Cardinal McCarrick, and Dunellen and Middlesex. I’ve just posted the video highlights from the contest between the Destroyers and the Blue Jays on YouTube. While it was a low scoring affair, it was a very exciting and competitive game with both teams moving the ball fairly well, and the defenses coming up with big plays when they needed to. Similar to Ahr and McCarrick, this game, which is a great geographic rivalry since both schools are located right down the road from each other on Route 28, has only been around for nine years.
Middlesex, which was led by Quarterback Nick Farriella, who played basketball last season for the Blue Jays, scored first with a minute left in the first quarter, and then added a very important two point conversion for an 8-0 lead. On the very next Dunellen drive, the Destroyers, led by Quarterback T.J. Wenzel, who played basketball for DHS in 2006-07, came right back down the field and scored on a run up the middle by Chris Hartje midway through the second period for an 8-6 score. However, on the two point conversion attempt, Middlesex was able to prevent Owen Harshaney from getting into the end zone, and the score stood at 8-6, and despite several opportunities by both teams the rest of the game, that is how the contest ended with the Blue Jays winning its sixth game in the nine meetings of this young, but hotly contested rivalry. Both teams finished the season at 6-4 overall and 2-2 in the GMC Gold. View the highlights below.
Good evening everyone. Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving, and is having a good extended weekend. Speaking of Thanksgiving, GMC Hoops traveled out to both Waterfront Park in South Amboy, and Middlesex High School on Wednesday night to take in a couple relatively new Thanksgiving holiday rivalries. At 5:00 PM, Cardinal McCarrick hosted Bishop Ahr in the second meeting between the two schools on Turkey Day, and while it wasn’t close, it was still progress over last season for the Eagles. The BGA Trojans jumped out to a 41-0 lead including 27 points in the second quarter, and ultimately won 41-12. Last year, in the series opener, Ahr shutout McCarrick in a 46-0 rout. With the victory, Ahr, which lost in its first round playoff game to Holy Spirit (61-3) a couple weeks ago, finished its season at 6-4 while McCarrick ended its year at 2-8. Below are some highlights from the fourth quarter of Ahr’s victory.
NEPTUNE, NJ–The 2007 Rebounds Team Camp concluded on Thursday with Cardinal McCarrick winning the Championship with a perfect 8-0 record. The Eagles, which went 4-0 over the first two days of the camp including a thrilling win over St. Joseph’s on day one, and a blowout victory over Keansburg on day two, finished up with four more wins including two on Wednesday, August 8th over Holmdel (73-54) and Manasquan (55-47), and two more on Thursday, August 9th including a win over a Freehold Township (68-54) team that came in to the contest with only one loss. The Eagles averaged 65.1 points per game while yielding just 53 per game. Meanwhile, the Falcons of St. Joseph’s fell on hard times with three losses in their last four games at the Rebounds Camp. After going 3-1 over the first two days at Rebounds, St. Joe’s split their two games on Wednesday with a 52-46 loss to Freehold Township, and a 61-51 win over Monmouth Academy. Then, on the final day, Thursday, the Falcons lost to Neptune (69-63), and again to Freehold Township (71-66) to finish up at 4-4. Over the four days, St. Joseph’s averaged 60.1 per game while giving up just 57.6 points per contest. Here were the final standings in the team camp:
- Cardinal McCarrick (8-0)
- Plainfield (4-1)
- Neptune (7-2)
- Freehold Township (6-2)
- St. Joseph’s (4-4)
- Monmouth Academy (4-4)
- Bridgewater (2-2)
- Holmdel (4-5)
- Lakewood (2-6)
- Manasquan (2-6)
- Point Pleasant Boro (2-6)
- Keansburg (0-7)
NEPTUNE, NJ–For the second straight day, GMC Hoops traveled down to Rebounds in Neptune to take in action from the 2007 Rebounds Team Camp. Once again, St. Joseph’s and Cardinal McCarrick were in action, and at alternate times so that we could some more of both teams in competition. Both squads came up with solid efforts as they each won both their games. With the two victories McCarrick catapulted to the top of the standings along with fellow unbeaten team, Freehold Township of the Shore Conference while St. Joe’s moved up to 3-1. On this day, the Eagles battled Point Pleasant Boro at 5:00 PM, and then took on Keansburg at 7:20 PM while St. Joseph’s squared off against Plainfield at 6:10 PM, and then closed out its night with a contest versus Lakewood at 8:30 PM.
Results From Earlier Action
In earlier action, the Eagles of Cardinal McCarrick faced off against the Panthers from Point Pleasant Boro in a 5:00 PM game that kicked off the second day of competition. Cardy Mac had some struggles in this one against a Point Boro squad that fought hard to try and get its first win of the camp. The Eagles managed to scratch and claw themselves to a 42-39 victory, and stay undefeated at 3-0 while the Panthers dropped to 0-3. Meanwhile, in the other 5:00 PM games, Neptune rolled past Keansburg to move up to 3-1 on the camp while Freehold Township defeated a Manasquan team still looking for a win despite three tough losses by a combined total of 13 points. The Patriots, which reached the Central Jersey Group IV Sectional Final before losing to South Brunswick in 2007, remained undefeated at 3-0 while Manasquan dropped to 0-3.
Strong First Half Propels Falcons Past Cardinals, 73-61
After sitting out the first day of action at the 2007 Rebounds Team Camp, the Cardinals of Plainfield got into the fray with three games on their schedule this Tuesday night. The first game for the team from the Queen City was against St. Joseph’s, which was looking to rebound after a tough loss to Cardinal McCarrick in a thrilling game to wrap up day one, 69-64. The Falcons made sure this game as well as their second game with Lakewood, weren’t close with strong first half performances in each game to come away with two victories on the day. While there were a total of 47 points in the first half, St. Joseph’s got the lion’s share by almost outscoring Plainfield two to one for a 31-16 halftime lead. In the second half, the Cardinals woke up an outscored the Falcons by three, 45-42 in a furiously pace period with a combined total of 87 points. Not bad for a game with a running clock. However, the Cards were unable to dig out of their first half hole, and the Falcons came away with the 73-61 win.
St. Joseph’s began the game with an 8-0 run over the first 9:34 of the contest, and had a 25-4 lead with 5:56 to go in the half as Plainfield could only manage to score on just two field goals during the opening 14:04 of the game. The Cardinals were so frustrated by the stifling defense from the Falcons that the first Plainfield field goal that came at the 9:38 mark was on a huge dunk that expressed the frustration much like the infamous New Brunswick dunk that shattered the backboard at South Plainfield to put a halt to a 21-2 start by the Tigers in a game prior to the state cutoff back in the 1994-95 season. Neither team scored over the first 5:05 of the game before Steve Rennard got the Falcons going with a steal and pass upcourt to Nikko Vastola, who was then fouled on the layup attempt for one of two free throws and a 1-0 lead at the 14:55 mark. On the next Plainfield possession, Gerard Lewis grabbed a rebound of a missed Cardinal shot, and gave an outlet pass to Paul Konopacki for a layup that made the score, 3-0 at the 14:37 mark. Rennard then made one of two at the line for a 4-0 lead at the 14:09 mark, and the Falcons could have had more in that sequence as Vastola got the offensive rebound, but he couldn’t convert. Neither team scored over nearly a minute and a half before Plainfield called timeout at the 12:42 mark with St. Joe’s still leading, 4-0.
The stoppage didn’t seem to be the tonic for the Cardinals as neither team scored for nearly 1:45, and then the Falcons made it a 6-0 lead when Rennard passed to Lewis, who then made a nice spin move for a jumper at the 10:58 mark. A little more than a half minute later, St. Joe’s was on the board again as Konopacki made a nice bounce pass to Vastola for a left handed scoop shot to cap an 8-0 run at the 10:26 mark. Plainfield finally got on the board with a thunderous dunk, but undaunted, St. Joseph’s went back to work as Vastola returned the favor with a bounce pass to a cutting Konopacki for a layup that made the score, 10-2 at the 9:38 mark. Vastola, who had five points, two assists, and two offensive rebounds in the first 11:09 of the contest, added to the lead with two free throws at the 9:10 mark for a 12-2 lead. Lewis then made it a 14-2 lead when he scored on an offensive rebound and putback off of a missed layup on the fast break by Vastola with 8:51 left in the half. Lewis then handed out his second assist of the half when he grabbed a rebound, and gave a nice outlet pass to Rennard for a reverse layup that made the score, 16-2 at the 8:36 mark. Twenty-two seconds later, the Falcons were on the board again as Rennard got an assist on a Konopacki layup that made the score, 18-2 as the Cardinals called for time at the 8:14 mark.
The game continued to turn into a clinic as St. Joseph’s reeled off seven of the next nine points over a span of 2:18 to take a commanding 25-4 lead. Despite the fact that Plainfield was pressing, the Falcons were breaking it with regularity after some initial struggles. The Cards did finally get going with a 12-6 spurt to close out the first half to only trail by 15 at the intermission, 31-16. In the second half, the contest turned into a track meet as Plainfield took the momentum it created in the latter portion of the first half, and tried to make a game of it. The Cards got the first points of the second half to close the gap to 31-18 with 15:45 to go in the game. Then, after a St. Joe’s score, Plainfield crept to within a dozen on a trifecta from the right wing that made the score, 33-21 with 14:15 to play. The Falcons then scored five of the next seven points including a layup by Rennard off an assist from Konopacki that made the score, 38-23 with 13:39 left. After St. Joe’s got another score to go back up by 17, Plainfield reeled off the next five points for a 40-28 Falcon lead before Lewis made a nice kick out to Rennard for a jumper from the left wing that made it 42-28 at the 12:26 mark.
The Rennard jumper ignited a 6-0 run over a span of about a minute that gave St. Joseph’s a 46-28 advantage with 11:40 remaining in the contest. Plainfield did its best to make things interesting by closing the game with a 33-27 showing that included a highlight reel dunk, but the Falcons came away with the victory, 73-61. St. Joe’s improved its record on the camp to 2-1 while Plainfield dropped to 0-1. The Falcons were back in action later in the evening when they faced Lakewood over on the Celtics court at 8:30 PM while Plainfield played two more games against Manasquan at 7:20 PM and then against Monmouth Academy at 8:30 PM.
|St. Joseph’s (2-1)||31||42||73|
Cardinal McCarrick Rolls Past Keansburg, 63-36
Cardinal McCarrick was looking to finish its second night at the 2007 Rebounds Team Camp with two victories while Keansburg was still searching for its first win as the two squads met in a contest held on the Celtics court at 7:20 PM. The Eagles entered the night with two victories on its first day over Monmouth Academy and St. Joseph’s in a game that was a classic. Then, earlier on this second day of action, McCarrick had to scrape and claw to get a three point win over Point Pleasant Boro. This one would be no contest as the Eagles nearly doubled the first half output of the Titans for a 41-22 lead at the intermission, and then cruised in the second half by outscoring the Shore Conference school by a 22-14 margin for a 63-36 rout. The Eagles jumped out to a 20-6 lead over the first ten minutes of the half, and then built up a 21 point, 35-14 lead with 4:34 left before halftime. Keansburg then closed things out with an 8-6 run for the nineteen point McCarrick advantage at the intermission.
The Titans actually drew first blood with one of two foul shots at the 15:27 mark for a 1-0 lead. However, Burwell got the Eagles going with a rebound that set up a fast break opportunity led by the soon to be senior forward, and then he dished to Julio Rosario for a reverse layup that gave McCarrick a lead it would never relinquish at 2-1 with 15:22 to go in the first half. Burwell then followed that up with a three pointer at the 14:45 mark for a 5-1 lead. Mike Brennan then got into the act with an offensive rebound and follow for a 7-4 lead at the 13:58 mark after Keansburg crept to within one on a trey from the left wing. Burwell, who factored in seven of the first nine Eagle points in this game as well as scored 14 of the first 24 by McCarrick, took a pass from Rosario for a layup that made the score, 9-4 at the 13:40 mark. Cardy Mac then got another score on a floater for an 11-4 lead. Beginning to pull away, the Eagles then ran off five of the next seven points including an inbounds pass by Rosario to Burwell for a three pointer from the left side for a 16-6 lead with 10:58 remaining before halftime.
A little more than a half minute later, the Eagles got on the board again as Wil Snider found Julio Rosario for a layup along the left baseline that put McCarrick ahead by twelve at 18-6 with 10:23 remaining in the period. Cardy Mac continued to pour it on as the Eagles got another score a little more than twenty seconds later as Rosario got a steal, and made a skip pass upcourt to Burwell for a layup that made the score, 20-6 midway through the first half. The Eagle lead grew some more as the South Amboy school reeled off another four points including a Burwell layup off the inbounds for a 24-6 lead at the 9:01 mark. Keansburg finally put an end to the 10-0 Eagle spurt with a score, but McCarrick came right back as Tom Costello grabbed and offensive rebound, and scored on the follow for a 26-8 advantage with 7:47 left in the opening period. The Titans then reeled off the next four points to pull within fourteen at 26-12, but Burwell then found Rosario in the right corner for a three that put the Eagles back ahead by seventeen at 29-12 with 6:20 to play in the half. After Keansburg got a basket to nearly cut the deficit in half at 29-14, Cardinal McCarrick scored six straight points including a windmill jam by Burwell off an assist by Rosario for a 35-14 lead with 4:34 to go in the half.
Keansburg then closed the half with an 8-6 showing to make it a 41-22 McCarrick lead at halftime. In the second half, the Eagles opened things up even more with a 9-2 spurt over the first 7:21 for a 50-24 lead at the 12:39 mark. On a subsequent possession, Rosario netted two free throws for a 52-24 advantage at the 12:16 mark. A half minute or so after that, Rosario was back at it again as he took a pass from Alvin Baptiste-Ousley, and went in on a one on two situation, faked, and turned toward the foul line for a jumper that made the score, 52-24 with 11:44 remaining. Costello then made a layup at the 5:38 mark to put McCarrick ahead 58-27, and then Branten Widgeon got into the act with a layup off of a steal for a 60-27 lead with 5:20 to play. Baptiste-Ousley then capped the victory with an offensive rebound off his own miss, and scored on the follow as he was fouled for a three point play that made the score, 63-33 with 1:03 left. The Titans then closed out the contest with the final three points for the 63-36 final score. With the win, Cardinal McCarrick improved to 4-0 on the camp while Keansburg dropped to 0-4.
|Cardinal McCarrick (4-0)||41||22||63|
St. Joe’s Victorious Again Thanks To Another Solid First Half, 51-37
The Falcons of St. Joseph’s were looking to go 2-0 on the night for a 3-1 start on the week at the 2007 Rebounds Camp when it faced off against Lakewood of Ocean County in the nightcap round of games held at 8:30 PM. Like its first game of the evening against Plainfield, St. Joseph’s got off to a fast start in the first half, and that proved to be the difference. The Falcons jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the first 8:45, and went on to lead by fourteen at the half, 26-12 before Lakewood tried to make things respectable with a 21-16 run over the first 14:40 of the second half to close to within nine at 42-33. However, like the Cardinals earlier in the evening, Lakewood dug itself too deep a hole to dig out of, and the Falcons came away with the victory, 51-37. St. Joseph’s managed to close the game with eight of the last twelve points to even things out at 25-25 in the second half to preserve the win.
Lakewood was held scoreless for the first several minutes of the first half as St. Joe’s took a 10-0 advantage. Rennard made one of two free throws after an earlier foul shot by the Falcons for a 2-0 lead at the 14:28 mark. Rennard stepped back up to the line for another two free throws that made the score, 4-0 with 14:07 left in the half. A little more than forty seconds after that, St. Joe’s was on the board again with a field goal that made the score, 6-0 at the 13:26 mark. Thirty-four seconds later, Paul Konopacki got on the board with a layup at the 12:52 mark for an 8-0 lead, and then the Falcons got one more basket for a 10-0 lead before Lakewood got a jumper from the right corner for its first field goal and points of the contest at the 11:30 mark. On the very next Falcon possession though, Nikko Vastola passed to Rennard on the right wing for a three pointer that gave St. Joseph’s a 13-2 lead with 11:15 remaining in the half. Over the next three minutes, Lakewood scored six of the next ten points to pull within ten at 18-8 before Rennard, who shot 5 of 10 from the line in half number one as well as scored 12 of his team’s first 21 points, made one of two at the line for a 19-8 advantage with 8:15 to play in the half.
Lakewood would get a score to bring the deficit back down to single digits, but Rennard came back with a running bank shot from the left side at the 5:30 mark to put St. Joe’s back up by eleven at 21-10. The soon to be sophomore guard had an opportunity to give the Falcons their biggest lead of the contest a little less than a minute and a half later, but failed to make any of his two attempts at the line so the score stood at 21-10 at the 4:10 mark. About a minute and fifteen seconds later, Lakewood scored off the fast break to close within nine again at 21-12 with 2:55 to go in the first half. Five seconds later, the Falcons called a timeout, and then after the stoppage, closed the half with the final five points to take a 26-12 lead into the brief intermission. Dhaliwal Gaganjot was a catalyst during the late mini-run with a nice entry pass to a cutting Vastola for a layup at the 1:50 mark, and then a dribble and kick out from the left side up top to Steve Brandenberg for a jumper with 3.5 seconds remaining in the half.
In the second half, St. Joseph’s got started quickly with six of the first eight points in a span of just 2:51. Both teams exchanged scores in the first 1:23 for a 28-14 Falcon lead at the 14:37 mark. Thirty-five seconds later, Rennard faked a pass, and drove down the right side for a scoop shot layup to put the Falcons ahead by 16, 30-14 with 14:02 to play. Rennard then followed that up with an assist on a pass to Lewis for a score for the largest St. Joe’s lead of the game at 32-14 with 13:09 remaining. Lakewood would get on the board with a field goal to bring the deficit back down to sixteen at 32-16, but Rennard went back to the line for one of two again to make the score, 33-16 at the 12:20 mark. Twenty seconds later, the Ocean County school connected on a baseline jumper to close within fifteen at 33-18 with twelve minutes to play. The basket continued what would be an 8-1 run over a span of just 2:03 to pull within eleven at 33-22 with 11:06 left. Capping the run was a steal by a Lakewood player off Rennard that was eventually converted into a layup.
Neither team scored for over a minute until Lewis made a pass from the corner to underneath the basket, where a cutting Konopacki took the ball, and layed it in for a 35-22 lead with 9:40 to play in the contest. Over the next 3:35, Lakewood scored eight of the next thirteen points to close to within ten at 40-30 before Rennard, who ended up going 7 of 8 from the charity stripe in the second half for a 12 of 18 showing on the game (66.7 percent), put a halt to the run with two free throws that made the score, 42-30 with 6:05 remaining. Lewis then followed that up with a nice block on the ensuing Lakewood possession, but the Shore Conference team kept battling, and scored a three point play to trim the deficit down to single digits at 42-33 with 5:20 left. However, Lakewood was unable to get any closer as St. Joseph’s closed the game with a 9-4 run. Rennard was a key figure in the game closing spurt with two pairs of free throws at the 2:38 and 1:13 marks respectively, and an assist on a three pointer from the right corner by Gaganjot at the 2:04 mark for a 49-35 lead. St. Joe’s went on to win by fourteen to go 3-1 over the first two days at the camp while Lakewood dropped to 1-3.
|St. Joseph’s (3-1)||26||25||51|
Standings After Day Two
Below are the standings after day two. Cardinal McCarrick led the way with a 4-0 record while St. Joseph’s was 3-1. Neptune continued to play well with two more wins while Holmdel dropped both of its games, but by a combined total of just nine points. Plainfield got into the action with three games including victories over Manasquan and Monmouth Academy, and a loss in one of our featured games to St. Joseph’s. Manasquan and Monmouth Academy both won their first games of the camp while Point Boro and Keansburg were still looking for their first wins.
- Cardinal McCarrick (4-0)
- Freehold Township (4-0)
- Neptune (4-1)
- St. Joseph’s (3-1)
- Plainfield (2-1)
- Holmdel (3-2)
- Bridgewater (1-1)
- Lakewood (1-3)
- Monmouth Academy (1-3)
- Manasquan (1-4)
- Point Pleasant Boro (0-4)
- Keansburg (0-4)
NEPTUNE, NJ–For the second straight year, GMC Hoops traveled down to the Rebounds Facility in Neptune to take in the Rebounds Team Camp. Once again there was a very good field of teams including St. Joseph’s and Cardinal McCarrick, which were the only two teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference that competed in the Summer of 2006. This year’s camp had twelve teams as supposed to just eight the previous summer. Teams included: Bridgewater, Cardinal McCarrick, Freehold Township, Holmdel, Keansburg, Lakewood, Manasquan, Monmouth Academy, Neptune, Plainfield, Point Pleasant Boro, and St. Joseph’s. Other schools making a return trip to this camp besides McCarrick and St. Joseph’s included: Holmdel, Manasquan, and Neptune. Of the twelve teams in this year’s camp, the Shore Conference had the most representatives with seven teams while the GMC had two, and the Skyland, Watchung, and Prep each had one. Each team played two games every day for four days to end up with a total of eight games in the camp. On this first day, GMC Hoops arrived in time for the 7:20 PM round of games. By that time, both the Falcons and Eagles had already played a game as St. Joseph’s battled Neptune while Cardinal McCarrick faced off against Monmouth Academy at 6:10 PM. In addition to some notes on the earlier games, GMC Hoops had articles on four games from this night: Point Pleasant Boro versus Freehold Township, Holmdel against Keansburg, Neptune and Monmouth Academy, and the game of the night, and perhaps the summer between St. Joseph’s and Cardinal McCarrick.
Results From Earlier Action
Just as we arrived at Rebounds, the St. Joseph’s Falcons were all outside with their parents and supporters taking a breather following their game with Neptune. In the contest, St. Joe’s led by as many as 13 points late before Neptune scored the last seven for a 57-51 Falcon victory. Meanwhile, over on an adjacent court, Cardinal McCarrick was facing Monmouth Academy. The prep school, which used to be Lakewood Prep, features former Bishop Ahr standout, and all time leading scorer, Corey Francisco. In this game though, Francisco didn’t play, and the Eagles took advantage with a solid 82-67 win in a very high scoring contest for a team camp with a running clock.
Freehold Township Pulls Out Win Behind Strong Second Half, 53-43
After touching base with several of the St. Joseph’s parents as well as some of the assistant coaches, GMC Hoops went inside the Rebounds facility, and tried to get a sample of some of the action by taking in the game between Freehold Township and Point Pleasant Boro, which was scheduled for 7:20 PM. Freehold Township of the Class A North Division of the Shore Conference, was coming off a very special season in which they had lost only one game to LEAP Academy of Camden while compiling a record of 26-1 including wins over Group III State Champion, Shawnee, Holy Spirit of Absecon, Trenton, and CBA (3 times) before losing to GMC Red Division Champ, South Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group IV State Tourney Championship. Now, the Patriots are trying to rebuild after losing seniors Ed Fischer, T.J. Lafalce, Marcus Roberson, Rodger Wilmont, Alan Frost, and Brian Brikowski to graduation. Meanwhile, Point Pleasant Boro is looking to finally get over the hump in South Jersey Group II after losing to Haddonfield in the semifinals each of the past two seasons. The team, which competes in the Class B South Division of the Shore, won the regular season division title while compiling a 17-7 mark overall.
The first half was a very close battle as the Patriots jumped out to a 13-6 lead over the first 10:47 before Point Pleasant Boro rallied with a 16-8 run over the final 5:13 of the half to lead by one at the intermission, 22-21. In the second half, Freehold Township deployed a full court press, and it did produce results as the Patriots led by as many as 13 points late, and ultimately won, 53-43 with a 32-21 second half showing. For the game, Freehold Township made 21 of 50 shots for 42 percent while Point Pleasant Boro made 16 of 51 field goals for 31.4 percent. The Pats made more threes (5-4), and made more field goals in the second half (13 of 31 for 41.9 percent vs. only 8 of 19 for 42.1 percent in the second half). Meanwhile, Point Boro only made 9 of 26 shots for 34.6 percent in the first half, and then 7 of 25 for 28 percent in the second half. Free throw shooting wasn’t that good as both squads struggled at the charity stripe. The Patriots went only 6 of 13 at the line for 46.2 percent while Point Boro didn’t fare much better going just 7 of 14 for 50 percent. Things didn’t start out that well at all for the Panthers from Ocean County as they made only 2 of their first 14 shots for 14.3 percent over the initial 10:13 of the contest, but then closed out the first half by making 7 of their last 12 shots to take a one point lead going into the brief break.
Freehold Township got going right away with a steal, and push upcourt quickly for a dish to left that resulted in a layup, and a 2-0 lead at the 15:22 mark. Over a minute and fifteen seconds later, Freehold Township drew a charge, and then scored a little over a minute after that for a 4-0 lead with 12:50 to play in the first half. Point Boro finally got on the board by fighting for a loose ball off of a rebound, and scoring its first points of the contest by making a layup for its field goal of the game to make the score, 4-2 with 10:44 left before halftime. The Patriots had a chance to increase their lead, but after drawing a foul following a steal and subsequent layup attempt, they misfired on the foul shots, and the score stayed at 4-2 with 8:28 remaining in the half. The Panthers then came back for a foul line jumper that was a product a good ball movement to pull within two again after the Patriots got an earlier score to make it a 6-4 game at the 7:19 mark. Freehold Township got an offensive rebound and putback at the 6:53 mark for an 8-4 lead, and then scored once more on a jumper from the right wing for a 10-4 advantage at the 5:47 mark as Point Pleasant Boro called for time.
After the timeout, the Patriots, which had shot 5 of 13 from the field for 38.5 percent up to this point in the contest, went back to work. Following a jumper from the left wing by the Panthers that made the score, 10-6 at the 5:35 mark, the Patriots capped their strong start with a three pointer at the 5:13 mark for a 13-6 lead. At this point, Point Boro began to make its comeback. On the very next Panther possession, the Ocean County school got a three pointer to close within four at 13-9 with just under five minutes to play in the half. On the next Freehold Township possession, the Panthers defense came up with a steal, and converted it into a layup for a 13-11 Patriot lead with 4:43 remaining in the half. The Patriots then scored on their next possession to go back up by four, 15-11 with 4:28 to play in the half, but then Point Pleasant Boro reeled off nine straight points to take a 20-15 lead with 1:52 to go in the period. A layup underneath at the 4:16 mark ignited the Panther run while a layin off a 3 on 2 break tied things up at 15-15 with 3:57 to play in the half. A short time later, Point Boro took the lead on a layup off a steal that made the score 17-15 at the 3:36 mark. Finally, the Panthers capped the run with a three pointer from the right wing to take their largest lead of the game as an official timeout was called with under two minutes to go before halftime due to an injury.
Freehold Township would close the half with a 6-2 run including a three point play at the 1:33 mark that made it a one point, 22-21, Point Pleasant Boro lead at the half. However, for a 3:40 stretch, the Patriots only had one field goal while Point Boro registered two three pointers, and four layups for field goals in a 14-2 tear that represented the best run of the game by the Panthers. In the second half, both teams got off to shaky starts, particularly at the foul line as Point Boro missed its first two attempts of the half at the charity stripe with 15:22 to play, and Freehold Township only made one of four foul shots in the first 1:38 of the half. With the score tied at 22-22 at the 14:24 mark, Point Pleasant Boro went back on top on its next possession by breaking the Patriot pressure, and scoring on a baseline jumper from the left side to make it 24-22 at the 14:11 mark. The field goal was the first of the half for both teams as the Panthers began shooting 1 of 5 from the field for 20 percent. Freehold Township quickly tied the contest on its next possession to make the score, 24-24 with 14 minutes to play. Point Boro then took its last lead of the game on a drive for a layin at the 13:39 mark that made the score, 26-24. Sparked by a three pointer on its next possession, Freehold Township went on a decisive 10-0 spurt over a span of 1:14 for a 34-26 lead with 12:25 remaining.
Highlighting the Patriots run was a steal that led to a three pointer at the 13:06 mark, a steal of the press that turned into a layup at the 12:50 mark, and then another steal off the press that led to a short jumper to cap the run at the 12:25 mark. The Panthers put a halt to the spurt with a score on their next possession to make it a six point, 34-28 Patriot lead with 12:06 remaining. Freehold Township would get a score to go back up by eight before the Panthers netted a three pointer from the right corner for a 36-31 Patriot lead at the 11:37 mark. On their next possession, the Patriots replied with a three pointer of their own for a 39-31 lead with 11:22 to play in the contest. The Panthers came right back with a score on a baseline jumper from the left side for a 39-33 FTHS lead at the 11:11 mark. Point Boro made it a 4-0 mini-run with a score inside off a spin move for a 39-35 Patriot lead midway through the second half. Neither team would score for almost two minutes before Freehold Township grabbed a rebound on the defensive end, drove upcourt for a layup while drawing a foul, but missed the bonus free throw for a 41-35 lead at the 8:01 mark. Point Pleasant Boro would get a field goal to pull within four before the Patriots made one of two at the line for a 42-37 lead. A short time later, Freehold Township had to call a timeout in order to avoid a turnover so with just under six minutes to play, the Patriots still led by five, 42-37.
Over the next 3:45, Freehold Township scored seven of the next nine points to pretty much put the game out of reach. Following the timeout at the 5:57 mark, the Patriots quickly got on the board with a nice no look entry pass to the left low post for a layup to take a 44-37 lead. Twenty-one seconds later, the Patriots were on the board again with a pull-up jumper from the right wing off the break for a 46-37 advantage at the 5:30 mark. Neither team would score for a minute and a half after that before Point Pleasant Boro scored on the right low block with three Patriot defenders in the vicinity to end the 5-0 FTHS run for a 46-39 score at the 3:55 mark. But, Freehold Township would get a score, and then stepped to the line to make one of two free throws for a 49-39 lead with just 2:12 to play. Both teams exchanged four points over the final two plus minutes to give the Pats a ten point, 53-43 victory. With the win, Freehold Township finished the day with a perfect 2-0 record while Point Pleasant Boro was winless at 0-2.
|Freehold Township (2-0)||21||32||53|
|Point Pleasant Boro (0-2)||22||21||43|
Holmdel Too Much For Keansburg, 54-40
Besides Neptune, Holmdel was the other team to play three games on the first night of action at the 2007 Rebounds Team Camp. The Hornets, which were a powerhouse program in Group II back in the 1990s, played earlier in the day against Lakewood, and won by four, 41-37. On the other hand, Keansburg was playing its second and final game of the night. The Titans, which have been a contender in Central Jersey Group I from time to time, played its first game at 5:00 PM against Freehold Township and lost, 51-46. Holmdel, which competes in the Class A Central Division of the Shore Conference, was simply too much for Keansburg, which competes in the Class B Central Division of the Shore. The Hornets, which went 9-12 overall and 3-9 in division in 2006-07, jumped out to a 31-20 halftime lead, and then outscored the Titans by a 23-20 margin in the second half for a 54-40 victory.
The Titans, which finished 12-15 overall and .500 at 7-7 in divisional play, was as close as five points in the first half on a three pointer at the 2:35 mark, but Holmdel scored the final six points of the half, and then opened the second with a 17-7 tear over the first 10:36 for a commanding, 48-27 lead at the 9:24 mark. Keansburg, which made a nice comeback in a loss to South River in the Consolation Game of the South Amboy Holiday Tournament back in December, 2006, was unable to overcome the deficit despite outscoring the Hornets 13-6 the rest of the way. In the first half, Holmdel jumped out to a 18-9 advantage over the first 13:09 before Keansburg went on a 11-7 run over a span of 4:16 to pull within five with nearly two and a half left before intermission.
Both teams found it tough to score in the early going as Holmdel managed to get the only points in the first 5:17 for a 4-0 lead at the 14:43 mark. Keansburg would get on the board though with the next four points over a span of 1:46 including a drive to the left side of the key for a layup that capped the run and tied things up at 4-4 with 12:57 to go in the half. Holmdel then scored nine of the next eleven points over a 4:03 span to take a 13-6 lead as the Titans called for time. Highlighting the run was a three pointer that started things off at the 12:35 mark for a 7-4 lead. Following the timeout, the Hornets then scored five of the next eight points for a 14-5 tear, and an 18-9 lead with 6:51 left in the first half. Keansburg, which looks to have some fair talent this season as well as some size and athleticism, fought back with its best run of the half capped off by a three pointer at the 2:35 mark that closed the gap to 25-20.
Within the next 56 seconds though, Holmdel was back on top with two scores that gave the Hornets a 29-20 lead, and compelled the Keansburg coach to call a timeout with 1:39 to play before halftime. Holmdel then made a pair of free throws 55 seconds later to take a 31-20 lead going into the brief break. In the second half, the Hornets started off strong with 13 of the first 20 points over the initial 9:19 of the new period for a 44-27 lead. Then, Holmdel added two more scores for a 17-7 surge, and what would be an insurmountable, 48-27 lead with 9:24 remaining. Keansburg tried to rally with the next five points before Holmdel made one of two at the line for a 49-32 lead at the 4:50 mark, but despite the Titans getting a 6-5 edge the rest of the way, the Hornets were able to come away with the win, 54-40. With the victory, Holmdel improved to 2-0 on the camp while Keansburg finished its first day at 0-2.
McCarrick Edges St. Joe’s In A Thriller, 69-64
In the finale of the opening day at the 2007 Rebounds Team Camp, Cardinal McCarrick faced off against St. Joseph’s in what would be a game that not only lived up to its hype, but also gave many going away from the contest a great deal of enthusiasm towards the upcoming basketball season. After Cardinal McCarrick took a 36-25 lead at the half thanks to 14 points on two threes, a field goal, and 6 of 7 from the foul line over the final 9:10 of the period by Mike Burwell, St. Joseph’s, which got eight points on two field goals and 4 of 5 from the line by Paul Konopacki in the last ten minutes of the first half, rallied in the second period with a 39-33 showing, but fell short by five, 69-64. McCarrick led throughout much of this game, but after leading by as many as twelve in the second half, and holding a five point, 63-58 lead with 38.5 seconds left, St. Joseph’s rallied with a 22-12 surge over a span of 7:24 to pull within one at 65-64 with 7.9 left. However, after appearing to get a huge break on a McCarrick turnover on the inbounds underneath its own basket with 2.8 seconds left, St. Joe’s was called for an foul away from the ball. Wil Snider then stepped to the line when the Falcon bench was called for a technical foul. Snider then made one of two from the line, and then Burwell made one of two technicals for a 67-64 lead. Still with a chance to tie on a three pointer, the Falcons quickly fouled on the side out of bounds, but with 0.4 remaining, Eliazor Landano made both foul shots to clinch the 69-64 thrilling McCarrick victory.
In a game that revived a rivalry that began to simmer back in the early part of the decade when in the 2002 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament Championship, St. Joseph’s defeated Cardinal McCarrick by a score of 46-39. The following summer, the two teams engaged in a memorable semifinal matchup in the 2002 Middlesex County College Summer League that McCarrick almost won. On a last second alley-oop play from Mike Garcia to Billy Wagner, the Eagles missed the shot, and St. Joseph’s escaped ultimately to lose to New Brunswick in the Championship. Then, of course, the two teams faced each other in the 2003 Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament when Cardinal McCarrick, led by Mika Wilson, who had transferred to the school prior to the start of the 2002-03 school year, won its first and only GMCT title, 67-56. The 2002-03 McCarrick team went on to be selected as one of the ten greatest teams during the first five years of the GMC Hoops web site while the 2002-03 St. Joseph’s squad was also chosen.
Due to the late finish of the Freehold Township and Point Pleasant Boro game, action in this contest wasn’t picked up until about midway through the first half with the Eagles leading, 15-10. The Eagles had a chance to go ahead even further, but Mike Brennan threw the ball away on a kick out to the perimeter with 9:40 left in the half. Burwell did pick up his fellow frontcourt mate by drawing a foul on a layup attempt some thirty seconds later for a 16-10 lead at the 9:10 mark. On the next Falcon possession, Konopacki scored on a layup that closed the gap to four at 16-12 with 8:38 to go in the half. St. Joe’s had a chance to get even closer when Vastola was fouled on the baseline by Tom Costello, but he missed the front end of a one and one, and the score remained 16-12 with 7:49 to go in the half. Brandon Vas came up with a big play as he got a steal, and an assist on a layup by Konopacki, who was fouled on the play, but missed the bonus foul shot for a conventional three point play, and McCarrick, which netted a free throw earlier, led 17-14 at the 5:54 mark. A short time later, the Eagles came back down and scored on a layup for a 19-14 lead at the 5:35 mark, but the Falcons came right back to Konopacki, who drew a foul, and made two free throws for a 19-16 McCarrick lead at the 5:26 mark.
Forty seconds later, the Eagles went back ahead by five as Branten Widgeon, whose older brother Kenny graduated from St. Joe’s in 2006, and is now attending Mount St. Vincent College, connected on a pair of free throws for a 21-16 score with 4:46 to go before intermission. The exchange of free throws continued as Gerard Lewis got into the fray with a one of two showing at the charity stripe for a 21-17 lead at the 4:31 mark, and then Burwell made two from the line for a six point, 23-17 McCarrick lead with 4:26 to go in the half. The Falcons had chances to get closer, but Vastola was called for a backcourt violation at the 4:15 mark, and then Vas misfired on a couple free throws at the 3:44 mark. Burwell then made a traditional three point play when he grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed front end of a one and one by Alvin Baptiste-Ousley, and put it back in as he was fouled for a 26-17 Eagle lead with 3:06 remaining in the period.
Nearly a half minute later, Burwell struck again for three points of a different kind as a knocked in a trey from the right wing for a twelve point, 29-17 advantage. On the very next St. Joe’s possession, Konopacki scored on a traditional three point play to bring the deficit back down to single digits at 29-20 at the 2:26 mark. Once again though, Burwell struck from long distance as he took a pass from Taylor Snider for another trey that made the score, 32-20 with 1:52 to go in the first half. Najhi Talley then got into the scoring column with a layin at the 1:30 mark for a 32-22 McCarrick lead. On a subsequent Eagle possession, Cardy Mac picked up three offensive rebounds including two by Baptiste-Ousley, and they resulted in a putback by Widgeon for a 34-22 McCarrick lead at the 59.5 mark. Konopacki then made one of two at the line for a 34-23 Eagle edge with 42.6 to play in the half, and then Burwell netted two foul shots for the South Amboy school’s largest lead of the contest, 36-23 with 31.9 remaining before halftime. Despite two missed free throws by Lewis with 14.7 left in the period, the Falcons still managed to have the final word as Dhaliwali Gaganjot grabbed a rebound, dribbled upcourt, and dished to Mark Bauer for a short jumper from the left wing as time expired in the first half for a 36-25 Cardinal McCarrick lead at the intermission. At the start of the second half, the Eagles increased their lead back to a dozen with three of the first five points as Rosario made a three pointer from the left corner off a pass by Burwell for a 39-27 lead with 15:08 to go in the game.
Fighting back, St. Joe’s scored the next six points via both the conventional and unconventional forms of the three point play. First, Lewis made a traditional three point play at the 14:44 mark for a 39-33 McCarrick lead. Then, after Konopacki missed a pair of free throws with 14:03 remaining, Gaganjot got an offensive rebound and assist on a three pointer from the right side by Steve Rennard for a 39-33 score with 13:48 to play. Keeping the Falcons at a distance, McCarrick reeled off the next six points in a span of 1:55 to regain its twelve point advantage at 45-33 with 11:53 remaining. Eliazor Landano sparked the run with an offensive rebound and assist on a Burwell jumper for a 41-33 lead at the 12:35 mark. Ten seconds later, Wil Snider, swiped a steal, drove the length of the court, and made a nice little spin move for a layup that gave McCarrick a double digit lead again at 43-33 with 12:25 remaining. Julio Rosario then capped the mini-run with a pair of free throws at the 11:53 mark for a 45-33 advantage as St. Joseph’s called for time. After the timeout, the Falcons scored six consecutive points over the next 2:46 to close within six again at 45-39 with 9:07 to play. Rennard had four of the six points including a steal off Landano for a layup at the 10:59 mark and left handed scoop shot at the 9:47 mark. The soon to be sophomore guard had a chance to make his first score a three point play, but missed the bonus free throw. Konopacki then capped the run with a score as he was fouled, but like Rennard earlier, missed the bonus free throw for the six point Cardy Mac lead with a little over nine minutes remaining.
On the next Cardinal McCarrick possession, Wil Snider made a ball fake to his right in the direction of Rosario, and then drove to the hoop for a layup that put the Eagles back up by eight, 47-39 with 8:45 to go. Rennard came back to the line on the very next Falcon possession, and sank one of two from the foul line for a 47-40 Eagle lead with 8:26 left. Replying quickly to expand its lead, McCarrick went up by double digits again as Widgeon made a nice kickout to Taylor Snider for a three pointer that made the score, 50-40 with 8:02 remaining. Starting to take over the game, Rennard came right back down the floor with a drive for a layup that brought the Eagle lead back down to single digits at 50-42 with 7:50 to play. The Eagles, which actually outscored the Falcons by a margin of 8-3 over a 1:35 stretch, got another three pointer from Rosario for a 53-42 edge at the 7:32 mark. Beginning their game closing rally at this point, St. Joseph’s scored six straight points over a span of 1:35 to pull within five at 53-48 with just under six minutes to go. Lewis capped the run when Konopacki took a pass from Rennard, and gave a nice entry feed to the soon to be junior forward for a scoring attempt that drew a foul. Lewis then hit both free throws at the 5:57 mark for the five point Cardy Mac lead. St. Joe’s would return the favor though as Lewis fouled Rosario on a subsequent McCarrick possession, which resulted in two free throws that ended the Falcon 6-0 burst, and a 55-48 lead with 5:32 to play.
Now reaching an exciting crescendo, the game began to pick up the pace as Konopacki picked up a steal, and got the ball downcourt for an eventual layin by Lewis to bring the Falcons to within five once more at 55-50 with 5:05 left. Quickly responding, Widgeon got an offensive rebound and putback to put the Eagles ahead by seven again, 57-50 at the 4:50 mark. St. Joseph’s continued to creep closer though with four straight points in just 36 seconds including a steal for a layup by Konopacki at the 4:14 mark for a 57-54 McCarrick lead. Giving his team some much needed breathing room, Taylor Snider came up big with two key foul shots for a 59-54 Eagle edge with 4:05 to go, but the Falcons came right back with a response on the very next possession as Gaganjot dished to Rennard for a layup that made it 59-56 in favor of McCarrick at the 3:43 mark. Following a Falcon timeout, St. Joe’s had an opportunity to either close within one, or tie the game up, but Wil Snider came up with a huge defensive play by drawing a charge on Talley at the 3:17 mark to preserve a now tenuous, three point lead. Finally pulling within one, St. Joseph’s got a key score on a turnaround jumper in the left low block by Konopacki for a 59-58 Cardy Mac lead with 2:50 left.
For nearly a minute, neither team scored until Widgeon come up with another key offensive rebound following a missed jumper by Wil Snider for a putback that put the Eagles ahead again by three at 61-58 with just inside two minutes remaining. A half minute later, the older Snider made a nice entry pass to Widgeon for a layup attempt that drew a foul, and resulted in one of two from the foul line for a 62-58 lead at the 1:29 mark. Leading now by two possessions, McCarrick appeared to have St. Joseph’s on the ropes, especially when Wil Snider stepped to the line with 51.5 seconds left. However, the soon to be junior guard, failed to make either of his free throw attempts, and the Falcons were still alive. Burwell would later make one of two at the charity stripe for a very healthy, five point, 63-58 lead at the 38.5 second mark. Never saying die though, St. Joe’s battled back to within one as the athletic Konopacki grabbed a rebound of Snider’s missed second foul shot, and drove the length of the floor for a layup to make the score, 63-60 as the Falcons called timeout with 31.4 to play in regulation. Following the stoppage, St. Joseph’s forced a turnover, and Gaganjot drew a foul that resulted in a pair of free throws at the 30.5 mark for a 63-62 McCarrick lead.
On the ensuing inbounds, the Eagles got the ball to Burwell, who dribbled up the floor, and drew a foul with 25 seconds left. The 6′6″ forward then calmly made two free throws for a 65-62 lead. Once again, Cardinal McCarrick had the Falcons on the ropes as it were able to stop them on their next possession, and Widgeon was fouled with 15.6 remaining. However, the Eagles, which went 12 of 20 from the free throw stripe in the final 7:32 of the contest, couldn’t sow the game up as Widgeon misfired on both foul shot attempts, and St. Joe’s had new life. Given a reprieve, the Falcons aimed to take advantage by first quickly scoring on a nice give and go between Steve Brandenberg and Rennard for a layup at the 7.9 mark. Then, on the following inbounds play, the GMC Red Division team forced the GMC Blue squad to commit a turnover underneath its own basket. Following a McCarrick timeout, St. Joe’s attempted an inbounds play when the officials called the Falcons for a foul away from the ball. As Wil Snider stepped to the line to attempt a double bonus with 2.8 left, the Falcon bench was assessed a technical. Snider then made one of two at the line, and Burwell followed suit with one of two of his own on the technical for a 67-64 lead. Fouling quickly off the inbounds to Landano, Brandenberg stopped the clock with 0.4 left, but the soon to be junior guard made both free throws that put the game away, 69-64.
It was probably the best game of the entire summer covered by GMC Hoops, and considering the web site saw in action in ten different summer leagues, and five team camp or showcase events, that’s quite a compliment considering the tremendous volume of games seen. With the victory, Cardinal McCarrick moved up to 2-0 on the team camp while St. Joseph’s dropped to 1-1.
|Cardinal McCarrick (2-0)||36||33||69|
|St. Joseph’s (1-1)||25||39||64|
Neptune Runs Monmouth Academy Out Of The Gym, 81-67
In one of the nightcap games of the evening, Neptune faced off against Monmouth Academy on the court adjacent to where the St. Joseph’s and Cardinal McCarrick game was taking place. This contest was back and forth, up and down, and up tempo basketball as the two teams combined for 77 points in the first half, and 148 for the game. Neptune got the better of those points in an 81-67 victory. The Fliers led pretty much throughout, and led by as many as 25 points at a couple points in the second half. Monmouth Academy, which was without the services of former Bishop Ahr standout, Corey Francisco, closed the game with seven of the final eight points and a 16-5 run in the last 4:34 to make the contest more respectable. Both of these teams battled the two GMC squads at this camp earlier in the evening as Neptune lost to St. Joseph’s by six, and Monmouth Academy dropped another high scoring decision to McCarrick, 82-67.
Over the first twelve minutes of the game, both teams combined for 32 points as the Fliers took a 20-12 lead. A little less than a minute and a half later, Monmouth Academy, which was formerly Lakewood Prep, crept to within six points on a pair of free throws that made the score, 20-14 at the 6:37 mark. Neptune then got a three pointer for a 23-14 lead before Monmouth Academy came back with a score of its own at the 6:24 mark for a 23-16 Flier lead. Over the next 1:04, Neptune reeled off six of the next eight points including a one of two showing at the foul line for a 29-18 lead with 5:20 left before intermission. Monmouth Academy then attempted to rally with four of the next six points over a span of 1:08 to close the gap to nine at 31-22 with 4:12 remaining in the half. The Fliers then made it a double digit lead, and their biggest of the game with six straight points including two foul shots at the 3:23 mark for a 37-22 lead.
Neptune High School would get another score, and could have even built up a lead as high as twenty points, but missed a free throw, and then a subsequent offensive rebound and putback attempt at the 2:47 mark. Nevertheless, the Fliers were flying with a 39-22 lead before Monmouth Academy closed the half with a 9-7 run for a 46-31 Neptune lead going into the brief break. In the second half, the Fliers came out firing with an 18-9 tear over the first 8:54 for a commanding, 64-40 lead with 11:06 remaining. Neptune, which has been a perennial state power, and looking to return to that level this coming season, scored six of the next eleven points for a 70-45 advantage with 8:28 left. Both teams then scored six points each over the next 1:31 for a 76-51 Flier lead at the 6:57 mark. Monmouth Academy then closed the game out with 16 of the final 21 points for the 81-67 score. Neptune, which played three games on this opening night of the camp, raised its record to 2-1 while Monmouth Academy dropped to 0-2.
|Monmouth Academy (0-2)||31||36||67|
Standings After Day One
Below are the standings after day one. Cardinal McCarrick led the way with a 2-0 record while St. Joseph’s was 1-1. Neptune and Holmdel played three games on the first day while Plainfield did not play. The Fliers played against Point Boro at 5:00 PM, St. Joseph’s at 6:10 PM, and then after a break, competed against Monmouth Academy at 8:30 PM. Holmdel’s busy first day schedule included a game versus Lakewood at 6:10 PM, a 7:20 PM contest against Keansburg, and then an 8:30 PM finale against Bridgewater.
- Holmdel (3-0)
- Cardinal McCarrick (2-0)
- Freehold Township (2-0)
- Neptune (2-1)
- St. Joseph’s (1-1)
- Bridgewater (1-1)
- Lakewood (1-1)
- Plainfield (0-0)
- Manasquan (0-2)
- Point Pleasant Boro (0-2)
- Keansburg (0-2)
- Monmouth Academy (0-2)
GMC Hoops returned the next day, August 7th for a second day of action at the Rebounds Team Camp. Day two was a full day of coverage.
PISCATAWAY, NJ–In the weekend prior to the Fourth of July holiday, GMC Hoops took a trip up to the Rutgers Athletic Center to take in some of the action from the first Rutgers Overnight Team Camp of the summer. Earlier in June, several teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference including: Sayreville, J.P. Stevens, Spotswood, Old Bridge, Woodbridge, Middlesex, Metuchen, and J.F. Kennedy all competed in a week long team camp. However, for this particular camp, there were no teams from the GMC although there were several from the Skyland Conference and Shore Conference. Overall there were a total of 46 teams from both the JV and Varsity levels. Schools participating in this team camp were: Immaculata, Montgomery, North Hunterdon, Southern Regional, Manasquan, Point Pleasant Boro, Union Hill, Tappan Zee, Curtis (Staten Island), Amityville (Long Island), Harborfields, and Clarkstown.
The web site captured action from five different games including: North Hunterdon versus Point Boro, Manasquan (JV) and Harborfields, Montgomery (JV) and Clarkstown, Tappan Zee and Curtis, and Immaculata and Amityville. Two of the games were covered from start to finish while the other three were done in bits and pieces. Here are some brief summaries below on the three games that were partially covered.
Point Boro Hangs On To Defeat North Hunterdon
The first game of the day that was covered had the Lions of North Hunterdon against the Panthers of Point Pleasant Boro. North Hunterdon, which hails from the Delaware West Division of the Skyland Conference is coached by former Piscataway and Middlesex County College head coach, Charles Brown. Last season, the Lions had a difficult year with a 2-17 overall record and 1-9 mark in divisional play. In 2005-06, North Hunterdon, which is a Group IV school, finished at 9-14 overall and 3-7 in division. Meanwhile, Point Pleasant Boro has had much more success despite being a smaller school.
The Panthers, which hail from the Class B South Division of the Shore Conference, won its division title in 2006-07, and for the second straight year, the team reached the South Jersey Group II semifinals, where again, it was defeated by Haddonfield. The Bulldawgs from Haddonfield, which lost big man, Brian Zoubek, to graduation the year before, eventually reached the state final before losing to Chatham.
With 6:43 remaining in the contest, North Hunterdon trailed, 27-19, but after a basket by the Panthers for a ten point, 29-19 lead at the 6:39 mark, the Lions rallied with the next five points including a score at the 3:01 mark, and a three pointer with 2:34 left to close the gap to 29-24. Unfortunately though, North Hunterdon couldn’t get any closer than five as Point Boro got a crucial score at the 1:07 mark, and then both teams went one of two at the line over the final 56 seconds for a 32-25 Point Pleasant Boro victory.
Manasquan Defeats Harborfields While Montgomery Edges Clarkstown In JV Action
Of the five games seen on this Saturday by GMC Hoops, two of them involved JV squads. Manasquan’s JV was taking on Harborfields while Montgomery’s Junior Varsity played Clarkstown. Manasquan was leading late in their game with Harborfields when we arrived, and ultimately held on for a nine point, 45-36 win. Meanwhile, the Junior Cougars, which happened to knock off top seeded Monroe in the playoffs at the 2007 Montgomery JV Summer League near the end of the season, jumped out to an 18-8 lead with 2:53 left in the first half. Clarkstown connected for a three pointer at the 1:53 mark to make it a seven point game at 18-11, but the Junior Cougars from the Delaware East Division of the Skyland Conference, ended the half with four of the last seven points for a 22-14 halftime lead.
In the second half, things got more interesting as Clarkstown got its act together offensively by nearly doubling its first half output with 27 points to outscore Montgomery by five in the frame. With 9:09 to go in the game, Montgomery was only leading by five as Clarkstown outscored the Somerset County squad by an 11-8 margin over the first 10:51. Over the next 2:51, the Junior Cougars edged Clarkstown by an 8-6 margin despite a basket that could have been a three point play for Clarkstown to make it 38-31 at the 6:18 mark.
Montgomery would go into a scoring drought though as it didn’t score for 4:34 while Clarkstown reeled off seven straight points to tie things up at 38-38. However, the Junior Cougars would take the lead on a score down low at the 1:44 mark, and then padded its slim advantage with a steal for a layup at the 38 second mark for a 42-38 edge. Montgomery essentially put the game away with a layup at the 14 second mark for a 44-38 lead before Clarkstown closed out the contest with a three point play for the 44-41 final.
Curtis Too Much For Tappan Zee, 47-36
Another team from New York that made the trip down to Rutgers again this summer was Curtis of Staten Island. Curtis has competed against GMC teams in the past including the Elizabeth Summer League, and the Roselle Catholic Tournament. Tappan Zee is also competing again this year at Rutgers, and the two teams squared off on this Saturday morning. Curtis, which was 18-8 in 2006-07, finished second to a Port Richmond team that lost to South Brunswick in the 2006 Joe Silver Tournament. In 2005-06, the Warriors went 19-6 and finished first in the PSAL Staten Island A League with an 11-1 division mark.
While the game was a much closer one than the contest between Immaculata and Amityville played a short time later, Curtis was in control throughout much of the game with a 22-17 halftime lead, and then a 25-19 showing in the second half to pull away for the 47-36 victory. Tappan Zee opened the game with a layup to take a 2-0 lead, but Curtis then scored five of the next seven points including a three pointer from the right side to take a 5-4 lead with about 16:30 remaining in the first half. Over the next 1:30, Tappan Zee reeled off five straight points including a three pointer from the right wing for a 9-5 lead. Up to this point in the contest, there had already been four lead changes. Following a Curtis timeout at the 15:00 mark, the Warriors misfired on a shot, which Tappan Zee rebounded, and later converted into a score of its own for an 11-5 lead with 14:15 to go in the opening half. The school from Staten Island then responded with six consecutive points including a jumper from the corner, and a layup off of a steal to tie the contest up at 11-11 as Tappan Zee called for time at about the ten minute mark.
Following the timeout, Tappan Zee retook the lead on a pair of free throws with 9:20 left before intermission to make the score, 13-11. On the very next possession, the Warriors tie the game up again at 13-13 on a nice drive through the middle for a lefty layup at the 9:05 mark. Curtis then took its first lead since the opening minutes of the game as it got a bucket for a 15-13 lead at the 8:30 mark. Tappan Zee had a chance to tie, but missed the front end of a one and one, and then Curtis went ahead by three as a Warrior player was fouled on a field goal attempt that resulted in one of two at the foul line for a 16-13 score at the 7:37 mark. Curtis, which had plenty of size and athleticism, scored again a little while later on an offensive rebound and putback for an 18-13 lead with 6:49 to go in the half. The Warriors then put a cap on a 15-0 tear that spanned some eight minutes with a rebound that was passed upcourt on an outlet that led to a layup at the other end for a 20-13 advantage at the 6:15 mark. Tappan Zee finally got going again with a layup off a drive down through the middle of the key to spark a 4-2 mini-run that ended the first half scoring with Curtis on top 22-17 at the break.
At the start of the second half, Tappan Zee took the ball on the side out, and got a score on a drive to the left side and baseline for a layup attempt and foul, which resulted in a pair of foul shots for a 22-19 Curtis lead. Tappan Zee then followed that up with a jumper to trim the deficit to one at 22-21 with about 18:30 to go in regulation. Curtis then got its first points of the second half on an offensive rebound and putback that not only made the score, 24-21, but it also coerced the Tappan Zee coach to call timeout. Following the stoppage, Tappan Zee set up a nice play for a score as a good entry pass led to a spin move and lefty hook shot that made the score, 24-23 with sixteen minutes to play. Curtis then got the ball, and scored on a jumper from the foul line extended to make the score, 26-23 at the 15:26 mark. Tappan Zee stayed within striking distance by scoring again to make it a one point game once more at 26-25 with 14:48 to go. Curtis prevented Tappan Zee from taking its first lead since the middle of the opening half as the Warriors intercepted a pass, and cruised in for an easy layup that pushed their advantage back to three at 28-25. Tappan Zee would close again within one as it rebounded a poor shot by a Warrior player, and gave a nice outlet pass upcourt for a layup that made the score, 28-27 at the 13:00 mark.
A little while later, Curtis struck for a three pointer that made it a two possession game at 31-27 with 12:23 to go in the contest. The trifecta ignited a 7-0 spurt by the Warriors to take a 35-27 advantage before Tappan Zee, made a nice stop and pivot in the key for a turnaround jumper to close the gap to six at 35-29 with about 9:32 remaining. Neither team would score for over a minute and a half before Curtis got an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, and put it back in for a 37-29 lead with just under eight minutes to play. A short time later, Tappan Zee made a great steal, but couldn’t convert the turnover into points thanks to a great block by a Warrior player with 6:45 remaining. Tappan Zee would eventually cut the deficit to six on a pair of free throws at the five minute mark, 37-31. The Warriors then ran off the next four points for a double digit lead at 41-31, but Tappan Zee got those four points back on two pairs of free throws that made it a 41-35 game with 3:22 remaining. However, that would be as close as Tappan Zee would get as Curtis closed out the game with a 6-1 burst including an offensive rebound and putback to make the score, 45-36 with a minute to go, and then a dunk with less than 30 seconds remaining for the 47-36 victory.
Immaculata Surges In Second Half To Rout Amityville, 49-18
One of the teams from the Central Jersey area that participated in this year’s overnight camp at Rutgers was Immaculata of Somerville. The Spartans, which finished 20-7 overall and 7-4 for a second place finish behind Bridgewater in the Delaware East Division after going 25-4 overall and 10-1 in league in 2005-06. The Spartans were eliminated by Marist of Bayonne in the opening round of the 2007 Non-Public A North State Tournament after reaching the Championship game the year before and losing to perennial powerhouse, Seton Hall Prep. Each of the past two years, Immaculata has reached the final of the Somerset County Tournament only to lose to Bridgewater, which has won the title each of the last three seasons.
The Spartans, which played St. Joseph’s of Montvale a week earlier at the HBC, jumped out to a 28-15 lead at halftime, but then really put the screws on defensively in the second half only allowing three points as they surged to a 21-3 showing for a 49-18 romp over Amityville of New York. Although Immaculata lost soon to be sophomore, Ryan Lubreski, son of former South Plainfield Head Coach, Jeff Lubreski, who transferred to Blair Academy over the summer, it has several key players returning including Jeff Cullinan, Theo Riddick, and talented guard, Gamal Mohammed, who previously played at Kearny Christian Academy before transferring to the Somerville school last year. After neither team scored for over three minutes, Immaculata got on the board at the 16:45 mark as the Spartans stepped to the line for a pair of foul shots and a 2-0 lead.
Amityville, which played Franklin last summer at the same overnight camp in a game that was much closer, tied things up at 2-2 with two from the charity stripe as well at the 15:28 mark. The Spartans then took a 5-2 lead on a three pointer at the 15:14 mark, and then increased their edge to six on another three pointer from the left wing for an 8-2 lead at the 14:20 mark. Following an Amityville timeout with 12:58 to go in the half, Immaculata went back to work with three more points including two more free throws at the 12:30 mark for an 11-2 lead. The New York team finally put an end to the 9-0 run over a 5:59 span with a hard drive to the basket for its first field goal of the game that made the score, 11-4 in favor of the Spartans with 9:29 to go before intermission.
Over the next three minutes or so, Immaculata scored four of the next six points for a 15-6 advantage at the 6:30 mark. Nearly a minute later, Cullinan netted a three pointer to highlight another 11-4 run for a 26-10 lead with 2:55 to go in the half. Cullinan also contributed on another score by getting a steal that lead to a basket at the 4:54 mark to make it 22-8. Amityville would close the half with five of the last seven points, but things went down the drain in half number two for the team from New York as Immaculata, which later won the Bound Brook Summer League Championship over Piscataway, rolled to victory by scoring 87.5 percent of all the points in the period for the convincing win. Cullinan sparked the second half avalanche with an offensive rebound, spin move, and score for a 30-15 lead at the 19:42 mark. In the next 6:33, Immaculata scored seven of the next ten points including a nice drive to the basket for a finger roll layin to make it a 37-18 lead at the 13:09 mark. From there, the Spartans coasted as Amityville didn’t score for the rest of the second half in a 49-18 drubbing.