SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–At the beginning of the first week of action in the various NJSIAA State Tournaments, there were 17 teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference competing. As of the end of Thursday night’s action, there were only four teams remaining: Cardinal McCarrick, Colonia, Middlesex, and Piscataway. The Eagles are in action on Friday night at home in South Amboy against Bishop Eustace of Pennsauken in a game from the Non-Public B South State Tournament that will be covered by GMC Hoops as well as WCTC. You can listen live to the streaming broadcast of the game on WCTC’s web site starting at 8:00 PM. McCarrick’s Girls are also in action in a game that will start at 6:00 PM in South Amboy so that is why the game is delayed an hour past the usual 7:00 PM start time.
Meanwhile, Piscataway will also be in action on Friday night in a game at home against sixth seeded Union in the North Jersey Section 2 Group IV State Tournament. The start time for this game will be at 7:00 PM. While there is also a girls game being played at P-Way, but it starts at 5:00 PM so the boys contest will start at its normal time. Moving on to Saturday, Middlesex, the only top seed in the state tournament from the GMC, will be hosting fourth seeded Asbury Park in the Central Jersey Group I State Tournament. I’m currently waiting for a start time on the game, and will have it at some point. Early indications are though that the game will be at 7:00 PM. Also on Saturday, in the North Jersey Section 2 Group III State Tournament, fourth seeded Colonia, coming off a dramatic comeback victory over Union Hill at CHS on Thursday night will travel just up the road on Inman Avenue to Rahway, where it will take on top seeded Rahway, a team that has only lost once this season, and that was to national and state powerhouse, St. Patrick’s in the Union County Tournament (79-66). Still awaiting the start time on the game. But, it is likely that the game will be at 7:00 PM since the Indians usually have their games on Saturday nights.
Three of the four teams have are usual GMC contenders for sectional and state titles over the course of history, and particularly recent history when you look at Cardinal McCarrick and Colonia. The Eagles won the Non-Public B South section twice in the last five years (2003 and 2005) while the Patriots won the North Jersey Section 2 Group III Championship last season in a memorable double overtime classic against their opponent on Thursday night, Union Hill of Union City in Hudson County. Meanwhile, Piscataway has not had any state playoff success in recent years, the Chiefs have made appearances many times over the past twenty years or so, and won back to back sectional titles (1994 and 1995) and a state championship in 1994 thanks to John Celestand, Justin Bailey, Dewey Ferguson, and others. The only real stranger to this year’s dance is Middlesex, which last made a state tourney appearance in 2000-01, the first year of the GMC Hoops web site when then head coach, George Rauh, and standout players such as James vonBischoffshausen and Howie Horowitz led the Blue Jays to the final, where it lost to Highland Park, then coached by Rocco Funari, and led by standout players Amir White, Tarell Greene, and Terrence Highsmith at Piscataway High School.
Sizing up the chances for these four teams, you have to be honest, and say that it is not going to be an easy road for all four teams. Not to say that it is absolutely impossible. All four squads have won a considerable number of games this season (each team has won at least 18 games in 2007-08), and have some intangibles that give them a shot. However, knowing the history of GMC teams in the state tournament over the years, and seeing what teams left that may pose obstacles in these particular teams way, you can only be cautiously optimistic.
McCarrick would be an easy choice to win it all in Non-Public B South since they are a high seed, and have the home court through the semifinal round. However, Trenton Catholic disposed of the Eagles in South Amboy in last year’s Quarterfinal round, and in 2004, the Eagles lost to Wildwood Catholic in the semifinals at Cardy Mac. The Crusaders, led by Anthony Raffa, then defeated the Eagles in Wildwood in the 2006 state tourney. Ironically though for the Eagles, Wildwood Catholic didn’t qualify for the states this season, which is a good thing for McCarrick since the Crusaders have only lost to the South Amboy school once, and that was in the 2003 Championship Game at Lakewood.
Even if Cardinal McCarrick gets by through to the Championship Game, it faces the likelihood of squaring off against a talented and athletic squad from Trenton Catholic, formerly known as McCorristin. One thing about the Eagles this year that will help them significantly in this possible rematch is the fact that they have St. Peter’s transfer, Dominic Appiah to patrol the boards. His presence has not only provided McCarrick with much needed rebounding, but it has only helped Burwell, who doesn’t need to focus on the interior, and can play his outside-in game. Appiah’s physical presence also helps guards like Will Snider and Julio Rosario drive the baseline for layups. With opponents having to focus on the junior forward, opportunities open up on the offensive glass for athletic junior, Branten Widgeon, the younger brother of former St. Joseph’s standout, Kenny Widgeon. The younger Widgeon can also grab his share of rebounds too. Rebounding was a big achilles heel for Joe Lewis and his Eagles last season, that not even Vince Rosario could overcome. This year, the issue has been resolved, which gives the South Amboy school a chance for its third sectional title in the last six years.
Besides the improved rebounding, the Eagles have improved significantly on defense than it has been in recent years. While Cardinal McCarrick had become an offensive juggernaut with a more up tempo style in its philosophy after Mika Wilson led the Eagles to its first ever GMCT title and first sectional title in 2003 with a more halfcourt oriented style, the team defense lagged behind, and was toward the bottom of the GMC in terms of points scored. However, this season, that has dramatically changed for the better as the Eagles have given up only 52.4 points per contest, which is among the top in the conference this season. Between the improved rebounding and defending, Cardy Mac is much more formidable this season, and Joe Lewis knows that as he isn’t afraid to play almost anyone. Just ask Union, a team that is taking on Piscataway on Friday night in the North Jersey Section 2 Group IV playoffs. The Farmers did hand McCarrick its first defeat since December on February 9th, but the team that had recently defeated Linden in overtime (81-74), and lost to New York power, Mount Vernon by only four, had to rally in the final minutes for a four point, 51-47 victory.
Obviously, McCarrick must get good outings from Mike Burwell if they are to win, and get the typical support of Julio Rosario on the scoresheet. However, a bigger key may lie at the point guard position with Will Snider. Against St. Joseph’s in the GMCT Championship, he appeared to force things at times, and play out of control, which forced Lewis to eventually go with sophomore Craig Thomas at one point in the second half. Snider is a fine playmaker and defender, but he must be under control if the Eagles vaunted offense is going to be firing on all its cylinders.
The Patriots have some things go for it despite the fact that it has Rahway in its path. One thing right off the bat is Brandon Hall, the senior point guard. He is the glue that keeps things together for the Pats. He can do so much when he is on the floor. He can orchestrate the offense with his playmaking ability. He can shut down your team’s best scorer. He can rebound, and like he so well illustrated against St. Joseph’s in a game played at the Bird Cage in Metuchen on January 5th, Hall can take over games. If Colonia is going to go further, Hall must stay out of foul trouble as best as he can. More importantly, if Hall does have to leave the game for stretches, other leaders must come forward, especially, senior Jeff Mentzel and junior guard, J.J. D’Amico, who both have been on the varsity the past two seasons. One of these two must take it upon themselves to take the other less experienced varsity players such as Mike Nweme, Mike Karabin, Jordan Edmonds, and Xavier Coleman under his wing, and settle them down.
Against Union Hill, Hall had to leave the game midway through the fourth quarter, and the Patriots looked lost without him out there on the floor. Consequently, the Hillers rallied and took the lead late before Hall returned, and Colonia turned the tables with the last seven points for the thrilling 52-49 victory. A similar thing happened against Cardinal McCarrick in the first meeting between the two schools on January 16th in Colonia. The Pats played masterfully over the first two quarters for a 23-8 lead late in the first half, and eventually a 23-12 halftime lead. However, CHS let McCarrick back in the game with bad turnovers, and a loss of composure. Versus Rahway, the Patriots might not be as fortunate against an Indians team that can tighten the screws defensively with the likes of point guard, LaDante Berry-White, and former Sayreville standout, Bryan Champagne, and the Union County school, and Mountain Valley Conference member, puts the energy from their raucous home crowd to its advantage.
Take the contest against Carteret in the nightcap of the 2008 Kowal Games Tripleheader at Rahway back on Feburary 2nd. The Ramblers played splendidly in the first half, taking what was given to them, and making nice plays for scores. Brian Williams was particularly solid with some nice drives and dishes to Robert “Double-Double” Jackson and Al Tampa. However, in the second half, as the Indians began to assert themselves defensively, Williams and the rest of the Carteret Ramblers grew frustrated, and lost their focus on what made them successful in the first half, and that resulted in a game deciding 23-2 surge that turned a 41-29 Indian deficit into a 52-43 Rahway lead, and eventually a 61-55 victory. The Patriots must keep their composure especially when Hall is on the bench, and minimize turnovers that the Indians can turn into transition and easy basket opportunities. Another key to this game could be foul shooting. In Rahway’s win over Carteret, the Indians only managed to make 6 of 16 from the foul line including a 5 of 7 effort at the charity stripe from senior swingman Ronnie Sawyer. the Pats might want to exploit this vulnerability, especially if its close late.
Awaiting the winner of the Rahway-Colonia contest will be the winner of the Scotch Plains-Mendham game also to be held on Saturday. Colonia has had past history against Scotch Plains, defeating it last year in the Quarterfinal round at CHS. Both the Raiders and Patriots have played a common opponent this season in J.P. Stevens. Over the holidays, Stevens defeated Scotch Plains in the semifinals of the 2007 John “Butch” Kowal Tournament while the Hawks lost to Colonia in the Quarterfinals of the 2008 GMCT. Moreover, the Hawks also lost to Rahway, 61-57 in the Championship of the Kowal Tourney. Mendham on the other hand is a totally different story since neither team has faced each other in the past, nor do they share common opponents in 2007-08.
Perhaps forgotten in the chase for sectional gold, the Blue Jays actually earned the GMC’s only top seed in the state tournaments by becoming the top dog in the Central Jersey Group I bracket. The Blue Jays are TEAM in every sense of the word, and that is due mostly in part to this group’s great chemistry, and camaraderie. They show this extensively in their play with their tremendous unselfishness and that in turn translates to balanced scoring in just about every game. The Jays interior players also play well together with fine passes up close for layups. The team rebounds well, and can hit the three with the likes of John Stockton, Mike Perone, and Billy Lester. Ryan Farley comes off the bench to provide some support for starters Nick Fariella and John’s younger brother, Mark Stockton on the low blocks. Let’s not forget fan favorite, Kyle Paul Adams. Like their Blue Division rival, Cardinal McCarrick, the Blue Jays, have home court through the semifinal round.
Looking at their opponent for the semifinals on Saturday, Asbury Park, Middlesex actually shares a common opponent with the Bishops, and that is South Amboy. The Guvs, the darlings of the GMC this year, had their state tourney hopes derailed, and a magical season come to a halt as Asbury Park rolled to a 98-75 victory over South Amboy in Monmouth County on Thursday afternoon. Earlier in the season, the Guvs, without top scorer, Mark Simko, who was serving a two game suspension, and with standout forward, Larry Lenahan in foul trouble in the middle of the third quarter, took Middlesex down to the last minute before falling, 50-44. In all fairness to Middlesex though, but still not taking anything away from South Amboy’s effort, the Blue Jays had played a game the night before, and were taking on the Guvs with short rest. Tempo will obviously be a huge factor in this one. The Blue Jays must not make the same mistake it did against Cardinal McCarrick, and try to run with Asbury Park. That is not to say that Middlesex can’t run the break at all, but it means that it has to be more judicious, and pick its spots much like St. Joseph’s did against Piscataway in the GMCT Semifinals.
Intertwined with the tempo of the game will be turnovers, Middlesex must keep its composure, and handle the basketball and limit mistakes, especially against the likelihood of a ton of pressure from the Bishops. The Jays must also make sure to keep Asbury Park in front of them, and make them work on offense, and earn their points. A good shooting night by either John Stockton, Mike Perone, and Billy Lester would go a long way in helping their chances, and Middlesex could use some hard nosed play from Fariella, who is the team’s battler and tough guy. Looking ahead, if the Blue Jays win, they would play either Keyport of the Shore Conference, and rival of Asbury Park, or Academy Charter, also of Monmouth County, and coached by former Rebounds organizer, Shawn Heeter in the Championship at Franklin High School. While Middlesex did not play either team during the regular season, it played Keyport over the summer at the Middlesex County Summer League, and defeated the Raiders in the post-season tournament there. In addition, the Jays also have a common opponent with Keyport in Dunellen. On February 19th, Middlesex defeated its neighborhood rival at DHS, 50-47 while Keyport defeated Dunellen in the CJ Group I Quarterfinals (62-46).
Last, but definitely not least are the Chiefs of P-Way. There has been a lot of chatter on the message board about the Mighty Watchung Conference having three teams in the Final Four of the North Jersey Section 2 Group IV bracket. Two of the three teams are traditional participants in the semifinals and finals of this bracket in recent years: Linden and Plainfield. Piscataway will be facing the least known of the three in terms of state tourney play the past few years, the Union Farmers. Freddy Farmer, UHS’s mascot, and incarnation of University of Nebraska’s Herbie Husker, has had a lot to be excited about, and proud of this season. Former Piscataway and New Brunswick head coach, Tony DiGiovanni, has done a great job turning around the hoops program at his alma mater in just a few short years. Travis Taylor, a 6′6″ forward, recently earned Star-Ledger Player of the Week Honors, and had a big hand in Union’s win over Cardinal McCarrick on February 9th in South Amboy. The Chiefs also played Cardy Mac on the road, and lost in overtime (70-65) as Mike Burwell scored 34 points in the second half, and the extra session for a total of 42 on the game despite a broken bone in his non-shooting hand.
The Chiefs seemed to have lost something around the time of the defeat to McCarrick. Tristian Benjamin was suspended for disciplinary reasons, and the team appeared to be missing something in terms of their intensity and hunger in games seen by GMC Hoops against South Brunswick, Carteret, and St. Joseph’s. However, that fire may have returned on Wednesday night when Piscataway took on Watchung Hills in P-Way for the Quarterfinal round of the state tournament, the Chiefs regained some of that edge that propelled them in early season wins over Immaculata, Seton Hall Prep, and at J.P. Stevens. Piscataway plays much better when it is in the hunted role, and although the Chiefs are the section’s number two seed, they feel like they’re not being respected, which serves to their advantage. P-Way has the home court through the semifinals, which is a nice intangible to have since it is yet to lose a game there this season. Some other nice things that the Chiefs can build on for this game with Union is the fact that they got solid contributions from its reserves such as Aaron Hush, Thomas Bennett, Jeff Adkins, and Wayne Newsome while getting much needed perimeter scoring from James White and Bryan Waluk. Waluk had perhaps his best offensive effort of the season against the Warriors.
The key for Piscataway is its offense. The defense has always been good, and a constant in its success these past two seasons. However, if the Chiefs expect to emerge as champion in this Watchung Conference laden mine field of a section, it will have to get more from its offense, and have it approach the level of its defense if not match it. Last year, during its surprising GMCT run, the Chiefs made shots from the perimeter, and at the line while finishing well inside. If they are to pull off the difficult feat of winning this bracket, they must do well in those areas. In the 2008 GMCT Semis, Piscataway didn’t knock down shots from long distance, and had trouble scoring inside. Even in the victory over Watchung Hills, P-Way missed layups, particularly in the second half.
Blue Jays Advance With First State Tourney Win Since 2001, 43-40
MIDDLESEX, NJ–Middlesex fell behind the senior leadership of John Stockton and Nick Fariella who they leaned heavily on the offensive end to put away a pesky New Providence team and give the Blue Jays their state tournament win in the Brain Feath Era, and also since the 2000-01 season when the Jays reached the Championship game before losing to GMC Blue Division rival, Highland Park.
Behind a packed MHS gym where not only the two main bleachers were stuffed with fans, but the two side bleachers housed the student sections for each team that took turns shouting to the adjacent side. Neither team showed much in the first quarter in the ways of offense as the teams tied 10-10. A lot of driving the lane by Billy Beck and Dan Buchler gave the Pioneers much of their points with the Jays recieving most from behind the arc.
The second quarter was nearly as stingy as Middlesex and New Providence were trading twos and threes to the tune of a 8-8 slugfest. With the score knotted at 18 both teams knew they
needed to make the neccesary half time adjustments to avoid the alter from mounting an offensive attack that would leave their team in the wake. Enter the Stockton Brothers, much like Mario and Luigi less the moustaches.
While Sparky wasnt his usual force on the offensive side (4 pts, 1-5 FG) but more then made up for it with 8 assists and 8 rebounds. The star of the night though, was John, a senior leader whose intanibles cannot be measured. He had a game high 20 points to help the Jays pull a double digit lead going into the 4th winning 34-24. Center Nick Fariella helped cement the lead with 6 points in the final sector while Ryan Farley hit a pair of free throws with 13.8 left to make it 43-38 and the Jays held on for the 43-40 victory to advance in the 2008 Central Jersey Group I State Tournament, and sent the Middlesex faithful home happy.
With the victory, Middlesex improves to 18-6 overall, and 5-0 against non-conference foes this season. The Jays will host the Bishops of Asbury Park on Saturday. New Providence’s season has closed, and the Pioneers from the Valley Division of the Mountain Valley Conference finished at 13-11. Take a look at the box score, the three stars from the game, and the team statistics.
|New Providence (13-11)||10||8||6||16||40|
Three Stars of the Game
- John Stockton - Middlesex - The senior guard buried a pair of threes, a long two and a mid range jumper to help take anyone’s game to a game where it was the Jays to lose.
- Billy Beck - New Providence- His ability to drive and hit falling away shots proved invaluable to keeping his team right next to Middlesex in the scoreboard in the first half.
- Nick Fariella - Middlesex - Started off slow but exploded in the final 12 minutes scoring all of his 8 points and being a force on the glass.
|14||Kyle Paul Adams||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Video Highlights–North Jersey Section 2 Group IV State Tournament–Watchung Hills @ Piscataway–February 27, 2008February 28, 2008 on 3:58 pm | In Video Highlights | Comments Off
Good afternoon everyone. I’ve just finished working on posting the video highlights from the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game between seventh seeded Watchung Hills and second seeded Piscataway in the Quarterfinal round of the 2008 North Jersey Section 2 Group IV State Tournament at P-Way. This was the quarter that saw the Chiefs break away from a 14-14 tie with a 17-5 tear over the final half of the second to take a 31-19 lead, and they never looked back after that although the Warriors pulled within eight several times in the second half.
Montgomery @ North Brunswick–Central Jersey Group IV State Tournament–Opening Round–February 25, 2008February 26, 2008 on 10:32 am | In North Brunswick Hoops | Comments Off
Raiders Lose a Heartbreaker To Montgomery’s Kevin Tarca with :03 Remaining, 41-40
NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ–On paper, the North Brunswick Raiders appeared to be the better team. For the seniors, this was not the way it was supposed to end. In a game where the Raiders controlled it throughout, Montgomery never had the lead – until the final 3 seconds, when senior guard Kevin Tarca took control of the basketball, and the game. Tarca’s running layup with only 3 ticks left in the 4th quarter put his Montgomery Cougars ahead for the first time, and to stay, as North Brunswick coach Ed Breheney was out of time outs, and could only watch, as his team lost. 41-40 in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs at NBTHS.
Montgomery will now face #2 seed Rancocas Valley in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
In a game where North Brunswick took an early 7-2 lead. Senior Kunyepa Alley got it started with the first 4 points of the game, but the last moments of the first quarter came on a three from another senior guard, Matt Kovacs. So, at the end of one, it was 14-9, Raiders.
In quarter number two, Kovacs would solidify the Cougars’ defense with a pair of steals to go with 4 of his team leading 10 points. Add that with Tarca’s 3 rebounds and a steal, and Montgomery would keep themselves in the game. Of course, another late Cougar three-pointer, this time from sophomore James Lupos would help the cause, and North Brunswick would lead at the half, 21-18.
In the third, North Brunswick’s two senior leaders, C.J. Brathwaite and Jeff Ashamole would take charge, with Brathwaite pulling down 5 rebounds and Ashamole grabbing 4, as the Raiders did an excellent job of grabbing second and third chance rebounds. Despite that, and despite Kevin Daugherty and Connor Paladino amassing four fouls each, four different Montgomery players scored points to keep within striking distance, and after three, it was a 30-26 North Brunswick advantage.
This would set the stage for a frenzied finish. On what could only be called a spectacular play, Ricky Harris would make a 12-foot fade away jumper while falling to the ground – and being fouled, and completed a three-point play to give North Brunswick a 36-28 lead, their biggest lead of the game at eight. From there, Tarca, who came into the period with only 2 points, started to light up the scoreboard, including a long two from inside the right arc with 30 seconds left to close within two at 40-38, prompting head coach Kristopher Grundy to call a time out. Earlier, with 53 seconds left, Raiders coach Ed Breheney called his last time out. That would come back into play, as the final seconds would wind down. Montgomery would continue in scoring the final 5 points of the contest, and it all culminated with Tarca, as with 17 seconds on the clock, he would take the inbound pass, and go down the court, cutting, slipping, regaining his balance, and finding a lane down the right side of the frontcourt to drive, and put up a running layup, going off the glass for the winning basket. Montgomery fans stormed the court in celebration, and in the end, a devastating loss for North Brunswick to end their season.
|North Brunswick (11-11)||14||7||9||10||40|
High scores: Montgomery – Matt Kovacs (10 points, 5 steals); Kevin Tarca (9 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists)
North Brunswick – Jeff Ashamole (11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocked shots); Ricky Harris (10 points)
There’s no worse feeling in sports than being beaten by what you think is an inferior team. I’m almost certain that North Brunswick felt that way about Montgomery before this playoff game.
Montgomery struggled its way to the states, losing 6 of their last 8 games before tonight. This was a big feather in the cap for their program, and a setback for North Brunswick’s, especially after a 15-9 finish last year. Ashamole, Brathwaite, Jordan Wright, Justin Morgan, and Kunyepa Alley have all just played their last high school game. Not the way they wanted to go out. Michael Cole was missed, as he did not play, due to injury.
Next year, Ricky Harris and Tait Pirkle will be counted on to lead this squad, and we’ll see if the rest of the team can be built around them. As for this year, while it was a successful regular season, it will be remembered for a bitter disappointment in the first round of the states.
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ–It was quite a day down at South Brunswick High School on Sunday. Not only because of the great GMCT Championship Game played between sixth seeded St. Joseph’s and top seeded Cardinal McCarrick, but also thanks to an amazing GMCT Girls final between top seeded Piscataway and third seeded McCarrick. Due to my very hectic schedule covering Boys Basketball in the GMC, I don’t get an opportunity to see many girls games. As a matter of fact, the GMCT Championships are probably the only time I do get to see a girls contest, and I usually don’t get there until the second half of action. However, for the first time since the 2002 GMCT Final, I happened to get to SBHS early (since I know the place gets packed, and it is hard to find a seat if you’re lucky to get a ticket), and saw the entire contest.
I’d have to say that the 2008 GMCT Girls Final will go down as one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen in terms of drama, heroics, and back and forth action despite the shaky and sloppy start due to the overanxiousness of the two squads. It also had a flair for putting little known or used players on the big stage. Take McCarrick’s freshman reserve guard, Jen Shereyka. Here was a young lady, who hadn’t played a single minute in the entire Girl’s Tournament, and although her braces laden smile showed the look of a typical 14 year old kid, she showed the confidence and poise of a veteran that had been in this position many times before. Twice Shereyka came up with huge three point baskets in a game that was filled with clutch shots and late game theatrics to first extend the game into the second overtime with a buzzer beating trey that knotted the game at 61-61, and then the game winner with a trifecta that turned a 67-65 deficit into a 68-67 lead with six seconds remaining in front of a bedazzled packed house that was perhaps more disappointed that the game had to end.
Another McCarrick reserve that was forced into the limelight after limited minutes in the GMCT, Jessica Hartland, a transfer along with Jacinda Dunbar from St. Peter’s, and the younger sister of former Cardinal sharpshooter, Kyle Hartland, also came up huge down the stretch of the first overtime as well. With Cardy Mac’s Lady Eagles trailing by four at 59-55 with about a half minute to play, Hartland, just inserted into the lineup moments earlier in the hope to provide some much needed three point shooting, delivered with a trey from the right wing with 18 seconds remaining, that got her, and her teammates so excited that they forgot to defend the inbounds right away, and foul to stop the clock and force the Lady Chiefs, which were only 19 of 36 from the charity stripe according to the article in the Star-Ledger, to go to the line, and make free throws. When the Lady Eagles finally did foul, they fouled one of P-Way’s top players, Brittany Myatt (17 points on six field goals and five free throws as well as 16 boards for a huge double-double), who then made both charity shots for a 61-58 lead with eight seconds to play.
That set the stage for Shereyka, who connected on a long distance bomb from the left wing as time expired to knot the game at 61-61 in one of those moments etched in time as the crowd, which had already seen a last second shot by McCarrick’s junior point guard, Chrissy Keir (team high 18 points on four field goals and 10 of 11 FTs) that was originally ruled a three pointer for an apparent 50-49 victory in regulation, but then was declared a two for a 49-49 tie to force the first extra session, was in a state of delirium. In the second overtime, the Chiefs again took the upper hand with five straight points including two quick scores by DreShonda Williams, who had a game high 19 points on seven field goals and five free throws, and a free throw by sophomore Raven Gerald (14 points on three field goals, a three pointer, and five free throws for a 66-61 lead. However, the Cardy Mac Girls, which upset second seeded New Brunswick in the semifinals at MCC on Monday night, weren’t going away as they rallied with the next four points on buckets by Jessica Costa (only field goal of the game for 2 points) and Olivia Gorczynski (10 points on two field goals, a three pointer, and three free throws) to pull within a point at 66-65.
The Lady Eagles then fouled Paig Robinson, who had a monster double-double game with 14 points on five field goals and four free throws along with a mindboggling 26 rebounds. Robinson made only one of two for a 67-65 lead with less than fifteen seconds to go. The stage was then set again for Shereyka, who dialed long distance again to put McCarrick up for good with seconds to play. On the ensuing inbounds the Chiefs threw a long heave dowcourt for a layup attempt, but was called for a traveling violation that put an end to their amazing two year run as defending conference champions. It was a game that took everything from players and coaches. As a matter of fact, McCarrick girls head coach, Lyn Ust, a former standout at Hoffman High School, which is now today South Amboy High School on the other side of the tiny enclave known as the Gateway to the Jersey Shore, seemed more emotionally exhausted at game’s end than exalted in jubilation for the school’s first ever girls crown.
Shereyka’s heroic’s were not the only ones performed by a freshman thrown into the heat of battle. As a matter of fact, Ust had four freshman on the floor along with one starter according to the article written in The Home News-Tribune, and three of those freshmen reserves, Shereyka, Costa, and Gorczynski were responsible for all eight points in the final extra session. Pat Mayo’s club, which was appearing in its fourth straight GMC Tournament Championship game, and actually defeated McCarrick in the title tilt two years ago (64-43 with both teams being the exact same seeds), appeared to be poised for its third straight crown. In the first quarter, after the two teams exchanged leads several times, the Lady Chiefs closed the opening frame with a 6-0 run to go on top, 14-10. Then, after Cardy Mac began the second with the first four points to knot the game again at 14-14, Piscataway embarked on an 11-0 tear to take a 25-14 lead late in the first half.
The Lady Eagles would fight back though as they scored seven of the last eight points of the second quarter to pull within five at halftime, 26-21. Then, at the start of the third, Cardinal McCarrick got a bucket to close the gap to three at 26-23 before the Lady Chiefs of P-Way scored six of the next eight points to increase its advantage to 32-25 with about three minutes to go in the period. At this point, there were only three combined team fouls with Piscataway having two and McCarrick having one. However, over the next several minutes, the fouls would dramatically increase with eight in just the next two minutes or so alone, and that put the Lady Eagles in the bonus. Led by Keir, who demonstrated some great playmaking ability despite moments where she appeared to be overanxious, and forcing things, McCarrick rallied with an 11-0 tear over the final 2:34 to cap a 15-6 third quarter showing for a 36-32 lead going into the final period. From that point on, it would be a very contentious game the rest of the way.
Tournament MVP, Lauren Zarantonello, had 13 points on six field goals and a foul shot along with 12 rebounds for a double-double before fouling out late in regulation while Dunbar added 12 points and 12 boards. Zarantonello averaged 12.5 points per game in the 2008 Girls GMCT. With the victory, the Lady Eagles improved to 23-2 on the season, and will be going into the field of the Non-Public B South Girls State Tournament with a lot of confidence especially with the knowledge that the younger reserves can deliver if called upon. Meanwhile, Piscataway, which has played a very tough non-conference schedule in addition to its typical Red Division slate, dropped to 20-6, and will get ready for the North Jersey Section 2 Group IV Girls Tourney.
Good morning everyone. I have been working on putting together highlights from the 2008 GMCT Championship Game played on Sunday afternoon in South Brunswick between the Falcons of St. Joseph’s and the Eagles of Cardinal McCarrick. I’ve just posted a set of video highlights from the fourth quarter, and you can view them below. It was quite an ending to a great game, and a fantastic day at SBHS.
Good evening. Here are some more video highlights from the game played on February 9th between Union and Cardinal McCarrick in South Amboy. If you recall, I posted highlights from the first quarter of action in this game won by Union of the Watchung Conference. Now, here are the highlights from the second quarter of action.
MARTINSVILLE, NJ–About a month ago, GMC Hoops made a trip up to The Pingry School at the urging of a friend to watch The Big Blue take on Newark Academy in a matchup of two teams in the Hills Division of the Colonial Hills Conference. One player was the focus of this visit, and that was Pingry’s Jeff Tannenbaum.
You may recall Tannenbaum from our coverage of the 2007 Bound Brook Summer League last summer. In that league, Tannenbaum was the leading scorer as well as one of the top three point shooters. As a sophomore, and under the direction of former Bridgewater-Raritan West standout, Eric Murdock, who enjoyed a good career in the NBA after attending Providence College in the late 1980s, Tannenbaum led a Pingry Squad to the 2005 Brearley Bear Tournament Championship over Highland Park, which had current McCarrick standout, Mike Burwell on the squad. The Somerset County school eventually went on to finish at 19-6 overall, and lost to Paramus Catholic in the 2006 NJSIAA Non-Public A North bracket’s Quarterfinal round.
Murdock left before last season, and The Big Blue suffered through a subpar season. However, in 2007-08, Jason Murdock, the cousin of Eric, and served as an assistant on the team two years ago, returned to be the head coach after spending one season at New Brunswick. The team has fared better under the younger Murdock’s direction with a 13-11 record overall, and a berth in the Non-Public A North bracket against Delbarton in the first round that begins next week. Although, Tannenbaum only scored six points in the tough loss to Newark Academy, he has been amongst the top on the team in almost every statistical category.
- Total Points Scored: 368 (leads team)
- Points Per Game: 16.0 (leads team)
- Two Point FG %: 43 (97 of 226)
- Three Point FG %: 45 (33 of 74)
- Free Throw %: 70 (75 of 107)
- Total Rebounds: 82 (third on team)
- Rebounds Per Game: 3.6 (third on team)
- Total Assists: 66 (leads team)
- Assists Per Game: 2.9 (leads team)
- Total Steals: 42 (leads team)
- Steals Per Game: 1.8 (leads team)
- Total Blocks: 14 (leads team)
- Blocks Per Game: 0.6 (leads team)
- Turnovers: 42
- Assist To Turnover Ratio: 1.6 (leads team)
Aside from these numbers for this season, Tannenbaum, who played very well in a game covered by GMC Hoops back in December against Highland Park in the Consolation Game of the 2007 Brearley Bear Tournament, also recently became the all time leading scorer at the school with over 1,400 career points. A disciple of Mike “SHOTMAN” Lanza, Tannenbaum has also excelled off the court in the classroom, where he has an A/A- average, and an SAT score that measures 1450 with the old standard, and 2150 with the new standard that includes an essay portion. He has taken a number of Advanced Placement courses including English, Spanish, Economics, and Calculus. His top three college choices are Division II Skidmore, Division III Wesleyan, and Albright.
After the game, I had a chance to talk with Jeff quite a bit, and it was a real joy to talk to him. We talked about a variety of topics including Basketball, Calculus, Spanish, and College. He is a very bright young man, and even if basketball doesn’t work out for him, he will still be ok thanks to his fine intellect.
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–At the beginning of this season, it wasn’t anticipated that GMC Hoops would have seen this many games at this point in the season, but it has been done. As of Thursday night, when the web site traveled out to East Brunswick High School to take in the Championship Game of the 2008 E.B./GMC JV Tournament between fifth seeded Bishop Ahr, and second seeded Cardinal McCarrick, it was the 90th game covered by the site this year.
If you take a look at the GMC Hoops Trophy page, you will see that the web site has covered 26 of the 29 member schools at least twice this season with 20 of those teams seen at least three times. In addition, GMC Hoops has covered eight regular season games at both the Freshmen and JV levels in addition to solid coverage of both of the respective tournaments. Last season, the web site covered a record 96 games including all four of the public state finals for the first time ever. The year before, the site covered 87 games.
In addition to the abundance of coverage of high school basketball this season, the web site has also covered seven college games and nine scrimmages involving GMC teams in the pre-season. There was also some football coverage for the first time ever as GMC Hoops became GMC Gridiron for the state playoffs and Thanksgiving Day games. All time, the web site has seen a total of 607 high school hoops games. Add the seven college games and six high school football games, and you have a grand total of 620 contests seen since the inception of the web site.
Video Highlights–GMCT Elite Eight–The Overtime–St. Joseph’s vs. Bishop Ahr At M.C.C.–February 17, 2008February 22, 2008 on 3:41 pm | In Video Highlights | Comments Off
Good afternoon again everyone. Since the weather outside has been frightful, I thought it would be a good idea to upload the video highlights of the overtime period from the epic game on Sunday between St. Joseph’s and Bishop Ahr in the 2008 Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament Quarterfinals at Middlesex County College. I got every point that was scored in the overtime section although there were a couple free throws that I barely got on video.