SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–Over the past year GMC Hoops made tremendous efforts to get caught up with all of its winners of past GMC Hoops Trophies. Once the site managed to do that, it decided to raise the bar for its yearly award to the team that accumulates the moist points in games attended by the web site. This summer, GMC Hoops presented Piscataway head coach, Guy Jensen with the new hardware that is the GMC Hoops Trophy version 2.0. Thanks to the help of Trophy Partner, the site gave the gorgeous trophy below.
Greg Machos wants the GMC Hoops Trophy to be something special and worth winning. He feels with the upgrade in this hardware, the site has something to be very proud of as well as the future winners of this yearly award.
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–For the first time in over eight seasons, GMC Hoops went to Frank R. Jost Memorial Field, the home of South Plainfield Tiger Football on this Thanksgiving Day to take in the annual clash between the Tigers and the Canucks of North Plainfield. For this trip, I travelled to the game by foot. I figured to give the car a break for this short trip. I entered the field just as the National Anthem was being played by the South Plainfield Marching Band, which has sadly shrunk in its ranks the last couple of times I’ve seen them in action (the previous time was last year in the state playoffs against Scotch Plains-Fanwood).
After pausing for the Star-Spangled Banner, I briefly stopped and said hello to a few former classmates. My 20th class reunion is coming up this weekend. I then headed to the bleachers to get a seat, and watch some of the game as well as videotape it for the site. The highlights that are going to be posted on the site are all from the second quarter, since that was probably the last time the contest was truly close. The first quarter ended with a scoreless tie, and then North Plainfield went ahead for good in the second quarter with a touchdown run at the 9:16 mark. Neither team scored the rest of the way although the Tigers had the ball deep in North Plainfield territory after about a 30 yard run by senior Kenny Lucky. Unfortunately, the Tigers could not punch it in as quarterback Mike Burton and wide receiver Darren Campbell just missing hooking up on a pass into the left corner of the end zone. Then, moments later, Lucky was stopped short on fourth down.
North Plainfield could do what it wanted to do against the Tigers largely because they had way more size than South Plainfield did. Something is always in the water in Tigerland. I can identify with that since I had trouble putting on weight throughout high school. For example, my senior year, I was 6′1″ and 138 pounds. Today, I stand at 6′4″ and 210 pounds. I could have used that size back in high school. Not only could it have done me some good in basketball, but perhaps I would have been more inclined to play football. Well, no time to lament about the past since that is long gone. I marveled at the size the Canucks had along with a few of my former classmates, who I met up again at the half, and sat with the rest of the game. The Canucks were the only team to defeat Somerville in Raritan Division play of the Skyland Conference. The Pioneers, a former opening day rival of South Plainfield’s, went 4-1 in divisional play, but 5-5 overall after playing the likes of Immaculata, Ridge, Rahway, and Johnson on their crossover and non-conference schedule.
It was the first time I saw the traditional North Plainfield and South Plainfield was in 1982 when I was in seventh grade. At that time, the rivalry was much different. The Tigers were in the midst of their magical season that ended up at 8-3 with a loss to Wall Township in the Central Jersey Group III Championship Game (21-0), and won that year 24-6 I believe. The 1982 Tigers, who had a senior class that was actually undefeated as freshmen was made up of the likes of Chris Politi, Chris Walker (a former assistant hoops coach at St. Peter’s and South Plainfield, and recently was head coach at Hackettstown and Warren Hills), Rocco Lubischer, Robbie Ford, Ray Jazikoff, Julian Locket Hill, and Steve Hennelly. The last game that the two schools played before 2002 was in 1983, and it ended in a 7-7 tie. SPHS had won the Turkey Day game in 1981 (23-8) and 1982, and was gaining ground in the rivalry. Since the rivalry resumed in 2002, South Plainfield has yet to win. Their best chance was probably last year when it made its most recent tournament run, but they fell victim to the Canucks big time last Thanksgiving.
Returning to the action, North Plainfield broke the game open with a touchdown early on in the third, and then in the enusing South Plainfield drive, the Canucks picked up a fumble that set up another score for a 21-0 lead. The Tigers resorted to a bit of trickery with a half back option pass to Mike Burton for a long touchdown that closed the gap to 21-6 as the third quarter ended. The Canucks scored on a touchdown pass early in the fourth before Burton answered with another touchdown to close the gap to 27-12. At that point, the elements, and the likely outcome forced me to leave early to get ready for the family Turkey Day feast.
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–On Thursday morning, the rest of the Thanksgiving rivalries are scheduled to take place with two traditional holiday battles taking place around Middlesex County. GMC Hoops plans to be out at South Plainfield High School’s Frank R. Jost Memorial field to see his alma mater take on the Canucks of North Plainfield. The Tigers have yet to win a game since the storied rivalry has resumed. A win tomorrow would go a long way in helping to salvage a tough season in Tigertown.
Here is a brief breakdown of the Turkey Day matchups:
North Plainfield (5-4) at South Plainfield (3-6)–The Canucks have won each game since the rivalry was renewed in 2002. South Plainfield has won two straight including a blowout win over South River, and a victory in the consolation games over Steinert. On the other hand though, North Plainfield qualified for the state playoffs while South Plainfield did not. My heart is with South Plainfield, but my head is with North Plainfield. Sorry Tiger fans, but I’m still hoping for the upset.Prediction: North Plainfield wins 28-14.
South Brunswick (8-2) at North Brunswick (7-2)–This should be one of the better games of the day if not the best game. Both teams come in with stellar records and solid squads that both lost to Brick Memorial by close margins in the state tournament. Each team played common opponents with South Brunswick defeating Woodbridge and J.P. Stevens while North Brunswick defeated both teams by a combined total of 73-11 including a 28-11 victory over the Barrons on the road to knock them out of the state tournament picture. The Raiders have the home field advantage, and in a rivalry game such as this with both teams playing well, it could be an edge.Prediction: North Brunswick wins 21-17.
Piscataway (9-1) at Franklin (3-6)–Besides North Plainfield and South Plainfield every year on Turkey Day, this game is one of the longest running rivalries in the area with both teams going back to the days when they played each other in the old Mid-State Conference. It’s been a down year for the Warriors, which led the series all time 22-19-3, but a win here could do wonders. Both teams have a common opponent in Woodbridge. The Chiefs beat the Barrons earlier this season while Franklin lost to Woodbridge at home.Prediction: Piscataway wins 31-13.
Middlesex (8-2) at Dunellen (2-7)–The Blue Jays have dominated this series over the previous seven years with a 5-2 mark including an 8-6 victory in last year’s game seen by GMC Hoops. In addition, Middlesex is coming off a humiliating loss at the hands of top seeded Asbury Park in the semifinal round of the Central Jersey Group I State Tournament (50-6). The Jays only lost to Highland Park, a team that they went on to beat in the states, and Asbury Park. Dunellen will be looking to salvage their season with a win.Prediction: Middlesex wins 28-7.
Edison (3-6) at J.P. Stevens (1-8)–If it weren’t for an injury to quarterback Erik Janz, who knows where the Eagles would be right now. Nevertheless, the team still has a chance to come within a game of .500 for the victory. On the other hand, J.P. Stevens will be looking to close out the season with two straight wins after defeating Voorhees in the consolation round. Edison lost to Bridgewater in their consolation game. This game is a huge game on both teams schedules. A win here gives bragging rights in the entire town, and that goes a long way to salvaging difficult seasons like this.Prediction: Edison wins 24-10.
Carteret (6-3) at Perth Amboy (1-8)–Both of these teams played Piscataway with the Ramblers losing 52-0 several weeks ago in a game that derailed their state playoff chances while Amboy lost to the Chiefs 41-6 after P-Way had pummeled South Brunswick the week before, 27-7. However, Carteret lost on the road while Perth Amboy lost at home. The Ramblers, which are coming off a consolation victory over Hightstown, have dominated this Bayway rivalry in recent years. The Panthers did gain a moral victory of sorts by only losing by eight points to a North Hunterdon team that upset Immaculata earlier this season.Prediction: Carteret wins 35-17.
East Brunswick (4-5) at Old Bridge (2-7)–The old Battle of Route 18 could be an interesting one despite the won/loss records of the two teams. The Bears had a bit of a winning streak going earlier this season, but lost to Howell in a consolation game while Old Bridge defeated J.P. Stevens, and recently lost a close one to Freehold Township in the consolation round. The Knights have dominated the rivalry with a 12-2 mark since it began, but the Bears won last year to end a 12 game losing streak.Prediction: East Brunswick wins 24-20.
Record to date (10-6)
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ–After taking a trip to Philadelphia on Wednesday, November 19th, GMC Hoops followed that up with a trek down the Jersey coastline to Central Monmouth County, and the town of West Long Branch, where Division I Monmouth University is located. The reason for the visit was to see Marquis Jones, a former standout at South Plainfield High School, and his teammates from the University of Rhode Island take on the Hawks from the Northeast Conference.
I began my trip after 3:00 PM. Got gas on the way after using about a half a tank for my trip to Philly the day before. So, I didn’t get out of South Plainfield until about 3:30 PM. I wasn’t worried though because I had a general idea of where to go. This was the farthest trip I’ve taken down Route 36. I took it south through Keyport and Hazlet, Middletown, and eventually ended up in Atlantic Highlands, which led me to Sandy Hook and Sea Bright. Following the coastal evacuation route into Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, I travelled very slowly since the speed limit was reduced on this one lane highway.
I eventually got into Long Branch, and after some difficulty, followed the road, which had become County Road 57 to Cedar Ave. Using the directions off the Internet, I took Cedar Ave a couple miles until I reached Route 71 North. Not too far from there was Monmouth University. Arriving on campus at about 4:30, I parked in the visitors area, and walked around campus for a bit in the very cold weather. I got myself into the Student Center, and sat down for some dinner at 5:00 PM. After that I headed to the gym, where I got my media credentials. Over the next hour, I got myself situated between long time URI beat writer, Paul Kenyon of the Providence Journal, and Ray Cella, associate commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference. They were both very nice, and we talked a lot about basketball.
Kenyon was very impressed with Jones, and feels he is a very good fit at point guard for this team since the former SPHS star doesn’t try to do too much, and gets the ball to everyone else. Jones ended up playing a team high 23 minutes, handed out 6 assists, committed one turnover, swiped two steals, and grabbed a rebound. His floor generalship helped Rhody put together a balanced offensive attack led by Keith Cothran (18 points), Jimmy Baron (15 points), Kaheim Seawright (13 points) and Delroy James (10 points) in an 85-62 Rams’ victory over Monmouth.
A player that really impressed me with his efforts was former Union standout, Travis Taylor. The freshman made his first four shots, and didn’t miss until midway through the second half. Taylor ended up going 7 of 9 from the floor for 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists in 30 minutes of playing time. His former coach, Tony DiGiovanni, who had previously coached at Piscataway and New Brunswick, was in attendance along with his assistant, Frank DeLuca, who was a standout player in his own right at North Brunswick before moving on to play prep basketball at Solebury Prep in Pennsylvania. Taylor played more like a sophomore or junior out there with no fear. As long as Taylor is there, Monmouth has a bright future.
Two games down, and more to go. There has been some changes to the college schedule, but we’ll figure out a way to make it work.
As I write this blog entry, I’m flat on my back in bed with yet another flare up in my lower back. Yet, upon hearing the news today of the passing of Ryan Walp, a recent Monroe graduate, and former boys hoops player at the school, I felt no other choice, but to keep going.
Walp, who succumbed to cancer on Tuesday night after a long and courageous battle, earned the admiration and respect of not only many in Monroe Township, but also others throughout Middlesex County including a nearby South Brunswick resident, who lost his daughter a few years ago. Throughout his battle, the 6′3″ 200 pound reserve never gave up his spirit. He often made head coach, Bob Turco marvel at his ability just to keep going.
Despite getting chemotherapy treatments, Walp, who has a younger brother that played freshman hoops at Monroe in 2007-08, and was with the team this summer at the East Brunswick team camp, still practiced and played with the team last season. He graduated from MTHS on time, and was planning to go to Rider University in Lawrenceville to eventually become a doctor. He just simply kept going.
After reading his story last winter, I decided to not only put Ryan Walp on the GMC Hoops All Rambo team, but also put him at the top of the list since he is the ultimate testament to toughness, strength, and determination. Ryan, who is going to have his number retired by the school, will have a holiday tournament named in his honor when it takes place late next month.
Keeping going, that is the one lesson that Ryan taught all of us. Obviously, a love of basketball helped him do that. I never met Ryan personally, but I did recall first reading about his struggles in the Home News-Tribune last basketball season. I was simply amazed at his toughness and determination. His unwillingness to give in to this dreaded disease that has taken so many. We all go through struggles in life, but with his example, perhaps we can take a different approach to them when they come along again in the future.
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–On Wednesday night, the Thanksgiving rivalries begin with two traditional holiday battles taking place around Middlesex County. GMC Hoops plans to be out at South Plainfield High School’s Frank R. Jost Memorial field to see South Plainfield take on the Canucks of North Plainfield. The Tigers have yet to win a game since the storied rivalry has resumed. A win tomorrow would go a long way in helping to salvage a tough season in Tigertown.
Here is a brief breakdown of the Thanksgiving Eve matchups:
Cardinal McCarrick (2-7) at Bishop Ahr (7-2)–The Eagles of Cardinal McCarrick have won two straight games entering tonight’s contest, and are looking to notch a victory over its fierce rival. Unfortunately, this is not basketball season, where Cardy Mac has the advantage usually. BGA is coming off a tough playoff loss at home to Camden Catholic in the opening round of the Non-Public Group III State Tournament (34-27). The Trojans have also beaten the likes of Carteret and Sayreville while also playing the likes of Rahway and Governor Livingston, two playoff teams. Last year, Ahr went to South Amboy and routed the Eagles by a score of 41-12. Hopefully, this year’s game will be closer.Prediction: Bishop Ahr wins 35-10.
Colonia (4-5) at Woodbridge (4-5)–The Barrons should get the edge here since they played in a tougher division, the GMC Red with the likes of Sayreville, Piscataway, and South Brunswick. Woodbridge also gave North Brunswick a great deal of struggle before bowing out in defeat by a score of 28-11. Colonia though is a neighborhood rival, and this is not going to be easy. Both teams are coming off solid consolation playoff wins as the Patriots defeated West Side while Woodbridge downed Franklin. The Barrons, which have the home field advantage for this game, just missed qualifying for the North Jersey Section 2 Group III playoffs.Prediction: Woodbridge wins 17-14.
Record to date (8-6)
MONROE, NJ–This afternoon, GMC Hoops learned from an article on MyCentralJersey.com that recent Monroe graduate, and former Falcon hoops player, Ryan Walp passed away on Tuesday night after a long and valiant battle with cancer. Walp, who played and practiced last season despite having to deal with chemotherapy was an inspiration to his teammates and coaches on a team that finished up with a 16-12 overall record, and a 9-5 mark in divisional play as well as a berth in the 2008 Central Jersey Group III State Tournament.
Walp’s memory will be honored not only by having his number retired, but also this coming season when Monroe hosts its first holiday tournament since the 2005-06 season. It will be named the Ryan Walp Challenge, and will feature teams from the GMC including Monroe, Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, South Brunswick, North Brunswick, and Sayreville. GMC Hoops also plans to honor Walp by having him listed first in this year’s All Rambo Team for his toughness on and off the court when the GMC Hoops Awards are revealed.
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–Two games are already in the books, but on Wednesday, GMC Hoops again updated its college hoops schedule for the upcoming 2008-09 season. By no means has this schedule been finalized as there are still some things to work out. However, here is what Greg Machos has come up with so far. This will change as we get closer to the start of the season.
- 11/19/2008–District of Columbia @ Philadelphia University (Textile), 7:00 PM
- 11/20/2008–Philly Classic–Rhode Island at Monmouth, 7:00 PM
- 12/2/2008–Felician at Caldwell College, 8:00 PM
- 12/4/2008–Brookdale Community College at Middlesex County College, 7:00 PM
- 12/10/2008–DeSales University at Centenary College, 7:00 PM
- 12/11/2008–Raritan Valley Coummunity College at Middlesex County College, 7:00 PM
- 12/31/2008–Lehigh vs. NJIT @Prudential Arena, 2:00 PM
- 1/16/2009–Susquehanna at Drew, 7:00 PM
- 1/22/2009–Southern Connecticut State @ Felician, 7:00 PM
- 2/4/2009–Richard Stockton at Kean University, 8:00 PM
- 2/26/2009–Semifinals of Region XIX Tournament @ County College of Morris
Last season, the web site initially scheduled 10 games to see on the season. However, it ended up only getting out to seven of them. Hopefully, we’ll do better this time around.
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–The semifinal weekend has passed, and the Thanksgiving rivalry games are taking place tonight and tomorrow. However, we can still look ahead to next weekend with NJSIAA State Football Championship Games that involve three GMC teams. Metuchen will play for the Central Jersey Group I Championship on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM. Sayreville will play later that day at 7:00 PM in the Central Jersey Group IV title tilt, and then on Sunday evening, Piscataway will face off against Hunterdon Central in a rematch of last year’s North Jersey Section 2 Group IV Championship. Below are all the games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday afternoon throughout the GMC. All games will be at Rutgers Stadium.
- #7 Metuchen vs. #1 Asbury Park, 10:00 AM at Rutgers Stadium
- #5 Brick Memorial vs. #3 Sayreville, 7:00 PM at Rutgers Stadium
- #2 Hunterdon Central vs. #1 Piscataway, 5:00 PM
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–Time to start thinking about the Thanksgiving holiday in more ways than the Turkey and Pumpkin Pie, and that means time to start thinking about the traditional gridiron rivalries that dominate this special time of year. Below are all the games scheduled for Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day throughout the GMC.
- Cardinal McCarrick at Bishop Ahr, 7:00 PM
- Colonia at Woodbridge, 7:00 PM
- South Brunswick at North Brunswick, 10:00 AM
- Middlesex at Dunellen, 10:30 AM
- Edison at J.P. Stevens, 10:30 AM
- North Plainfield at South Plainfield, 10:30 AM
- Piscataway at Franklin, 11:00 AM
- East Brunswick at Old Bridge, 11:00 AM
- Carteret at Perth Amboy, 11:00 AM