Development Of New Leagues In Recent Years Has Created A World Of Many Leagues With Fewer Teams
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–As the summer league season finishes up, one has to marvel about the huge number of leagues there are now around Central Jersey. I’ve been covering high school hoops since the summer of 2000, and as my coverage has grown, so has the number of leagues.
In my first summer, all I covered were the leagues at J.P. Stevens and Middlesex County College. It wasn’t until the summer of 2003 when that all changed with trips to the Linden and Elizabeth Summer Leagues. That summer, the J.P. Stevens Summer League shut down. It was the summer when things began to change at GMC Hoops.
Fast forward some eight years later, and now the site is covering a baker’s dozen worth of summer leagues and five team camps. Oh, by the way, there’s still two more weeks of the summer league season to go with a team camp at the Hoop Group Headquarters the week of August 8th to August 11th, and then the grand finale with the Summer Prime Time Shootout that is usually held at Allentown High School in the Upper Freehold District of Monmouth County
By covering more leagues, I have also seen new leagues develop in the past five years. Leagues such as Bound Brook, Rahway, and Monroe have all developed. Down in Monmouth County, there were summer leagues created at Mater Dei and Rumson Fair-Haven. With these newer leagues, we are starting to see leagues that are much smaller. For example, years ago when I covered the Middlesex County College Summer League, there were up to 24 teams in the league. Now there are less than 10.
Same thing for the Hoop Group Headquarters Summer League. In recent years, this league has had somewhere in the range of 30 to 40 teams. This year, there were only 20. The relatively newer leagues at Bound Brook, Rahway, and Monroe have about 10 teams each. More leagues means more competition, and with school athletic budgets having to cut back, and things such as gas going up, many teams are looking for better situations. Some teams are just looking to play different competition.
After being in the Middlesex County College Summer League for many years, the South River Rams and South Amboy Governors decided to play in the Monroe Sports Center Summer League. Playing at MSC gave both the Rams and Guvs a chance to play schools from both the Colonial Valley Conference and Shore Conference as well as Spotswood and Monroe. If they stayed at MCC, they would have ended up competing against the likes of East Brunswick Tech and Perth Amboy Tech, teams that they play twice per year in the GMC Gold.
Same situation for Timothy Christian, which still has a team at Middlesex, but also put a squad into the Bound Brook Summer League. J.P. Stevens moved from Middlesex County College to the Rahway Summer League. The Hawks, a Red Division team, had a chance to play the likes of Rahway, Roselle, and Union Catholic as well as bigger GMC schools such as Woodbridge, crosstown rival Edison, J.F. Kennedy, South Plainfield, and Perth Amboy. While it is true that Stevens plays some of those teams twice per year, it was a step up after being the only Group IV school to have a varsity squad at MCC last summer.
Some schools decided to take a step back this summer. After competing in the Linden Summer League last year, New Brunswick returned to compete in the Bound Brook Summer League, where it played two years ago. Last summer, the Zebras had a veteran team that was looking to take a step up in terms of competition. With all but one player from its starting five as well as much of its roster graduating, NBHS was looking to regroup.
With all of these leagues, it means a very demanding travel schedule. Ten years ago, many of the GMC teams were concentrated into just a couple leagues. Now, they are all spread out. Some are playing in multiple leagues. St. Josephs, for example, is playing in the Hamilton Park Summer League in Jersey City while still having squads competing in both Elizabeth and Linden. Through it all though, GMC Hoops has been able to cover much of it. While it has been challenging, the coverage has left very few stones unturned.
NEPTUNE, NJ–On Friday, GMC Hoops learned that there will be a team camp at the Hoop Group Headquarters from Monday, August 8th to Thursday, August 11th. According to Joe Stein of the HGHQ, they are looking to have 16 teams compete in the camp.
There will be eight guaranteed games, or two per night. Game times will be 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 PM. Cost for the camp is $600.00. Division III college coaches will also be in attendance. So far 11 teams have committed including: Asbury Park, Cardinal McCarrick, Del Val Charter (PA), Holmdel, Jackson Memorial, Lakewood, Marlboro, Middletown North, Neptune, Ocean Township, and Union City.
Five spots are still available. If you are interested, please contact Joe Stein at email@example.com.
SOUTH AMBOY, NJ–Earlier this week, GMC Hoops received word from Tom Reilly of the Raritan Bay Summer League that there will be a basketball camp run at South Amboy High School the week of August 8th. Rich Brunson, a former standout at Rutgers University, will be conducting the camp. Brunson earned a full scholarship to Rutgers after earning All New York City and All Queens Borough honors while playing at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica Queens.
RAHWAY, NJ–On Friday night, the 2011 Rahway Summer League climaxed with three fine games at Rahway High School. The Final Four was carried out with both semifinals and the championship played on the same night. For the second straight year, it was a team from Union County winning the title as Roselle survived two low scoring struggles with J.P. Stevens in the semifinals and Union Catholic in the Championship. The third seeded Vikings got to the title game by knocking off second seeded Rahway in the first semifinal at 5:30 PM. It was quite a way to end the summer at Rahway. All three games were decided by five points or less.
Union Catholic Hangs On To Upset Rahway, 65-61
Arriving with only 1:55 to go in the game, Union Catholic was leading 55-47. Rahway made one of two from the line with 1:35 to play to draw within seven. The Indians made one of two again from the line with 1:20 to play for a 55-49 Vikings lead. UC then made one of two from the line for a 56-49 lead before Rahway struck for a three pointer from the left side with 1:10 to go for a 56-52 lead.
Union Catholic made one of two free throws, and then two more foul shots with 55.7 seconds to go for a 59-52 lead before Rahway got a layup with 49 seconds left, and a layin with 37.8 seconds to play to pull within three at 59-56. The Vikings made two huge free throws with 33.7 seconds remaining for a 61-56 lead, and after Rahway sank one of two from the line with 30 seconds left, Union Catholic was fouled again in the backcourt for two more free throws, and a 63-57 lead with 27.4 remaining.
Rahway got a layup with 20 seconds to play to pull within four again at 63-59, but UC made two foul shots at the 15.0 seconds mark to wrap up the win. The Indians got another layup while the Vikes blew a breakaway scoring chance, but by then the game was over as Union Catholic improved to 9-3 on the summer, and earned a trip to the Championship Game against the winner of the other semifinal between top seeded Roselle and fifth seeded J.P. Stevens. Rahway, which won the league championship last year, finished the summer at 11-3.
Roselle Surges From Behind To Defeat J.P. Stevens, 42-37
After defeating Perth Amboy in the first quarterfinal on Thursday, and both J.F. Kennedy and Woodbridge losing in the other two elite eight games in the 2011 Rahway Summer League, the Hawks of J.P. Stevens were the only GMC team left standing in the post-season at Rahway heading into the semifinals and championship on Friday.
In front of them waited three very good teams from the Mountain Division of the Union County Conference including their final four opponent, Roselle, the top seeded team in the playoffs after earning the league’s best regular season record. For the first 15:52 of this contest, Roselle continued to struggle after nearly losing a 13 point lead with under three minutes to go in the quarterfinals against eighth seeded Johnson Regional on Thursday night.
Led by the combination of soon to be sophomore Sky Harris, and soon to be senior, Brandon Ahmed, the Hawks jumped out to a 26-12 lead. However, Roselle regained its composure, and put together a 30-11 surge the rest of the way for a come from behind 42-37 win. The Rams limited Stevens to just four field goals including a three pointer in the second half after yielding 13 field goals including two threes in the first half. Roselle, which was 4 of 14 from the line in the final 2:43 of its win over Johnson, was only 5 of 15 from the charity stripe by the early second half, but made them when it mattered most.
Over the final 12:03 of the contest, Roselle was 9 of 12 from the charity stripe. In addition, the Rams enjoyed a huge advantage in free throw attempts (27-1) and points scored from the foul line (14-0). J.P. Stevens didn’t score a point over the last 6:23 while Roselle finished up with the final 11 points to turn a 37-31 deficit into a 42-37 victory. Prior to that, the Hawks seemed to get some much needed breathing room after the Rams started the second half with a 13-4 tear over the first 10:12 of the second half for a 32-31 Stevens lead just beyond the midway point of the second half.
Jalen Sorrell came up with a huge play when he got an offensive rebound off a Sahej Chowdary miss for a putback at the 7:14 mark, and a 34-31 JPS lead. Xavier Johnson, who scored all five of his points in the second half then took a Brandon Ahmed pass on the right side for a three pointer, and a 37-31 lead with 6:23 left. Unfortunately for the Hawks though, they only had one shot attempt for the rest of the game. To make matters worse, Ahmed (12 first half points) and Harris (8 first half points) were limited by the Roselle defense to just two points combined in the final 20 minutes of play.
J.P. Stevens really missed the presence of Marvin Crawford, especially in the second half. Throughout the game, the Hawks had trouble inbounding the ball against the Roselle fullcourt pressure. The Edison school also had difficulty getting the ball over the midcourt line after getting it inbounds. For the game, JPS got its 37 points on 17 field goals including three treys, but only went 0 of 1 at the foul line. Meanwhile, Roselle scored its 42 points on 13 field goals including two threes, and made 14 of 27 from the charity stripe.
Also helping the Rams to victory was 22 points off of turnovers including 13 in the second half, and 7 second chance points. Ahmed led the way in a losing cause for the Hawks with 14 points, 3 assists, and a block while Harris chipped in with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Johnson added his five second half points while both John Maxham and Chowdary contributed with 4 points. Chowdary also handed out 4 assists while Sorrell rounded out the Hawk scoring with 2 points and 6 rebounds.
J.P. Stevens led the game for 33:29 while Roselle led for only 3:40 and the game was tied for 2:51. Neither team scored for the first 2:35 of the game before the Rams got on the board first by stealing the ball from Chowdary, and scoring a layup while being fouled by Maxham for a three point play, and a 3-0 lead at the 17:25 mark. A little over a minute later, Ahmed sparked a 7-0 run with a three pointer from the top of the key off a pass from Chowdary at the 16:20 mark. Sixteen seconds later, the Hawks went out in front at 5-3 on a steal for a layup by Harris. Ahmed then capped the run with hitting a jumper from just inside the key for a 7-3 lead with 15:27 to go in the half after getting a blocked shot at the other end.
Over the next 2:42, Roselle battled back into the contest with a 7-4 run on a three pointer at the 15:13 mark, a jumper off a kickout following an offensive rebound at the 14:26 mark, and then a putback for an 11-10 Stevens lead with 12:45 to go in the half. The next four and a half minutes was all Hawks as they reeled off nine unanswered points for a 20-10 lead before Roselle called timeout with 8:18 to go in the half. Ahmed had five points during the run including a three pointer to cap the spurt at the 8:25 mark while Harris and Chowdary added baskets as well.
Following the stoppage, J.P. Stevens continued to play well with six of the next eight points over a span of 4:10 to take its biggest lead of the contest. Maxham had all four of his points during the run while Chowdary added another score to cap the run. Against the ropes, Roselle began to fight back with six straight points over a span of just 1:22 including two free throws at the 3:00 mark, a steal that led to a putback at the 1:43 mark, and another steal for a putback at the 1:28 mark for a 26-18 JPS lead.
Roselle had a couple more chances to get closer, but after Stevens was called for a five second violation at the 1:19 mark, the Rams turned it over at the 1:08 mark. Then, after stopping the Hawks again, and drawing a foul, the Rams missed both free throws at the 55.2 second mark. Harris then ended the first half scoring by sinking a high arching jumper from the left side with 31.5 seconds left for a 28-18 lead going into the intermission. Despite losing some momentum going into the brief break, Roselle had made big strides, and more importantly, the Rams had begun to wear down the Hawks.
In the second half, Roselle locked down defensively, and began to gradually chip away further at the deficit. The Hawks were able to keep the Rams at bay for a while, especially after the putback by Sorrell and the three pointer by Johnson for the 37-31 lead. However, JPS weren’t able to build off that run, and Roselle eventually overcame the deficit and won the game. With the victory, Roselle improved to 12-1 overall on the summer, and took on third seeded Union Catholic in the Championship Game. Meanwhile, J.P. Stevens concluded the summer at 7-5.
Roselle Wins Championship On Three Point Play At 9.8, 48-46
It was an all Union County final as two rivals from the old Mountain Valley Conference squared off for the Championship of the 2011 Rahway Summer League. With three Union County teams making it to the final four, and all three were the top seeded teams in the post-season, the odds were in the favor of the Union County Conference to have an all conference final.
With Rahway winning the title over Piscataway last summer, it is the second straight year that a UCC team has won this summer league. Union Catholic got here by earning the third seed for the playoffs after posting a 7-2 record during the regular season including close wins over J.P. Stevens (50-47 in OT) and J.F. Kennedy (by four in OT). The Vikings also cruised past A.L. Johnson earlier in the summer (74-51).
After getting a first round bye in the post-season, Union Catholic, defeated Kennedy again in the quarterfinals on Thursday before knocking off second seeded Rahway in the first of two semifinals on Friday. Meanwhile, Roselle, which finished the regular season at 11-1, earned the top seed. After also getting a first round bye, the Rams had a bit of a struggle on their hands with eighth seeded A.L. Johnson before winning 65-61 on Thursday night.
The Rams struggled early on in its semifinal against fifth seeded J.P. Stevens, a team that they only beat by three about a month ago in the regular season (49-46). Trailing 26-12 with 4:08 to go in the first half, Roselle limited the Hawks to only 11 points on five field goals including a three while outscoring Stevens by 19 over the last 24:08 for the 42-37 victory. The Rams, which struggled at the line in both of their playoff games, enjoyed a huge 27-1 edge in free throw attempts, and a 14-0 edge in points scored at the line.
Like Stevens, the Vikes got off to a fast start in the Championship Game with an 11-4 run over the first five minutes. However, Roselle settled down, and started to assert itself at both ends of the floor with a 9-3 spurt over the next 11 minutes to pull within one before UC made two free throws at the 3:30 mark, and got a layup a short time later for an 18-13 lead. The Rams then shot themselves in the foot by missing two free throws at the 2:48 mark, and the Vikings took advantage with a score at the other end for a 20-13 lead with 2:30 left in the first half.
Roselle scored the next four points on two free throws at the 2:03 mark, and then a steal for a layup at the 1:30 mark to close within 20-17. The Rams then had a chance to pull within one, but after getting the steal, they were called for traveling en route to the basket with 1:10 to go in the first half. Both teams got breaks heading into the intermission as Union Catholic scored on a putback off a missed jumper from the right side with 12.7 seconds to go in the half, and Roselle got a three pointer from the left wing to bank in at the buzzer for a 22-20 UC lead at the half.
Giving up the first points of the second half to give Union Catholic a 24-20 lead, Roselle charged back with a 13-4 tear over the next 7:30 to take a 33-28 lead with twelve minutes to play. The Rams continued to maintain that five point lead at 35-30 before the Vikings responded with a 12-6 spurt over the next nine minutes for a 42-41 lead on a layup with 2:59 remaining. Roselle then turned the ball over in its own backcourt after getting a rebound, and Union Catholic capitalized on it with a layup at the 1:45 mark for a 44-41 lead.
The Vikings held on to the tenuous three point lead at 46-43 before Roselle got a basket while being fouled with about a minute left, and then converted a three point play with 9.8 seconds remaining for a 48-46 lead. Union Catholic had a chance to tie or take the lead, but a shot attempt and the follow both missed, and the ball went out of bounds to Roselle with 0.3 seconds remaining. From there, the Rams were able to run out the clock for the 48-46 victory. With the win, Roselle finished up the summer with a 13-1 record while UC ends up at 9-4.
GMC Hoops thanks Dunellen coach, Bernie Buniak, and the folks at Rahway for their assistance this summer.
RAHWAY, NJ–On Friday night, the final day of action took place at the 2011 Rahway Summer League with two semifinal games at 5:30 and 6:30 PM followed by the Championship at 8:00 PM. In the final four were four of the top five seeds including three teams from Union County, and one team from the Greater Middlesex Conference. J.P. Stevens, the fifth seeded team faced off against Roselle in the second semifinal. The Hawks jumped out to a 26-12 lead with 4:08 remaining in the first half, but stalled after that with only five field goals for 11 points over the last 24:08 of the contest as Roselle surged from behind for a 42-37 victory. Below is the play-by-play from the contest:
19:16–ROS–really applying the pressure from deep into the backcourt, the Rams harass Sahej Chowdary into a traveling violation at midcourt.
18:37–JPS–fouled on the floor.
18:15–ROS–steals inbounds pass by Sky Harris, and goes in for layup–fouled by Harris–misses both FTs…Sorrell with the rebound.
17:25–ROS–swipes steal off pass by Chowdary, and goes in for layup from right side while being fouled by John Maxham for a three point play,, and a 3-0 lead.
16:20–JPS–Chowdary passes to Brandon Ahmed for three pointer from top of the key and a 3-3 tie.
16:04–JPS–Harris steals and scores on layup for a 5-3 lead.
15:42–JPS–Ahmed blocks shot and gets rebound.
15:27–JPS–Chowdary to Ahmed for jumper just inside the top of the key for a 7-3 lead.
15:13–ROS–three pointer from left wing for a 7-6 lead.
14:50–JPS–Harris scores on putback for a 9-6 lead.
14:26–ROS–gets offensive rebound, and kicks out for jumper and 9-8 JPS lead.
13:52–ROS–throws it away for turnover.
13:05–JPS–Ahmed scores on floater off drive for an 11-8 lead.
12:45–ROS–hits shot underneath, and is fouled, but misses FT–ball goes out of bounds to JPS–leads 11-10.
12:03–JPS–Harris throws baseball pass to Ahmed for layup off inbounds,and a 13-10 lead.
11:32–JPS–Chowdary–scores on layup from the right side for a 15-10 lead.
11:11–ROS–throws it away for turnover.
10:27–ROS–after getting rebound off miss by Ahmed, called for double-dribble in frontcourt.
9:59–JPS–Harris gets handle of loose ball at the right elbow for jumper, and a 17-10 lead.
8:47–JPS–Harris misses three attempt from right corner, but Johnson gets offensive rebound that sets up another scoring attempt by Harris, but it too, misses…ball goes out of bounds to Stevens.
8:25–JPS–Chowdary inbounds to Ahmed for three pointer from left wing for a 20-10 lead.
8:18–ROS–timeout–JPS on a 9-0 run.
7:57–ROS–dribbles in, and draws foul on baseline jumper from left side for one of two FTs, and a 20-11 lead.
7:15–JPS–breaks ROS pressure by getting it to Harris, who dribbles downcourt, and dishes to Maxham for layup, and a 22-11 lead.
6:48–ROS–gets offensive rebound off missed three pointer, and draws foul for one of two FTs, and a 22-12 JPS lead.
5:56–JPS–Harris throws baseball pass over the top of ROS press, but the pass is too long for
5:30–JPS–Harris blocks shot.
5:15–ROS–gets ball back, and comes down on break, but misses.
5:06–JPS–gets rebound, and ball ends up with Johnson who dishes to Maxham for short pull-up jumper, and a 24-12 lead.
4:08–JPS–Ahmed passes to Chowdary for floater that bnkas in for a 26-12 lead.
3:34–JPS–Sorrell gets offensive rebound off missed floater by Ahmed, but Maxham called for walk on jump shot attempt.
3:00–ROS–draws foul from Ahmed on shot attempt for two FTs, and a 26-14 JPS lead.
2:16–JPS–Sorrell called for traveling.
1:43–ROS–after Sorrell got the rebound, the Rams get a steal, and drive in for layup attempt that misses, but they score on the follow for a 26-16 JPS lead.
1:28–ROS–gets steal off ensuing inbounds and scores on putback off two offensive rebounds for a 26-18 JPS lead.
1:19–JPS–five second call.
55.2–ROS–gets fouled on the drive, but misses both FTs.
31.5–JPS–Ahmed to Chowdary, who passes downcourt to Harris for high arching jumper from left side for a 28-18 lead.
17.9–ROS–gets fouled on the floor, but misses front end of the bonus.
17.9–ROS–forces another five second call on inbounds.
0.0–JPS–Maxham misses bank shot at the buzzer…JPS leads 28-18 at the half.
JPS–only 2 points over last 4:08 of the half
ROS–5 of 12 FTs
JPS–13 FGs including two threes in half. No FTAs in half.
ROS–6 FGS including a three.
19:57–ROS–draws foul on shot attempt, but misses both FTs.
19:27–JPS–Ahmed misses shot underneath
19:12–ROS–misses jumper, but gets offensive rebound..then commits backcourt violation.
18:34–JPS–Chowdary called for over the back after Ahmed misses jumper from just inside the top of the key.
18:09–ROS–jumper from right side for a 28-20 JPS lead.
17:17–JPS–After Harris misses shot off the drive, Sorrell called for over the back.
16:58–ROS–layup for a 28-22 JPS lead.
16:31–ROS–gets rebound, but travels.
15:08–JPS–ROS gets partial block on floater shot attempt by Johnson, but the Rams mishandle the rebound, and Johnson gets the loose ball and puts it back in for a 30-22 lead.
14:42–ROS–knifes into the paint, banks in shot while drawing foul, but misses bonus FT for a 30-24 JPS lead.
14:07–ROS–deflects pass out of bounds.
13:26–ROS–partially blocks jump shot attempt by Maxham, and saves ball out of bounds off Maxham.
12:53–ROS–hits a perfect three from left wing for a 30-27 JPS lead.
12:35–ROS–deflects pass out of bounds.
12:03–ROS–steals ball from Johnson, and goes in for layup–draws foul from Johnson for two FTs, and a 30-29 JPS lead…17-4 tear over last 12:04.
10:42–JPS–Ahmed drives in from left side, and flips in shot as he is fouled, but misses bonus FT for a 32-29 lead.
9:48–ROS–drives left through middle for floater that bounces in for a 32-31 JPS lead.
9:20–JPS–Harris misses shot, but ball goes out of bounds off ROS–JPS ball.
8:04–ROS–travels on drive from left wing.
7:38–JPS–Chowdary picks up his dribble in JPS backcourt, but ROS unable to get steal
7:14–JPS–Sorrell puts back miss by Chowdary for a 34-31 lead.
6:23–JPS–Ahmed kicks out to Johnson for three from right side for a 37-31 lead.
5:22–ROS–gets steal as Johnson loses ball, but almost blows chance to score…Rams get five offensive rebounds including one of a great block by Johnson for a putback, and a 37-33 JPS lead.
5:06–JPS–Chowdary loses ball out of bounds–turnover.
4:20–ROS–gets fouled on the drive, and makes both FTs for a 37-35 JPS lead.
3:49–ROS–steals ball from Chowdary, and goes in for apparent dunk attempt, but changes shot at the last second, and draws foul for one of two FTs and a 37-36 JPS lead.
2:35–ROS–steals JPS pass that leads to layup, and a 38-37 lead.
2:28–JPS–timeout–ROS on a 26-11 surge over last 21:40.
1:50–ROS–steals pass by Harris.
1:15–ROS–nearly throws the ball away.
1:03–ROS–misses shot, and then putback attempt, but draws foul for 1 of 2 FTs and a 39-37 lead.
1:02–ROS–deflects pass out of bounds.
1:00–ROS–gets steal off deflection of inbounds pass.
38.6–ROS–fouled by Harris, and makes 1 of 2 FTs for a 40-37 lead.
27.9–ROS–called for foul on the floor as Stevens was running out of time to get the ball over halfcourt.
8.0–JPS–Ahmed misses drive in for layup…ROS gets rebound.
3.6–ROS–fouled on floor, and makes both ends of bonus for a 42-37 lead.
ROS wins 42-37–finishes game with a 30-11 surge over last 24:08.
ROS goes on an 11-0 tear over last 6:23 for the win.
JPS had trouble inbounding the ball, and getting the ball over halfcourt.
JPS only scored nine points on four field goals in second half
fouls in second half–JPS 10–ROS 2
For the game–JPS scoring
Ahmed–14 points, 3 assists, and a block.
Harris–8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, and a block.
Chowdary–4 points and 4 assists.
Sorrell–2 points and 6 rebounds.
ROS–13 field goals including 2 threes, and 14 of 27 FTs.
JPS–17 field goals including 3 treys, and 0 of 1 FTs.
GMC Hoops will be posting the summary on all the action shortly.
RAHWAY, NJ–On Friday evening, the 2011 Rahway Summer League concluded with its Final Four. Both semifinal games as well as the Championship were played. All three games were really competitive with all the contests being decided by five points or less. For the second straight year, a team from Union County won the championship as top seeded Roselle overcame slow starts in both its semifinal and the championship to win both games for the championship. Below are the results from all three games:
2011 Rahway Summer League–Playoff Results–Semifinals and Championship–July 29th
- Semifinal #1–#3 Union Catholic 65–#2 Rahway 61
- Semifinal #2–#1 Roselle 42–#5 J.P. Stevens 37
- Championship– #1 Roselle 48–#3 Union Catholic 46
GMC Hoops will be posting play-by-play from Roselle’s win over J.P. Stevens in the semfinals shortly.
LINDEN, NJ–For the second straight year, St. Joseph’s and East Brunswick reached the semifinals of the 2011 Linden Summer League. However, for the first time in three years, a team from the Greater Middlesex Conference would not be competing in the Championship on Thursday. It was the second straight summer that St. Joseph’s met Linden in the semifinals, but this time there was a different result as the Tigers prevailed in the final minute of play, 44-42. St. Peter’s Prep of Jersey City used a 17-4 tear over a 12:23 span to end the first half and start the second to turn a 10-7 deficit into a 24-14 lead, and then held off a late charge by East Brunswick to defeat the Bears by a 35-31 margin.
Moore Leads Linden Past St. Joseph’s To Final, 44-42
For the second straight year, the St. Joseph’s Falcons met up with the Linden Tigers in the semifinal round of the playoffs in the Linden Summer League. Last year, the Green Birds overcame a difficult start to defeat the Tigers. This year, they almost did it again. There was only one big problem with that summed up in two words: Quadri Moore.
Moore scored 14 points over the final 23:16 of the contest, but 11 of those points including two three pointers came in the final period of play. The last trey was the difference as Moore sank it from the left corner for a 44-41 lead with 35 seconds to play. St. Joseph’s had their chances in the last half minute of play, but could only muster one point at the line as the Falcons went one of six from the charity stripe in the final frame, and Linden won 44-42.
Two key stats determined the outcome of this game. Points scored from beyond the arc, and from the foul line. Linden had advantages in both of those categories with a 12-0 advantage in points scored on threes, and a 10-5 edge in points scored on free throws. St. Joseph’s was only 5 of 11 from the foul line for the game. St. Joe’s had a 29-28 edge in points scored over the last two plus quarters of the contest, but were outscored by a margin of 14-9 in the final period.
The Falcons scored their 29 points on 12 field goals and the five free throws while Linden had only 7 field goals, but four of them threes while also making 10 of 15 from the free throw line. St. Joe’s had an 11-5 edge in points scored off of turnovers. Moore made five field goals including his two fourth quarter threes while going just 2 of 4 from the foul line. Jordan Tapia stood tall for the Metuchen school with 11 points on five field goals and a free throw. Despite his struggles defending the much larger Moore in the corner in the second half, Tapia helped his team stay in the game with nine of his points over the final two periods.
Jake Dadika and Jalen Gilmore each added two field goals and a foul shot over the final 23:16 while Dadika had two steals and an assist, and Gilmore picked up two offensive rebounds including one for a score, a steal, and a charge. Salman Hasan chipped in with three points, Marcus Ashamole added a conventional three point play, and Josh Hudson got his only points during the stretch on a layin that tied the game at 41-41 with 1:07 remaining. The Falcons didn’t make any excuses with a solid effort from a group that played without the services of Quenton DeCosey, Danny Brix, Jimbo Long, and James Ziemba.
The game turned out to be quite a back and forth affair, especially down the stretch. Neither team had a lead bigger than five points in the final two periods of play. St. Joe’s largest lead was 33-30 entering the fourth period. The Falcons used a 12-4 tear over the last 7:07 of the third to take that lead into the final stanza. There were two lead changes and eight ties over the last 23:16 of the contest. Tapia sparked the run in the third that gave St. Joe’s brief control of the game with a three point play at the 6:49 mark. After Linden got a score off a floater with 5:07 to go in the quarter, the Falcons tied the game again at 28-28 with 4:14 to play in the third on layups by Gilmore and Dadika.
Following a scoring lull of about a minute and a half, and a brief departure from the game by Moore, who was shaken up at the 3:01 mark, the Tigers went back out in front at 30-28 with two free throws at the 2:41 mark. However, St. Joseph’s battled back with the final five points of the quarter including a pull-up jumper by Tapia at the 1:28 mark to tie the score at 30-30, and then a steal by Dadika that he converted into a traditional three point play with 1:10 remaining in the frame for a 33-30 lead. The Falcons had a chance to add to its lead in the waning moments of the third, but Hasan missed a three point attempt, and Dadika couldn’t score on the follow as time ran out in the period.
At the start of the fourth, Linden regrouped to take back the lead. After making one of two from the line at the 8:45 mark, the Tigers went in front as Moore made big plays at both ends. First, he blocked a layup attempt by Dadika at the 7:40 mark, and eight seconds later, he put Linden in front by the score of 34-33 with a three from the right wing. Moore then added one of two from the foul line at the 6:40 mark for a 35-33 lead, and put the Tigers up by four exactly a minute later when he scored down low for a 37-33 lead at the 5:40 mark. Despite two missed free throws by Dadika at the 4:57 mark, St. Joseph’s battled their way back to a tie.
Gilmore sparked the rally by drawing a charge on Moore with 4:03 to go. Tapia then connected on another pull-up jumper for a 37-35 Linden lead with 3:42 left. Gilmore made another big defensive play a little more than a minute later when he swiped a steal in the Tigers backcourt, and then converted the turnover on a putback for a 37-37 tie with a little more than two and a half minutes to play in regulation. On Linden’s next possession, Moore put the Tigers ahead again at 39-37 with a layup at the 2:16 mark. The Falcons had a chance to tie the game again, but a jumper by Dadika went in and out with two minutes left.
St. Joe’s kept pressing though, and Tapia managed to get a steal, and go the rest of the way for a scoop shot layup that tied the score again at 39-39 with 1:49 to play. Next time down the floor, Linden went back in front by drawing a foul, and making two free throws at the 1:29 mark. The Falcons answered though as Dadika dished to Hudson for a layin that tied the game again at 41-41 with 1:07 to go. Following a Linden timeout at the 1:02 mark, Moore connected on his second three of the quarter to give the Tigers the lead for good at 44-41 with just over a half minute to play. St. Joseph’s would only get one point the rest of the way as Linden earned a trip to the Championship for the second time in three years.
Spurt From Late Second Into Third Helps St. Peter’s Prep Hang On To Defeat EB, 35-31
After St. Joseph’s battled Linden in a semifinal that went down to the wire, East Brunswick scrapped with St. Peter’s Prep of Jersey City in the other semifinal on Wednesday. It was the second year in a row, the Bears reached the Final Four of the Linden Summer League. Last summer, EB lost to St. Patrick’s in the semifinals. This time, the Bears got off to a decent start thanks to the efforts of forward Rob Ukawuba, but the Marauders eventually overcame a sluggish start with a 17-4 spurt over a span of 12:15 that carried over from the middle of the second quarter to the middle of the third to turn a 10-7 deficit into a 24-14 lead.
St. Peter’s Prep led by as many as nine points with about a minute and a half to go before East Brunswick put together a rally to close the gap to three with 17 seconds to play. However, the Bears were unable to get any closer as the Marauders won 35-31 to advance to face Linden in the Championship Game on Thursday afternoon. For the game, St. Peter’s Prep, which has played in the last two Non-Public A North Championship Games with one title in 2010, compiled its 35 points on 10 field goals includes three treys, and made 12 of 18 from the foul line.
East Brunswick had only eight field goals including one three, and despite having more points from the charity stripe, it was 14 of 24 from the foul line including an 8 of 15 showing from the charity stripe in the first half. The Bears did a fine job of taking care of the basketball and keeping St. Peter’s Prep off the boards with a 4-2 edge in second chance points and an 11-4 advantage in points off turnovers. In a very physical game, EB did a superb job of playing defense as well. Led by the efforts of Garry Baumer, Jake Krantz (3 steals and a block), and Amir Bell, the Bears collected 11 steals, 7 deflections, 2 blocks, and a charge.
Ukawuba, who scored 8 points including the only two EB field goals in the first half, led the Bears in a losing cause with 14 points on four field goals and 6 of 9 from the foul line. The soon to be junior forward also collected four offensive rebounds with two of them converted into putbacks, three steals, an assist, block, and charge. Five other Bears added three points each including Baumer, Bell, Ethan Folz, Abu Bestawros, and Mike Summerer. It was a low scoring game, particularly in the first half. East Brunswick only led 8-7 after one period and had no field goals in the second while St. Peter’s Prep rallied with a 6-2 run to end the half for a 13-12 lead.
The Marauders, which had four field goals including two threes along with 3 of 4 from the foul line, then opened up the second half with an 11-2 tear over the first 4:52 to go up by ten midway through the third. The Bears, which went without a field goal over the last 7:18 of the third, still managed to narrow the deficit to six points by outscoring St. Peter’s Prep by a 4-2 margin over the last 4:11 of the stanza. Summerer made one of two free throws while Folz made three free throws after being fouled on a three point attempt at the 2:34 mark to pull the Bears to within 24-18 before St. Peter’s Prep made two free throws in the waning seconds of the quarter for a 26-18 advantage heading into the fourth.
In the final period, St. Peter’s Prep outscored EB by a slim 6-5 margin over the first 8:31 to increase its lead to nine with 1:29 remaining. However, the Bears didn’t give up. Over a span of just 58 seconds, East Brunswick went on a 9-2 tear to pull within three with 17 seconds left. Ukawuba sparked the rally by drawing a foul on a drive, and sinking both free throws at the 1:15 mark. After the Marauders drew a foul at the 1:09 mark, and made one of two free throws for a 33-25 lead, Ukawuba, who didn’t score for a span of 26:08 in the contest, scored again on a putback with 47 seconds remaining for a 33-27 St. Peter’s Prep lead.
After the Marauders made another one of two from the foul line with 44 seconds left, and a timeout at the 40 second mark, Ukawuba stole the ball, and strode in for a one handed dunk, and a 34-29 St. Peter’s Prep lead. The Bears then forced another turnover as Bestawros picked up a steal, and converted it into a layup to close the gap to 34-31 with under 20 seconds to play. EB almost got another steal, but the ball went out of bounds in front of the St. Peter’s Prep bench with eight seconds left. The Marauders then wrapped up the game with one of two from the line for a 35-31 victory.
GMC Hoops thanks the folks at Linden for their assistance this summer.
Late Rally Lifts Piscataway Past Hunterdon Central For Championship, 40-39
BOUND BROOK, NJ–After watching the majority of the first quarterfinal round game in the Rahway Summer League between J.P. Stevens and Perth Amboy at Rahway High School, GMC Hoops scrambled over to Bound Brook High School to catch the final half of action between fourth seeded Piscataway and second seeded Hunterdon Central in the Championship Game of the 2011 Bound Brook Summer League.
In a back and forth game that saw seven lead changes and a tie in the second half alone, and neither team having a bigger lead than five points, the team that put together the best run down the stretch was going to win the title. Piscataway was that team. After trailing early on by a 22-18 margin with 18:44 to go, the Chiefs responded with 9 of the next 11 points over a span of 9:07 to take a 27-24 lead with 9:37 remaining.
Hunterdon Central, which showed tremendous poise throughout the second half, and demonstrated that their second seed was well earned, battled back with an 11-3 tear over the next 7:21 to take the biggest lead of the half at 35-30 with 2:16 remaining. P-Way didn’t panic though. With its pressure defense that always has the ability to force turnovers for quick scores, the Chiefs rose to the occasion with a 10-4 spurt over the final 1:38 to claim the title by the score of 40-39.
Vik Singh led a balanced scoring attack for the Chiefs in the second half with 6 points on two field goals and two free throws in the final 20 minutes. Donovan Kirkland and Jelani Jackson each added 4 points while Greg Davis and David White chipped in with 3 points. Kirkland was very instrumental down the stretch as he sparked the game deciding rally with a layup that got a kind bounce at the 1:38 mark.
Moments later, Kirkland picked up a steal off the press, and dished to Jackson for a layup that narrowed the deficit to one at 35-34 with 1:27 to play. The Chiefs had an opportunity to take the lead when the Red Devils missed two free throws, but the Skyland Conference team got the offensive rebound, and put it back in for a 37-34 edge with 1:11 to go in regulation. P-Way continued to apply the pressure though.
The result was a quick response score on a transition layup with 1:04 remaining, and then after Hunterdon Central got the ball into their frontcourt, the Devils tried to run the clock out by spreading the floor. However, the Chiefs tried to double up on the wing, and HCHS tried to pass to a player going back door, but Davis was their for the steal with 41 seconds left, and P-Way converted the score when Marcus Freeney dished to Kirkland for a layup with 31.3 seconds left for a 38-37 lead.
Hunterdon Central wrestled the lead right back by drawing a foul and making two free throws with 24.6 to play for a 39-38 lead. However, Singh pulled out the win by getting the offensive rebound off his own miss after taking an inbounds pass from Jackson, and drawing a foul with 14.7 seconds left for two free throws and the 40-39 win. The Chiefs ended the summer at 9-2 while the Devils also finished up at 9-2.
RAHWAY, NJ–On Thursday night, playoff action resumed in the 2011 Rahway Summer League at Rahway High School. There were four quarterfinal games as all five of the top seeded teams joined the playoff action. Only one team from the Greater Middlesex Conference remains as we move on to the Final Four at RHS on Friday evening.
In two playoff games that weren’t covered by GMC Hoops, 11th seeded J.F. Kennedy lost to third seeded Union Catholic for the second time in eight days while 10th seeded Woodbridge lost to second seeded Rahway. Meanwhile, fifth seeded J.P. Stevens jumped out to a 17-6 led with 6:14 left to play, and then had to hold off a rally by fourth seeded Perth Amboy to advance to the semifinals with a 22-18 victory.
The Hawks will face top seeded Roselle, which defeated JPS 49-46 at the beginning of the month. The Running Rams had some difficulty with eighth seeded Johnson Regional, which jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, and hung tough for much of the contest before falling behind 61-48 with 2:43 left. Then, the Crusaders took advantage of poor free throw shooting by Roselle to put together a 10-0 spurt over the next two minutes to pull within three with under a minute to go. However, A.L. Johnson wasn’t able to get any closer as the Running Rams advanced, 65-61.
J.P. Stevens Hangs On To Defeat Amboy In Low Scoring Struggle, 22-18
In the first game of the quarterfinal quadrupleheader at Rahway High School on Thursday, two GMC Red teams squared off as fifth seeded J.P. Stevens took on fourth seeded Perth Amboy at 5:30 PM.
The Hawks were playing without Marvin Crawford while the Panthers were playing without David Rogers. The absence of Crawford didn’t affect J.P. Stevens early on. The Hawks scored the first nine points of the game, and didn’t let Amboy get on the board until the 8:22 mark of the first half.
Sahej Chowdary got layups at the 9:36 mark, and the six second mark while Sky Harris added a jumper at the 5:36 mark to maintain the seven point margin at 13-6 going into the intermission. The offenses continued to sleepwalk as neither team was able to get on the board until Harris broke the scoreless second half deadlock with a layup that got a kind bounce at the 13:12 mark.
The drought resumed after that for almost another seven minutes before Chowdary made a nice entry pass to John Maxham for a layup for a 17-6 lead with 6:14 remaining. Meanwhile, the Panthers really missed the veteran leadership of David Rogers. Amboy, which was nearly scoreless for the first twelve minutes of the first half, didn’t get on the board in the second half until they got a kind bounce on a floater with just inside six minutes to go. However, the Panthers press helped them get back into the ball game.
Stevens wouldn’t score for the next 5:04 while Amboy put on a dramatic rally that seemed to come out of nowhere. Over a span of 4:46, the Panthers reeled off nine unanswered points to pull within two at 17-15 with 1:33 remaining. The Hawks, which had trouble with Perth Amboy’s pressure throughout much of the game, caught a huge break when Brandon Ahmed hustled to save a crosscourt pass by Chowdary off a Perth Amboy player out of bounds with 1:22 to play.
Moments later, Ahmed was fouled on the floor, and made both ends of the bonus for a 19-15 lead with 1:10 to go. After Amboy called timeout at the 1:04 and 48.0 second marks, Ahmed came up with a big defensive play again when he stole a deflected pass, and was fouled with 41 seconds to go. He would miss the front end of the one and one, but the Panthers weren’t able to capitalize, and Harris was fouled after getting a rebound with 30.6 seconds to go for one of two free throws, and a 20-15 lead.
Perth Amboy wouldn’t give up though. The Panthers connected on a three pointer from the left corner for a 20-18 Stevens lead, and put pressure on the ensuing inbounds before fouling Harris with 12.7 seconds left. Harris sealed the victory by making both ends of the double bonus for a 22-18 victory. Harris ended up with 9 points in the victory for the Hawks while Chowdary chipped in with 6 points, and Ahmed added 5. Maxham also contributed with two points.
The Panthers, which only had one field goal for the first 24:01 of the game, ended up with more points in the final 5:59 of the game. Amboy only had five field goals including two threes while making 6 of 8 from the charity stripe. With the win, the Hawks advance to the semifinals on Friday to play top seeded Roselle at 6:30 PM. The winner of that game will face the winner of the other semifinal between Union Catholic and Rahway later on in the evening at 8:00 PM.
Late Rally By Crusaders Falls Short As Roselle Advances, 65-61
The eighth seeded Johnson Regional Crusaders of Clark earned the right to play top seeded Roselle in the finale of the quarterfinal quadrupleheader at Rahway High School on Thursday night.
The Roselle Rams were coming off a bye while A.L. Johnson defeated ninth seeded Dunellen in the opening round of the playoffs on Tuesday. Things looked promising early on for the Crusaders. Over the first three minutes or so of the game, Johnson jumped out to an 8-2 lead
However, Roselle began to dictate tempo and impose their will with a 19-6 tear over a span of about 10 minutes to take a 21-14 lead. The Rams, which won the regular season title with a 10-1 overall record, scored layups and connected on pull-up jumpers in transition to take control of the game offensively while the defense forced turnovers and put the Crusader offense in disarray.
Roselle’s first half tear came in two waves. The first wave lasted for a little more than four minutes as the Rams scored 13 of 17 points to take a 15-12 lead as Johnson called for time at the 12:43 mark. The timeout wasn’t the tonic for the Crusaders as their former Mountain Valley Conference rival, went on a 9-2 tear over a span of the next six and a half minutes to take a seven point lead.
Surprisingly though, Johnson Regional showed some resiliency by getting two quick scores over the next minute to pull within 21-18 as Roselle called for time with a little more than five minutes to go. Following the timeout, the Crusaders crept a bit closer with four of the next six points for a 23-22 Running Rams lead with 1:31 to play in the half. However, Roselle closed out the half with the final six points in lightning quick fashion for a 29-22 lead at the break.
After A.L. Johnson struck for a three pointer to open up the second half scoring, and pull within four at 29-25, Roselle scored 8 of the next 12 points for a 37-29 lead with 14 minutes left. The Rams then increased the lead to nine before the Crusaders struck for a three pointer to close the gap to 40-34 with 12:31 to play. On its next possession, Roselle drew a foul, and made one of two from the line for a 41-34 lead with 12:04 to go, but Johnson came back down to score a layup while being fouled for a traditional three point play anda 41-37 Roselle lead at the 11:31 mark.
The Crusaders clawed within three at 43-40 with less than nine minutes to go before Roselle got a layup at the 8:13 mark, and called for time with a 45-40 lead. Following the timeout, Johnson Regional got set up in their frontcourt, by the Rams stole the ball, and went in for a breakaway layup at the 7:47 mark. Roselle added two more transition layups for a 51-40 lead with 7:04 to play.
From there, Roselle tried continuing to pull away. Over the next 4:23, the Running Rams did what they did best, and ran. Roselle outscored Johnson by a 10-8 margin to take a 61-48 lead with 2:41 remaining. However, the Crusaders didn’t quit. With Roselle shooting 4 of 14 from the line in the final two and a half minutes, Johnson Regional rallied with a 10-0 tear to draw within 61-58 with 43.8 seconds to go. However, the Crusaders weren’t able to draw any closer as Roselle came away with the 65-61 victory.
With the victory the Rams improved to 11-1 on the summer, and will face fifth seeded J.P. Stevens in the semifinals on Friday at 6:30 PM. Johnson Regional finishes the summer at 4-8.
SOUTH AMBOY, NJ–For the first time in over two weeks, GMC Hoops traveled over to South Amboy Middle/High School to take in some action from the 2011 Raritan Bay Summer League. There were four games on the night including a finale from the High School Division between Merrill Park and Jersey Shore. The Monmouth County team used a 16-2 tear in the first half to turn a 15-11 deficit into a 27-17 lead, and hung on from there for the 49-40 victory.
First Half Tear Propels Jersey Shore Past Merrill Park, 49-40
The final contest of the night on Wednesday at the Raritan Bay Summer League was a contest from the rugged High School Division between Merrill Park and Jersey Shore.
Merrill Park jumped out to a 10-7 lead only to have Jersey Shore score four of the next five points to tie the game at 11-11 midway through the first half. The Mustangs then scored four unanswered points to take a 15-11 lead before Jersey Shore responded with a 16-2 tear over a seven minute or so stretch of the half for a 27-17 lead.
The Mustangs scored the last three points of the half to narrow the gap to seven at 27-20 going into the intermission. Merrill Park continued to chip away at the lead with an 8-6 run over the first 2:11 to pull within 33-28 at the 17:49 mark. The Woodbridge Township team got as close as four points at 35-31 with less than 12 minutes to go.
However, Jersey Shore pulled away again with six straight points over a span of nearly four minutes including a layup and a foul at the 8:14 mark, and despite missing the bonus free throw, it led 41-31. Merrill Park then got a bucket with 8:09 left, but the Monmouth County team got a layup, and then a steal for another layup with 7:51 left for a 45-33 lead before the Mustangs got a basket that compelled Jersey Shore to call for time with 7:25 to play, and a 45-35 lead.
Despite seeming like a team in disarray during the timeout, Merrill Park continued to hang in there with a transition layup at the 6:10 mark to pull within single digits at 45-37. However, Jersey Shore responded with a solid possession that led to a layup, and a 47-37 lead with just under five minutes to play. Jersey Shore added to that with a steal that resulted in a layup attempt that drew a foul, and one of two from the line for a 48-37 lead with 3:32 left.
With a double digit lead, and time on its side, Jersey Shore spread the floor, and took some time off the clock, but missed a layup with two and a half minutes to play. The Mustangs got the rebound, pushed the ball down the floor, and scored a layup while being fouled for a three point play with 2:04 left, and a 48-40 Jersey Shore lead.
Needing to stop the clock, Merrill Park fouled to foul for nearly 40 seconds as Jersey Shore spread the floor, dribbled and passed the ball around before losing the ball out of bounds with 1:21 left. The Mustangs weren’t able to take advantage though as Jersey Shore swiped a couple steals, and drew a foul with 50.3 seconds left.
Despite missing both free throws, Jersey Shore got the offensive rebound, and drew another foul with 47.3 seconds left and made one of two from the line for a 49-40 lead. After an injury timeout with 32.4 seconds left, Jersey Shore ran out the clock for the nine point win.