SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–After the trip to South Amboy for the final round of 2009 South Amboy Tournament, GMC Hoops headed back to its hometown and South Planfield High School to see the consolation and championship games of the first annual Anthony J. Cotoia Tournament. The SPHS Tigers were playing J.P. Stevens in the consolation while Perth Amboy was taking on Hamilton West in the championship.
South Plainfield Wins Consolation Over Stevens, 39-27
For the second time in less than a week, the Tigers and Hawks got entangled in a low scoring battle. The Tigers took a 20-9 lead at halftime, and then got three treys from junior guard, Bryant Rosario to highlight a 13-8 third quarter run for a 33-17 lead. Stevens then closed out the frame with a three pointer, and started the fourth with another score on a steal for a layup to close the gap to eleven at 33-22 with 3:53 to play. However, JPS couldn’t get any closer as the Tigers went on a 6-2 burst over the next 2:23 to take a 39-24 lead.
Owolo Benjamin led the Tigers with 10 points while Rosario added 9 and Malcolm Austin chipped in with 6 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Rickie Barnett led the Hawks with 7 points while Marvin Crawford chipped in with 6. Barnett and Mike Le made the All Tournament team for Stevens while Carlos Ruiz and Troy McNair made it for SPHS. South Plainfield, which defeated Stevens on the road last week, improved its record back to .500 at 2-2 while JPS remains winless at 0-5.
Hornets Sting Panthers For Championship, 38-32
In the Championship, Perth Amboy got off to a fast start thanks to a Victor Verdecia (9 points) jumper at the 6:13 mark, and a Wancel Arias (7 points) layup at the 4:08 mark for a 6-2 lead. However, Hamilton West scored six straight points over the next minute to take an 8-6 lead, and then closed out the opening period with six of the last eight points including a baseline jumper at the 1:55 mark and a layup in the waning moments of the quarter for a 14-8 lead.
The second started off positively for the Panthers as they scored the first four points including another layup by Arias before A.J. Adams (game high 20 points) made one of two from the line for a 15-12 Hamilton lead at the 6:15 mark. The Hornets then closed the half with an 8-4 run including a score down low by Adams and a jumper by Simon Lapointe (4 points) for a 23-16 lead at the intermission. The defenses stiffened even more in the third as both teams combined for just 13 points in the period as Amboy got the lion’s share with a 7-6 edge.
After Perth Amboy called a 30 second timeout to avoid a turnover at the 7:13 mark, Verdecia made one of two from the line at the 7:02 mark followed by a steal for a fast break layup 51 seconds later for a 23-19 Hamilton lead. Following a Hornets timeout at the 6:11 mark, the team from Mercer County scored two of the next three points before Chael Hernandez forced a five second call at the 4:40 mark. The Panthers had opportunities to get closer, but was out of sync all game on offense. The team struggled from three, and then Hernandez went 0 of 2 from the line at the 3:15 mark. Verdecia got the offensive rebound, but missed on the follow.
Hamilton West then scored on a fast break layup, which prompted Amboy head coach, Edwin Santana to call a timeout with 2:51 to go in the third. The Hornets would then go up by nine before the Panthers got a three pointer by freshman Hamilton Capellan (5 points) to close out the third period scoring for a 29-23 Hamilton lead heading into the fourth. In the final period, Hamilton West got the first three points of the frame to go back up by nine only to have the Panthers respond with a 9-3 run to close the gap to three. Unfortunately, Perth Amboy couldn’t make the big shot down the stretch as it was held scoreless over the final 2:10.
The Hornets got a layup from Adams and made one of two from the line to open the fourth period scoring, and take a 32-23 lead at the 6:43 mark. Kearny Canela (3 points), who struggled all night from the perimeter, netted his only three of the game at the 6:30 mark to pull his team within six. After a couple free throws by Adams made the score 34-26 at the 5:43 mark, Verdecia netted two from the charity stripe himself to make the score 34-28 at the 4:48 mark. Following another Hornets free throw, Capellan got his final points of the game on a floater that banked in for a 35-30 Hamilton lead wth exactly four minutes left.
Amboy scrapped and scrambled to get back into the game, but missed chances. The Panthers still managed to get within three on a steal by Verdecia in the Hamilton backcourt that he converted into a layup for a 35-32 score at the 2:10 mark. Perth Amboy had a chance to tie on a few occasions including one after getting the arrow on a jump ball, but after a timeout with 1:44 left, the Panthers were unable to score. Adams, who made the All Tournament Team along with Arias and Capellan, closed out the win with two free throws with 28 seconds left as Hamilton went on to win 38-32.
With the victory, the Hornets, which defeated J.P. Stevens in the first round (57-44), improved to 3-1 while Perth Amboy, which opened the season with an upset win at home over sixth ranked Piscataway, has dropped three of its last four, and is now 2-3 overall. Video highlights from these games are forthcoming.
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