UNION–On Friday, GMC Hoops took in a whole bunch of games from both the afternoon and evening sessions of the second Kean Ironman Challenge this summer at Harwood Arena on the main campus of Kean University. The first one took place the previous Saturday, July 10th. Both Ironman Challenges had their share of GMC teams competing. In the first one, East Brunswick, Middlesex, New Brunswick, North Brunswick all took part while in the second one, Middlesex, Monroe, Perth Amboy, and St. Joseph’s competed.
The site arrived late in the first session as Perth Amboy played Pope John of Sparta in a consolation game. Afterwards, Middlesex took on Fort Lee in the consolation bracket championship (fifth place) while Monroe battled North Hunterdon for the title of the winners bracket. Pope John, which was beaten decisively by Monroe in the semifinals, jumped out to a 14-5 lead thanks to the help of three point shooting, and went into the locker room with a 31-13 advantage over Amboy at halftime. In the second half, the Panthers tried to make a game of it with a 12-5 spurt over the first 6:53 of the period to pull within 36-25, but Pope John pulled away again for good with a 12-0 run that included a layup at the 10:39 mark, a three pointer, and a three point play for a 48-25 lead with 7:51 remaining.
Kearny Canela helped make things more respectable for Amboy by scoring 10 points over the final 5:25 including two three points, a conventional three point play, and one of two from the foul line, but Pope John still went on to win, 52-39 to gain third place in the event. Middlesex won fifth place over a bigger school in Fort Lee. The Blue Jays, led by John Santoro, jumped out to a 27-15 halftime lead, and held on for a 44-37 victory despite a 22-17 showing in the second half by Fort Lee. MHS ended the first half with a 14-3 spurt to break away from a tenuous 11-10 lead with 11:40 to go in the first half. Fort Lee opened the second half with a 12-6 spurt to close within six with 6:45 to play, but couldn’t get any closer.
In the championship, Monroe got off to a very good start, but North Hunterdon fought back to make it a game by halftime, and then jumped ahead in the second half for the six point victory. The Falcons, which were without the services of soon to be junior point guard, Ahmid Williams, were hurt by turnovers. The Purple Birds had 17 miscues on the game, and North Hunterdon converted ten of those for 20 points en route to the 60-54 win. For the game, Monroe shot very well going 21 of 39 overall for 54 percent including 5 of 14 from long distance for 36 percent. On the other side of the ledger, North Hunterdon went 21 of 46 overall for 46 percent including 5 of 13 from beyond the arc.
Another factor in the win was offensive rebounding as the Lions grabbed seven offensive boards versus five for Monroe, and converted four of those extra chances for eight points. Foul shooting was a key as well with North Hunterdon going 13 of 18 from the charity stripe while the Falcons were only 7 of 16. Soon to be senior Mike Walp led the charge in the losing effort for MTHS with 9 of 10 shooting from the floor, and 3 of 5 from the foul line for a team high 21 points along with 6 rebounds, and an assist. Soon to be junior, Ryan Genevieve provided a spark from the perimeter as he made 6 of 13 shots overall including 4 of 10 from three point range to chip in with 16 points while also collecting four assists, 3 rebounds, and a block. Danny Brix also contributed with 11 points, 4 assists, a steal, and a block.
Monroe made all of its first five shots from the floor to jump ahead 8-0, and eventually take a 16-5 lead on a three point play by Walp at the 13:57 mark. However, the Purple Birds came down to earth by only shooting 4 of 12 from the floor for the rest of the first half while the Lions rallied with a 22-9 showing to take a two point lead into the intermission. Genevive was 4 of 7 overall in the first half including 2 of 4 from three point range for a team high 10 points while Walp chipped in with 7. Although the Falcons shot well in the second half by going 12 of 22 from the floor, they turned the ball over ten times. Walp made all seven of his shots in the second half. Monroe actually took a seven point lead at 38-31 with 15:25 left after putting together a 13-4 spurt. Once again though, North Hunterdon rallied with a 14-7 spurt over the next 7:20 to tie things up at 45-45, and then broke away from a 49-49 tie with an 11-5 run to close out the game.
In the PM session of this second Ironman Challenge, St. Joe’s was the only GMC team that participated. Other squads involved were St. Anthony’s (not varsity), White Plains of New York, Ridge, Rutgers Prep, Point Pleasant Beach, Paterson Kennedy, and Bloomfield Tech. The Falcons got a solid performance by soon to be junior Quenton DeCosey, who shot much better from the floor than he did at the Hoop Group Elite Team Camp. In the two games that GMC Hoops took stats in (Bloomfield Tech in the opening round, and Point Pleasant Beach in the semifinals), DeCosey shot 19 of 31 from the floor for 61 percent including a blistering 8 of 11 from three point range. He also shot 8 of 11 from the charity stripe as he averaged 27 points per game over the two contests. He also pulled down an average of 10 rebounds per contest.
St. Joseph’s, which went 1-2 in the three games it played at Kean, was without the services of Kevin Mayce for most of the first two contests against Bloomfield Tech and Point Pleasant Beach. Jimbo Long and Nick Straughn did what they could do to contribute as Long put in a solid game in the 56-41 victory over Bloomfield Tech with 6 of 10 shooting from the floor including three of five from three point range, and 3 of 4 from the foul line for 18 points along with 4 rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block. Straughn played well in both games by going 3 of 7 from the floor, and 2 of 2 from the line for 8 points along with 5 rebounds, and 5 assists against Bloomfield Tech, and then 5 of 12 from the floor and one of two from the line against Point Beach for 11 points along with 3 assists, 2 steals, and a rebound.
As a team, St. Joe’s went 42 of 91 from the floor for 46 percent including 14 of 31 from long range for 45 percent in the two games against Bloomfield Tech and Point Pleasant Beach. The Green Birds also limited their opponents to 37 of 100 shooting overall including 14 of 36 from downtown. At the line, the Falcons shot 17 of 23 for 74 percent while their opponents went 19 of 22 for 86 percent. St. Joseph’s had 12 points off of opponent turnovers in these two games, and collected 13 second chance points while their foes had 16 points off Falcon turnovers, and 15 second chance points. Over the three games, St. Joe’s averaged 51 points per game while limiting their opponents to 49 points per contest. In the first contest, the Falcons went up against Bloomfield Tech, and after falling behind 23-22 at the half, they surged in the second with a 34-18 showing over the final 20 minutes for the 56-41 win.
St. Joe’s limited Bloomfield Tech to just 15 of 61 shooting overall from the floor while outrebounding the Spartans by a 38-30 margin. DeCosey led the Falcons with a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds along with 3 steals, 2 assists, and a block. Long chipped in with his 18 points while Straughn contributed with his eight. In the semifinals though, the Falcons ran into a red hot Garnet Gulls squad from Point Pleasant Beach. This Group I school from Ocean County, made 22 of 39 shots overall from the floor for 56 percent including a 10 of 17 showing from beyond the arc for a scorching 59 percent. The Gulls, which have played up all summer long by competing in the Linden Team Camp, Linden Summer League, Hoop Group Elite Team Camp and this Ironman Challenge, also went 12 of 14 from the foul line. The Falcons shot the ball well also by going 21 of 45 from the floor overall including 9 of 19 from downtown while making 9 of 13 from the charity stripe.
The edge in threes and free throws would be the difference. St. Joseph’s took a 10-7 lead at the 15:12 mark on a 7-0 run, but Point Pleasant Beach took the lead for good with a 9-2 run on three treys over the next 2:12 for a 16-12 score. The Gulls continued to blitz the Falcons as both teams tallied up the points in the first half. The two squads combined for 70 first half points as Point Beach took a 40-30 lead at the intermission. St. Joseph’s was only 11 of 27 from the floor while Point Pleasant Beach was 15 of 23 including 9 of 13 from long distance. DeCosey was the bright spot for the Green Birds as he went 7 of 9 from the floor including a perfect 5 of 5 from beyond the arc. However, the rest of the team struggled by going just 4 of 18 including one of nine from three. The Falcons shot better in the second half as they went 10 of 18 from the floor, but it wasn’t good enough as Point Beach hung on for the 66-60 victory.
In the third place game, St. Joe’s fell to White Plains of New York by a final score of 41-37. Even with DeCosey, Long, and Straughn on the bench for a good portion of the first half, the Falcons jumped out to a 6-0 lead, and withstood an early 9-4 spurt by White Plains to take a 25-19 lead at the intermission. However, White Plains went on an 11-2 tear early in the second half for a 30-27 lead, and hung on to win by the final score of 41-37. The Green Birds were only able to get within one at 30-29, but didn’t retake the lead, or tie over the final 12:21. The Falcons ended up finishing fourth out of the eight teams that competed. In other action, Bloomfield Tech defeated Paterson Kennedy in a consolation by a score of 58-53, and took on Rutgers Prep in the fifth place game. Kennedy lost to Point Beach in its opening round affair, 51-47.
Ridge wound up defeating Point Pleasant Beach in the championship by a 56-46 margin. The game was stopped with 24.7 seconds to go as the Garnet Gulls, which only played with five guys for the three games, couldn’t go on any more. Ridge, which won the Somerset County Tournament Championship, and reached the semifinals of the very tough North Jersey Section 2 Group IV State Tournament before bowing out for the second straight year to Plainfield, ended the contest on a 16-2 tear for the victory. The Devils got to the championship by defeating Rutgers Prep in the opening round (52-40), and knocking off White Plains of New York (34-31) in the semifinals before downing Point Beach. Over the three games, Ridge averaged 47 points per game, but only yielded 39 per contest. Even though RHS is moving into the more competitive Delaware East Division for 2010-11, they still have some good pieces returning in center Tom Gambino, guard Connor Skea, and J.D. Moore among others. St. Anthony’s didn’t bring their varsity squad to this event, and lost in the opening round to White Plains on a last second shot (52-50), and fell to Rutgers Prep (48-39) in a consolation game.
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