All Four Games at South Amboy Are Between GMC Schools
SOUTH AMBOY, NJ—Last month, GMC Hoops learned from Tom Reilly, that the 7th annual Friends of South Amboy Benefit Showcase will take place on opening weekend at South Amboy High School.
Proceeds from this year’s edition of the event will go to benefit Chris “Stretch” Szatkowski, who is fighting a battle with Stage 4 Cancer. The showcase began in December 2012 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated much of South Amboy as well as other coastal communities that make up the Jersey Shore.
The games, which will take place on Saturday, December 15th, will all involve teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference. The schedule for the day includes four games starting at 2:00 PM.
There will be one girls game followed by three boys games. Schools participating include: Bishop Ahr, Calvary Christian, Piscataway Tech, Sayreville, South Amboy, and South River. Below is the schedule for the showcase:
2018 Friends of South Amboy Benefit Showcase—Schedule
- 2:00 PM—Piscataway Tech vs. South Amboy (Girls)
- 4:00 PM—Piscataway Tech vs. South Amboy (Boys)
- 6:00 PM—Bishop Ahr vs. Calvary Christian (Boys)
- 8:00 PM—South River vs. Sayreville (Boys)
A Word About Each of the Games:
Piscataway Tech vs. South Amboy (Girls) @ 2:00 PM—Last year, the Piscataway Tech Girls Basketball team had perhaps its best year ever under the guidance of head coach, Rob Gardella, who starred at Colonia High School in 2004 and 2005, and was the winner of the three point shooting competition at the 2004 HawksBasketball Fall-Ball Classic All-Star Game his senior year.
The Lady Raiders finished 18-10 overall a year ago including a 13-0 mark for the GMC Girls Gold Division Championship. P-Way Tech lost to Middlesex in the 2018 GMCT Girls Round of 16, and advanced to the Central Jersey Group 1 Quarterfinals before falling to Shore Regional. Meanwhile, South Amboy finished 6-12 overall including a 6-6 mark in GMC Gold play. The Lady Guvs are 2-4 in the history of the showcase, but have won their game two out of the last three years.
Piscataway Tech vs. South Amboy (Boys) @ 4:00 PM—While the P-Way Tech Girls had a season to remember, the Raiders boys basketball team had a very successful campaign as well.
Under the guidance of former South Amboy head coach, Lenny Reyes, a 1,000 point scorer from J.F. Kennedy (1990) who led the Guvs to the 2014 GMCT Elite Eight as a 24th seed, the lowest ever to reach the quarterfinals, the Piscataway Tech Raiders finished 17-10 including a 2nd place finish in the GMC Gold with an 11-3 record.
P-Way Tech won the Roselle Park Holiday Tournament by defeating Hoboken Charter, and had a 1,000 point scorer in football (at Edison) and hoops standout, Branden Barnes. Meanwhile, South Amboy is looking to rebound after a 2-20 campaign in 2017-18.
The Guvs have a new coach in South Amboy native, Matt Wiater. South Amboy has yet to win a game in the history of the showcase, and have had their fair share of heartbreaking losses in the previous 6 years of the event.
Bishop Ahr vs. Calvary Christian (Boys) @ 6:00 PM—The Lions of Calvary Christian, which have won in each of its last two appearances in the Friends of South Amboy Benefit Showcase, is the newest member of the Greater Middlesex Conference, and will be a fine addition to the GMC Gold.
Located in Old Bridge, Calvary Christian finished 18-9 last season, and lost to Rutgers Prep in the opening round of the 2018 Non-Public B South State Tournament. Afterwards, the Lions participated in another post-season tourney, where they reached the Championship Game of the 2018 MERCS Tournament before losing to Cross Christian (58-56). Notable alumni from Calvary include: Zach Jackson (2015) and Jordan Koczman (2015), who both play for Cairn University in Langhorne PA, and Alex Schevchenko, who led the Lions last year, and now plays D2 hoops at Georgian Court University in Lakewood.
Meanwhile, Bishop Ahr reached the Quarterfinals of the 2018 GMCT Boys Tournament before falling to Old Bridge. The Trojans reached the GMCT Elite Eight for the first time since 2011 when they reached the semifinals. Ahr, which finished second in the GMC Blue in each of the past two seasons, finished 17-8 overall including a 10-2 mark in divisional play. Over the past two seasons, BGA has gone 31-20 under D.J. Griffin and Ron James, and former Monroe and Notre Dame head coach, Bob Turco becomes the 4th coach in as many years to take over Ahr’s boys hoops program.
Turco, who served as an assistant to his younger brother Dave at Carteret and South Brunswick, led Monroe to three GMCT Final Four Appearances (2006, 2009, and 2010) and a finals berth in 2010 in five years before moving on to Notre Dame, where he brought The Fighting Irish back into contention in Mercer County and Non-Public A South. Last season, Turco was on the coaching staff at Point Pleasant Beach, which won the Central Jersey Group 1 Championship before losing to Group 1 State Champion, Woodbury in the State Semifinals.
The Trojans have the likes of Quadry Adams and Marquis Billingsley returning this year along with the addition of new faces such as Jalen Jones (Mater Dei), Derrick Grant (Piscataway), Hassan Jackson (North Brunswick), and Omari Fleming (Patrick School) along with a talented sophomore class that won the 2018 Perth Amboy Freshmen Tourney Championship over Sayreville last season.
South River vs. Sayreville (Boys) @ 8:00 PM—This is a battle between old neighborhood rivals although the Rams and Bombers have not played each other much in recent years. Under the guidance of former Bomber standout, John Wojcik, Sayreville has won at least a share of the GMC White Division in 4 of the past 5 years, have earned 6 straight GMCT Elite Eight berths, two GMCT Final Four appearances, and a GMCT Championship Game appearance in 2017.
The Bombers went 16-9 a year ago including a 10-2 mark for a first place finish in the White Division despite losing all of its starting five from the year before. Sayreville is played in this showcase in each of the past three years, and has won all three times (3-0). Notable recent alumni from Sayreville include: Corey Taite (Playing D2 hoops at Golden Beacom), Jehyve Floyd (Playing at Holy Cross), Ryan O’Leary (Playing at Rider), Jahsim Floyd (Playing football at St. Francis University (PA)), Xavier Townes (Rutgers-Newark), and Bryant Webb (Played at Felician, LIU-Post, and Middlesex County College).
Meanwhile, South River returns a solid group that includes a senior class loaded with talent. Led by Derrick Whitaker (1,562 career points), the Rams qualified for the Central Jersey Group 2 State Tournament a year ago. In addition, South River won the Raritan Bay Holiday Tournament in South Amboy by winning its two games against Shore Conference foes, Keansburg and Henry Hudson. The Rams finished 17-10 overall including a 5-7 mark in the GMC Blue.
Coached by Rodney Harris, a former standout at South River himself, the Rams reached the semifinals of the Central Jersey Group 1 State Tournament twice in three years (2014 and 2016). South River has had a number of 1,000 point scorers under Harris including his son Tyler Harris (2013), Matt Martinez (2014), Sean Darrar (2015), and Whitaker. In addition to Whitaker, South River has the likes of Joey Nigro, Mike DeSantis, Zac Rafano, Jayvon Taylor, Silvio Cruz, and Zach Harris.
Over the summer, the Rams, which had several thrilling come from behind wins last year including victories at Metuchen and at home versus Piscataway Tech, competed in the Bound Brook Summer League, where it went undefeated and won the Championship by defeating Immaculata of Somerville. Sayreville, which has a talented sophomore class that lost in the Perth Amboy Freshmen Tourney Finals, competed in the Rahway Summer League and the East Brunswick Team Camp.
GMC Hoops plans to cover all four games in this year’s showcase. Follow along at https://www.facebook.com/GMCHoops, or on twitter @gmchoops.