Top Ranked Patriots To Take On Union County Power at Kean on January 19th
Chad Baker, senior forward for Colonia, elevates for a jumper in the 2nd half in the Patriots 58-30 GMC White Division win over Edison at Cangelosi Gym in Edison on December 18th.
UNION, NJ—On Tuesday afternoon, GMC Hoops learned that the top ranked Colonia Patriots will play Linden in the middle game of a tripleheader in the 2019 Investor Bank Basketball Classic on Saturday, January 19th at Kean University’s Harwood Arena.
Linden, which has been one of the top public school programs in the State of New Jersey over the past 20 years, currently is 6-3 overall on the season despite losing each of its last two games to defending NJSIAA TOC Champ, Roselle Catholic (82-44) and Group 2 State Champion, Haddonfield (49-37). The Tigers opened the season with a win over 3rd ranked Piscataway (53-45) and then won three straight in a holiday tournament in Maine.
Meanwhile, Colonia entered Tuesday night’s action with seven straight victories to open the season including a dominant 58-30 performance over Edison, the No. 9 team in the GMC Hoops Pre-Season Top Ten, a 49-41 win at home over pre-season No. 6 Carteret, and also won all three of its tournament games over the holidays in the LeGrand-Haley Jubilee in Colonia. The Patriots, which were within a last second shot of winning the 2018 GMCT, are led by Chad Baker, Luke Valeriano, and football standout, Chris Sica.
Entering play on Tuesday, Baker is averaging 16.1 points and 8 rebounds per game. Baker, an early contender for the 2019 GMC Hoops Player of the Year, has scored in double figures in 6 of Colonia’s first 7 games including three games of 20 points or more. In the victory over Edison, Baker and Valeriano did it all with 20 points each in the victory. Baker also had a double double as he grabbed 10 boards while throwing down two dunks.
Valeriano, who is leading Colonia with just under 19 points per game, also is averaging 1.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.3 steals per game according to NJ.com. In addition to his 20 points versus Edison, Valeriano, who played JV hoops for St. Joseph’s as a freshman, had a season high to date 31 points in the win over Carteret. Like Baker, Valeriano has scored in double figures in 6 of the Patriots first 7 games including three with 20 points or more.
Colonia will play Linden in the second game of the day at Kean, which will take place at 5:00 PM. Prior to that, Scotch Plains-Fanwood (2-5), a team that Colonia defeated on opening night (53-39) to end a 13 game winning streak against GMC teams by the Raiders, will face off against Ridge of the Skyland Conference and Somerset County, which is only 2-4 coming into play on Tuesday, but its second win came at 4th ranked J.P. Stevens in North Edison on Saturday (47-40) after the Hawks knocked off two time defending GMC champs, St. Joseph’s in OT on Thursday. The game between the Raiders and the Devils will start at 3:30 PM.
In the finale, New Providence, which is coached by the legendary Art Cattano, who recently won his 500th career game as head coach of the Pioneers boys basketball team, will take on Union Catholic at 7:00 PM. The Pioneers have started the season with a 7-1 record including a 60-44 victory over J.F. Kennedy on December 18th and an 87-64 win over Somerville on December 29th. Meanwhile, Union Catholic, which has become a solid team in Union County over the past several years, has also begun the season at 7-1 with wins over Manasquan (78-74), Pope John (68-58), Teaneck (78-72), and state powerhouse Hudson Catholic (58-49).