Early Run By Experienced Falcons Proves To Be Difference For Three Peat
PISCATAWAY, NJ–Making its fifth straight appearance in the GMCT Championship, the Falcons of St. Joseph’s had players on its roster taking part in its third straight final. Â Having more experience proved to be key especially early on when nerves and adrenaline levels sometimes take control. Â St. Joe’s played like the poised and veteran team that it is in these situations while North Brunswick’s talent couldn’t overcome its lack of big game exposure.
The Falcons jumped out to an 18-5 lead by late in the opening quarter, and was able to withstand several runs by a resilient Raiders squad that couldn’t get the game down to a single possession as St. Joe’s won 70-65. Â It was one of the highest scoring GMCT finals of all time. Â Led by the double-double performance of 24 points and 12 rebounds by tournament MVP, Quenton DeCosey, the Falcons were in control from start to finish. Â Freshman Karl Towns also contributed with 15 points and 12 boards as well as several blocked shots. Â Towns also opened the game with a thunderous dunk that established the Falcons right away.
St. Joseph’s had a solid team effort from their starting five, which played the entire game again. Â The Falcons starters played each minute of the quarterfinal win over Monroe. Â Danny Brix scored 12 points while Jimbo Long added 11 points including a couple big threes, and Karim Awad contributed with 8 points including several gliding drives to the basket for layups. Â Dion Rogers and Iverson Fleming each had 23 points in a losing cause for North Brunswick, which rallied in the second quarter to pull within five at the intermission.
The Falcons opened the second half with a score by Jimbo Long and then an unconventional four point play by Towns, who was fouled on a three point attempt for a 31-20 lead. Â St. Joe’s continued to lead comfortably until Rogers knocked in a three, and the Raiders got a free throw to pull within five again at 40-35. Â The top seed opened the fourth with another good run by scoring the first six points of the frame including a bucket by Towns and two free throws from DeCosey to lead 52-39 with under six minutes to go. Â North Brunswick continued to battle to get within single digits, but couldn’t get close enough to tie or take the lead.
North Brunswick had the tempo in their favor for the most part although St. Joe’s still did quite well in the open court, especially with the ball in DeCosey’s hands. Â Both teams had some difficulty scoring early on as shots wouldn’t fall, but the top seeded Falcons were the first to settle in, and that made the difference. Â For St. Joe’s, it was the sixth GMCT title all time. Â The Falcons never won an MCT appearance, and actually at one time was 0-6 in MCT/GMCT title games. Â Friday’s final was the 18th title game appearance for the Falcons, which was the first team since the 1972-76 Perth Amboy Panthers to make five straight MCT/GMCT finals appearances, and the 1983-85 St. Peter’s Cardinals to win three straight titles.
Meanwhile, the Raiders were making their first finals appearance since 1997 when they defeated St. Joe’s in that year’s final. Â The following year, North Brunswick had made its last GMCT Final Four appearance before this season when it lost to St. Joseph’s. Â NBTHS had its 18 game winning streak broken while St. Joe’s won its 24th straight.