NEPTUNE, NJ–On Wednesday night, GMC Hoops traveled down to the Hoop Group Headquarters for the second time this summer to see the fourth night of action in the summer league there. Spotswood, the lone GMC team in the league this year, was playing in the 8:30 PM round of games against Monmouth Regional. The Chargers were looking to play much better this time than they did last Wednesday night against the Bulldogs of Rumson Fair-Haven. With the help of a solid effort from soon to be junior, Tommy Soulias, Spotswood was much more competitive to a team that was far more talented, taller, and athletic.
Monmouth Regional Defeats A Game Spotswood Despite Efforts From Soulias
The Chargers were looking to play much more respectably in this day’s contest against Monmouth Regional. They had a much more formidable task in front of them to accomplish that since the Golden Falcons had a squad that lost to eventual champion, Lakewood, at home in the quarterfinal round of the very tough Central Jersey Group III state tournament this year. Monmouth Regional went 17-7 overall this past season including a 9-3 record in the Shore Conference’s Class B North division, which was good enough for second place behind Freehold Boro. In 2008-09, the Golden Falcons finished 26-4 overall including a 12-2 mark for first place in Class B North of the Shore Conference. Again, Monmouth Regional came up short of a sectional title when it was defeated in the 2009 CJ Group III semifinals by Princeton. Neptune eventually won the bracket, and advanced to the Tournament of Champions, where it lost to Lenape in the opening round.
It looked very grim early on for Spotswood. Again, its opponent got off to a very fast start with a 15-3 effort over the first 7:16. However, bolstered by the efforts of Soulias, the Chargers got back into the contest, and hung around until the very end in a 56-49 defeat. Spotswood actually got as close as 49-46 with a minute to go, but Monmouth Regional pulled away with seven of the last ten points for the seven point victory. Soulias turned in a monster effort with 32 points on 10 of 24 shooting including 5 of 13 from three. A number of those treys were from well beyond the arc as well. Soulias was also a perfect 7 of 7 from the line, grabbed three rebounds, handed out two assists, and drew a charge. The rest of the Spotswood squad struggled as it went only 6 of 21 including 0 of 4 from three, and 5 of 8 from the charity stripe.
For the game, the Golden Falcons were 21 of 35 from the floor for 67 percent, but only took five three point attempts, and made one of them. Monmouth Regional also had its struggles from the foul line by going only 13 of 26. Spotswood, on the other hand, 16 of 45 from the floor including 5 of 17 from beyond the arc, and went 12 of 15 from the foul line. Rebounding was even at 25-25, and the Chargers actually had more offensive rebounds (12-8). Assists were even as well (11-11), but the Falcons had the edge in steals (9-6) and blocks (3-1). Spotswood got the edge in charges (1-0). A key stat though was turnovers. Spotswood committed 17 turnovers, which led to 18 points for Monmouth Regional. The Golden Falcons got out of the gate fast with the first six points over the initial 2:57 before Soulias connected on a trifecta from deep on the left wing for a 6-3 score at the 17:03 mark of the first half.
Monmouth Regional, which connected on four of its first five shots, made a three pointer, and netted three of four from the charity stripe for a 12-3 lead before Spotswood called for time to avoid a turnover at the 14:21 mark. Following the timeout, neither team scored for the next 1:37 before the Falcons converted a three point play for a 15-3 lead at the 12:44 mark. On the verge of being blown out for the second straight week, Spotswood showed some fortitude with a 5-0 run over the next 2:44 including a three by Soulias, and two foul shots by forward, Ike Ejikeme (3 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block). The Chargers went for wholesale substitutions at this point, and Monmouth Regional took advantage with a 4-0 run over the next 4:15 before Soulias quelled the burst with two free throws at the 5:45 mark for a 19-10 Golden Falcons lead.
The Chargers ended the half with an 11-7 run including a three from the top of the key by Soulias for a 26-21 Monmouth Regional edge at the intermission. Spotswood went only 7 of 24 from the floor in the first half including 3 of 10 from long distance, and netted a perfect 4 of 4 from the line while Monmouth Regional was 10 of 19 from the floor including a three pointer in three attempts. The Falcons also had 12 points off of Charger turnovers. The only bad mark on Monmouth Regional’s first half was a 5 of 10 performance at the free throw line. Soulias made 5 of 13 shots from the floor including 3 of 7 from long range while making both his free throw attempts for 15 points, or 71 percent of the team’s offense. The rest of the Chargers were only 2 of 11 from the field in the first half.
In the second half, Spotswood shot better, and kept hanging around. The Chargers were 9 of 21 from the floor, but only 2 of 7 from downtown. Spotswood did made 8 of 11 shots from the foul line, and kept turnovers down, which made things more difficult for Monmouth Regional to score. The Golden Falcons only had six points off of turnovers in the second half. Over the first 5:05 of the second half, the Chargers chipped away at the deficit with a 6-4 run including two free throws and a layup by Soulias and an offensive rebound and follow by Jamal Lewis (3 points, 3 rebounds, an assist, and a steal) for a 30-27 Monmouth Regional lead with just under 15 minutes to go in the game. The Falcons would score the next five points before Spotswood would get a traditional three point play from Soulias to close the gap to 35-30 with twelve minutes to go.
Monmouth Regional would score the next basket for a 37-30 lead, but the Chargers fought back again with five unanswered points including a another three from the left wing by Soulias at the 8:10 mark for a 37-35 Falcons lead. Monmouth would strike back with a feed to their big man for a slam dunk as he was fouled for a conventional three point play, and a 40-35 lead with 7:40 left. Again, Spotswood pecked away at the deficit with a 6-4 run over the next 4:02 including a three from the right wing by Soulias for a 44-41 Monmouth Regional lead at the 3:38 mark. Both teams scored three points each over the next 2:16 including one of two from the line by Spotswood’s Steve Manahan (5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals) for a 47-44 Golden Falcons lead.
The team from Tinton Falls went back up by five at the 1:12 mark despite a missed dunk by their big man, but Soulias replied with two free throws at the one minute mark for a 49-46 score. Spotswood was unable to get any closer though as the Golden Falcons scored seven of the last ten points of the contest to come away with the 56-49 victory.
GMC Hoops plans to be back out on Monday night to see the Chargers face off against the Patriots of Freehold Township.