As I sit in in my bed trapped indoors by nature’s dandruff, it has come to my attention that with todays slate of games wiped out and the GMCT seeding meeting tomorrow, the regular season in essence is over. And I must say that in all my years playing in and following the GMC, this has been the most volatile and unpredictable regular season I have seen. Nobody is safe, not even St. Joes, who’s double OT loss to Old Bridge, which snapped a 61 game winning streak against Red Division opponents, was the icing on the cake to this crazy year.
So where do I begin? I’ll start with this: Calling the GMC Hoops Game of the Week has been a blessing for me. Every game I have seen this year has only increased my love for this conference and my respect for those who play and coach in it. I would like to thank everyone who has tuned in this year, and I hope that you continue to tune in for our coverage of the GMC Tournament and the State Tournament. If it is anything like the regular season, it is sure to be wild.
And now for some superlatives. Keep in mind that none of this is final, for unlike the pro and college leagues we in the high school realm like to count postseason play in the final awards. You know, because it’s kinda important. Lets start with the hardest one….
UPSET OF THE YEAR
Where to even start? There has been an abundance of upsets this year. To name a few, there is Piscataway over South Brunswick, Perth Amboy over East Brunswick, East Brunswick over Old Bridge, Stevens over Old Bridge, Spotswood over Bishop Ahr, South Plainfield over Bishop Ahr, Monroe over Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy over Carteret, and Colonia over North Brunswick to name a few.
The three contenders for this prize are Kennedy over Sayreville, North Brunswick over Sayreville, and Old Bridge over St. Joes. The Kennedy one was shocking, but did come against a shorthanded Bombers team. The Old Bridge game was shocking as well, but this St. Joes team is not as untouchable as some in the past, and Old Bridge has been playing well of late. Which leads to our winner, the opening night stunner with the Raider Birds taking down the #1 Bombers in double OT. The hype coming into that game played a big role, as we just expected Sayreville to roll over their White Division competition from the get go. But thats why they play the games.
CRAZIEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR: METUCHEN AND BISHOP AHR BRAWL
Oh boy. Brawls like this don’t happen every day, which makes this one special. This was made even crazier with the referees ejecting all the wrong players from the game. Also considered: Edison’s 15 point comeback with 2 minutes left vs Stevens.
TOUGHEST OUT: J.P. STEVENS
The voters last year who voted for the GMC coach of the year reportedly all gave themselves several concussions before casting their votes for anyone not named Bobby Jones. This year, with a very young team, he and the Hawks have managed to take St. Joes, South Brunswick, East Brunswick, and Piscataway to their limits. This was capped off by a victory over Old Bridge, in typical hard nosed Stevens fashion by the score of 32-29. Postseason teams need to strap in their boots before playing the Hawks.
COACH OF THE YEAR: DAVE TURCO
A couple of undeniable facts:
1. This season is the best coaching job Dave Turco has done in his career.
2. Other than Phil Colicchio, he is the best coach in New Jersey.
He took a team with basically zero varsity experience and two freshmen in the starting lineup and turned in a 19-0 start and another #1 ranking. He took a senior with 56 points in his career and turned him into a force. Nobody can say anymore that he is a product of his players. He has already been cemented as possibly the greatest GMC coach ever, and this only helps the cause. And speaking of which…..
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: LETRELL WEST, ST. JOES
Before the Falcons’ opening game against East Brunswick, Dave Turco told me that West could be a 1000 point scorer. While that number is impossible, it is quite clear what he was talking about. It is a testament to sticking it out even when minutes are slim. West has been dominant on all ends this season, and made this choice very easy.
ALL GMC FIRST TEAM
(FYI these are in no particular order, unlike some other outlets)
Letrell West, St. Joes
Mike Ugarte, South Brunswick
Ryan O’Leary, Sayreville
Kyle Parris, Old Bridge
Jahsim Floyd, Sayreville
Keshaun Henry, Woodbridge
Alex Santiago, Bishop Ahr
Xavier Townes, Sayreville
Isaiah Daniels-Porter, Carteret
Malachi Walker, St. Joes
Richard Greaves, St. Joes
D’Ondre Dent, Piscataway
Derrick Whitaker, South River
Harry Rutkowski, Woodbridge
Deonte Crawford, Bishop Ahr
MOCK GMCT SEEDING
1. St Joes
Get well soon Jahsim.
3. South Brunswick
5. Old Bridge
This is one issue that I have had with the committee over the years: They focus too much on good wins over teams ahead of a team and not enough on the whole body of work. Old Bridge obviously has the best wins over Joes and Bishop Ahr, but Woodbridge has been more consistent this year. This will likely not matter, since these teams seem destined to meet on Super Sunday anyway, but this is just my preference.
The Ramblers are boosted by the strength of Bishop Ahr.
7. Bishop Ahr
8. Perth Amboy Tech
10. East Brunswick
12. North Brunswick
Here is another qualm I have with the committee: Obviously head to head is important, but it is not the be all end all. Yes, North Brunswick beat East Brunswick this year. If the Raider Birds had finished ahead of Kennedy this year, they would be #10. But alas, that didn’t happen. The Bears have a better resume than Kennedy, so they should get the spot.
13. South Plainfield
14. J.P. Stevens
Yet another issue: Not enough emphasis is put on actually winning games. The Tigers have been more consistent, but Stevens has the better wins. The overall resume for me gives it to the Tigers.
15. Perth Amboy
16. Timothy Christian
20. South River
21. New Brunswick
25. Piscataway Tech
26. Highland Park
27. South Amboy
30. East Brunswick Tech
Fairly straightforward from here on out. Middlesex gets the 17 over Edison with the wins rule. Metuchen over Monroe for the same reason. The committee will in all likelihood come up with something completely different, but who’s to know. One thing’s for sure, we should expect the unexpected.