Falcons and Trojans Looking to Rekindle Rivalry in January 2020
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ—With St. Thomas Aquinas slated to play St. Joseph’s at Kean University on January 5, 2020 in what will hopefully be the first of many games to come, below is a history of notable past match-ups between the two schools dating back to 1981.
1981—St. Thomas Aquinas defeated St. Joseph’s—Non-Public A South State Tournament—Last Aquinas Playoff win before defeating Donovan Catholic in opening round of the 2019 Non-Public A South Playoffs back on February 26th (75-48).
1982—St. Thomas Aquinas 49—St. Joseph’s 47—MCT Championship. Led by the likes of Don Lubreski, sixth seeded Trojans handed fifth seeded Falcons the first of what would be three straight MCT Final defeats.
1991—St. Joseph’s defeats St. Thomas Aquinas—GMCT Semifinals. Top seeded Falcons down fourth seeded Trojans to reach Championship Game, but then fell to 3rd seeded Piscataway, 33-29 in title game.
1992—St. Thomas Aquinas 61—St. Joseph’s 47—Led by the likes of Greg Fowler, Anthony Rosa, Darren Nicholas, and Gerard Wilson, the top seeded Trojans defeated the second seeded Falcons to earn its 2nd and last MCT/GMCT title. Both were against Joes (2-0). Aquinas defeated four GMC Red Schools at the time: 16th seeded Edison, 8th seeded East Brunswick, 4th seeded Piscataway, and 2nd seeded Joes to claim the title.
1993—St. Joseph’s over St. Thomas Aquinas—Sparked by the three point shooting of Mike DeRockkis, the 3rd seeded Falcons extracted a form of revenge over the 6th seeded Trojans in the 1993 GMCT Quarterfinals, and spoiled the tourney debut of long time Aquinas head coach, Dennis O’Keefe. St. Joseph’s would go on to defeat 7th seeded Piscataway in the semifinals, and then win its first ever MCT/GMCT by outlasting 4th seeded South Brunswick in overtime (57-54) after the Vikings stunned top seeded Perth Amboy in the other semi.
1994—St. Thomas Aquinas over St. Joseph’s—After DeRockkis left Joes following a mid-season loss to Perth Amboy, the defending GMCT champs took a nose dive that was capped by a preliminary round 1994 GMCT loss at home to the Trojans.
2002—St. Joseph’s over St. Thomas Aquinas—After losing to Colonia in the 2001 GMCT Championship, the 11th seeded Falcons spent a year rebuilding, but managed to defeat a 22nd Aquinas team that had played its final year in the GMCT White in a preliminary round game. St. Joe’s would lose to 6th seeded Sayreville led by the likes of former Bombers head coach, John Wojcik, and current New Brunswick coach, Samir Sanu in the 2002 GMCT Round of 16.
2005—St. Joseph’s 52—St. Thomas Aquinas 48—In Dave Turco’s first season at the helm, the Falcons, led by the likes of Sean Baptiste and Kenny Widgeon, squared off against Aquinas in the Championship Game of the 2005 Roselle Catholic Tournament after Joes defeated Curtis of Staten Island (57-56) in the opening round while the Trojans edged the host school Lions (46-44). In the title game, the Falcons defeated the Trojans, 52-48.
2008—St. Joseph’s 62—St. Thomas Aquinas 59 OT—-The 6th seeded Falcons led by the likes of sophomore Steve Rennard and junior Nikko Vastola won a thriller over its neighborhood rival that had defeated eventual champion, Cardinal McCarrick in the first week of the regular season at McCarrick. The 3rd seeded Trojans were led by the likes of Billy Rooney, Mike Williamson, Kevin Uszenski, Derek Figueredo, and Martese Street. The Falcons eventually reached the GMCT Finals for the first time under Dave Turco before losing to top seeded McCarrick.
2013—St. Joseph’s 68—St. Thomas Aquinas 39—After losing the GMC Red title to top seeded East Brunswick, St. Joseph’s began to turn things around in the Bernoskie Games at Rahway High School against De’Andre Bembry led Patrick School. Wade Baldwin scored 20 of his game high 30 points in the 4th quarter and Marques Townes chipped in with 15 as Karl Anthony Towns set out for precautionary measures, but the Falcons would lose to the Celtics (72-65). The game got the Falcons going just in time to make a memorable GMCT run that began with a 68-39 win over 15th seeded Ahr in the Round of 16. Joes then rolled past 7th seeded Spotswood as the big three of Towns, Baldwin, and Townes turned in a memorable dunking display, and dominated 11th seed Old Bridge in the semis before knocking off EB in the greatest GMCT final ever, 66-63 in 2 OT.
2016—St. Joseph’s 72—St. Thomas Aquinas 17—In the last meeting between these two neighborhood rivals, the top seeded Falcons, led by Tyus Battle (27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks), Alanzo Frink (16 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks) and Bree Tyree (10 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, and a block), jumped out to a 14-1 first quarter lead, and then built that up to a 42-8 advantage at the half before cruising to the 55 point win. This game marked the final appearance of long time Aquinas head coach, Dennis O’Keefe, who stepped down after the 2015-16 season. Joes would go on to reclaim the GMCT Championship by defeating 2nd seeded South Brunswick (56-48) after being dethroned the year before by Colonia.
Since 1981, St. Joseph’s is 7-4 against St. Thomas Aquinas including wins in the last five meetings. Dave Turco was 4-0 against Aquinas in his career at Joes. Dennis O’Keefe was 1-6 against St. Joseph’s in his career at Aquinas. From 1983 to earlier this year, St. Thomas Aquinas had been known as Bishop Ahr.