2017 GMCT Quarterfinals Preview

On Sunday, February 19, 2017, Super Sunday in the Greater Middlesex Conference takes place with the GMCT Elite Eight playing at New Brunswick High School. There will be four games this year with the first game starting at 12:00 PM, followed by the second contest at 2:00 PM, then the third quarterfinal will be at 4:00 PM, and the nightcap will be at 6:00 PM.

For previous round results and scheduling for the semifinals and championship rounds, see details on the GMC Hoops GMCT Results and Upcoming Schedule page. For all the links to other tourney info such as history, brackets, and content from this year’s action, check out the GMCT link under the History menu on the home page at https://www.gmchoops.com. If you would like to skip all the preliminaries, click here to scroll down and take a look at the updated brackets and outlooks on all four games.

The first two rounds of the 2017 GMCT were mostly all chalk with one upset. Monroe, the 22nd seed in this year’s tournament pulled off a surprise in the Preliminary Round by knocking off North Brunswick. The Raiders were upset in this round for the second straight year after losing to 30th seeded New Brunswick in the Preliminary Round a year ago. The GMCT Play-In round went chalk as all of the higher seeds advanced including four from the GMC Blue. The First Round or Round of 16 saw only one upset as 10th seeded J.F. Kennedy knocked off 7th seeded Bishop Ahr.

This year’s GMCT Elite Eight consists of top seeded St. Joseph’s, 2nd seeded South Brunswick, 3rd seeded Sayreville, 4th seeded Woodbridge, 5th seeded Old Bridge, 6th seeded Carteret, 9th seeded Piscataway, and 10th seeded J.F. Kennedy. After having no party crashes last year, the GMCT Elite Eight has the likes of 9th seeded Piscataway and 10th seeded Kennedy joining the fray. St. Joe’s has been the top seed in the GMCT for each of the past six seasons. The Falcons, which are the defending champion after winning last year over South Brunswick at Kean University, has won the title in five of the last 6 years in a row, is looking to return to the winner’s circle this year while second seeded South Brunswick is looking to go a step further this year, and third seeded Sayreville was the pre-season number one.

St. Joseph’s has had a season that has defied expectations. Although the Falcons had their 56 game regular season winning streak in the GMC Red snapped in a double overtime loss to Old Bridge on February 7th (62-59), they have only lost once in the GMC so far this year. St. Joe’s has also gone an unblemished 8-0 in non-conference games including two wins over Lakewood, and victories over Ewing, Neptune (in overtime), Bayonne, Christ the King, Westfield and Seton Hall Prep. The Falcons feature a roster with four freshmen and two sophomores. Two of the freshmen, Tyree Taganeca-Ford and Richard Greaves are in the starting five. Only one starter from last year returned in Letrell West, but he has put up MVP like numbers, and he is arguably the most improved player in the conference this year. West, who is averaging 34 points per game over his last three games, has 898 career points. Malachi Walker has gotten increased playing time this year, and has blossomed while Mike Granda has been a steady force at the point. Another freshman, Zach Martini has also come off the bench to play well in spots. Meanwhile, St. Joseph’s is making its 11th straight quarterfinals appearance. The Falcons are looking to win their 7th GMCT Championship in the past 8 years, and 10th overall.

South Brunswick, the second seed, lost several key players from last years team including standout, Eric Savage, who is playing well at the college level for Tufts University. Others lost to graduation were Jaier Garrett, Sean Nally, Isaiah Franklin, and Danesh Thirukumaran. Nevertheless, the Vikings had plenty returning including 1,000 point scorer, Mike Ugarte and fellow teammate Ryan Moran as well as a plethora of talent coming up from the JV level, where they reached the finals of the East Brunswick/GMC JV Tourney in each of the past two seasons. Those players include: Tavian Alford, Chris James, Greg Lee, Vic Huetz, Kunal Thakral, and Anthony Blakey. The Vikings are looking to reach the semifinals for the second straight year, and have reached the quarterfinals for the 5th time in the last 7 years. SBHS has reached the GMCT Championship twice in 1993 and last year. Both times, the Vikings lost to St. Joseph’s (57-54 in overtime in 1993) and (56-48 in 2016).

Sayreville, led by Ryan O’Leary, Xavier Townes, and Jahsim Floyd, is making its fifth straight appearance in the GMCT Elite Eight and its sixth in the past eight years. The Bombers were the pre-season number one by GMC Hoops with eight players returning from last year. Townes transferred in from St. Joseph’s while Zac Kaczmarek, the top JV player from a year ago, moved up to varsity. Piscataway, the 9th seed, is making its first GMCT Elite Eight appearance since reaching the this round in 2012. The Chiefs are led by the likes of Mattias Arrindell, Jordan Davidson, Cameron Saintil, Keshawn Grant, Dahjuan Bennerman, and D’Ondre Dent. Piscataway has reached the GMCT Elite Eight 12 times since 1999, and played in 10 MCT/GMCT Finals all time, winning 7 titles.

J.F. Kennedy is making its first appearance in the GMCT Quarterfinals since 2011 when it lost to then Blue Division rival, Bishop Ahr. The Mustangs are the only double digit team in the quarterfinals this year. Picked to finish last in the GMC White by GMC Hoops, the Mustangs got off to a 1-7 start before winning 9 of their last 11 games to finish tied for third in the White Division, and then won its first two GMCT games including a 63-49 upset of 7th seeded Bishop Ahr. The Trojans had defeated JFK, 60-34 back on January 21st. Kennedy is led by the likes of Pete Obertan, Bendji Pierre, Kobie Wells, Tamaj Coleman, Carlton Sears, Kyle Heaney, and David Morales.

Woodbridge is making its fifth straight GMCT Elite Eight appearance under the direction of head coach, Matt Gigliello. The Barrons are looking to reach the semifinals for the second straight year, and for the third time since 2013. The Barrons finished tied for first in the GMC White with Sayreville, but lost both head to head match-ups against the Bombers. As a result, Woodbridge got the 4th seed in the tournament. A year ago, the Barrons were the fifth seed so they will be playing in the 4-5 game for the second straight year. The Barrons are led by the likes of Keshaun Henry, Quassim Glover, Quran Robinson, Harry Rutkowski, Hura Blaine, Kemari Persol, Curtis Nesbit, and Kesean Glover.

Old Bridge is making its 3rd trip to the GMCT in the last five years. This is the 8th time since 2002 that the Knights are playing on Super Sunday. Despite losing the likes of 1,000 point scorer, Connor Romano (Ramapo) and Stephen Strom (Rutgers-Newark) to graduation, the Knights have fared a bit better this season by earning the fifth seed. OBHS is led by Kyle Parris, who has tallied 852 career points. The Knights also have the likes of fellow seniors Will Osvald, Brandon Milling, and Rich Calandrino along with underclassmen Julius Belton and Jared Meyer rounding out the starting lineup.

Carteret returns to the GMCT Elite Eight after not being in it last year. Two years ago, the Ramblers fielded one of their best teams in a while only to lose to eventual champion, Colonia. The Ramblers defied expectations a bit by winning the GMC Blue, and posting an 18-6 overall record that included crossover wins over North Brunswick, Perth Amboy Tech, and Monroe in the GMCT Round of 16. Carteret, the lone representative from the GMC Blue in the GMCT Elite Eight this year, is making its 7th quarterfinals appearance since 2000, and looking to reach the semifinals for the first time since winning it all in 2002. The Ramblers are led by the likes of Jemar Jordan, Isaiah Daniels-Porter, Kahir Raymond, Nasseir Moore, Jalen Harris, Judah Pascal, Angelo Golino, and Zemar Brake.

So far in this tournament, the Red and White Divisions have dominated. Seven teams are either from the GMC Red or the GMC White. The Red Division has four teams in the Elite Eight with St. Joseph’s, South Brunswick, Old Bridge, and Piscataway. The White Division has Sayreville, Woodbridge, and J.F. Kennedy. Carteret is the lone representative for the GMC Blue while all the Gold Division teams have been eliminated.

Division records in crossover games in this tournament so far, the Red is 7-0, the White is 4-3, the Blue is 5-5, and the Gold is 0-7. As a result, the Red Division (22-9) has surged into first place, with the Blue Division (24-20) still hanging tough in the latest GMC Hoops Conference Cup Standings.

St. Joseph’s, the defending champion, has gotten this far in the tournament 18 times in the last 21 seasons. The Falcons have reached the Elite Eight in 11 of the 12 years Dave Turco has coached at the school. East Brunswick did not make the GMCT Quarterfinals for the first time since 2010. The Bears had reached the Quarterfinals in 9 of the previous 11 years.

Three of the four match-ups feature teams that have not played each other yet this season. Only St. Joseph’s and Piscataway have played each other previously this season with the Falcons winning both times including a 70-48 victory on December 20th, and a 62-53 win on January 19th. Carteret and Sayreville played each other in the 2000 GMCT Championship won by the Bombers for their only conference title. Old Bridge and Woodbridge were rivals in the GMC Red back in 2000, 2001, and 2002 when GMC Hoops was in its infancy. J.F. Kennedy and South Brunswick were rivals in the GMC White many years ago.

Through last year, the GMC Red won 17 GMCT crowns while the White Division has won 9, and the Blue Division has won 5. No gold division team has ever gotten farther than the quarterfinals.

Before we get started though, let’s take a look at what has happened in the tournament already by viewing the following:

2017 GMCT Boys Play-In Round bracket at:

2017 GMCT Boys Championship bracket at:

Now, let’s take a look at the 2017 GMCT Boys Elite Eight Match-Ups:

Sunday’s Matchup #1
GMCT Elite Eight Quadrupleheader–Game #1
#6 Carteret (18-6) vs. #3 Sayreville (18-6)
New Brunswick High School
Sunday at 12:00 PM
Listen Live
Sunday’s Matchup #2
GMCT Elite Eight Quadrupleheader–Game #2
#10 J.F. Kennedy (10-9) vs. #2 South Brunswick (20-3)
New Brunswick High School
Sunday at 2:00 PM
Listen Live
Sunday’s Matchup #3
GMCT Elite Eight Quadrupleheader–Game #3
#5 Old Bridge (16-7) at #4 Woodbridge (17-4)
New Brunswick High School
Sunday at 4:00 PM
Listen Live
Sunday’s Matchup #4
GMCT Elite Eight Quadrupleheader–Game #4
#9 Piscataway (13-8) at #1 St. Joseph’s (22-1)
New Brunswick High School
Sunday at 6:00 PM
Listen Live

#6 Carteret (18-6) vs. #3 Sayreville (18-6)–The last time that these two teams played each other in the GMCT Quarterfinals was in 2002 when the Ramblers defeated the Bombers.

Back then, current St. Joseph’s head coach, Dave Turco was at the helm in Carteret, and current Sayreville coach, John Wojcik was in the Bombers program. Carteret went on to win its last GMCT crown that season by defeating New Brunswick in the semifinals and Colonia in the Championship at South Brunswick.

These two teams also met a couple years earlier in the GMCT Championship Game with Sayreville defeating Carteret for its only conference crown. This year, the Bombers came in as the pre-season number one, but then lost on opening night to North Brunswick in a thrilling double-overtime game.

Since then, the Bombers have been lingering around in the GMC Hoops Top Five, and within the past several weeks moved into the second spot although the GMCT Seeding Committee awarded South Brunswick with the second seed for the second straight year.

Sayreville had a talented squad returning with the likes of Ryan O’Leary, Jahsim Floyd, Hendersen Mautes, Elijah Clark, Ope Olaloko, Derek Astarita, and Mike Gray all returning from last year’s team. In addition, the Bombers got Xavier Townes to transfer in from St. Joseph’s while Zac Kaczmarek moved up from the JV, where he was team MVP a year ago.

Despite losing two games to North Brunswick and J.F. Kennedy on its division schedule, Sayreville still managed to winning a share of the GMC White by defeating nemesis Woodbridge twice head to head. The Barrons had defeated the Bombers twice in three meetings last year including the 2016 GMCT Elite Eight.

Carteret emerged from the field in the GMC Blue as the division winner thanks to a fast start while pre-season favorite, Bishop Ahr got off to a 1-5 start. The Trojans rallied to pull within a game after defeating the Ramblers head to head back on January 27th in North Edison, but then Ahr was knocked off by neighborhood rival, South Plainfield, which essentially gave Carteret the division title.

The Ramblers return to the GMCT Elite Eight for the first time in two years, and have reached this point under head coach, Herman “Mugsy” White for the third time since 2013. Carteret moved into the GMC Hoops Top Ten after week one, and have stayed there ever since. The Ramblers are led by the likes of Jemar Jordan, Isaiah Daniels-Porter, Kahir Raymond, Nasseir Moore, Jalen Harris, Judah Pascal, Angelo Golino, James Hart, and Zemar Brake.

Both of these teams played common opponents in Woodbridge (Carteret lost to the Barrons on January 30th, 65-57 in Woodbridge while Sayreville swept the Barrons), Bishop Ahr (Carteret split with the Trojans while Sayreville defeated Ahr 70-64 in the Friends of South Amboy Benefit Showcase on December 17th), and North Brunswick (Carteret defeated the Raiders on January 20th 52-44 while Sayreville split with NBTHS).

Both of these teams have veteran squads that have a good deal of depth. Sayreville may have an edge in overall size with Xavier Townes at the point against the likes of Kahir Raymond, and Ryan O’Leary at the swing in addition to Jahsim Floyd, Elijah Clark, and Ope Olaloko. Carteret does have good interior players with Jemar Jordan, Isaiah Daniels-Porter, and Judah Pascal. The Ramblers will need big performances from both Jordan and Daniels-Porter to have a shot.

Elijah Clark and Nasseir Moore are X-factors for Sayreville and Carteret. Clark hit the game winning shot against Woodbridge the second time the two teams played at Woodbridge High School on February 3rd while Moore hit a game winner to defeat Hillside at the Eric LeGrand Classic on January 15th. Jalen Harris of Carteret doesn’t score much, but has a tendency to hit big shots at the right time.

Olaloko may be called upon for the Bombers in this contest. Floyd, who suffered a concussion in the win at Woodbridge a little over two weeks ago, has not been in the lineup since. So, his status is still up in the air coming into today’s game. While Olaloko gives up some size and length, he makes up for it with strength and athleticism.

Prediction: Sayreville wins, 68-59. Carteret will give a battle and will go all the way until the end, but the Bombers will pull away.

#10 J.F. Kennedy (10-9) vs. #2 South Brunswick (20-3)–This is a match-up between teams that have had two entirely different seasons. J.F. Kennedy began the year at 1-7 before winning 9 of their last 11 games including a 63-49 victory over Bishop Ahr in the GMCT Round of 16 on Thursday night.

The Mustangs, which were picked to finish last in the GMC White by GMC Hoops has defied expectations with a third place tie with North Brunswick, a team they defeated twice during the regular season. JFK began the season with a loss to last place New Brunswick, but then scored a huge upset at mid-season by knocking off Sayreville on January 19th in Iselin.

Ironically, Kennedy lost to Bishop Ahr on January 21st by a score of 60-34 in North Edison. One of only two losses during its last 11 games. The other loss came in its last regular season division game at Edison, another team that has been hot as of late. The Mustangs, which played in the GMC Blue and finished in second place a year ago, has a veteran squad.

J.F. Kennedy is led by the likes of Pete Obertan, Bendji PIerre, Kobie Wells, Tamaj Coleman, David Morales, Kyle Heaney, and Rohan Chakke. The Mustangs are making their first appearance in the GMCT Elite Eight since 2011 when they lost to Bishop Ahr. They haven’t played South Brunswick in a number of years. In the early years of the GMC, both the Mustangs and the Vikings were rivals in the GMC White.

South Brunswick comes in with a 20-3 record with the three losses coming to only two teams, St. Joseph’s (twice including a 56-53 loss at SBHS on January 12th and a 64-52 defeat at Maglio Gymnasium on February 4th) and Piscataway (lost to the Chiefs on January 3rd in South Brunswick, 58-50).

For the second straight year, the Vikings are the second seed after reaching the GMCT Championship last year (lost to St. Joseph’s 56-48 at Kean University). The Vikes are led by 1,000 point scorer, Mike Ugarte, who accomplished the feat last Monday in a non-conference game against New Egypt. Another returning starter from last year is sharpshooter, Ryan Moran.

The Vikings have a lot of veterans. Most of the team is made up of seniors with many of them coming up from a JV program that reached the Championship Game of the East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament the past two years, and won the title two years ago. Those players include: Tavian Alford, Chris James, Greg Lee, Kunal Thakral, Vic Huetz, and Anthony Blakey.

Kennedy like Ahr will give South Brunswick some trouble because the Vikings aren’t that big and the Mustangs have good size and length on the interior with Obertan and Pierre. The problem Kennedy will have is with the Vikings perimeter game. South Brunswick will spread you out, and knock down the three. Against Piscataway on January 26th, the Vikes had several different players made at least one three pointer, and connected on 16 made threes.

Bishop Ahr presented a similar problem to Kennedy on Thursday in the GMCT Round of 16 with the likes of Alex Santiago, Matt Panganiban, and Alex Guketlov, but the Trojans couldn’t get the shots to fall from long range, and only made three in the contest as Santiago was limited to just 9 points. Players to watch out for as X-Factors in this contest are Chris James of South Brunswick and Kobie Wells of JFK.

James has the ability to be very explosive on offense and score in bunches. Trailing St. Joseph’s, 36-21 on January 12th, South Brunswick rallied with a 28-8 surge led by James who struck for three treys in a 20-4 third quarter. Meanwhile, Wells scored 18 points in the win over Ahr on Thursday, which was huge since Obertan didn’t score his first points until the 6:34 mark of the third, and Pierre picked up his second foul early in the second after scoring 7 points in the first quarter.

Tavian Alford of South Brunswick and Tamaj Coleman of Kennedy are also players to watch. Alford is the second leading scorer on the very balanced scoring Vikings squad, and can attack the basket as well as shoot the three. Meanwhile, Coleman is lightning quick and can be a great playmaker as well as hit the occasional three.

Prediction: South Brunswick wins, 60-53 after getting a strong challenge from a Kennedy team playing with a lot of confidence and momentum.

#5 Old Bridge (16-7) vs. #4 Woodbridge (17-4)–These two teams were old rivals in the GMC Red back in the early days of GMC Hoops before the Barrons moved down to the White Division, where they have stayed since the 2002-03 season.

Old Bridge had a good argument for the 4th seed thanks to its double-overtime victory at St. Joseph’s (62-59) on February 7th as well as a victory over Bishop Ahr on January 7th (55-37) in Old Bridge. However, the Barrons overall record and body of work as well as a nice crossover win against Carteret on January 30th gave them the nod for the 4th seed.

The Knights lost several key players from last year’s team including 1,000 point scorer, Connor Romano (Ramapo), Stephen Strom (Rutgers-Newark), Zach Attianese (plays baseball at University of North Carolina), and C.J. Santoro, but have still managed to exceed last year’s success (OB was the 7th seed a year ago and finished fourth in the GMC Red) with a third place finish in the Red Division, and the GMCT’s fifth seed.

Leading the way for Old Bridge is forward Kyle Parris, who has 852 career points. Parris can score inside and out as well as jump out of the gym for highlight reel dunks. He is supported by fellow seniors Brandon Milling, Rich Calandrino and Will Osvald, who both provide scoring punch from the perimeter. Julius Belton, a talented sophomore, runs the point while Jared Meyer is another underclassmen, who provides some pop from the outside.

Meanwhile, Woodbridge is back in the 4-5 game after defeating Sayreville a year ago as the 5th seed in the 2016 GMCT Elite Eight. The Barrons, like their White Division rival, Sayreville, returned a ton of talent from last year’s team and added some youngsters from their sub-varsity programs. Woodbridge finished tied for first with Sayreville in the White Division with a 10-2 mark, but the Barrons lost both head to head meetings with the Bombers, and thus, ended up with the fourth seed.

The Barrons are led by the likes of Keshaun Henry (840 career points), Quassim Glover (805 career points), Harry Rutkowski (577 points), Quran Robinson (513 points), and Hura Blaine. Woodbridge also has the likes of Kemari Persol, Curtis Nesbit, Trajon Pritchard, and Kesean Glover as part of the supporting cast. WHS has a balanced scoring attack, but Henry scored 32 points in the first meeting with Sayreville on January 12th.

Woodbridge has managed to only lose to one team in the GMC (Sayreville) this season. The other two losses came against a very good Scotch Plains team on short rest in the Eric LeGrand Classic at Kean University on January 15th (54-47) and to a Toms River North team that was 14-1 at the time in the Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout at Central Regional on January 21st (61-57). By the way, Scotch Plains is 6-0 versus GMC teams this year (defeated Edison, South Plainfield, J.P. Stevens twice, New Brunswick, and Woodbridge).

One key match-up in this contest will be at the point between Belton and Henry. Henry has more experience and more size with his football build, he was a running back and quarterback for the Barrons during football season. How Belton does against Henry will be critical for Old Bridge’s success. Another key will be how Woodbridge defends against Parris.

Teams such as East Brunswick, Ocean Township, and J.P. Stevens have managed to bottle up Parris very well with good help defense and packing it in on the interior. In the game against Stevens on February 2nd in North Edison, Parris was all out of sorts thanks to the Hawks stout defense led by Javon Scott and Rishav Ghosh. Parris even struggled at the foul line by going 2 of 5.

However, Woodbridge has been very successful defensively with its zone presses and traps. Against J.F. Kennedy on January 5th, the Barrons turned a 22-20 first quarter deficit into an 83-42 rout with a 63-20 surge over the final three periods inspired by its pressure defense. Nine days later, Woodbridge pulled away from a 52-51 lead against Immaculata with a 12-0 spurt over the final several minutes at the Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout at Montgomery HS.

An X-Factor in this game will be Glover, who has been mostly out of the lineup since injuring a quad earlier in a pre-season scrimmage. Glover did manage to return for the second Sayreville game, and had 11 points while scoring 10 points in another game. A healthy Glover at full strength will be a huge weapon that could lift the Barrons not only into the semifinals, but also into the Championship Game.

Prediction: Old Bridge wins in a thriller, 65-64. Knights defeating St. Joseph’s gives them momentum to carry into the semifinals.

#9 Piscataway (13-8) vs. #1 St. Joseph’s (22-1)–This is the only game of the four that is a rematch of two teams from the regular season. The Falcons played P-Way twice as part of the Red Division regular season schedule, and won twice: 70-48 on December 20th in Piscataway, and 62-53 in Metuchen on January 19th.

The Chiefs last two losses in the GMCT have come at the hands of Red Division rivals. In its last appearance five years ago, 11th seeded Piscataway, which upset 6th seeded Carteret in the First Round (63-60) lost to 3rd seeded East Brunswick in the 2012 Quarterfinals (69-56). The year before, P-Way, which was the 2011 GMCT’s top seed, lost to second seeded St. Joseph’s in the Championship (51-43).

Piscataway has had some ups and downs this season, but it has mostly experienced the upside with a 13-8 record including a 8-6 mark in the GMC Red for a fourth place finish. The Chiefs began the year at 1-3 after losses to St. Joe’s (70-48), Old Bridge (54-52), and Ramsey (49-47) in the Morris Knolls Holiday Tournament. Then, P-Way won seven straight including a victory at South Brunswick (58-50) to climb to third in the GMC Hoops Top Ten at 8-3.

P-Way then crashed with four losses in five games including a defeat to South Brunswick (80-70) on January 26th, and crossover loss to Bishop Ahr (72-64) on January 30th in P-Way. The ninth seeded Chiefs got back on track though with 4 wins in their last 5 including a 93-53 rout of 24th seeded Spotswood in the GMCT Preliminary Round, and a 68-41 win over 8th seeded Perth Amboy Tech in the Round of 16.

The Chiefs are led by D’Ondre Dent (499 career points), who scored 20 points in the victory over Perth Amboy Tech. Dent is supported by the likes of Mattias Arrindell, Jordan Davidson, Dahjuan Bennerman, Keshawn Grant, and Cameron Saintil. They also have the likes of Matt Dread and sophomore Tyree Barba-Bey coming off the bench.

Piscataway will have its hands full against a St. Joseph’s team that has surprised many including GMC Hoops this season. The top ranked and top seeded Falcons have already matched last year’s win total of 22 with much less talent and experience. St. Joseph’s has only lost one game the whole year, and that was to Old Bridge in double-overtime on February 7th, but it still managed to win the GMC Red for the fourth straight year.

The Falcons have managed to do this with a roster that consists of four freshmen and two sophomores. Two of the freshmen: Tyree Taganeca-Ford and Richard Greaves, are in the starting five while forward Zach Martini comes off the bench. St. Joseph’s has also played quite a tough non-conference schedule, and has managed to go 8-0 outside of the GMC.

Leading the way for the Falcons this year is Letrell West, who is just two points shy of 900 for his career, and the way he has been scoring lately, he may get 1,000 points by the end of the tournament. Over the last three games, West has averaged 34 points per game including 34 in the victory over Edison in the GMCT First Round on Thursday night.

Another senior that has stepped up is forward/center, Malachi Walker. A reserve on last year’s team that didn’t get much playing time behind GMC Hoops Sophomore of the Year, Alanzo Frink, Walker has blossomed with more playing time this year after Frink transferred to Roselle Catholic during the off-season. Walker started to make strides at the Linden Summer League, and then really came into his own during the fall at the Immaculata Fall League.

Next to Sayreville’s Jahsim Floyd, Walker is the best shot blocker in the GMC. Another reserve from last year’s team that has stepped up to play well at the point guard spot is Mike Granda. He has been a great floor general while also providing some scoring and rebounding. Granda can knock down the clutch three, and he’s just about automatic at the foul line.

St. Joseph’s will need to come out strong against a Piscataway team that will be looking to get a win in the third meeting between these two schools. The Falcons struggled against an Edison team that has recently gotten hot in the GMCT Round of 16. The Falcons can’t afford to start off slow against P-Way since the Chiefs are tough on defense, and like to get out and run off of its defense.

The Falcons will need to get back on defense, and make P-Way work in the halfcourt, where they have a tendency to struggle. X-Factor for P-Way could be the likes of Dahjuan Bennerman, Tyree Barba-Bey, or Robert Terry with their perimeter shooting while Tyree Taganeca-Ford and Richard Greaves are young, but aren’t afraid to step up and make big plays in key spots for the Falcons.

Prediction: St. Joseph’s wins, 60-55. The Falcons should win this, but expect the Chiefs, riding some recent momentum, to push the top seed to the limit