Tournament Begins on Saturday with 7 Play-In Round Games
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ—Today is Play-In Round Saturday in the 2020 Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament as tourney play gets underway. All 31 schools in the GMC are competing this year including Calvary Christian, which did not play in the 2019 GMCT, and will be playing in the tourney for the very first time.
As a result, there will be 7 games played today in the 2020 GMCT Boys Play-In Round. J.P. Stevens, the 18th seed, Middlesex, the 19th seed, and 20th seed Timothy Christian are playing today. Last year, the 18th seed, which was Woodbridge, got a bye to the preliminary round, where it defeated 15th seeded Spotswood.
Middlesex and Timothy Christian played in the Play-In round last year. The Blue Jays, which were also the 19th seed a year ago, defeated 30th seeded Wardlaw in the 2019 GMCT Play-In Round before losing to 14th seeded East Brunswick in the Preliminary Round. Timothy Christian, which was the 28th seed, lost to 21st seeded Piscataway Tech.
This year, 19th seeded Middlesex hosts 30th seeded Calvary Christian while the 20th seeded Tigers will again square up against Piscataway Tech with the Raiders being the 29th seed. This will be the fourth meeting between TCS and P-Way Tech. Piscataway Tech won the first meeting in the consolation round of the Roselle Park Tournament while Timothy Christian won the two regular season meetings.
Another rematch on the schedule in today’s GMCT Boys Play-In Round will be later in the afternoon when 22nd seeded Sayreville hosts 27th seeded South River. The Bombers and Rams squared off at the Friends of South Amboy Benefit Showcase during opening weekend on December 21st, and Sayreville won comfortably.
The other five games feature teams that are playing each other for the first time this season. Of the 14 teams that are playing today, 9 of them competed in the 2019 GMCT Play-In Round a year ago: East Brunswick Tech, Highland Park, Metuchen, Middlesex, Perth Amboy Tech, Piscataway Tech, Sayreville, South Amboy, and Timothy Christian. Let’s take a look at the 2020 GMCT Play-In Round on Saturday:
2020 GMCT Play-In Round Schedule
- #30 Calvary Christian @ #19 Middlesex, 10:00 AM
- #29 South Amboy @ #21 J.F. Kennedy, 10:00 AM
- #31 Highland Park @ #18 J.P. Stevens, 11:00 AM
- #26 East Brunswick Tech @ #23 Metuchen, 12:00 AM
- #29 Piscataway Tech @ #20 Timothy Christian, 1:00 PM
- #25 Perth Amboy Tech @ #24 Woodbridge, 4:00 PM
- #27 South River @ #22 Sayreville, 5:30 PM
NOTE: Please verify with your coach and/or your AD for the exact start times.
Now with the schedule out of the way, we can take a brief closer look at each of the play-in round games today.
2020 GMCT Play-In Round Capsules
#31 Highland Park (2-19) @ #18 J.P. Stevens (3-19)—GMC Hoops believes this is the first time that the Hawks and Owls, birds of a different feather, have played each other in the GMCT since the 2003 GMCT Preliminary Round when the 17th seeded Hawks traveled to 16th Highland Park, and defeated the Owls, 54-46. Both teams are rebuilding, but the Hawks are further along despite losing much of their roster a year ago. Highland Park is generating a lot of buzz though about their team, and have a decent JV team, which hosts Piscataway in the play-in round of the 2020 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament, and a Middle School program that had a solid year as well. Stevens has been much more competitive than its record indicates including a five point loss to Somerville, the 2nd seed in Central Jersey Group 3, and an overtime loss to Old Bridge. JPS also defeated 12th seeded Monroe and 13th seeded Piscataway in regular season play. Prediction: J.P. Stevens wins.
#30 Calvary Christian (8-15) @ #19 Middlesex (11-10)—This is only the 2nd time in the last four seasons that these two teams are playing each other. The last time was on January 30, 2016 when Calvary Christian was not yet in the GMC. Middlesex won that game, 37-27. Both teams have common opponents in Metuchen and Perth Amboy Tech. Middlesex split with Metuchen including a 65-42 victory over the Bulldogs at home on January 27th. Calvary was swept by Perth Amboy Tech including a recent 63-57 loss to the Patriots on January 24th while Middlesex rolled past Amboy Tech in a GMC crossover on January 21st (63-35). Calvary also lost to Metuchen in another GMC crossover the day before on Martin Luther King Day, January 20th (63-37) In Metuchen. Prediction: Middlesex wins.
#29 Piscataway Tech (7-15) @ #20 Timothy Christian (14-6)—These two teams are more than quite familiar with each other. Not only because they are GMC Gold Division rivals, but in this particular year, the Tigers and Raiders will be playing each other for the fourth time. As mentioned earlier, the two schools happened to play each other the first time during an unscheduled game in the consolation round of the 2019 Roselle Park Holiday Hoopfest. Piscataway Tech won the game to put Timothy Christian at 0-3 on the young season. Since then, the Tigers have roared back with 14 victories in their last 17 games including the two regular season match-ups with P-Way Tech. The last time these two schools played, GMC Hoops was in attendance and TCS big man, Abdul Momoh, who played at Piscataway Tech last year, was in the lineup after sitting out the first 30 days of the season due to NJSIAA transfer rules. Prediction: Timothy Christian wins.
#28 South Amboy (6-15) @ #21 J.F. Kennedy (9-11)—This is the first time that these two schools are playing each other since February 23, 2015 when the Mustangs defeated the Guvs (65-45) in a state tourney tune-up game. The last time before that was during the 2007-08 season when South Amboy defeated JFK in South Amboy en route to its first and only GMC Gold Championship, a GMCT Elite Eight berth, and an opening round state tourney win over Metuchen. Both teams are coming off recent wins with South Amboy defeating East Brunswick Tech (73-45) on Wednesday night in South Amboy while Kennedy downed New Providence in a non-conference tilt on Thursday night. South Amboy, which started the year 2-0, has won 3 of its last 5 including two straight after losing 13 of 14. Kennedy, on the other hand, is nearing the end of its rebuild process, and has more than doubled its win total from a year ago, and could have its first double digit win season since the 2016-17 campaign. While these two teams have not played each other, or any common opponents this season, Kennedy defeated Sayreville twice including a 65-62 win at the Bomb Shelter on Tuesday night. Sayreville rolled past South River (61-42) in the Friends of South Amboy Benefit Showcase on December 21st, and South River edged South Amboy (36-33) in the consolation game of the Keansburg Holiday Tournament or GMC-Shore Challenge on December 28th. Prediction: J.F. Kennedy wins.
#27 South River (2-22) @ #22 Sayreville (7-16)—As mentioned a couple times previously in this preview, these two teams played each other already once this season. Sayreville defeated South River on opening weekend, 61-42 at the 2019 Friends of South Amboy Benefit Showcase. These two teams last played each other before that a year earlier in the 2018 Friends of South Amboy Benefit Showcase with South River edging Sayreville (56-52) en route to its highest seed in a very long time in the 2019 GMCT at No. 13. The Rams and Bombers are also rebuilding. Ironically, Sayreville was the 22nd seed in last year’s GMCT, won its Play-In round game over Highland Park and then knocked off 11th seeded Edison in the Preliminary Round to reach the Round of 16 before losing at 6th seeded Carteret to finish up at 6-18 overall including a 4-8 mark in the GMC White. The Bombers are further along in the rebuilding process even though they have a new head coach in Tom Passafaro. South River also has a new head coach in Brandon Walsh, but lost its entire starting five from a season ago including 2,000 point scorer Derrick Whitaker and teammate Joey Nigro, who are both playing at FDU-Florham, and Zac Rafano, who is playing at Curry College up in New England. Prediction: Sayreville wins.
#26 East Brunswick Tech (7-13) @ #23 Metuchen (6-14)—This is the first time that these two schools have played each other since the 2016 GMCT Play-In Round when East Brunswick Tech defeated Metuchen (51-43) at EB Tech. The Tigers wound up losing to Monroe in the 2016 GMCT Preliminary, and finished up at 17-9 after falling to Johnson Regional in the opening round of the 2016 NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 State Tournament. The Tigers are probably having their best season since that year, and finished 6-10 in the GMC Gold for a 5th Place finish. Meanwhile, Metuchen, has had some tough luck this season including a buzzer beater loss in overtime to South Plainfield at the Dawg Pound. Metuchen does have a quality win over Middlesex from earlier in the season, and are much better than their record may indicate. The Tigers and Bulldogs played a common opponent in Calvary Christian, which split with EB Tech, but lost handily to Metuchen on Martin Luther King Day, January 20th (63-37). Prediction: Metuchen wins.
#25 Perth Amboy Tech (12-10) @ #24 Woodbridge (3-19)—Both of these teams showed promise a year ago, and into the off-season, but were hit by the losses of key transfers. Amboy Tech, which showed great potential coming into this season by reaching the semifinals of the playoffs at the 2019 Rahway Summer League, lost forward, Kelvin Maria, who transferred to Perth Amboy across town prior to the season, and more recently, Brandon Castro, who also transferred to Amboy. Meanwhile, Woodbridge, which appeared to be a Pre-Season Top Ten squad at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, lost two transfers as well in Kyree Henry, who transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas, and Elijah Lane, who left to go to Sayreville. However, each team still has talented players with the Patriots of PAVT still having dynamic point guard, Felix Romero, and shooting guard, Chris Gomez, who can fill it up from the perimeter. Woodbridge has talented junior forward Daniel Boating along with sophomore Edin Olevic, who leads a sophomore class that was 20-2 a year ago as freshman including a win over Linden, and defeated Edison to win the 2019 Perth Amboy/GMC Tourney Freshmen Championship. Both teams played a common opponent in Middlesex. The Barrons lost to the Jays, 58-52 in Middlesex on February 5th while the Patriots lost to MHS, 63-35 on January 21st in Middlesex. Prediction: Woodbridge wins.
GMC Hoops plans to cover at least a little bit of all 7 GMCT Play-In Round Games on Saturday.