Carteret Grinds Out Hard Fought Win, 48-38

Carteret senior guard, Andre Diaz follows through on the first of two clutch second half threes to help lift the Ramblers to a hard fought, 48-38 victory over Metuchen in GMC Blue action from the Brainy Boro on Friday night.

Powell, Diaz, and Opara Lift Ramblers Past Metuchen

METUCHEN, NJ — The 2022-23 edition of the Greater Middlesex Conference’s Blue Division is a rather strange animal.  Don’t be fooled by some of the records you are seeing.  Especially those outside of division favorites South River and Spotswood.  Take the Carteret Ramblers for example.  Entering Friday night’s contest against Metuchen, the Ramblers had an overall record of just 1-9 including a 1-6 mark in the GMC Blue.

However, if you take a closer look at Carteret’s season so far, you will find that the Ramblers have not only played a fairly brutal schedule that includes the likes of state powerhouse Seton Hall Prep and GMC White contender, North Brunswick in addition to the South Rivers and Spotswoods of the world, but also lost three games by five points or less.  One of those games was a 62-59 loss versus Matawan over the holidays, where Carteret had a 14 point first half lead.

Similarly, Metuchen has not behaved as anticipated thus far this season.  Instead, the Bulldogs have defied expectations with a 5-4 overall mark including a 4-2 record in the GMC Blue.  Metuchen has two wins over bigger school J.F. Kennedy, and a 22 point road win over a Timothy Christian squad that recently upset Spotswood.  So go figure.

The figuring out of the GMC Blue peeled off another layer of complexity on Friday night when the Bulldogs hosted the Ramblers in the first annual Honor Conor game in tribute to former Bulldog Conor McCadden, who passed away prior to the start of the 2014-15 season after a valiant battle with cancer.

Both teams struggled offensively, especially in the first half, but each played a hard nosed style of defense that made the game competitive until the end.  Carteret would get the best of Metuchen in the end though.  Led by the scoring of Asi Powell, Andre Diaz, and big man, C.G. Opara, the Ramblers grabbed a 6-5 first quarter lead, extended it to four at the half, and then increased it to 11 early in the fourth before winning 48-38.

Powell, a junior guard, scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half.  Diaz netted two threes in the second half that extended the Ramblers lead to double digits, and Opara scored five of his 9 points in the final two periods.  Max Cohn led all scorers with a game high 17 points after scoring 13 of those points in the second half to keep the Bulldogs in it.  Teammate Ben Santus chipped in with 9 including eight in the first half.

Carteret outscored Metuchen by a margin of 18-9 from long distance, and 10-9 at the foul line.  Both teams scored 20 points from within the arc.  The Ramblers dealt with struggles at the foul line down the stretch to finish 10 of 23 at the charity stripe while the Bulldogs were 9 of 17.  Both teams had 17 team fouls with Metuchen getting the majority of them in the second half to force Carteret to the line.

The first quarter was a low scoring affair with both teams combining for just 11 total points.  Carteret held a slim 6-5 edge.  Powell, Diaz, and Opara each scored a bucket for the Ramblers while Cohn had a field goal and Santus swished a three from the left wing.  The second quarter saw more action as the two teams combined for 25 points which the Ramblers enjoying a 14-11 edge in the frame.

Powell led the charge for Carteret with 8 of his 10 first half points including both of his threes on the night.  Each of Powell’s triples came from the same spot in the left corner including the one at the 4:28 mark of the second for an 18-10 lead.  Metuchen fought back by scoring 6 of the last 8 points including a bucket by Santus, and then a steal for a last second jumper by Cohn to close the gap to 20-16 at the break.

The Ramblers then struck for three treys in the third to outscore the Bulldogs by a 16-12 margin for a 36-28 lead.  Diaz, football standout, Tyrece Parrott, and reserve Gerrell Crawley each knocked down a three in the frame.  Diaz’s three came in the final minute of the period to give Carteret its eight point advantage heading into the fourth.

Diaz then struck again from just about the same spot on the floor at the 4:56 mark of the fourth period to put the Ramblers up by double digits at 39-28.  Metuchen refused to go away though.  Instead, the Bulldogs scored 7 of the next 10 points including a bucket by Cohn and an and one by Marcus Malamug (6 points) to close the gap to 42-35 with 1:16 remaining.

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were unable to get any closer as Parrott and Abraham Lowman (5 points) combined to make 4 of 6 from the line down the stretch to seal the victory.  With the win, Carteret improves to 2-9 overall on the season including a 2-6 mark in the GMC Blue.  Meanwhile,  Metuchen falls to 5-5 overall including a 4-3 record in divisional play.

There will be no rest for the weary as Metuchen returns to the hardwood on Saturday morning for another home game.  This time, the Bulldogs will be hosting new GMC member, North Plainfield of the White Division in a crossover game.  Tip-off time is scheduled for 11:00 AM.  Carteret’s next game will be on Wednesday, January 18th when the Ramblers travel to Spotswood.