GMC Hoops Awards–Most Improved Team

South Brunswick Made Major Strides to Reach GMCT Final and CJ Group 4 Semis

South Brunswick Eric Savage puts up a three pointer in the second period against St. Joseph’s in the 2016 GMCT Championship at Kean University on February 25th. The Vikings lost to the Falcons, but still managed to improve to 22-5 this season to earn the GMC Hoops Most Improved Team Award.

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ–After experiencing a heartbreaking loss to Perth Amboy in the 2015 GMCT Quarterfinals, South Brunswick went to work in the off-season to make major improvements to its team in order to breakthrough into the elite class of the GMC in 2016. The talent was there. Despite losing the likes of Jack Engel, Terrence Wong, and Tyjuan Dugger, the Vikings had enough coming back to be more of a factor.

SBHS had the likes of veterans such as Eric Savage, Mike Ugarte, Jaier Garrett, Sean Nally, and Isiah Franklin returning along with a plethora of talent coming up from the JV level. Head coach Joe Hoehman, who recently earned the GMC Hoops Coach of the Year, put the Vikings through a rigorous offseason that included play in the Montgomery Team Camp, Odie Page Summer League in New Brunswick, the Moody Park Summer League in Ewing, the Summer Primetime Shootout at Trenton Catholic, and the Linden Fall League.

South Brunswick reached the Quarterfinals of the Moody Park Summer League, which consisted of solid teams such as Group 3 finalist and host school, Ewing, Trenton, Notre Dame, and this year’s CJ Group 2 Champion, Bordentown. The Vikings lost to the Scotties in the Quarterfinals, but despite having mostly reserves and talent from last year’s JV squad playing, SBHS battled Bordentown for the first 30 minutes of action before falling. At the Primetime Shootout, the Vikings lost their first two games against American History and Trenton, but ended up .500 after defeating Cherry Hill West and Neptune.

At Linden, South Brunswick played the likes of Old Bridge (twice) as well as Rutgers Prep, Johnson Regional, St. Peter’s of Staten Island, and Linden. GMC Hoops saw the Vikes play three times against Linden, Rutgers Prep, and Old Bridge. Each time, South Brunswick lost, but played competitively. All of this off-season work would pay off with the Vikings finishing with the best overall record in the GMC at 22-5, which was good enough to help them end up 2nd in the always tough GMC Red, reach the GMCT Championship for the first time since 1993, and make the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals for the first time since 2007.

The final record of 22-5, which was the best record since 2007 when SBHS reached the GMCT Final Four, and lost to Linden in the Group 4 State Championship, was just a half game better than St. Joseph’s (22-6) and Spotswood (22-6), but it was overall 6 games better than a year ago when the Vikings were 14-9. As a result, South Brunswick earns the 2016 GMC Hoops Most Improved Team of the Year. In 27 games, South Brunswick averaged 61.3 points per game to rank fourth in the GMC while giving up only 45.4 points per game to rank second in conference. Combined, South Brunswick outscored its foes by an average of 15.9 points per contests, which ranked second in the GMC.

Only St. Joseph’s, Spotswood, and South River scored more points while only J.P. Stevens gave up fewer. The Vikings were only second to Joes in point differential. Hoehman, who was a disciple of both Dave and Bob Turco when they coached at South Brunswick from 2002 to 2005, continued the tradition of defense with these Vikings. Add to that the versatility, athleticism, and uncanny scoring ability of senior Savage along with the playmaking ability of point guard Garrett, and the three point shooting punch of Savage, Ryan Moran, and Danesh Thirukumaran, and the Vikes had plenty of firepower to trade punches with the best of them.

Even though South Brunswick is losing the likes of Savage, Garrett, Nally, and Franklin, they will still have a lot coming back with the likes of Ugarte, Moran and Thirukumaran along with the rest of a talented junior class that also includes Tavian Alford, Chris James, and Vic Huetz. So, don’t expect much drop-off if any from the Vikes in 2016-17. As a matter of fact, they may be even better. Take a look at the some of the other improved teams in the GMC this past season:

Most Improved Teams

  • South Brunswick 14-9 to 22-5 +6
  • Old Bridge 10-13 to 18-9 +6
  • East Brunswick Tech 11-15 to 17-9 +6
  • Spotswood 15-10 to 22-6 +5.5
  • J.P. Stevens 10-15 to 15-9 +5.5
  • Sayreville 12-14 to 18-10 +5
  • Timothy Christian 3-23 to 8-19 +4.5
  • Middlesex 4-19 to 9-17 + +3.5
  • Woodbridge 18-9 to 20-6 +2.5
  • South River 15-13 to 18-11 +2.5
  • Piscataway 4-16 to 7-14 +2.5
  • East Brunswick 16-8 to 18-9 +1.5
  • Bishop Ahr 10-12 to 11-10 +1.5
  • Wardlaw 7-13 to 9-14 +1.5