Carteret Goes Toe to Toe With Union County Powers
CARTERET, NJ—Prior to the start of the season, GMC Hoops placed Carteret in its annual pre-season Top 10 poll. Despite the losses of Jahlil Nix, Timothy Ellis, and Thamir Lamarr to graduation and Malik Austin transferring to Hudson Catholic, the Ramblers still had a good enough group back to remain among the elite in the GMC.
And the Ramblers have not disappointed. Ranked 8th in the pre-season poll, Carteret started the season with a 59-40 win at Metuchen on opening night. Then, in a big early season test, the Ramblers traveled to Union County to take on Plainfield on December 21st. Led by Starrell Hearns and Cam McCargo, Carteret took Planfield to overtime before falling, 66-63.
The Ramblers took the Cardinals to the limit just two days after the Cards took Union Township to an extra session before losing 73-72 on opening night. Carteret didn’t stop there though. The Ramblers then defeated Holmdel (48-47) in the opening round and Manalapan (56-45) in the semifinals of the Matawan Huskies Holiday Classic before taking Union Township to double overtime, and losing 64-60 in the Championship Game.
Union is off to a 7-0 start to its season after defeating Scotch Plains-Fanwood (51-32) on Friday night, and Hackensack on Saturday (66-65). The Comets of Hackensack are no slouch either at 5-2. After the holidays, Carteret began the New Year on a strong note by defeating Rahway (56-53) in the annual Battle of Exit 12 between the Ramblers and the Indians on January 2nd. It was the 2nd time in the past three years that Carteret has defeated Rahway.
Twenty four hours later, the Ramblers returned to GMC Blue play with a 75-33 victory over Spotswood on Friday afternoon. The win left Carteret at 5-2 including a 2-0 mark in the Blue Division. The veteran quintet of McCargo, Hearns, Donte Prioleau, Hubert Ramos, and Elijah Colon along with smooth shooting sophomore Aiden Ramirez and junior reserve Rahman White have made the Ramblers a formidable squad in spite of the turnover from last year.
McCargo the staring quarterback on the football team this past fall, begins the new week averaging 14.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.4 steals per game through 7 games according to nj.com. Meanwhile, Hearns is averaging 14.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 1.6 blocks, and 1.4 assists per game so far this season. After missing the first two games, Prioleau chipped in by averaging 9.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.0 steals including an 11 point effort against Union that was highlighted by a couple clutch threes.
Perhaps the biggest impact on this year’s Carteret squad to date has come from senior Colon, who is averaging 11.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game through seven games. This includes a game high 22 points highlighted by four three pointers versus Spotswood on Friday. Ramirez, who is expected to be a key contributor this year for the Ramblers, has averaged 8.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
Ramos, who brought a lot of energy off the bench for Carteret a season ago, has scored in 5 of the Ramblers 7 games and is averaging 3.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per contest. White has come off the bench, and is averaging around a point and a rebound per game. Carteret is averaging 59.6 points per game while giving up only 49.7 points per contest for an average margin of victory of nearly 10 points per game.
The Ramblers return to play on Wednesday at 5:30 PM with a Blue Division contest versus South Plainfield at home, and then on the road at Middlesex on Friday at 5:30 PM before returning home on Saturday morning against Woodbridge at 11:30 AM. A week from Monday, on January 13th, Carteret will play St. Thomas Aquinas in perhaps one of the biggest GMC Blue games of the season.