James Corrigan’s GMC Season Recap 2017-18


Well that was fun, wasn’t it? After a wild regular season capped off by two of the greatest GMC Tournament games ever, which themselves was capped off by the greatest shot in GMC history, it’s now time to reflect on what has transpired. After my second year as the voice of GMC Hoops, on top of my many other years playing and following the conference, I can safely say that there has never been a year like this one. As usual, I am eternally grateful to all of the players, coaches, and fans of the GMC for all that they have contributed. Our community is as unique and close knit as there is anywhere, and it is that special bond that keeps me coming back every year. As usual, these are my opinions alone, and by no means are intended to offend or snub anyone who was left off. Some of this is recycled over from my regular season recap, but is still worth another look. With that being said, let’s do this!

CRAZIEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR (Regular Season): End of Middlesex vs Metuchen ?on December 18?

The upset minded Bulldogs had outplayed the Jays throughout the contest, but Middlesex staged a dramatic late comeback. They found themselves down by 2 with 10 seconds remaining with Metuchen inbounding. The rest, as they say, is history.

OH DOCTOR!!!!!!! Middlesex just beat Metuchen in the wildest fashion! The Jays were down 2 with 10 seconds left and MET had the ball. Just watch what happens next….. pic.twitter.com/4VdhV89l9W
— James Corrigan (@RealCorrigan) December 19, 2017

After the unconscionable foul, the Dawgs had 1 and 1. Then this happened with 0.6 to go. @gmchoops @GoJaysAthletics pic.twitter.com/dqBzPp5a9D
— James Corrigan (@RealCorrigan) December 19, 2017

DUNK OF THE YEAR: Conor Bevilacqua vs Sayreville on January 23

This was one of the wildest moments on a basketball court I have ever seen in person. To say that I had no idea this was coming is a major understatement. Just watch and marvel.

— Frank Fasulo (@Squidman708) January 25, 2018

UPSET OF THE YEAR: Spotswood over Bishop Ahr on January 24

Other potential candidates for this one are Monroe over East Brunswick, Edison over Sayreville (at the time), South Plainfield over Edison, East Brunswick over Old Bridge, and Dunellen over Timothy Christian. However, this was an easy call, as all the other results pale in comparison to the Chargers knocking off their bitter rivals 62-58 at home. The Trojans were ranked #3 at the time, but rivalry games have a funny way of changing things.

DAVE TURCO COACH OF THE YEAR (Regular Season): Jim Macomber, Old Bridge

There were three main candidates for this award, all of whom deserve their due.

You only had to watch about five minutes of a J.P. Stevens Hawks game this year to know just how large of an impact first year head coach Chris Garcia had on his team. Under his tutelage, the Hawks gave up an average of 46 points per game in Red Division games, easily the best defensive record in the division. The grit and toughness on display from his team the whole season was an extension of his personality, and at only 28 years of age, his stock will only go up from here.

After years of excellent work flying under the radar, Charlie Mohr is finally getting his due. The head man for the Edison Eagles posted his first winning season within his division since 2001, as well as the school’s first overall winning season in that same timeframe, and took his side to the GMCT quarterfinals for the first time since 1996. He has always made the most with what he had during many lean years, and his recognition as an excellent tactician is long overdue.

However, the nod for this award goes to Macomber, who lost his best player four games into the season and still managed to guide his team to what was its highest ever GMCT seed, as well as a GMCT semifinal berth for only the second time in school history. He deserves much of the credit for the Knights’ immediate turnaround upon his arrival for the 2013 season, and it has culminated this year into what is probably his most complete team. His performance in their regular season win at Bishop Ahr, in a game which most coaches in his position probably lose, seals the deal.


Me not having Hall in the above list after the regular season shows just how much I know. I was hardly the only one fooled however, as his 7th seeded Patriots stunned second seeded Piscataway in the GMCT quarterfinals, and then knocked off third seeded Old Bridge in the semis. Most teams in that situation would simply be happy with getting to the final, and it looked like the cinderella run was coming to a close at the RAC when the Pats found themselves down by 19 in the second half. That was not the case of course, as Colonia stormed back to take the lead late in the 4th. The constant through it all was Hall, who continues the tradition of Colonia being among the best coached teams year in and year out. His team always played with poise, always valued the ball, and was never afraid to make the extra pass. Not to mention the outstanding defense they played throughout the season. All of these are indications of leadership at the coaching position, and few have it better than Brandon Hall.

GAME OF THE YEAR (Regular Season): Carteret vs Bishop Ahr ?on December 22?

I forgot to include this one in my regular season recap, but this was a wild one from start to finish. The Trojans stormed back from a large fourth quarter deficit thanks to Alex Santiago, who scored 20 of his 30 points in the 4th quarter and OT to lead Ahr to a 65-63 win. A lot to choose from here, but this one is memorable due to the atmosphere of the game as well as its back and forth topsy turvy nature.


Here are the top 25 leading scorers from the Red, White, and Blue divisions, as well as the ten leading scorers from the Gold.

Joshua Cabezudo (PA) 20.9
Ahyan Brown-Miller (NewB) 19.5
Alex Santiago (BA) 19.0
Isaiah Daniels-Porter (CAR) 18.8
Derrick Whitaker (SR) 18.1
Curtis Nesbit (WB) 17.8
Julius Belton (OB) 16.9
Matt Vento (SPT) 16.8
Jake Robel (MID) 15.7
Mike Oliva (OB) 15.4
Abdullah Nieskens (SPT) 15.3
Devin Strickland (SB) 14.8
Joseph Nigro (SR) 14.6
Delano Whitfield (NoB) 14.2
Tyrese Conover (JPS) 14.0
Tyree Ford (STJ) 14.0
Quadry Adams (BA) 13.6
Jordan Davidson (PIS) 13.6
Abu Kaikai (EHS) 13.5
Avery Claggett (NoB) 13.4
Keshawn Grant (PIS) 13.1
Antonio Chandler (PIS) 13.0
Kemari Persol (WB) 12.8
Mattias Arrindell (PIS) 12.7
John Dickey (MID) 12.7

Robert Saydee (TC) 20.6
Pierce Kokosinski (TC) 20.3
Tyje Kelton (DUN) 20.2
Kyle Gasiewski (SA) 18.7
Connor Murcier (HP) 18.7
Shalon Wallace (WH) 17.2
Carlos Morla (PAT) 16.4
Sergio Rodriguez (PWT) 15.0
Branden Barnes (PWT) 14.9
Ryan Petela (WH) 14.6

Congrats to Ahyan Brown-Miller, Alex Santiago, and Robert Saydee for winning the White, Blue, and Gold division scoring titles respectively. And a special congratulations to Joshua Cabezudo of Perth Amboy. At 20.9 points per game, he is the GMC scoring champion for 2018!


Here are the 14 players in the GMC this year that averaged 2 threes per game or more this season.

Mike Oliva (OB) 2.9
Abdullah Nieskens (SPT) 2.6
Curtis Nesbit (WB) 2.5
Ian McCoid (SP) 2.4
Mauricio Arias (PAT) 2.4
Delano Whitfield (NoB) 2.3
Ryan Petela (WH) 2.3
Robert Saydee (TC) 2.3
Ryan Delacuesta (OB) 2.2
Michael Kides (MON) 2.2
Joe Sampson (EB) 2.1
Chris Zambonino (PWT) 2.1
Joseph Nigro (SR) 2.1
Alex Santiago (BA) 2.0

To the surprise of no one, Mike Oliva of Old Bridge ran away with this race, dropping an insane 81 threes on the season. He is the undisputed GMC three point king!

A quick note on South Plainfield’s Ian McCoid: According to the NJ.com stats, Ian hit 51 threes this year as opposed to, and I’m not joking, 3 two pointers the whole season! How is this possible?? Someone please confirm this for me because my head might explode.

POSTSEASON PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR (Ever?): K-Shawn Schulters, St. Joseph

The sophomore Schulters had several breakout performances this year, including in a January 18 game at Piscataway where he scored 19 points en route to a massive win over the #2 ranked team at the time. His speed on the floor is unparalleled anywhere, and his ability to finish with contact is among the best I have seen, especially for a guard. But it was in the GMCT where he not only made his mark, but etched his name into GMC basketball history forever. First, he carried his team at times in the semifinal against Carteret, scoring a career high 30 points. And then, of course, there was this

The greatest shot in GMC history to win the title capped off a sensational postseason for Schulters. A future superstar he is indeed.


We must not forget that the best game of the postseason was not the final, but the semifinal between Joes and a more than game Carteret Ramblers team. The Ramblin Men had the lead for much of the game, including in the waning seconds, but it was Luke Fresco with the final heroics on a do or die shot to go to the RAC. It is a game and moment I will never forget


K-Shawn Schulters (STJ)
Tyree Ford (STJ)
Luke Valeriano (COL)
Frank Lehman (COL)
Julius Belton (OB)
Jahlil Nix (CAR)


1. St. Joseph
2. Carteret
3. Colonia
4. Piscataway
5. Old Bridge
6. Bishop Ahr
7. Perth Amboy
8. East Brunswick
9. J.P. Stevens
10. Edison

How do you separate two teams that both lost to St. Joes at the buzzer? Not very easily. The debate between Carteret and Colonia was not an easy one, as both went on to great success in the state tournament as well. Ultimately, a Rambler regular season win over Colonia and their overall regular season prowess was enough to put Carteret over the top. A similar question arises between the two teams that ran into the Colonia buzzsaw in the postseason. While Piscataway did falter down the stretch, their tremendous season overall and second place finish in the Red is just enough to nick Old Bridge for the 4th spot. And I will be the first to say that I was wrong about Edison in saying that they were over-seeded. They certainly proved that they belong amongst the best. However, while the Eagles had their best year since 2001, it is the overall string of performances against a vastly superior Red Division plus their convincing win over the Eagles that gives J.P. Stevens the nod over their cross town counterparts. Let the online commenting begin!


1st Team
Julius Belton (OB)
Alex Santiago (BA)
Tyree Ford (STJ)
Isaiah Daniels-Porter (CAR)
Keshawn Grant (PIS)

2nd Team
Luke Valeriano (COL)
Josh Cabezudo (PA)
K-Shawn Schulters (STJ)
Abu Kaikai (EHS)
Howard McBurnie (STJ)

3rd Team
Mattias Arrindell (PIS)
Tyrese Conover (JPS)
Frank Lehman (COL)
Curtis Nesbit (WB)
Mike Oliva (OB)

Note: Yes, I know there are five guards on the third team. There are simply too many deserving guards and not enough deserving bigs for the last few spots. Also, per usual, the players are listed in no particular order on their respective teams.


I know that this is what you have all been waiting for. The debate has raged on throughout the season, with various fans and even coaches giving their two cents to me throughout the year on who should get the nod. The four finalists for the award remain the same from the regular season recap. They are Tyree Ford of St. Joes, Julius Belton of Old Bridge, Isaiah Daniels-Porter of Carteret, and Alex Santiago of Bishop Ahr. Let’s go through all four cases.

No player in the GMC this year possessed more God given talent than Tyree Ford. As a sophomore, he both looked and played like a grown man on both ends. No player was deadlier in transition, and his combination of knockdown shooting and athleticism was impossible to match up with. His issue this year, however, was consistency, as there were times where he was not a major factor in some games. Of course, this will change as he is only a sophomore, but in terms of being POY this year, he just misses out. This means that for the first time since 2009, the consensus GMC POY will not be a St. Joes player.

PAST GMC POY’s (All St. Joes)
2010: Steve Rennard
2011 and 12: Quenton DeCosey
2013 and 14: Karl Towns*
2015: Breein Tyree
2016: Tyus Battle*
2017: Letrell West
*Towns was named NJ Gatorade POY in 2013 and 14, and also was Gatorade National POY in 14. Battle was NJ Gatorade POY in 2016.

On to the rest. No player created more matchup nightmares this year than Isaiah Daniels-Porter. He consistently dominated down low while stepping outside to knock down threes. He led an otherwise young Carteret Ramblers side to its best season since 2002, finishing as my #2 team in the county. There were very few flaws in his game, as well as in the games of the next two players, which made this decision extremely tough. Ultimately, for reasons to be explained later, IDP finished a close second for me.

Before his GMCT semifinal game against Colonia, Old Bridge head coach Jim Macomber told me that Julius Belton is the best point guard in the county. I believe he was correct. As a pure point guard, nobody had a steadier hand than the junior Belton. A pass first and team first player to the core, Belton was the star that stirred the drink for the Knights, who did not skip a beat even after the loss of Jared Meyer four games into the season. Belton’s best attribute may have been his feel for the moment, for he seemed to know exactly when it was time for him to take over. He was the best in the game at going to the basket, and always got to the foul line. The Knights had their best season in school history as a result. Belton is a complete player, and is the morning line favorite for next year’s POY in my eyes.

However, for this year, my nod goes to someone who may not have had the pure skill of Ford, or the dominating presence of Daniels-Porter, or the headiness of Belton. It goes to a player who was overlooked by most observers coming into this season, and even afterwards as he was unconscionably left off the official all county team due to either a deliberate effort or just plain stupidity. And most importantly, it goes to a player who captured the imagination of onlookers after his school was shaken by a tragic car accident prior to the season that left his head coach fighting for his life.

Not enough can really be said of the superlatives that Alex Santiago possessed this season. His toughness was displayed by playing through a broken nose in a mask for much of the year, as well as gutting it out on a badly injured ankle during his team’s quarterfinal game against Old Bridge in an already lost cause. Absolutely nobody could take a game over like Santiago, who was unguardable one on one with his quickness and NBA range from outside. His motor was seemingly unending, as he spent an incredible amount of energy from start to finish, almost never coming out of the game. His flare for the dramatic was also unmatched, with his 30 point performance against Carteret, including 20 in the 4th quarter and OT to drag his team back, and his late game postseason heroics against North Brunswick as two of many examples.

What separates him for me is not simply his production on the floor, but the manner in which he did it. I hearken back to what Bill Simmons wrote about Allen Iverson in his book, where he declared that while there have been guards in NBA history that have been superior, Iverson was still as memorable as anyone due to his demeanor, relentlessness, and sheer will. This is how I view Santiago. There may have been better players and guards in GMC history. There have been All Americans, state POY’s, All Staters, D1 players, NBA draft picks, and much more. But very few have made me say that this is why you watch basketball. Alex Santiago caught my attention this year like few before him have, and for that, he is my player of the year.

Once again, these are just one man’s opinions, and is not the official awards of GMC Hoops. If you disagree, let me know! Hit me up on twitter at @RealCorrigan and we can discuss. Once again, it is an honor and a privilege to serve this great community. Thank you all once again for your support, which means the world to me.