A Look at The Way Things Were When St. Thomas Aquinas Last Defeated St. Joseph’s in February 1994.
SOUTH AMBOY, NJ–On Saturday night, top ranked St. Thomas Aquinas defeated 2nd ranked St. Joseph’s in the nightcap game of the 2021 Friends of South Amboy Charity Basketball Games Showcase at South Amboy Middle-High School. The win snapped a 6 game winning streak by the Falcons against the Trojans.
As a matter of fact, the last time St. Thomas Aquinas defeated St. Joseph’s was in the Round of 16 of the 1994 Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, which was the first open tournament in the history of the GMCT. Prior to 1994, the GMCT was limited to 16 teams.
On February 18, 1994, some 10,165 days ago, 13th seeded Bishop Ahr (now St. Thomas Aquinas) traveled the brief 1.7 mile trip down Plainfield Road in Edison to Metuchen and St. Joseph’s High School to take on the 4th seeded Falcons, which were the defending GMCT champions ever defeating South Brunswick in OT back in 1993.
St. Joe’s appeared to be on track to win a second straight title before star player Mike Derockkis was suspended indefinitely by the team following a loss at Perth Amboy a few weeks earlier. Derockkis led the charge when the then 3rd seeded Falcons defeated then 6th seeded Ahr in the 1993 Quarterfinals by hitting seven threes in a 75-47 victory over the defending 1992 champs.
The game was a close battle all the way to the end. Trailing 39-38, St. Joseph’s took the lead back on a jumper by Angelo Richichi with 16 seconds left to make the score, 40-39. Ahr guard, Bram Garcia drove the lane with 6 seconds before the ball was knocked away from him, but into the hands of teammate John O’Rourke, who scored on a layup with 1.9 seconds left for a 41-40 lead according to the Metuchen Review. The Falcons then missed a shot as time expired for the Trojans’ win.
Bishop Ahr/St. Thomas Aquinas then lost to 5th seeded New Brunswick in the 1994 GMCT Quarterfinals. Below is some of what the world was like back in February 1994:
The Way Things Were in February 1994
Bill Clinton, was in his 2nd year of his first term as president, and had recently visited Middlesex County College.
Christine Todd Whitman had just become governor of New Jersey.
Price of gas: $1.11 per gallon
Price of a loaf of bread: $0.76
Price of ground beef: $1.48 per pound.
Central Jersey was in the midst of a brutal winter with numerous ice storms and a President’s Day snowstorm.
GMCT Quarterfinals were held at East Brunswick instead of Middlesex County College.
GMCT became in an open tournament for 1st time
GMCT Final Four: St. Peter’s, Piscataway, New Brunswick, and Colonia.
GMCT Boys Final: Piscataway 49–St. Peter’s 44
Piscataway went on to win its only state title in boys basketball by defeating Teaneck in 1994 Group 4 State Championship, and was the first GMC Team to win an NJSIAA TOC game by defeating LaMarr Grier led Middle Township.
GMC Executive Director Frank Noppenberger was AD at East Brunswick.
Colonia HS Principal, Ken Pace was in first year as head coach at Colonia
Mike Meagher, currently assistant coach to Charlie Mohr at Edison, was in his year as head coach of the Eagles.
Bill Leahy, the last head coach at Ahr/Aquinas to win boys GMCT (1992) before Bob Turco won it in 2020, was in his 2nd year at Woodbridge.
Legendary St. Joseph’s head coach, Bill Kuchar, was coaching at Wardlaw.
Karl Towns Sr., former Piscataway Tech head coach, and father of recently inducted St. Joseph’s HOF member, and Minnesota Timberwolves Karl Anthony Towns, was an assistant coach to John Mazurek at Perth Amboy.
Dennis O’Keefe was in his 2nd season as head coach at Bishop Ahr/St. Thomas Aquinas
Amboy hoops legends Jose Urena and Ronald Snipes were seniors at PAHS.
Another Perth Amboy hoops legend, Tony Lee, was a freshman at the now closed St. Peter’s HS.
Piscataway hoops legends John Celestand and Justin Bailey were juniors.
St. Joseph’s hoops legend, and ESPN’s Jay Williams was in 7th Grade at Sacred Heart School (now Holy Savior Academy) in South Plainfield.
Michael Thompson, the father of St. Thomas Aquinas girls hoops standout, Hailey Thompson, was a freshman at South Plainfield.
GMC Hoops was in his 2nd season as a volunteer coach at South Plainfield.