We've just archived the summaries on several scrimmages that we covered in the pre-season, the three games seen at the 2006 Hoop Group Tip-Off Classic at Seton Hall University on December 17th, the Freshmen and JV Games of the Week, Freshmen and JV Roundups, blog entries, and all the summaries for the month of December, 2006, and the first, second, third, and fourth weeks of January, 2007 in the summaries archive.

GMC Hoops Summaries--February 3, 2007
Seventh Week Of Action


Piscataway Holds Off Late BGA Rally For 52-45 Win

By Greg Machos
February 3, 2007

NORTH EDISON, NJ--There was a bit more at stake than met the eye as these Red and Blue Division contenders squared off on Saturday night. The Chiefs had lost three in a row, and needed a win while Bishop Ahr was looking to make a statement going into the GMCT seeding meeting next week. A win by either side would enhance their respective conference resumes while the Red Division as a whole was setting itself up nicely for next week as East Brunswick downed Cardinal McCarrick, 69-57, and Edison defeated St. Peter's, 57-47. As a result, a victory by P-Way would put the GMC Red only three points behind the GMC White in the latest GMC Hoops Conference Cup Standings. For a while it seemed as if Piscataway would simply suffocate the Trojans en route to an easy victory.

Holding the Trojans to just 2 of 20 shooting in the first half including a one of eight start by current BGA all time leading scorer, Corey Francisco (10 of 23 FGs including two threes and 1 of 2 FTs for 23 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals, an assist and a block), Piscataway jumped out to an 18-5 halftime lead, and then scored the first four points of the second half for a 22-5 advantage with about 5:30 to go in the third quarter. However, Bishop Ahr showed a lot of heart and determination by almost climbing all the way back. With a change in strategy that included getting the ball to Francisco on the inside, and a dose of fullcourt pressure, BGA put together a 20-7 tear over a span of 6:53 to pull within at 29-25 with 6:25 to go in the game. Then, after Piscataway went on a 10-0 spurt that appeared to put the game out of reach with a 39-25 lead at the 4:10 mark of the fourth, Bishop Ahr rallied again following a timeout as the Trojans cut the deficit again to four at 49-45 with less than twenty seconds left. But that would be as close as Ahr would get as Brian Waluk (2 of 6 FGs and 3 of 6 FTs for 7 points along with 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals) closed out the game with a pair of free throws at the 14.5 mark, and Piscataway came away with a huge road win, 52-45.

For the game, Bishop Ahr was held to 18 of 57 shooting including three trifectas for just 31.6 percent although the team shot better in the second half (16 of 37 for 43.2 percent). Meanwhile, Piscataway had their share of troubles too with a 5 of 15 first quarter start, and just 9 of 27 in the first half for 33 percent. The Chiefs ended up going 19 of 50 from the floor for 38 percent. P-Way also forced Bishop Ahr to commit 25 turnovers, but made 20 themselves. Free throws played a role in this one as well with the Chiefs making 10 of 21 from the line for 47.6 percent while Bishop Ahr was a surprising 6 of 13 at the line for only 46.2 percent. The home team had advantages in rebounds (32-29) and threes (3-0) while the visitors enjoyed edges in assists (14-12), steals (16-7), and blocks (2-1). Neither team drew a charge. Piscataway scored in double digits in three of the four periods while Ahr registered double figures in two of the four. The Chiefs outscored the Trojans in each of the first two periods while Ahr outscored P-Way in each of the last two frames.

There were seven different Piscataway players that got into the scoring column while six got into the scorebook for BGA. Mike Williamson had his share of struggles in this one, but while the junior guard only went 3 of 13 from the floor including a three pointer, and made just three of six at the line for 10 points, he managed to handed out six assists, grabbed three rebounds, and came up with a steal. Junior reserve forward, Jordan Madsen, helped out with 2 field goals in 6 attempts and 1 of 2 at the foul line for 5 points as well as five rebounds. Martese Street (1 of 4 FGs for 2 points and 5 rebounds), Billy Rooney (1 of 3 FGs for 2 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and a steal), and Dan Hurley (1 of 2 FGs for 2 points and 2 rebounds) each added two points while Zack Widdoss (0 of 2 FGs and 1 of 2 FTs) rounded out the Trojan scoring with a point. Derek Figueredo (0 of 1 FG) also played, but didn't score for Ahr. On the other side of the scoring ledger, Piscataway was led by junior forward, Omar Smith, who made 6 of 13 attempts and 1 of 5 from the foul line for 13 points along with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. J.D. Griggs chipped in with 10 points on 4 of 9 shooting, and 2 of 2 at the foul line while picking up 3 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block.

Senior reserve forward, Soeke Lumor helped out with 8 points on three field goals (3 of 8 FGs) and 2 of 4 free throws while also collecting five steals, four rebounds, and an assist. Junior point guard, James White chipped in with 2 of 5 field goals and 2 of 4 at the foul line for 6 points while adding four assists, three steals, and three rebounds. Sophomore forward, Tristan Benjamin helped out with 2 of 7 field goals for four points along with three steals, two rebounds, and a block. Thomas Bennett came off the bench with two field goals in the first half for his only four points of the contest while picking up a rebound and an assist to round out the Chiefs scoring. Also playing, but not scoring was Tyshaun Jackson (0 of 1 FG). The first quarter saw Piscataway control things right from the start with a 10-4 showing in the period as the team limited Ahr to just 2 of 8 field goals, and forced ten turnovers. The Chiefs scored the first four points of the contest before BGA finally got on the board at the 4:09 mark on a scoop shot for a layup by Francisco for his only points of the first half. Then, the visitors embarked on a 6-0 burst that was highlighted by an offensive rebound and putback by Smith off a missed free throw by Waluk at the 3:31 mark.

Leading 10-4 going into the second, Piscataway put the defensive clamps down even further as it didn't allow a single field goal by a Bishop Ahr team that is one of the top offensive teams in the GMC coming into the week. In the second quarter, Bishop Ahr was 0 of 12 from the field and made only 1 of 3 foul shot attempts while turning the pumpkin over six more times. The Chiefs scored the first four points of the stanza before Widdoss got the Trojans' only point in the frame on one of two free throws at the 5:59 mark. Neither team would score for the next 2:23, but Lumor ended that run with a steal and assist on a layup by Bennett to make it 16-5 with a little more than three and a half minutes to go before the intermission. Despite the fact that Ahr eventually got into the bonus at the 1:32 mark, Williamson couldn't take advantage as he missed the front end of a one and one. Both teams, which combined for just nine points in the lowest quarter output of the game, would only muster two more points the rest of the way as P-Way took an 18-5 lead into the locker room. The start of the third quarter looked like more of the same as Piscataway got two layups by Benjamin for a 22-5 lead before the Trojans finally got going.

Seeing that things weren't working from the perimeter, and just not into his usual rhythm, Francisco went the inside route, and got the ball from Williamson for a score to make it 22-7 with 5:18 to go in the third as Piscataway head coach, Guy Jensen, called for time. Francisco's basket ignited a 16-7 spurt to close the quarter as the senior forward made 5 of 8 shot attempts including two three pointers for 12 points in the stanza as the Trojans closed to within eight at 29-21 entering the fourth. The fourth began just as the third ended with Ahr turning the tables, and scoring the first two baskets on another score in the paint at the 7:02 mark by Francisco and later score to make it 29-25 with 6:25 to play. With the Trojans turning up the pressure in Piscataway's backcourt, the Chiefs needed to respond, and did with a 10-0 tear over a span of 2:15 to take a 39-25 lead with 4:10 remaining. Lumor, who had six of his eight points in the period, sparked the key run with two short jumpers in less than a minute to give P-Way a 33-25 lead at the 5:27 mark. Smith then followed that up with a basket from Griggs as he was fouled, but missed the bonus free throw to make it 35-25 with 5:03 to go. Lumor added two foul shots seven seconds later that made it a 37-25 lead, and then the Chiefs got another score to go up by fourteen.

The Chiefs actually made it a 12-0 run for a sixteen point lead as White made a pair of free throws to make it 41-25, but the Trojans stormed back as Francisco converted two layups and Street added a layup of his own to make it 41-31 with 3:22 to play. Folllowing a BGA timeout, Williamson finally got going with a three point play, and then a trey to close the gap to 43-37 as Bishop Ahr head coach, Dennis O'Keefe again called for time. After the stoppage, Piscataway converted on a huge possession as Griggs scored inside off a nice entry pass by White for a 45-37 lead. The home team wouldn't quit though as Rooney drove for a layup at the 1:13 mark that initiated one last charge. BGA outscored P-Way by an 8-4 count to pull within four, but it wasn't enough as the visitors pulled the game out with three free throws for the hard fought, seven point win. With the victory, Piscataway moves up to 11-7 overall and 9-5 in conference play while Bishop Ahr drops to 11-5 on the season and 9-4 in the GMC.

Team
1 2 3 4
Total
Piscataway (11-7)
10 8 11 23 52
Bishop Ahr (11-5)
4 1 16 24 45

Edison Qualifies For State Tournament For First Time
Since 2000-01 With Victory Over St. Peter's, 57-47

By Greg Machos
February 3, 2007

EDISON, NJ--Not since the days of Thomas Johnson has an Edison Eagle team made it into the state tournament. However, on Saturday afternoon, that happened as the Eagles defeated St. Peter's of New Brunswick by the score of 57-47 at Edison High School. The Eagles, which needed the win in order to qualify, made their first state tourney berth since the 2000-01 season. Much of the difference in this game was attributed to a 13-6 first quarter showing by the hometown team as junior Barry Holmes (21 points on six field goals, a three pointer, and six foul shots) and senior Zach Manfre (11 points on a field goal and nine free throws) led the way. Senior forward, Mike Campbell chipped in with 9 points on four field goals and a foul shot while Nathan Otokiti, who was shaken up a couple times during the contest, fought back to add seven points on two field goals and three free throws.

Rounding out the scoring for Edison was Terry Roland (two field goals for four points), Andy Hernandez (a field goal for two points), Erik Janz (two free throws for two points), and senior reserve Mike Mackus (one free throw for a point). Meanwhile, for St. Peter's, junior forward Justin Morgan (23 points on nine field goals and five free throws) did what he could to keep the Redbirds in the game despite Edison shutting down standout Travis Evans, who didn't score and fouled out with 4:46 left. Adrian Johnston (four field goals for 8 points) and Brandell Whitehead (two field goals and four free throws for 8 points) also chipped in with eight points each while Michael Gilbert added six on a field goal and four free throws before fouling out himself late in the game, and Dominic Appiah rounded out the scoring with two points on a field goal. Originally, GMC Hoops was not scheduled to see this game, but due to the fact that the scheduled game between Bishop Ahr and Piscataway wasn't going to be played until 7:00 PM, we decided to check out the game.

Arriving with 1:09 left in the second quarter, Edison was already leading 21-16. Manfre made it a seven point advantage with a pair of free throws at the 52.3 second mark, but Morgan countered with two foul shots of his own to make it a 23-18 score with 43 seconds to go before the intermission. Holmes then closed out the first half scoring with a pair of free throws at the 25 second mark to make it a seven point lead, 25-18 going into the locker room. The third quarter started out even as both teams matched the other with six points each to give the Eagles a 31-24 lead. Manfre then made one of two free throws at the 4:07 mark to push the home team's edge to eight at 32-24. Holmes pushed the margin to double digits with a layup at the 1:58 mark to make it 34-24, and then following an Edison steal, Campbell scored on a putback to make it a lead of a dozen at 36-24. Gilbert then netted a pair of free throws to make it a ten point lead again at 36-26 at the 1:20 mark, and the Cardinals trimmed it to single digits again with a steal and score followed by one of two at the line from Whitehead that made the score, 36-29 going into the fourth

The fourth quarter started rather ominously for Edison as Otokiti came down hard while battling for a rebound at the 7:32 mark. After spending some moments on the floor, the junior forward was able to leave the floor under his own power. When play resumed, Holmes sank a couple foul shots at the 6:53 mark, and followed that up with a shot in the key about a minute later to make the score, 40-29 with under six minutes to play. Whitehead made one of two to trim the deficit to ten at 40-30 at the 5:15 mark. St. Peter's, which fought hard all game, and never gave up despite the circumstances, suffered a siginificant blow at the 4:46 mark when Evans fouled out of the contest on the second charge drawn by the Eagles in the second half. Nevertheless, the Cardinals pressed on as Johnston clicked on a jumper in the key from Whitehead after Holmes earlier made a layup to make the score, 43-32 with 4:04 remaining. The Cards were unable to get any closer than seven points the rest of the way despite one of two free throws from Gilbert at the 2:35 mark to make it 44-35. St. Peter's pulled within eight at 53-45 on one of two free throws by Morgan, and an offensive rebound and putback by Johnston, but it couldn't get any closer.

With the victory, Edison moves up to 9-9 overall on the season, and 9-8 in the GMC. Meanwhile, St. Peter's, which lost to South Amboy two nights earlier, dropped its second straight, and is now 11-6 overall, and 7-4 in conference play. Qualifying for the state tournament, Edison became the eighteenth team from the conference to enter the field. Five teams made it from the Red, five from the White, four from the Blue, and four from the Gold. It is the most teams from the GMC to ever qualify for the states in the same season since the GMC Hoops web site was launched back in 2000-01. Note: Video highlghts from this game will be available soon.

Team
1 2 3 4
Total
Edison (9-9)
13 12 11 21 57
St. Peter's (11-6)
6 12 11 18 47

GMC Hoops Summaries--January 30, 2007
Seventh Week Of Action


Williams And Jackson Lead Ramblers To State Tournament
For First Time Since 2001-02 Season, 59-48

By Greg Machos
January 30, 2007

CARTERET, NJ--Not since the days of the last Carteret GMCT Championship team of 2002 with the likes of Omar Alston, Wilfredo Fuerte, Rob Carter, Lamarr Morris, and current Colonia Freshmen Coach, Andrew Hill, has their been reason to celebrate in Carteret until Tuesday night. After rallying from a ten point, 42-32 deficit in the fourth quarter with a 19-5 surge to defeat A.L. Johnson Regional of Clark, 51-47, on Monday night, the opportunity to qualify for the 2007 NJSIAA State Tournament was there for the taking as the Ramblers took the floor at home against White Division rival, Monroe, which had defeated them earlier in the month by three, 53-50 at MTHS. With junior forward, Brian Williams, and senior forward, Anthony Basilici returning to the lineup after sitting out the game against the Crusaders from Union County and the Mountain Valley Conference the night before. And, their presence on the floor was a big lift to a team that now controlled its destiny by only needing a win to qualify for the New Jersey High School version of "The Big Dance."

Williams, who has loads of potential with his athletic ability, made 7 of 13 shot attempts from the floor, and one of three free throw attempts for 15 points while also collecting five rebounds and two assists while Basilici made three of his four shot attempts for six points while picking up a wide variety of other stats including four rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and two steals. Sophomore forward, Robert Jackson, clicked on six of ten shots from the field, and was a perfect three of three at the line for 15 points as well while grabbing ten rebounds for a double-double. Jackson also had two assists, and a charge. The result was a Carteret Rambler ballclub that was more like a well oiled machine compared to the squad that played Johnson some 24 hours earlier. Despite turning the ball over 30 times, and only 6 of 11 shots from the free throw line for 54.5 percent, CHS was able to limit Monroe to just 15 of 57 shooting from the floor for 26.3 percent, and outscore the visitors by a 27-15 margin over the middle two periods to take a commanding 43-28 lead after three, and ultimately win, 59-48 to secure the school's first state tournament berth since the 2001-02 season.

Al Tampa, one of the heroes from Monday night's win, chipped in with three field goals including a three pointer and a perfect two of two at the line for nine points along with five rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block. Alvin Rodriguez made four of six shot attempts from the field for eight points while picking up four assists, four steals, a rebound, and a charge. Mike Miller added one of two field goals for two points whille handing out three assists, swiping two steals, and pulling down a rebound. D.J. Murphy also had a field goal for two points along with a rebound and an assist while another hero from Monday night, Amboy Tech transfer, Desean Lane, made his only field goal attempt for two points while collecting a rebound and an assist to round out his team's scoring. Also playing in the contest, but not scoring were: Paul Budwal (a rebound and a charge), and Corey Weeks (a rebound, assist, and steal). Meanwhile, for Monroe, which actually rallied in the fourth to cut the lead to eight at 55-47 with under two minutes to play, got a game high 17 points from Ivan Barreto, who made five field goals including a three while netting six of nine at the foul line. Barreto, who went down with an injury late in the fourth period, also had three rebounds, three steals, a charge, and an assist.

Ryan Clark was also a bright spot for the Falcons, particularly shooting the basketball. While the rest of his team was in the doldrums, the junior 6'2" forward connected on four of eight from the field including a three for nine points as well as four rebounds, two steals, and an assist. Junior forward, Justin Mitchell chipped in with seven points on three of seven shooting from the floor and one of two at the line while grabbing three rebounds. Senior guard, Mark Gulick also had seven, but on a three pointer and a perfect 4 of 4 showing at the line. Gulick also picked up two rebounds and an assist. Sophomore Steve Blish had his struggles from the field as he only got one field goal and a pair of foul shots for three points, but he helped out in other areas with four rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Vinny Mahmoud made a three pointer for his only points in five field goal attempts while grabbing four rebounds, passing out four assists, and picking up a steal. Freshman Ken Pace came in the ball game late to make one of two at the charity stripe for his only point to round out the Monroe scoring. Also getting in, but not scoring were fellow frosh Blake Bascom (a rebound), senior center, James Pellino (0 of 1 FG and a rebound), Joe Ruopoli, and Brian Rudowitz.

For the game, Carteret went a hot 26 of 48 from the field including a three pointer for 54.2 percent, but had more turnovers (29-17), and fared worse at the line (6 of 11 for 54.5 percent versus 14 of 19 for 73.7 percent). Those latter two factors kept the Purple Birds hanging around until pretty much the very end of the contest. Carteret scored in double figures in all four periods while Monroe registered double digits in the first and fourth quarters. The Ramblers had advantages in the areas of rebounds (31-22), charges (3-1), assists (21-11), steals (10-9), and blocks (4-0). The Falcons only enjoyed an edge in three pointers (4-1). The first period saw both teams actually shoot the ball well with the home team making 7 of 13 attempts including a three pointer for 53.8 percent while the visitors hiit on 5 of 10 for 50 percent. Barreto and Williams matched each other with 3 of 5 field goals each, but Baretto made better at the line with a 2 of 3 effort for 8 points while Williams made only one of his three attempts to give him 7 points. Monroe had actually jumped out to a 4-2 lead before Williams gave Carteret the advantage at 5-4 on a three point play with 5:29 left in the first.

Tampa then followed that up less than twenty seconds later with his team's only trifecta of the game to give the Ramblers a four point bulge at 8-4 with 5:10 left in the opening period. Barreto then got going with one of two at the line with just under five minutes left in the frame, and then a steal, layup, and the foul for a three point play that tied things up at 8-8 with 4:47 remaining in the first. Basilici then got himself and Jackson going by feeding an assist down low to the sophomore, who prompty laid it in to give Carteret a 10-8 edge. Barreto would retaliate though with a score to knot the game again at 10-10 with 3:29 to play when Williams stepped to the line. Looking to give the Ramblers a two piont lead again, the junior forward, misfired on both his attempts, and the score remained squared at 10-10. The lead would then change hands three times over the next 2:14 as Carteret took a 12-10 lead on a baseball pass by Tampa to Williams for a free and easy layup, Monroe took the lead back on a subsequent possession as Mahmoud sank a three pointer from Blish to make it 13-12, and finally, Rodriguez gave an entry pass down low to Jackson for a Carteret score to put it back out in front, 14-13 with 1:15 remaining in the stanza.

The Ramblers closed out the first period scoring when Tampa hooked up with Rodriguez for a foul line jumper from the junior point guard that made the score 16-13 after one. In the second frame, CHS held MTHS to just 2 of 15 shooting for a paltry 13.3 percent while it made 5 of 10 shots for 50 percent. The Falcons, which had just six points in the period made both of their free throw attempts while the Ramblers missed their only one. Both teams combined for eleven turnovers in the quarter with Carteret committing six and Monroe making five. In what would ultimately be the lowest scoring period of the entire night, CHS opened the period with a 6-0 run over the first 4:13 to increase its lead to 22-13 at the 3:47 mark. After trailing, 13-12 with under two minutes to go in the first, Carteret had gradually put together a 10-0 tear that essentially gave them control for the balance of the game. Tampa opened the second period scoring with a jumper from the left win off an assist by Rodriguze to make it 18-13. Then, after a Rambler timeout at the 5:32 mark, Tampa scored again on an insolation play down low to make it 20-13, and then some hustle by Basilici produced a steal that led to his own layup off an assist by Jackson at the 3:47 mark to make it a nine point lead.

Bobby Turco, the head coach for Monroe, attempted to put a halt to Carteret's run with a timeout at the 3:32 mark. The tactic appeared to have done the trick. After the Ramblers collected for more points for a 14-0 run and a 26-13 lead, the Falcons closed the half with a 6-0 run of its own to pull within seven at the intermission, 26-19. Blish sparked the run with a tap in for the team's first points of the frame, and his only field goal of the contest to end the 10-0 spurt to make the score, 22-15 at the 1:22 mark. Gulick then clicked on both his foul shot attempts to make it 26-17 at the 1:02 mark, and then Clark closed out the half with an offensive rebound and putback to make it a seven point difference at the break. For the half, the Purple Birds were just 7 of 25 from the field including a three pointer for 28 percent while making four of their six free throw attempts for 66.7 percent, and making only ten turnovers. Meanwhile, Carteret was a sizzling 12 of 23 shooting for 52.2 percent while making just one of four from the charity stripe for 25 percent, and committing twelve turnovers. After his solid start in the first, Barreto cooled off in the second going 0 of 3, and ending up with eight first half points while Tampa and Williams each had seven and Jackson and Basilici both added four.

The third quarter saw the home team extend its lead by nearly doubling the quarter output of its opponent. Carteret outscored Monroe, 17-9 in the frame as it made seven field goals and three free throws in the stanza while Monroe managed to only get three field goals including a trey along with two of four from the foul line for its points. The Ramblers got the ball rolling right away in the third as they scored the first four points of the second half on a jumper from the left wing by Rodriguez off an assist by Williams, and a steal and assist by Rodriguez on a layup by Basilici to make it 30-19 before the Falcons got on the board with a layup from Mitchell off an assist by Clark to make it 30-21 with just a little less than a minute and a half gone by in the new half. The Purple Birds seemed to start settling down, and tried to climb back into the matchup with five of the next nine points to close the gap to 34-26, but on a scrap for a rebound, Blish was assessed a technical, and Tampa promptly stepped up to the line, and hit both free throws to make it a ten point game at 36-26 with 3:03 left in the period. Forty-six seconds later, Jackson took in a pass from Rodriguez on the low block, and made a post-up move for a layup as he was fouled for the traditional three point play, and a 39-26 advantage with 2:17 left in the quarter.

Mitchell would give his team a point back with one of two at the line with 2:05 to go in the period, but Carteret closed the period with four of the last five points to take a 43-28 lead into the fourth and final period. The fourth quarter would begin with Monroe not giving up, and trying very hard to claw its way back into the contest. The combination of trapping and pressing defenses caused CHS a ton of trouble, and the Purple Birds, which were without the services of senior Shamil Graham, took advantage with a 7-4 run over the first 2:55 of the period. The Falcons actually started the fourth with the first five points courtesy of Gulick, who made another pair of free throws, and then a three pointer to get his team within ten at 43-33. Carteret would push the advantage back to fourteen at 47-33 before Mitchell got on the board again with a driving layup off an assist by Mahmoud to compel first year Rambler coach, Jose Rodriguez, to call for time at the 5:05 mark. Following the timeout, it appeared that the Ramblers finally put the game away with four straight points including a steal and layup by Alvin Rodriguez to make it 51-35, but Monroe stormed right back with a 9-2 burst including two free throws by Blish, a field goal and two more free throws by Barreto to make it 53-44 with 2:13 left as Carteret again called timeout.

Following the timeout, the Falcons trimmed the deficit even further as they closed to within eight at 55-47 with around a minute and a half remaining on a 3-2 run, but that would be as close as MTHS would get as the Ramblers got the win, and the state tourney berth. With the victory, Carteret is now 8-7 overall and the season, and 6-5 in the GMC White, which puts it in a tie for third with North Brunswick following the Raiders' 49-32 loss at South Plainfield. In addition, CHS is now in a four-way tie for first place in the GMC Hoops Trophy Standings at 3-1 with Colonia, Dunellen, and St. Peter's. Meanwhile, Monroe, which was 8-3 on the season in early January, have since lost seven of its last eight to fall to 9-10 overall on the year, and drop into a sixth place tie with Sayreville in divisional play with the Bombers getting the tiebreaker in terms of the upcoming GMCT seeding based on the fact that they have beaten the Falcons twice. Nevertheless, the Purple Birds are still in contention for a state tournament berth. All they need to do is defeat Woodbridge at home on Friday night, and it will qualify for the states for the second straight year.

Team
1 2 3 4
Total
Carteret (8-7)
16 10 17 16 59
Monroe (9-10)
13 6 9 20 48

GMC Hoops Summaries--January 29, 2007
Seventh Week Of Action


Shorthanded Ramblers Rally To Keep State Tourney Hopes Alive, 51-47

By Greg Machos
January 29, 2007

CLARK, NJ--With two crucial divsional games ahead on the schedule at home against Monroe, and on the road at South Plainfield, Monday night's game against A.L. Johnson Regional of Clark was a must win for the Carteret Ramblers, which needed two wins in their next three games to qualify for the state tournament for the first time since the 2001-02 season. So when GMC Hoops sat down in the gym just in time for the start of the against the Crusaders from Union County and the Mountain Valley Conference's Valley Division, Carteret was in tough shape with two of its starters, senior forward, Anthony Basilici, and junior forward, Brian Williams sitting on the bench in street clothes. As the game progressed, things would get worse for the Ramblers as its three other normal starters: junior point guard, Alvin Rodriguez, junior forward, Al Tampa, and sophomore forward, Robert Jackson all picked up their fourth fouls by the 3:28 mark of the fourth period.

Besides that, the Ramblers were having a ton of difficulty getting their offense going against the zone defense of the Crusaders, which used a similar tactic against Metuchen to pull out an overtime win in the opening round of the 2006 Roselle Park Holiday Tournament back in late December. Entering the fourth quarter, Carteret, which has scored an average of 48.6 points per game through 13 previous contests, made only 12 of 47 field goal attempts for 25.5 percent, and trailed by ten, 42-32. However, with the help of the entire bench including two players called up from the JV, the Ramblers were able to put together a much needed 19-5 fourth quarter rally to boost their chances of making the states with a four point, 51-47 victory on the road over Johnson Regional. Carteret, which ended up going 18 of 62 from the floor including five threes for 29 percent while making 10 of 18 at the foul line for 55.6 percent, connected on 6 of 15 shots from the floor in the final period including two three pointers for 40 percent, and netted 5 of 9 free throws while limiting their foe to just 1 of 7 shooting (a three pointer) for 14.3 percent, and 2 of 4 at the foul line for just five points.

A key portion of the fourth period comeback by the Ramblers was a 9-2 spurt over the final 2:27 that was ignited by a three pointer from Perth Amboy Vo-Tech transfer, junior Desean Lane (4 of 12 FGs including a three pointer for 9 points, 5 rebounds, a steal, and a block), who took in a pass from Robert Jackson (1 of 2 FGs for 2 points, 3 steals, an assist, and a block along with four fouls) to tie the game at 45-45. Then, after an exchange of turnovers and fights for loose balls, Al Tampa (5 of 14 FGs including two threes and 1 of 2 FTs for 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals) got control of the basketball, and dished off to Alvin Rodriguez (2 of 6 FGs including a three pointer and 2 of 2 FTs for 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and a block) for a score at the 2:06 mark to give Carteret its first lead since the opening bucket of the game at 47-45. On the ensuing inbounds, Tampa picked off a Crusader pass for a steal, and went in for the layup to put the Ramblers up by four with exactly two minutes to play.

Following a Crusader timeout at the 1:21 mark of the final frame, Desean Lane almost went from one of the heroes to the goat as he threw an errant pass that gave Johnson the ball with a chance to tie as the Union County squad called timeout again with 39 seconds left. Moments earlier, Sam Kwon (two field goals, a three pointer, and a free throw for eight points) connected on a bank shot to pull the Crusaders within two at 49-47. However, A.L. Johnson was unable to knot the game up again as it missed a jumper at the 25 second mark, and then had to foul Tampa on an ensuing inbounds at around the 19 second mark. The junior forward made one of two to make it a 50-47 lead. Still a one possession game, Johnson had an opportunity to tie if it got the ball back, but the problem was that Mike Miller, who had a game and season high 14 points on 4 of 12 FGs including a three pointer and 5 of 9 at the foul line, grabbed the offensive rebound for one of his six boards on the night, and was fouled with about 14 seconds left. Miller, who also collected two assists and two steals, missed the first of the double bonus, but made the second to put the game out of reach. View the video on how the game ended (two minutes in length and 11 MB in size--broadband recommended).

Also contributing in the scorebook for the Ramblers was senior guard, D.J. Murphy, who picked up five points, four rebounds, two steals, and an assist while Paul Budwal (0 of 3 FGs and 1 of 2 FTs for a point along with five rebounds, three blocks, and two steals) came up big down low in spots off the bench. Playing, but not scoring were junior guard Manny Rivera (0 of 1 FG and an assist) and Eddie Aquirre (0 of 2 FGs and a rebound). John Murphy had a team high 12 points for Johnson on three field goals and six foul shots while teammate Anthony Castaldo chipped in with 11 points on three field goals, a three pointer, and two free throws while Dustin Berry added eight points on two threes and a field goal. For the game, Johnson was 14 of 51 from the floor including four threes for 27.5 percent, and made 15 of 24 at the foul line for 62.5 percent. Carteret earned edges in threes (5-4), turnovers (22-23), rebounds (31-27), steals (16-14), and blocks (6-1) while the home team Crusaders held the advantage in assists (11-10). Neither team drew a charge while A.L. Johnson grabbed ten offensive rebounds, which it converted into eight second chance points, and ten points off turnovers.

Both teams scored in double digits in three of the four quarters with each team producing five in the lone quarter with single digit scoring. Johnson jumped out to a 12-5 first quarter lead by virtue of a 7-2 run to finish the stanza as the Crusaders shot only 3 of 17 from the field for a paltry 17.6 percent while Carteret fared worse going 2 of 16 for 12.5 percent. The difference here was foul shooting and turnovers as the home team made only three miscues and went 6 of 8 at the charity stripe for 75 percent while Carteret was just one of two for 50 percent, and committed seven mistakes. The visitors from the GMC got off to a promising start as Robert Jackson swiped a steal and went in for a dunk attempt that didn't exactly go well, but still wound up being a basket for the sophomore to make it 2-0. But, the Crusaders ran off the next five points as Kevin Azydzik (two free throws for two points) sank two foul shots at the 6:39 mark, and then Cancelliere added a foul line jumper at the 6:00 mark for the 5-2 lead. Budwal put the Ramblers within two again with his only point of the game on one of two at the foul line, but then Johnson Regional reeled off seven of the last nine points of the period including three of four at the line by John Murphy to make it a seven point lead going into the second.

Both teams picked up the pace offensively in the second stanza as Johnson made 7 of 15 shots for 46.7 percent and the Ramblers made 6 of 15 from the floor for 40 percent. The Cruaders also took advantage of Carteret's continued foul problems (picked up 8th team foul at the 3:05 mark, and Rodriguez, Jackson, and Tampa all had at least two each) to take a double digit lead on a three point play by John Murphy, which capped an 8-4 burst to make it 26-15. Earlier in the frame, CHS had fallen behind 14-5 after an offensive rebound and score by the Crusaders at the 7:26 mark, but got threes from Tampa off an assist by Rivera and Miller off an assist by D.J. Murphy to key a 6-4 run that made it 18-11 with 5:22 left in the first half. Over the next 1:14, the Ramblers scored five straight points as Lane and Rodriguez played pivotal roles in the rally. First, Rodriguez passed off to Lane for a layup at the 2:23 mark to make it 26-17 in favor of Johnson. On the next Crusader possession, Rodriguez came up with a steal that led to an offensive rebound and putback by Miller to make it 26-19 as Crusader coach, Anthony Calandra, called timeout at the 2:12 mark.

Following the stoppage, Lane grabbed a rebound off a missed shot by a Johnson player and threw an outlet pass upcourt to Miller, who was fouled, and subsequently made one of two at the line with 1:51 to go before the break to make the score, 26-20 in favor of A.L. Johnson. However, the Crusaders got a huge boost going into the locker room as Castaldo netted a three pointer with 20 seconds left before intermission to make the score, 29-20 in favor of the Union County school at halftime. For the half, CHS only connected on 8 of 31 attempts from the floor for 25.8 percent while making only 2 of 5 at the charity stripe for 40 percent, and turning the ball over eleven times. Johnson Regional was only slightly better with a 10 of 32 showing from the field for 31.3 percent, but made 8 of 14 at the line for 57.1 percent, and only committed eight turnovers. In addition, the Mountain Valley Conference member picked up six second chance points and seven points off turnovers. Tampa and Miller helped the Ramblers fight through their struggles with seven and six points respectively while Tampa picked up four rebounds and Miller had two rebounds and two assists.

At the beginning of the second half, Carteret showed some signs of life with a 6-0 run to start the third. Lane began the flurry with a long two point jumper off an assist from Tampa to make it 29-22 at the 6:44 mark. With the score, 29-26, Johnson reeled off nine of the next eleven points over a span of two plus minutes to take a 38-28 lead as John Murphy capped the spurt with a pair from the free throw line with 3:36 to go in the third. Although the visitors would get a three pointer from Rodriguez for his first field goal of the game to make it 38-31 at the 2:56 mark, Jackson put CHS in a very tough position by picking up his fourth foul at the 2:43 mark. Budwal had picked up his third a little less than a minute earlier, so options were becoming more and more limited for first year head coach and former standout player, Jose Rodriguez. Meanwhile, the Crusaders scored four of the final five points in the last 2:43 to take a ten point lead going into the fourth. Carteret made only 4 of 16 shots from the floor including a three pointer for 25 percent while Johnson was as offensively challenged with 3 of 12 shooting for 25 percent, but two of the three made field goals were threes, and the home team also made 5 of 7 at the line.

Showing some urgency and sensing their season slipping away, the Ramblers pulled together in the fourth. Over the initial 2:09 of the final frame, Carteret scored a 6-1 run including a three pointer by Tampa and one of two from the line by Miller to close the gap to five at 43-38 with a little less than six minutes remaining. The Ramblers made it a 10-1 tear as they scored the next four points to pull within a point at 43-42 with 4:02 left as Alvin Rodriguez made a pair at the charity stripe. However, the junior point guard collected his fourth foul soon afterward, and Tampa did the same at the 3:28 mark as Castaldo click for two at the line for a three point, 45-42 lead. However, after a Carteret timeout at the 3:10 mark, the Ramblers resumed their rally, and found a way to come up with a huge road win, 51-47. With the victory, CHS is now an even .500 on the season at 7-7 with two more games to play before the state cutoff date on February 3rd. If the Ramblers can win one of those two, it will qualify for the Central Jersey Group II State Tournament. In addition, a Carteret win on Tuesday night at home against Monroe in GMC Hoops JV/Varsity Doubleheader will put the team in a four way tie for first place in the GMC Hoops Trophy Standings with Colonia, Dunellen, and St. Peter's.

Team
1 2 3 4
Total
Carteret (7-7)
5 15 12 19 51
Johnson Regional (2-13)
12 17 13 5 47

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