Moves Into First Place With Seventh Straight Win
By Greg Machos
January 22, 2008
CARTERET, NJ—For the first time since the school moved into the GMC White back in the 2002-03 season, the Carteret Ramblers own sole possession of first place. It was marked as a showdown between two teams on hot streaks as North Brunswick entered the contest with wins in seven of its last eight while Carteret had won six straight. Unfortunately, those watching the game would have never known that after seeing both teams playing in this one. Following a close first quarter that saw the lead change hands a few times, the tenth ranked Ramblers, ranked in the GMC Hoops Top Ten for the first time since current St. Joseph's assistant, John Dolan was the head coach, and only the second time since the 2001-02 season when it last won the GMCT, held the ninth ranked Raiders to a flat footed foul line jumper by junior forward, Mike Cole with 1:10 remaining in the first half as the home team outscored the visitors 12-2 in the frame for a 25-14 halftime lead. Capitalizing on 29 turnovers by North Brunswick, Carteret extended its lead with a 15-11 showing in the third, and closed things out with an 11-4 effort in the fourth for a 51-29 victory. Robert "Double-Double" Jackson lived up to his name sake with a game high 21 points on 10 of 18 shooting from the floor, and 15 rebounds after not starting the game.
The Ramblers, which shot only 23 of 58 from the floor for 39.7 percent, played stifling man-to-man defense, and switched to an agressive 2-3 zone after Brian Williams picked up his second foul in the first half, limited North Brunswick to 11 of 32 shooting from the floor for 34.4 percent, and forced the Raiders to nearly as many turnovers as the team had in its opening night loss at Sayreville. Williams, a senior forward, chipped in with 11 points on 5 of 10 shooting to go along with 1 of 3 at the foul line, 4 rebounds, 3 fine assists, 3 steals, and a charge. Fellow senior forward, and gridiron teammate, Al Tampa added 13 points on 6 of 12 shooting, and a free throw in his only attempt while picking up 8 rebounds, an assist steal, and a charge. Jeff Ashamole led the way in a losing cause for North Brunswick with a team high 9 points on 4 of 8 shooting, and a foul shot while also registering 7 rebounds, 5 blocks, an assist, and a steal. To view the rest of the individual statistics, please check out the contest's stat page in the GMC Hoops Game Stats section. Carteret, which had a solid summer, and had earned pre-season projections as high as sixth in the Top Ten, and a second place finish in the GMC White, had actually lost more games than it won after seven contests (3-4) including a stunning loss on the road to Old Bridge, has transformed itself to become not only the frontrunner in the White Division, but also a contender again in both the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament in February, and the Central Jersey Group II tourney after that, where it reached the Quarterfinal round last year before losing to eventual finalist Somerville in overtime.
Meanwhile, North Brunswick, which had recently locked up a berth in the Central Jersey Group IV State Tournament for the second straight year thanks to a win last Thursday over Sayreville, a team that had humbled it in the opener, was also looking to gain momentum heading toward the counties and the states. However, rather than look like a contender, the Raiders looked more like a pretender in the loss. In the game, Carteret outscored North Brunswick in every quarter, and registered double digit scoring in each period while the Raiders, which were again without the services of senior guard Justin Morgan due to an injury prior to the Woodbridge game, only managed to do that in the first and third frames. The Ramblers didn't make a single three pointer in four attempts, but it didn't really matter much since North Brunswick only made one trey in its four attempts while the home team outrebounded it by a 37-25 margin including a 20-7 domination on the offensive boards. Both teams struggled at the charity stripe as the visitors only made 6 of 12 while the home team made less than 50 percent at 5 of 11. In other statistical areas, Carteret had the edge in turnovers (17-29), assists (12-10), steals (14-5), and charges (2-1) while North Brunswick's lone advantage was in blocked shots (6-0) thanks largely in part to Ashamole, who was really the only bright spot on the night for the Raiders.
In the first period, Carteret made 6 of 16 shots and 1 of 4 free throws while only committing a turnover. On the other hand, North Brunswick shot well at 4 of 7 including a three pointer, and made 3 of 5 free throws, but committed seven miscues in a foreshadowing of how the night would play out for the Raiders. In what would turn out to be the most competitive quarter by both teams, the Ramblers went to work right away by taking a 4-0 lead in the first minute on a Byron Merricks drive and dish to Tampa for a layup, and then a steal for a jumper by Merricks to give him his only points of the game. Thirty-five seconds later, the Raiders got on the board as Ashamole got the ball in the key, and kicked out to C.J. Brathwaiter for his first of two field goals on the night (2 of 10 including 0 of 2 from three) with a jumper from the left wing that made the score, 4-2 at the 6:25 mark. Junior guard, Ricky Harris then got his only point on the night with a one of two effort at the charity stripe for a 4-3 Rambler lead at the 6:02 mark. Brathwaite followed suit with a one of two effort of his own with 5:16 to go in the opening period for a 4-4 tie. Thirty-one seconds later, Carteret retook the lead as Williams got the ball down low on the left side, and with Ashamole on top of him, he pivoted and faked for a score that made it 6-4 at the 4:45 mark. In a stanza that saw six lead changes and a tie, North Brunswick took its first of two leads in this game on its next possession as Brathwaite passed inside to Ashamole for a layup as the big man was fouled for a three point play, and a 7-6 lead with 4:37 to go in the period. However, over the next 1:57, the Ramblers would retake the lead on two offensive rebounds and putbacks by Jackson to make the score 10-7 at the 2:40 mark.
Sixteen seconds later, Jackson padded the lead with a one of two effort at the charity stripe for an 11-7 advantage at the 2:24 mark. Then, despite the fact that North Brunswick collected its sixth turnover of the contest at the 2:05 mark, the Raiders still managed to take its final lead of the battle with a 5-0 run highlighted by two scores from freshman Tait Pirkle, who had a three pointer, and then a jumper from the right wing all set up by assists from Brathwaite for a 12-11 edge with 38 seconds to play in the period. Coming away with the momentum entering the second, Carteret still managed to end the opening period with the lead on a jumper by Tampa for a 13-12 score. North Brunswick would never retake the lead as Carteret smothered the Raiders in the second with a 12-2 effort that included limiting the visitors to just 1 of 6 shooting while forcing nine turnovers. The quarter began with a 6-0 spurt by the home team that included a putback by Jackson, a jumper by Tampa off an assist by Alvin Rodriguez, and then a one handed slam by Jackson on a follow of a missed shot for a 19-12 lead as North Brunswick called for time at the 5:54 mark. Following the timeout, Carteret continued to roll with another score for a 21-12 lead before Tampa drew a charge on Ashamole at the 4:07 mark. Rodriguez then got his only points of the game on a jumper from the right baseline for a 12-0 tear, and a 23-12 lead as Raider head coach, Ed Breheney, was again compelled to call for time at the 3:25 mark. Neither team would score for a span of 2:25 before Cole connected on an awkward jumper for the only NBTHS field goal and points of the period, and a 23-14 Carteret lead at the 1:10 mark. However, Carteret would push its advantage back up to eleven again at the intermission as Jackson scored on a drive that made the score, 25-14 at the break.
Looking at the first half scoring, Jackson, who was tenacious on the offensive glass, led the way for Carteret with 5 of 10 shooting and 1 of 4 free throws for 11 points along with 9 rebounds (8 were offensive boards). Tampa chipped in for the Ramblers with 4 of 9 field goals for 8 points along with 4 rebounds. On the other side of the ledger, Tait Pirkle led the charge for the Raiders with 5 points on 2 of 3 field goals including a three pointer while also picking up a rebound and a steal. Moving on to the first half statistics, North Brunswick was just 5 of 13 from the floor for 38.5 percent including 1 of 2 from three point land while making just 3 of 7 at the foul line for 42.9 percent. The Raiders actually had more turnovers than shot attempts with 16 miscues while Carteret only had seven. The Ramblers, which made only 12 of 32 shots for 37.5 percent, only made 3 of 13 shots outside of Jackson and Tampa. On the boards, Carteret held a 20-13 edge including a 14-4 advantage on the offensive glass. Assists were even at five apiece while the Ramblers had more steals (6-1) and charges (1-0). North Brunswick held a 3-0 edge on blocks. In the third quarter, the home team put a bit more distance between itself and its opponent as Carteret outscored North Brunswick by a 15-11 margin for a 40-25 lead going into the fourth. The Ramblers and Raiders began the period with a field goal each for a 27-16 CHS lead before Cole made one of two at the line with 6:37 to go in the frame for a 27-17 Carteret lead. Ten seconds later though, Tampa grabbed an offensive rebound off a blocked shot by Ashamole on Rene Godfrey, and put it back in as he was fouled for a three point play, and a 30-17 lead at the 6:27 mark.
North Brunswick would get a score to pull within eleven again at 30-19, but Williams scored on an offensive rebound, and putback of a Jackson miss for a 32-19 advantage as North Brunswick again called for a timeout at the 4:44 mark. The stoppage wasn't the tonic as Carteret made it a 6-0 run on two layups by Jackson off nice assists by Williams for a 36-19 lead at the 3:40 mark. Cole would get a score for a 36-21 Rambler lead as the Raiders called time again at the 2:58 mark, and then both teams scored four points each over the balance of the period for the fifteen point, CHS lead as both teams moved on to the fourth. Then, in the final period of play, Williams typified the night North Brunswick had by scoring on an off-balanced shot in the face of Ashamole that banked in as the Carteret foward, and wide receiver during football season was fouled. Although Williams missed the bonus free throw, the score stood at 42-25 in favor of the Ramblers with 7:15 left. Carteret then scored six of the next eight points including two free throws by Godfrey for his only points of the game, and a 48-27 advantage with 5:05 to play. From there, the Rambler lead grew to 23 at 50-27 when Jackson scored his final points of the game on a layup at the 3:11 mark as CHS won its seventh straight, 51-27. With the victory, Carteret improved to 10-4, and 6-2 in the White Division while North Brunswick dropped to 8-5 on the season including a 6-3 mark in divisional play.
North Brunswick (8-5)
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