Welcome to the GMC Hoops Column called Taking It To The Rack. This is where we get to sound off on particular issues in the GMC, or provide analysis of what is going on in the county. As we get closer to the beginning of the season, a column will be appearing more frequently. Here's this week's column.
2/3/12--REFLECTIONS ON THE YEAR TO DATE
For the first time in quite a while, I have finally put together a column for the site. I'm not going to give any guarantees that this will become a weekly thing like it has in the past, but I will try to update this particular page more often for the rest of the season. There are several things that I want to quickly go over before I reflect on the season to date.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE 2012 GMCT
Don't look now, but the 2012 Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament starts n
ext weekend with play-in round games at the higher seeded teams. Here is th
e timeline for the GMCT:
- February 10th--Seeding meeting.
- February 11th--Play-In round games at higher seeded schools.
- February 14th--Preliminary round games at higher seeded schools.
- February 16th--Round of 16 games at higher seeded schools
- February 19th--GMCT Elite Eight--Quarterfinals at MCC.
- February 22nd--GMCT Final Four--Semifiinals at SBHS
- February 24th--GMCT Championship at Rutgers
St. Joseph's will likely be the top seed in the tournament after clinching the GMC Red with a victory over Piscataway on Thursday night. The Falcons are looking to become the first team since the tournament became the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament back in 1986 to win the tourney title three years in a row. The last Middlesex County team to do that were the John Somogyi coached St. Peter's Cardinals of 1983, 1984, and 1985 when it was still the Middlesex County Tournament.
SHOWCASE WEEKENDS COMING UP FOR GMC TEAMS
This weekend starts three consecutive weekends of big showcase events involving teams from the Greater Middlesex Conference. St. Joseph's will likely be featured in all three weekends. The Falcons play in the Battle of the Bay against St. Patrick's on Saturday night. The Celtics are coming off a win over second ranked Plainfield on Thursday night. Also playing at the Battle of the Bay in Atlantic City is Piscataway Tech, which is taking on Holy Spirit of Absecon on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, over in Rahway, Dunellen will be facing off against Westfield and Cardinal McCarrick will be taking on Roselle Catholic again at the Bernoskie Games. Next weekend is the Prime Time Shootout, which will be taking place at Roselle Catholic High School. St. Joseph's will be competing along with fellow Red Division members East Brunswick and Piscataway. The Falcons will be taking on Our Savor New American from Long Island while EB will be facing Roselle Catholic and P-Way will be squaring off against St. Peter's Prep.
The following Sunday will be the GMC's Super Sunday with the Quarterfinals taking place at Middlesex County College.
It has been a while since I last posted to this column. It has been a crazy four months for me. Ever since Hurricane Irene struck back in late August, I have been fighting an uphill battle. Besides the basement in my house being flooded and without any power or gas until the Thursday after the storm, I have also had to put in more time at work for training, which has left me less time than last year to do work on the site.
Since October, I have been in for training on my normal days off four times including the week of the start of the season and two weeks ago. I also battled a tough cold over the holidays. Nevertheless, here is what I have done in spite of all the difficulties:
- Covered 21 different spring and summer leagues, team camps, and showcases.
- Covered 5 different fall leagues.
- Saw 21 football games this season--record
- Saw 12 college basketball games.
- Saw 5 high school basketball scrimmages
- Covered 70 boys hoops games through the end of January--never been done before.
- Covered all 31 GMC schools at least once by the end of holiday tournament play--never been done before.
- Covered 30 of the 31 GMC schools at least twice so far this season.
- Covered 20 of the 31 GMC schools at least three times so far this year.
- Revived the GMC Hoops Freshmen and JV Games of the Week.
- Covered Hoop Group Tip-Off Classic, Planet Athlete Holiday Showcase, and the SFIC Invitational.
- Covered 10 holiday tournaments
Because I had spent time at work on my usual days off for training, I did not really get a chance to work on the team pages and previews like I had hoped. I did, however, post rosters for 30 of the 31 schools. The only school that still hasn't given me a roster with uniform numbers is East Brunswick Tech. The summaries page is updated with play-by-play, game notes, articles, and video from games I have seen this year as well as a few by others.
I hope to add some more pictures to the photo gallery. Once I start doing that, I plan to post links to the individual galleries from games in the GMC Summaries page to complement the other things there. I am a bit behind on the articles, which is normal for this time of year. I get out and cover a lot of games during the holidays, and that usually backs me up. Now, I also have videos to deal with as well, but this year it is a bit easier, and I'm all caught up in that department for now.
REFLECTIONS ON THE 2011-12 SEASON TO DATE
Now to what I really wanted to talk about today, and that is the year that we have had to date. It has been an interesting one with some surprises. Monroe and South Brunswick have been the larger surprises so far this season although both schools have had a couple pieces to their success for the past couple of seasons. Spotswood, Timothy Christian, and Carteret have been the little schools that could this year with a combined record of 44-8 entering Friday.
The Falcons equaled the best start in school history with seven straight wins before falling to Randolph on the first Saturday of 2012. The Purple Birds came back down to earth somewhat with losses in five of
six games, but have since rebounded with victories over Edison, South Plainfield, and Red Bank Catholic. Two veterans from the MTHS squad that reached the 2010 GMCT final Victor Sorrento and Ryan Genevieve have earned GMC Hoops Player of the Week honors while Nick Isola has stepped up his game and Ryan Stolte and Chuka Onukwugha have contributed to an 11-6 record.
SOUTH BRUNSWICK VIKINGS
Meanwhile, the Vikings have been doing fairly well. South Brunswick began the year with four straight wins including a victory over Piscataway prior to the holidays. The Vikes also reached the Championship Game of the Brunswick Classic for the first time in the brief history of that holiday tourney. SBHS had a golden opportunity to advance itself further in the polls and rankings when it played East Brunswick two weeks ago. The Vikings jumped out to a 15-4 lead, but the Bears rallied to tie the game in the third period, and eventually won in a double overtime thriller. Since then, South Brunswick has gone on to defeat Piscataway a second time before losing to EB again. The Vikes now have a record of 13-4 after play on Thursday night.
Spotswood has also impressed. Before losing to Bishop Ahr at home on January 14th in a wild game with 21 three pointers combined by both teams, the Chargers had won seven straight after losing by three at home in their season opener to Carteret. Led by Tommy Soulias, Spotswood has won the Bound Brook Crusader Classic for the third time in the past four years. The Chargers have also done well on the road with a 9-2 record with the only two defeats coming at #7 Carteret and #2 North Brunswick in the GMC Hoops Top Ten. Inspired by a fanatic student section that travels pretty well, the Chargers have been a solid team at home and on the road with a 12-4 record overall. They are at least one of the most improved teams in the conference after going 7-18 in 2010-11. Sophomore guard, Jake Dadika, a transfer, has helped open things up for the Charger offense by pushing the ball upcourt, kicking out to Soulias and Dalonte Grant on the wings, and even scoring himself.
TIMOTHY CHRISTIAN TIGERS
Timothy Christian has been one of the feel good stories of the 2011-12 campaign. With two 1,000 point scorers in Kristian Svendsen and Dan Decker leading the way, the Tigers reeled off 12 straight victories including a 59-51 win at Dunellen on January 11th, a 49-47 victory at Piscataway Tech and crossover victories over Middlesex and Highland Park before losing to Bishop Ahr this past Monday night. The Tigers, which are now 16-2, also won their holiday tourney for the first time in four years. Losing by as many as 24 in the first half, and trailing 37-16 at the intermission, TCS rallied to actually take a one point lead in the fourth quarter before losing to the Trojans by ten. Brandon Summers has stepped up his game with a career high 18 points in the win at P-Way Tech and 14 points two days later against E.B. Tech. TCS has also gotten steady play from Jeff Parker and Zach Csorny while Devon Johnson and Will Gaskin have also contributed.
A team that Timothy Christian will be facing in the coming weeks is another team that has done very well this season. The Carteret Ramblers have posted a 16-2 mark after defeating Highland Park on Wednesday night. The only two teams that Carteret has lost to this season were Bishop Ahr (in overtime) and South Brunswick. Both are ranked in the GMC Hoops Top Ten. CHS also won the Gene Haley Memorial Tournament over the holidays for the first time since 2005, and recently avenged their loss to Ahr to move into a first place tie with the Trojans in the GMC Blue. Led by their two leading scorers Avery Carter and Tanveer Dosanjh and anchored on defense by football players and frontcourt mates Kevin Van Dyke and Ryan Oliver, the Ramblers have won ten straight. Joey Nigro has done a nice job running the offense, and seeing the floor well while freshmen Jaquan Robertson and Brandon Gilder have made sizable contributions.
1,000 POINT SCORERS
It has also been a year of the 1,000 point scorer. In week six alone, three different players accomplished the mark on three consecutive days. Keith Hughes went over a grand against Sayreville on January 26th, Woodbridge's Amboy Tech's Malcolm Batts did the same against Wardlaw on January 27th, and St. Joe's Danny Brix reached the milestone against Marist on Janaury 28th.
In addition, Dan Decker of Timothy Christian became the second player to go over 1,000 points against Wardlaw this year on Wednesday of this week. Add all of that to Quenton DeCosey of St. Joseph's and Kristian Svendsen going over a grand in the third game of their seasons this year, and you have six players scoring 1,000 points for their careers this year alone. A thousand point scorer from last year, Rashad Adams of Perth Amboy Tech, reached another milestone on Monday against Wall Township when he became the school's all time leading scorer. Adams moved past Kevin Zakrewski on the Patriots all time scoring list.
Of the eight 1,000 point scorers that are currently playing, six of them play on a team with another 1,000 point scorer (Brix and DeCosey--St. Joe's, Adams and Batts--Amboy Tech, and Svendsen and Decker--Timothy Christian). More 1,000 point scorers could be on the way as well. Kyle Pearson of Woodbridge and Justen Davis of Wardlaw recently moved over the 900 point plateau. Tommy Soulias of Spotswood is close to 850 points for his career as well as Milton Pittman of New Brunswick.
Looking ahead to next year, Rob Ukawuba of East Brunswick, Dylan Hoski of Dunellen, and Sultan Aminu of Old Bridge have chances to get 1,000. If Aminu reaches the milestone, he would be the first in OBHS history to do so. Remember, Old Bridge came into existence back in the 1994-95 season when Madison Central and Cedar Ridge merged. Before that, Tim Klag of Cedar Ridge scored over 1,500 points for the Cougars before graduating in 1989.
Besides the 1,000 point scorers we have had this year, there have also been some coaching milestones with St. Joseph's Dave Turco, North Brunswick's Ed Breheney, and Cardinal McCarrick's Joe Lewis winning their 300th career game. Last year, East Brunswick's Bo Henning accomplished the feat. Not to be left out, Spotswood's Steve Mate won his 200th game when the Chargers defeated Bound Brook in the Championship Game of the 2011 Crusader Classic over the holidays.
And, just to think, we've only started the month of February, and still have the GMCT and various state tournaments to come.
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