There are just three full weeks of play left before the NJSIAA cutoff for the state tournament, and a number of GMC and Somerset County teams have legitimate shots at earning top seeds in their respective sections come tournament time.
One of the big changes this year, mainly due to the potential for COVID stoppages and cancellations, which could shrink teams’ schedules, is that only the best 13 games before the cutoff will count toward power points, which are used to seed teams. Typically, the first 16 before the cutoff count.
As of now, 35 teams from the GMC and Somerset County are in playoff contention, and three teams – Watchung Hills (North 2, Group 4), South Plainfield (North 2, Group 3) and South River (Central Group 2) – sit in first place.
This week, we have a section-by-section look as to where area teams may be headed, based on the NJSIAA’s power points, as published on NJ.com as of Sunday, January 23rd:
Non-Public North B: Gill St. Bernard’s, highly regarded in the statewide rankings with much D-1 talent, sits in second, 13 points behind 12-0 Morris Catholic (271), one of just six unbeaten teams left in the state. This is a loaded section; Roselle Catholic sits in fourth. Timothy Christian is 5th, while Wardlaw-Hartridge (5-3) checks in 9th.
Non-Public South A: The top two teams here are Red Bank Catholic (390) and Christian Brothers (358), but St. Thomas Aquinas is right there at 343, undefeated at 14-0. Behind them is Rutgers Prep (11-0) in third at 296. Then, after St. John Vianney, St. Joseph-Metuchen is 6th with 265 points, ten behind the Lancers. Immaculata check in 12th, and Pingry is next-to-last in 13th among 14 teams.
Central Jersey Group 4: No doubt, Monroe’s win over St. Joseph-Metuchen helped the Falcons, who at 12-2 are in second place, just ten points behind 11-2 Marlboro; they lead 335-325. South Brunswick is in fourth, but with 210. Old Bridge sits in 12th, with North Brunswick, Sayreville and East Brunswick 14 through 16. Montgomery is just five points behind the 4-5 Bears, on the outside of the bubble at 4-7.
Central Jersey Group 3: With few are teams in this section, only Somerville, which is in 15th place (2-9), is in the picture.
Central Jersey Group 2: This is an intriguing one, as Bound Brook – winners of 24 straight and 10-0 this year, moving up from Group 1 – actually sits behind first-place South River, which is 11-1 and has 259 points, compared to the Crusaders’ 238. Of course, Brook also has only played ten games and has one less win. The top seed should be well within reach for Bound Brook. Spotswood checks in 9th with Middlesex right behind them. Metcuhen sits in 16th.
Central Jersey Group 1: Burlington City sits in first with 173 points, with the highest GMC team Perth Amboy Tech (8-1) in 4th with 133. Highland Park, Manville, Somerset Tech, South Amboy and Dunellen all are in the bottom half of the top 16 at the moment.
North 2, Group 4: Watchung Hills (9-3) is tied for first with Westfield (10-4), both having 260 points. Ridge has played one less game and has 225, sitting in third. Right behind them are JP Stevens, Franklin, Edison, and Bridgewater-Raritan in seventh. Perth Amboy (4-8) sits in 15th, while Piscataway (4-5) is nine points out, behind 5-7 Phillipsburg.
North 2, Group 3: South Plainfield (11-3) leads the pack here with 263 points, but 14 games played – remember, just the best 13 count this year – while Colonia sits in second at 9-2 with 226 points. But, they’ve only played eleven and are likely to pass the Tigers.