All chalk, except for 8/9 game, in boys’ GMCT first-round; Elite 8 is set

Just like on the girls’ side Tuesday night, all the higher seeds on the boys’ side but one – in the 8 vs. 9 game – have moved on the the quarterfinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, to be played Sunday at Middlesex County College in Edison.

The only upset Wednesday night was a mild one: 9th-seed Piscataway knocking out 8th-seed Timothy Christian in an intra-township Red vs. Gold Division matchup, 81-50. The Chiefs now move on to play top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas, which cruised past 17th-seed Perth Amboy 94-47.

The other half of that bracket saw 5th-seed South Brunswick defeat 12-seed JP Stevens at home 57-47, sending the Vikings into an Elite 8 round matchup with fourth-seed Monroe, which beat 13-seed Old Bridge 64-54.

The other side of the bracket saw third-seeded Colonia beat 14-seed Sayreville 86-53, while 6th-seed Edison edged past 11-seed East Brunswick 57-52.

The other quarterfinal will feature 2nd-seed St. Joseph of Metuchen and 7-seed South Plainfield. The Falcons beat 15-seed Spotswood 104-49, while the Tigers got by 10-seed South River 77-68.

Below are Sunday’s quarterfinal matchups at Middlesex County College in Edison:

11 am – 3-Colonia vs. 6-Edison
1 pm – 2-St. Joseph-Metuchen vs. 7-South Plainfield
3 pm – 4-Monroe vs. 5-South Brunswick
5 pm – 1-St. Thomas Aquinas vs. 9-Piscataway

The 11 am game should be a good one to start the day. It’s an all-White Division battle between Colonia (18-3) and Edison (16-6), which has quietly put together a good season. The Patriots swept the season series, but the games were close. They won the first game on the road, 59-57 on December 21st, holding off a late rally from the Eagles, who were down 44-35 after three quarters. On January 20th, the Patriots won by eight, after trailing by five at the half.

St. Joseph (17-5) hasn’t played South Plainfield (19-4)in at least a decade. They did, however, face off in the GMC Tournament final in 2005, with the Tigers winning 66-65. Jeff Lubreski (now at Rahway) was the coach of the Tigers, while Mark Taylor (now at St. Benedict’s) was the coach at St. Joe’s. South hasn’t lost a GMC game since January 4th, but has lost three: to South Brunswick (by 14), Edison (by 26) and South River in their own Blue Division (by seven). The Falcons’ only losses have come to St. Thomas Aquinas (by 7) and Monroe, on the road, at the buzzer (by three).

Monroe (20-3) and South Brunswick (15-7) is also an interesting one, since the Vikings have won four of the last five meetings, and the teams split this year. The Falcons beat South Brunswick at home on January 22nd, 51-49, but lost to them on the road just nine days later, 45-43.

In the “nightcap” at 5 pm, it’s top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas (23-1) and 9th-seed Piscataway (11-9). Despite the Trojans’ only loss coming a couple of weeks ago to George (PA), they are still flying high, up to No. 3 in the statewide rankings after beating then No. 4 Gill St. Bernard’s in the Hearts 2 Hands Invitational at Roselle Catholic last weekend. The George loss was a wake up call, and a speed bump. Jaquan Harris – who took a test-drive of his surgically-repaired knee against Sayreville recently – missed the Gill game, and is expected back for the tournament. He didn’t play against the Panthers Thursday night, and may not need to against the Chiefs either. Head coach Bob Turco isn’t going to rush the Seton Hall commit back if he doesn’t have to. Terrell Pitts – perhaps the team’s best defenders – probably won’t be back until next week, but could even be out until the states. He was out for the Gill game, too, and Aquinas got along just fine.

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