It was another night of mostly chalk in the Greater Middlesex Conference girls’ basketball tournament, as seven of the eight higher seeds won their first-round games Tuesday night.
The only upset of the night was by seed, as 9th-seeded North Brunswick blew by 8th-seed Woodbridge Academy 71-38 for a road win that sends them to Saturday’s quarterfinals at Middlesex County College in Edison.
Top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas advanced with a 79-35 win over 17th-seed JFK, and will face the Raiders in the final of four games Saturday at 5 pm.
Also on that side of the bracket, 5th-seed East Brunswick battled to get past 12-seed JP Stevens 49-48, while 4th-seed Old Bridge took care of Spotswood 50-26.
On the other half of the bracket, 3rd-seed Colonia got by 19-seed Metuchen 44-31, while 6th-seed Middlesex beat 11-th seed South River 43-34, in a win that earned head coach Kevin Harper – the winningest coach in GMC history – his 700th career win.
The other side of that bracket had 7th-seed South Brunswick getting over 10-seed Woodbridge 62-40, while 2nd-seed Monroe beat 18-seed South Plainfield 53-43.
Here’s the schedule of games for Saturday’s GMC quarterfinals at Middlesex County College in Edison:
11 am – 3-Colonia vs. 6-Middlesex
1 pm – 2-Monroe vs. 7-South Brunswick
3 pm – 4-Old Bridge vs. 5-East Brunswick
5 pm – 1-St. Thomas Aquinas vs. 9-North Brunswick
In the opener, the Patriots (21-2) will face Middlesex (19-2), their second straight opponent from the Blue Division. They are unbeaten against GMC opponents this season, their two losses coming only to Albertus Magnus (NY) in the season opener, and at Westfield on January 12th. Their last GMC loss came to the Blue Jays last year, in the regular season finale, 57-51 on March 1. This year’s best scorers – Mattison Chiera and Taylor Derkack – combined for 29 points in a 57-51 win over the Blue Jays, who were led by now-graduated Kristen Yonker, with 22 points. Middlesex’s only losses this year have come playing up in the GMC, a 47-38 defeat in the Woodbridge Holiday Classic to the Barrons, and a 58-48 loss to East Brunswick on January 15th; they’ve since won 14 straight.
READ MORE: Middlesex girls win 43rd straight GMC Blue Division game, a 62-45 home win over South River
In the other game in that half of the bracket, Monroe (15-4) will face South Brunswick (16-6) for the third time this season. The Falcons beat the Vikings 49-38 on January 22nd at home, then completed the regular season sweep January 31st with a 65-58 road win, although both games were competitive. The Falcons haven’t lost a GMC game since a January 4th win against East Brunswick at home 51-36. The Vikings’ last win against Monroe came on January 22, 2019 – a 51-49 road victory. Of note, the Falcons have had five different players score in double figures against South Brunswick this season, but while three did it in the first meeting – Hally Cottrell (18), Nicole Turco (12) and Sydney Wolven (11) – two others did it in the second meeting – Haley Higgins (20) and Katelyn Louro (17, and 10 rebounds). That’s a tough defensive assignment for South Brunswick.
Game three has Old Bridge (13-6) facing East Brunswick (15-7), with the Knights having won four of the last five matchups against the Bears. The second of those games was an overtime affair at East Brunswick broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Old Bridge winning 69-63. Click here for a recap of that game. Both teams sputtered a bit heading into the GMC Tournament. The Knights lost to St. Thomas Aquinas and South Brunswick before edging Bridgewater-Raritan by five on February 10th to head into the GMCT on a high note. The Bears dropped three straight – to Aquinas, South Brunswick, and Blue Division opponent South River, but got back on the winning track in the GMCT’s first round Tuesday night with the win over JP Stevens.
The final game of the marathon at Middlesex County College in Edison has St. Thomas Aquinas (18-3) facing North Brunswick (14-7), the only team outside the top eight seeds (they’re a nine) to make it to quarterfinal Saturday. The Trojans have lost just one GMC game this season; that was a 55-41 defeat at Monroe, on the same night the boys’ knocked off St. Joseph at the buzzer in a doubleheader at home. The Trojans may not be the same team they were last year, but they’re still very good, and a heavy favorite to win it all; a potential matchup against second-seed Monroe in the finals would be quite entertaining for both teams, and maybe a pick-’em game, but there’s still a lot of basketball to be played before that point. As for Saturday, the Raiders will be looking for their first win against St. Thomas Aquinas since January 29, 2013, when the school was called Bishop Ahr, and North Brunswick won a 41-38 home game. Saturday, the Raiders will try and end a 13-game skid in the series. They also beat them the year before on a neutral floor, 53-51 in the GMC Tournament semifinals (they would lose to South Brunswick in the title game). North Brunswick’s last win at Ahr/Aquinas came on February 7th, 2012, by a 57-48 score.