Technically, it’s a neutral site. And as the lower seed, Monroe even wore its road purple uniforms.
But even with the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament semifinals being a “home” game for the Falcons, all the love, support and adulation of the home fans was not enough to overcome how good St. Thomas Aquinas is, even if the Trojans did struggle early in the game with Monroe’s defensive looks, and played a bit sloppy.
In the end, top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas did what it’s done all year: wear down and beat its opponents. And on Wednesday night, they beat the fourth-seeded Falcons 62-41 to go to a second straight GMC Tournament Final.
That will be Wednesday night at 8 pm against Colonia, back down at Monroe, after the Patriots knocked off St. Joe’s in the night’s first semifinal game. Both were heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.
Adam Silas played another good game, even if he “only” had a pedestrian 16 point night, with only eight from the field to go along with an 8-for-8 night at the charity stripe.
Senior guard Samar Abdullah had a big third quarter – eight points, including a pair of treys – which turned out to be decisive; after leading just 25-22 following a low-scoring first-half, Aquinas exploded for a 24-point third quarter, including an 11-0 run that also included key buckets from sophomore Jaden Kelly.
Solid as St. Thomas Aquinas has been the last three seasons – still ranked No. 3 in the statewide rankings that came out today – it will be just their third appearance in a GMC final.
Aquinas won it all in 2020, beating 4-seed South Brunswick 63-52. That was their first title since their only other one, in their only other appearance in the title tilt, in 1992, when – as the top seed – they beat 2-seed St. Joseph 61-47. The legendary John Somogyi was their head coach.
Click below for postgame reaction from St. Thomas Aquinas’ semifinal win over Monroe, as head coach Bob Turco and senior Adam Silas talk with Mike Pavlichko: