Aquinas sweep of GMCT not as rare as you might think

St. Thomas Aquinas swept the girls’ and boys’ GMC Tournament titles. Senior Adam Silas and head coach Bob Turco talk to CJSR after the game. (Photo: Justin Sontupe)

It was a clean sweep of the GMC Tournament titles for St. Thomas Aquinas, in the first full tournament for the league since 2020, due to the COVID pandemic. In fact, they took home both trophies for the second straight year, something no other school has ever done.

And though it’s been a while since it last happened before that, the double-dip is not as rare as it might seem.

To begin with, you have to go back to 2009 for the last time the same team won both the boys’ and girls’ titles. That year, Piscataway had both top seeds.

The Lady Chiefs edged out 2-seed Cardinal McCarrick 56-51 for their third title in the midst of what remains the best multi-year run of any girls’ school in the GMCT. That was the third title in four years – and five straight finals berths – for Piscataway under Pat Mayo. They had lost in 2005, won in 2006 and 2007, lost in 2008, and won again in 2009. They would win two more in a row before failing to make the finals in 2012, but they then won three more in a row, the first two under Corey Floyd, the last under Dave Kosa. That made it eight titles in ten years, and in 11 straight finals appearances.

The 2007 Piscataway teams also swept, the top-seeded girls beating South Plainfield, and the 6th-seeded boys beating 5-seed Cardinal McCarrick in the lowest combination of seeds since the 1982 MCT, which also had a 6- and 5-seed.

In between the Chiefs’ sweeps, Cardinal McCarrick won it all in 2008, with Lynn Ust’s third-seeded girls knocking off top-seed Piscataway in double overtime on a dramatic buzzer beater by Jen Shereyka, while Joe Lewis’ top-seeded boys beat sixth-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen. That was the Falcons’ first appearance in a stretch of 12 straight championship game appearances that ended in 2020, and is a GMC record.

There were two more sweeps in the ’90s. In 1996, the second-seeded East Brunswick girls beat 5-seed Bishop Ahr 50-43, while the top-seeded boys beat 2-seed Piscataway 51-44. The year before, Piscataway again had both top seeds, with the boys and girls both beating East Brunswick, which had both three seeds.

In the Middlesex County Tournament, 1985 and 1983 saw the now-closed St. Peter’s of New Brunswick win both titles. In the final MCT before formation of the GMC, Ernie Vajda’s top-seeded Lady Cardinals cruised past 2-seed Bishop Ahr 40-21, while the second-seeded boys – coached by John Somogyi – upset top-seed New Brunswick 75-63. Two years prior, in 1983, the girls also were the top seed, and crushed 11-seed Piscataway 70-45, while the boys were also the top seed, and beat 2nd-seed St. Joe’s 68-54.

The first sweep happened in 1977. Again, Piscataway had both top seeds. The girls beat 3rd-seed South Plainfield in just the third MCT final held on the girls’ side (it started in 1975). The boys edged 6th-seed Carteret 77-74.

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