Tag: Jan Cocozziello

Union Catholic too big for St. Joseph as Falcons fall in Non-Public South A finals

St. Joseph-Metuchen beat Union Catholic in late January with both teams missing a key piece. The Falcons were without Jeremy Clayville, and UC was without Chimeziri Okeoma.

The second time, Okeoma turned out to be the difference, scoring a game-high 26 points – eight better than his season average – to help his team to an 86-72 win in the Non-Public South A championship game at Lenape High School.

Joe’s fell behind early, down 26-13 after one quarter and never fully recovered, playing catch-up all night. They trailed by 14 at the half and 63-41 after three.

They cut it to 11 on and and-one opportunity by Jeremy DeCaro with 1:24 left, but he missed the foul shot and the Falcons got called for a flagrant foul near their bench that resulted in an ejection and four free throws for Okeoma, who made the first three, and squashed any comeback attempt.

St. Joseph was led by Clayville’s 15, nine of which came in the final quarter. Senior Josh Ingram had 12, but was held to just four points – all on free throws – in the first half, a result of UC’s defense.

Union Catholic will face either Bergen Catholic or St. Peter’s Prep, the North A winner, with that game close late at Franklin HS as of this writing.

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St. Joe’s still seeking chemistry as it takes on red-hot Colonia in GMC Tournament semifinals

There was a time, not too long ago, when St. Joseph of Metuchen being in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament championship game was almost a foregone conclusion. And why not?

They made every title tilt from 2008 to 2019, a stretch of 12 appearances that had never been done before, not even in or around the great Taylor family Perth Amboy dynasty in the 1970s, back when it was the Middlesex County Tournament.

A combination of one year out, and the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the a shortened season with county tournament “pods” in 2021, and all of a sudden it’s been three years since the Falcons have played for a trophy.

But Jan Cocozziello and his team will try and change that tonight, when the 2nd-seeded Falcons (19-5) take on third-seed Colonia (20-3) in the GMC Tournament semifinals tonight at Monroe High School.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will have full coverage of both semifinal games as Mike Pavlichko calls all the action, beginning with pregame at 4:45 for the Colonia-St. Joe’s matchup at 5:00. The second semifinal is set for 7 pm. Click here to listen to both games for free, with no registration required.

Cocozziello says a number of factors have played into his team’s 19-5 season, and an occasional lack of cohesiveness with the unit, even though it is no doubt a talented one, led by Ethan Simmon and his 19.6 points per game, including 45 in his team’s first two games of the GMC Tournament, against Spotswood (in a 104-49 win) and South Plainfield (a 73-54 quarterfinal victory).

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk to head coach Jan Cocozziello about the Falcons’ season, what can be gleaned from two recent losses to elite programs, and tonight’s matchup with Colonia:

St. Joe’s of Metuchen to face Top 5 NJ team Saturday in Hearts 2 Hands Invitational

Jan Cocozziello knows his St. Joseph-Metuchen team this year is a little undersized. Nick Mariniello knows his Hudson Catholic ballclub this year is on the young and inexperienced side.

The two will clash Saturday night at Roselle Catholic when the Falcons (17-4) face the Hawks (15-2) in the third of four games at the Hearts 2 Hands Invitational. Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast the game, the first of a doubleheader on CJSR that also includes St. Thomas Aquinas and Gill St. Bernard’s as the headliner.

You can listen to both games starting with the pregame show at 6:00, by clicking here. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe have the call.

St. Joe’s – the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division champion for a third straight year – came out of Thursday morning’s GMC seeding meeting with the No. 2 seed, behind St. Thomas Aquinas, and will begin play in the first round next week. Senior Ethan Simmon leads the way with 19.1 points per game, while junior Josh Ingram scoring at a 15.3 clip.

Hudson Catholic, meanwhile, would be HCIAL American Division co-champs with St. Peter’s Prep – which they split with this year – if they can win Friday night’s game against Union City. Sophomore Tahaa Pettiford leads a balanced scoring attack with 17.8 points per game.

Click below for audio previews of the St. Joe’s-Hudson Catholic matchup:

St. Joseph-Metuchen head coach Jan Cocozziello
Hudson Catholic head coach Nick Mariniello

St. Joe’s hangs tough with St. Benedict’s, but Falcons loss gives Hall of Famer milestone victory on bittersweet night

Scroll down for a full replay of tonight’s game broadcast.

There was a lot going on off Plainfield Avenue in Metuchen Monday night.

To begin with, it was a homecoming for Mark Taylor, who is in the St. Joseph-Metuchen Hall of Fame for his efforts both as a player and coach. He was an All-American soccer player, All-State basketball player, and coached Jay Williams and Andrew Bynum.

Monday night, he won his 550th game as a basketball head coach, but this time the victory came against the school where he forged his name in its all-time annals.

Former St. Joseph standout, coach and Falcon Hall of Famer Mark Taylor, middle, poses with his current team, St. Benedict’s, after a win over his alma mater that gave him victory No. 550 in his coaching career, on January 31, 2022. (Photo: Dom Savino)

In a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, despite a 27-point night from Ethan Simmon, the No. 5 Falcons lost 88-54 to St Benedict’s Prep of Newark, where Taylor has coached for over a decade now.

The game also included a more somber moment: prior to tip-off, a moment of silence was held in honor of Bill Kuchar, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 88. Kuchar coached at St. Joe’s, as well as St. Mary’s in Jersey City and Wardlaw-Hartridge in Edison, and has won eight state titles.

Once the game started, the Falcons hung in with the Gray Bees for most of the first half, trailing 25-22 just past the midway point of the second quarter. But Benedict’s went on a 13-0 run to close the half and never looked back.

Click below to hear Dom Savino with postgame reaction from St. Joe’s head coach Jan Cocozziello:

Click below for the full game audio of St. Joseph’s v. St. Benedict’s on Monday, January 31, 2022 from the Vincent Maglio Gymnasium in Metuchen. Dom Savino has the call:

No. 5 St. Joe’s faces powerhouse St. Benedict’s – and former coach – in Metuchen tonite

Mark Taylor has won championships and coached NBA stars. Tonight, he’ll be at the place where he coached Jay Williams and Andrew Bynum, facing his old school, St. Joseph of Metuchen.

For the Falcons, it will be a good measuring stick, a chance to knock off one of the top schools in New Jersey (ranked 4th according to MaxPreps), and a good way to toughen up with the GMC Tournament – the first in two years – just a few weeks away.

St. Joseph (12-3) has won five in a row, but hasn’t beaten the Gray Bees (10-1) since they recently began meeting up three years ago. They meet tonight at St. Joe’s in a game you can hear live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Dom Savino calling all the action. Tip-off is set for 7 pm from the Vincent Maglio Gymnasium. Pre-game will start approximately 6:45. Click here to listen live.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Falcons’ head coach Jan Cocozzielo about how the series got started, how his team has played lately, and what he looks for against St. Benedict’s tonight:

No. 4 St. Joe’s-Metuchen uses strong third quarter, balanced scoring, to with 19th straight over East Brunswick

The game was played in the same gym – albeit with newer bleachers, brighter lighting and a fresh paint job – but the result wasn’t the same at all.

January 2013 was the last time East Brunswick beat St. Joseph of Metuchen in basketball, 19 meetings ago, coming into Thursday night’s GMC Red Division clash.

Now, it’s 20 meetings ago, as St. Joe’s won its 19th in a row over the Bears, 72-45 Thursday night in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Senior guard Amari Campbell, who had missed the early season and returned Tuesday against Old Bridge only to get in foul trouble and not tally in the scoring column, pumped in a near-career-high 20 – with 11 of those coming in the fourth quarter – while fellow senior guard Ethan Simmon added 17.

St. Joseph improves to 5-2, 4-0 in divisional play, while the Bears drop to 5-3, 3-2 in the GMC Red.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino:

Senior guard Ethan Simmon
Head coach Jan Cocozziello

Simmon, Ingram lead St. Joe’s into GMC Red clash with East Brunswick

If you’re compiling a list of GMC breakout candidates, Ethan Simmon has scored his way to the top of the list. The St. Joe’s-Metuchen guard leads the team with 24.3 points-per-game, punctuated by a career-high 36 points in a blowout win over Old Bridge Tuesday.

It’s the latest triumph in a hot start for the Falcons (4-2), who stand at No. 4 in this week’s Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Rankings.

St. Joe’s now prepares for a battle of the last two GMC Red teams without a division loss, traveling to East Brunswick (3-1) Thursday at 7 p.m. for a game that will be broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Click here to listen to the broadcast with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling all the action; pregame coverage starts at 6:45.

Simmon represents one-half of Joe’s two-headed backcourt monster, complemented by the emergence of point guard Josh Ingram. The junior is averaging a career-best 15.5 ppg, including a season-high 18 points Tuesday.

Central Jersey Sports Radio‚Äôs Dom Savino talked with St. Joe’s head coach Jan Cocozziello to preview the Falcons’ meeting with EB:

Falcons’ Jan Cocozziello breaks down St. Joe’s win over state-ranked South Brunswick

Whether it was the Karl Towns days at St. Joseph-Metuchen or 2021, the Falcons’ program has always challenged itself, playing tough non-conference competition.

In each of the first two weeks of the season, St. Joe’s had toughies. State No. 2 Roselle Catholic was to be their second game, on the road, following the home opener at Monroe, which would up being wiped out by COVID in the Monroe program. They lost that game by 26.

The Falcons also played St. Benedict following a win over Piscataway. They lost that game by seven.

But it might have taught St. Joseph a little about themselves, and prepared them for the challenge they’d face in a matinee at Vincent Maglio Gymnasium Saturday, a 69-64 triumph over South Brunswick, which came in at 3-0, ranked No. 18 in the state.

Click below to hear St. Joe’s head coach Jan Cocozziello talk about the victory over the Vikings: