Tag: quarterfinals

Franklin boys and girls, Ridge boys both knock off higher seeds, but otherwise, chalk prevails in SCT quarterfinals

The one, two and four seeds won in both the girls’ and boys’ Somerset County Tournament quarterfinals Tuesday night, but both Franklin squads – seeded fifth – beat higher seeded opponents to move on to Thursday’s semifinals.

In a doubleheader at Hillsborough – which was the fourth seed in both brackets, the Warrior boys won 68-59, while the girls won 54-50 in overtime.

Meanwhile, the 6th-seede Ridge boys knocked off third-seed Immaculata, 66-61 in Somerville.

Below are the recaps, followed by semifinal matchups for Thursday night, to be played at higher seeds:


#1 Rutgers Prep 76, #8 Bound Brook 66: The Crusaders were down double-digits at the half, and trailed by 20 at the end of three quarters before closing to within ten by the final buzzer. But Rutgers Prep (18-7) was too much for Bound Brook (19-4), with two players cracking the 20-point mark. Cameron Piggee – who’s missed several games due to injury – scored 21 points, while Jadin Collins added 20. Myles Parker added a dozen.

#5 Franklin 68, #4 Hillsborough 59: The Warriors started strong, jumping out to a 22-12 lead after one quarter, and led by eight at the half. Despite a push by the home Raiders (17-7) to close to within 45-36 at the end of three periods, Franklin (16-9) held on for the win. They got 23 from Cam Brown and 21 from Cameron Snowden, with Jake Noviello adding ten. Hillsborough had four players in doubel figures, led by Trevor Moncrease with 15 and 14 from Zion Harrison.

#6 Ridge 66, #3 Immaculata 61: Immaculata led 21-17 after one,found themselves down one at the half, but came back in the third to take a 51-46 lead at the end of three. But Ridge won the final quarter, doubling up the Spartans 20-10. The Red Devils (19-4) got 19 from Kevin Castronovo, and 14 from Nikola Borovicanin, while ‘Lata (18-5) got 13 each from Sean Givens and Jerrel Alston in defeat.

#2 Gill St. Bernard’s 58, #7 Watchung Hills 49: Gill led virtually wire-to-wire in this one, even thoughh the game got a little too close for comfort , as the Knights (17-6) only held a 39-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Mario Castro-Sanchez led Gill with 23 points, while Nick Losada added 19. The Warriors fell to 12-11 with the loss.


#1 Rutgers Prep 82, #8 Ridge 33: The Argonauts (18-4) continue to dominate Somerset County opponents, and as they usually do, did so right out of the gate, jumping out to a 29-6 lead after one quarter; they were up 54-20 at the half. Mikayla Blakes scored 22 to lead the Argos, with Katie Ledden adding 15 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Gigi Battle continued her stellar freshman season with another 16 points and five boards. The Red Devils dropped to 13-10 with the loss.

#5 Franklin 54, #4 Hillsborough 50 (OT): The Lady Warriors (12-11) needed overtime to get back over the .500 mark on the season, and advance to the semifinals. Precious Wheeler led the way with 18 points, while Iyanna Cotten scored 15. Amy Rachilla scored 17 to lead Hillsborough (14-10) in defeat.

#3 Watchung Hills 57, #6 Mount St. Mary 41: The Lady Warriors looked in control most of the way, leading 14-8 after one and 24-17 at the half, and continued to build the lead from there. Megan Groff led Watchung Hills (17-5) with 17, while Giana Lobozzo scored 12 for Mount (15-10).

#2 Gill St. Bernard’s 75, #7 Pingry 24: The Knights (16-6) ran right past the Big Blue (15-10), leading 20-10 after the first eight minutes, and 49-20 at the break. Gill was led by Brooke Baisley with 22 points in a game where nine players got in the scoring column. Conversely, their defense held Pingry to just three players in the scoring column, led by Taylor Francis with 15.

Here are the matchups for the semifinals:

#5 Franklin (12-11) at #1 Rutgers Prep (18-4), 5 pm (on CJSR)
#3 Watchung Hills (17-5) at #2 Gill St. Bernard’s (16-6), 5 pm

#5 Franklin (16-9) at #1 Rutgers Prep (17-7), 7 pm (on CJSR)
#6 Ridge (19-4) at #2 Gill St. Bernard’s (17-6), 7 pm

Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast both games at Rutgers Prep in Somerset on Thursday night, while reporter Chris Tsakonas will be covering the game at Gill St. Bernard’s in Gladstone.

South River boys get historic win over North Brunswick to clinch first county semifinal berth since 1979

On the strength of a 24-2 first quarter, third-seed South River won its GMC Tournament quarterfinal game Sunday at Middlesex County College in Edison over 6th-seed North Brunswick, 80-58, to clinch its first trip to the county tournament semifinals since 1979, before the Greater Middlesex Conference was even a thing.

The Rams won the Middlesex County Tournament in 1978 and 1979. Sunday’s game also was their first trip to the quarterfinals since 1991.

The first quarter saw everyone get into the action for South River 23-2). Laz Rodriguez had seven points en route to a team-high 20 points, and also added seven blocks. Jeremy Grospe – who scored 12 – had two of his four three-pointers in the game. Roman Santos had five and Alex Grospe four in the first eight minutes as well.

North Brunswick (20-4) got a game-high 33 from Alani Ajigbotosho, who had three treys in the mix, as the teams combined for 15 made baskets from beyond the arc.

South River moves on to the 5:00 pm semifinal Wednesday night in Monroe against the winner of No. 2 seed Colonia (17-7) and No. 7 seed South Brunswick (15-5). Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast both games of the semifinal doubleheader, with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling all the action. Click here to listen on Tuesday night.

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Click below to hear postgame reaction from South River, presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

South River’s Laz Rodriguez and Jeremy Grospe
South River head coach Brandon Walsh

GMC’s first girls’ semifinal is set, as Colonia and South Brunswick advance

The first two teams to advance into the GMC Tournament girls’ semifinals could not have won in more opposite fashions.

Colonia won in a defensive struggle – particularly in the second half – while South Brunswick won an offensive-minded overtime game. The Patriots and Vikings will face off in the 5 pm semifinal at Monroe High School on Tuesday, in the opener of a doubleheader that can be heard on Central Hersey Sports Radio, presented by Dayton Toyota Service and Dayton Collision in South Brunswick.

Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will call all the play-by-play. Click here to listen on Tuesday night.

#3 Colonia 38, #6 South Brunswick 27: Defense ruled in the second half of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament quarterfinals at Middlesex County College in Edison, as the Patriots got a double-double from junior Taylor Derkack – 15 points and 16 rebounds – and a 14-point effort from Mattison Chiera to get into Tuesday’s semifinals. Colonia led 12-9 after one quarter, and 26-17 at the half, but only managed 12 points in the second half, while holding the Vikings to just ten. No South Brunswick player scored in double-figures in the game.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from head coach Sandi Chiera:

#2 South Brunswick 73, #7 East Brunswick 470 (OT): The Vikings got 19 points from junior Meher Vig, and Anisha Tahbildar contributed key buckets down the stretch, including a pair of threes, as South Brunswick swept three games from the Lady Bears this season, the closest of the three after a 20- and 31-point wins in the regular season division slate.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from head coach Jeff Johnson:

Before the Super Bowl, four GMC Tournament boys’ quarterfinal games on tap: Here’s a game-by-game preview

Everyone’s attention may be focused on the big game that happens Sunday evening in that professional football league featuring teams from Philadelphia and Kansas City playing in the desert, but ignore the hours’ worth of pregame shows and head over to Middlesex County College in Edison this afternoon for another annual February tradition: the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament boys’ semifinals.

Eight teams will play Sunday, almost right up until kickoff time, for a chance to move on the GMC Tournament semifinals, Wednesday at Monroe High School – which can also be heard on cjsportsradio.com.

But before you hop in your car, take a look at our handy preview of all four of Sunday’s quarterfinal round matchups!

#3 South River (22-2) vs. #6 North Brunswick (20-3), 11 am

Whoever wins this game is going to have one heck of a story to tell. North Brunswick has made it to the round of eight for the first time since, although back then, it wasn’t a rare feat. In fact, that was the last of three straight trips to Middlesex County College, with the first of those – in 2012 – also encompassing a trip to the finals, where they lost to St. Joseph-Metuchen 70-65, the third in a string of nine championships in ten years for the Falcons. For South River, it’s been an even longer road; 1991 was the last time the Rams made the GMC Tournament quarterfinals. But the road ended there at the hands of Bishop Ahr, and they have never been to the semifinals in the history of the league, which began play in 1986. In the old Middlesex County Tournament (1965-1985) they won it twice – in the Kenny Jackson era – beating top-seed Perth Amboy in the 1978 final as the three seed, then topping second-seed Colonia as the top-seed in 1979.

This may prove to be one of the best games of the day. The Rams haven’t played the toughest of schedules, but they’ve beaten a lot of teams handily. Of course, their signature victory was the one that earned them the third-seed to begin with, a 74-66 victory over St. Joseph-Metuchen – which got the four-seed – on December 26th. That was just game four on the season, but perked up people to the fact this South River team could be something special. They also had a huge win at Bound Brook in the nightcap of the GMC-Skyland Challenge. It’s a senior-laden group, which means two things. Not only have they grown up together, they know this is the last go-round. That intangible can bring a little something extra. Senior forwards Roman Santos and Laz Rodriguez lead the way, with Santos averaging 16.7 points a game and 5.5 rebounds, while Rodriguez chips in 14.4 points per contest and 6.7 rebounds, as well as 24 steals on the season. The leader in that department is sophomore Alex Grospe, with 51 on the year, and scoring 12.3 a game, third on the team. He also has dished out 232 assists on the season, a whopping 10.1 per game. His brother Jeremy, a senior, can shoot the three ball, with 65 makes on the year from downtown. Senior Isaac Linarez completes the starting lineup, while fellow senior Kobe Taylor is a sparkplug off the bench. South River can get up and down the floor, play defense, and score inside the paint and outside the arc, averaging six triples a game.

North Brunswick, seemingly, has had the quietest 20-3 year you could have. They’ve been overshadowed in the GMC by St. Thomas Aquinas’ dominance, Colonia’s excellent play all year, South River’s Cinderella season, and the team that edged them out for the white Division title, South Plainfield. They actually split this year, with the Tigers winning on Opening Night by 12 and the Raiders winning the rematch in South Plainfield by five on January 14th. They only have two other losses: to Perth Amboy in the division, and to Ridge in Somerset County, and bring an eight game winning streak into Sunday. But being under-the-radar may suit veteran head coach Ed Breheney just fine. Now in his 33rd season, he’s 458-347 as head coach, and has coached all seven of the program’s 20-win seasons. In the first round win over Old Bridge, Alani Ajigbotosho scored 24 points, the eighth highest scoring total by a North Brunswick player in GMCT history, according to Korbid Thompson of the King James Radio Network. He’s averaging 18.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, leading the team in both categories. But he can also play defense, leading the team with 50 steals. Junior Brandon McCain is the second leading scorer at 10.8 a game, and any team that has senior Frankie Garbolino on it has a shot at a championship. He won a GMCT title last season with the Raiders’ baseball team.

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#2 Colonia (17-7) vs. #7 South Brunswick (15-5), 1 pm

Colonia may have swept South Brunswick in two Red Division games this year, but by a total of five points, so this should be a good one the third time around. The first was a 49-46 game on December 22nd, followed by a 54-52 decision for the Patriots on January 21st. Other than that, there’s not a lot of recent history between these two teams, having been in different divisions over the years; their most recent meeting before this season was in January of 2014.

Colonia won ten of its first eleven games, the lone loss coming to Westfield in the LeGrand Holiday jubilee. But they’ve had a couple of rough patches. They lost three of four during one run in mid-January, dropping games to St. Thomas Aquinas, Linden and St. Joe’s, then dropped three in a row to start February to Aquinas again, Ewing, and Hillsborough. But otherwise, they’ve been solid, coming off a 58-45 first round win over Monroe Thursday night. Senior Jaeden Jones runs the point and is second on the team in scoring with 12.4 points per game, and 73 assists, while senior forward Noah Taylor lead the team with 13.5 a game. The pleasant surprise has been Aiden Derkack, a freshman – whose sister Taylor is a junior on the girls’ team – and in addition to his 11.2 points per game, leads the team with 78 assists on the year, and is a defensive whiz, leading the Patriots with 44 steals. His solid play was instrumental in an 83-78 triple-overtime win over St. Joe’s back in December that helped Colonia earn a second place finish in the GMC Red this season. Colonia can play at a fast pace, and work it around in the half-court, too.

The Vikings appear to be coming together at the right time. They entered the new year at 3-3, and split their first two games in January. Since then, they are 11-1 – the lone loss being the two-point defeat at Colonia in the rematch game – and have won six straight heading into Sunday, including a 13-point win Thursday night in the first round over JP Stevens. Overall, of their five losses, save for a 65-29 loss in their only meeting with Aquinas, their other four losses have come by no more than five points – by five to North Brunswick and three to St. Joe’s. Senior Kalani Antoine is the team’s leading scorer at 19 points per game, with a team-best 47 steals, while fellow senior Harmehar Chhabra is nearly averaging a double-double: 13 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.

#4 St. Joseph, Metuchen (14-9) vs. #5 South Plainfield (20-4), 3 pm

After St. Joseph’s loss to South River, the Tigers were looking for their shot on January third, but the Falcons prevailed 71-57. A win could have given the Tigers the third seed, and maybe even pushed Joe’s down to fifth after the Rams. Now, they get another crack at Joe’s in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game, where the 2nd-seeded Falcons beat 7th-seed South Plainfield 73-54. Not a lot of recent history here either. That was their first meeting, in fact, since at least before the 2010-2011 season, the last for which season records are readily available online. The Tigers did beat St. Joe’s in 2005, in the GMC Tournament championship game. That was the second win in a row for South, which beat Colonia the year before in 2004.

It’s easy to say the Falcons’ season has been a mixed bag at 14-9, but they have played a tough schedule, with losses to the likes of Seton Hall Prep and St. Benedict’s. And, let’s face it, the South River loss looks much better in hindsight than it did on the day after Christmas. And it’s been hard for people to get out of their heads the idea that this is Karl Towns’ St. Joe’s. It may never be; that was a once-in-a-lifetime group that became – and still is – the only boys’ team from Middlesex County to ever win the Tournament of Champions. Be that as it may, this is a solid club. It all starts with Josh Ingram, a big-time player who comes up big in big games. Forget the losses, this team also stunned Rutgers Prep – the top seed in the Somerset County Tournament – in their own gym. Why? Start with Ingram outdueling Argonauts’ stud Jadin Collins and his 29 points with 33 of his own. And the young man is on fire right now. He has scored 30-plus points in three of his last four games, including a career-high 38 against Spotswood (along with 11 rebounds) that put him over 1,000 points for his career. He’s averaging 22 a game right now, and has eclipsed the 20 point mark in 13 times overall this season, but in eight of his last nine games. Big players, big games, etc., etc. He also went off for a career-high eight threes in the loss to Seton Hall Prep. Jeremy Clayville (18.5 ppg) is the second leading scorer, and Jeremy DeCaro – a football player at Joe’s – hit some big shots down the stretch Thursday night against Spotswood. This is a St. Joseph team that has taken some time to find itself. Now that they have, they’re a real threat.

South Plainfield will have to bring it’s A+ game to beat the Falcons, but that’s far from an impossible task. They will have to close out the game, too. That’s something South River did, and Spotswood almost did Thursday night. The Tigers have just four losses on the season: to Joe’s, as well as North Brunswick, Linden and Ridge (a popular GMC crossover opponent this year). One of their best wins may have come in the GMC-Skyland Challenge in Bound Brook, in the penultimate game of the Anthony Melesurgo-run showcase: a 76-65 win over a solid Franklin team that earned the five-seed in the Somerset County Tournament. Once the GMC scoring leader until Ingram’s late-season surge, senior guard Brandon Dean is right behind him at 20.2 points per game, with a team-leading 39 threes and 61 assists on the season. Dean is flanked in the scoring column by senior guard Michael Mendez at 7.2 points per game and junior forward Ikenna Ibeku at 6.5 per game. But make no mistake about it: this team flows around Dean, who is often a man among boys on the floor. And it will be fun to watch the top two scorers in the league duke this one out.

#1 St. Thomas Aquinas (21-3) vs. #8 Piscataway (11-14), 5 pm

Let’s be brutally honest: St. Thomas is the team to beat in the GMC, bar none. There are other quality teams, to be sure, but until someone proves otherwise, they are No. 1, and looking to win a third straight GMC Tournament title. In their one meeting with Piscataway this season, they beat the Chiefs by 19. But P’way is a bit of an enigma, a team beset by some injuries and absences. Starting to come together, they handed South River its first loss of the season in mid-January. Otherwise, they’ve only played each other four times since 2010, splitting them 2-2.

In between playing the once-around Red Division schedule – except for a pair of wins over both Colonia and St. Joseph – the Falcons have challenged themselves immensely, playing four out-of-state opponents. In New Jersey, but outside of the league, they lost by one to Camden Eastside, and just had two losses last week to the Patrick School and Trenton before opening GMCT play with a 31-point victory over East Brunswick Thursday night. With Adam Silas gone, the Trojans have leaders who’ve stepped up in the names of junior Jaden Kelly and seniors Jalen Pichardo and Terrell Pitts, and the addition of Trenton Catholic transfer Michael “Deuce” Jones has been about as smooth a transition as Bob Turco could ever have hoped for. Jones runs the point, and in addition to a whopping 155 team-leading assists on the year, also is the top-scorer with 16.5 points per game. There is little dropoff after that though, as the Trojans exemplify balanced scoring. How about 12.2 points a game for Pitts, 10.5 for Kelly, then 9.3 for senior guard Kamal Lee, and 9 points and 9 rebounds a game for senior forward Jalen Pichardo. Junior Samir Thomas (7.5 ppg) is another key contributor. Aquinas simply does everything well. There’s no one or two guys to stop or contain. Defending them is like a game of whack-a-mole. Slow one, someone else picks up the slack. It’s exhausting both to play and to watch Aquinas. Win or lose, you’ll need an ice bath after the game, even if you were just sitting in the bleachers.

As for Piscataway, without mincing words, this is the tallest order of the day, no doubt. Bright side? They’re playing better basketball than they did when they started the year 3-8. They’ve gone 8-7 since, including a 60-49 win over Perth Amboy in the first round Thursday. They’ve also played a tough schedule, losing to the Patrick School and Trenton. They can also score, as evidenced by a season-high 94 points in a 98-94 loss at Newark East Side in late January. Though his team doesn’t regularly light up the scoreboard, the Chiefs are balanced. Senior Jonathan Carman is the name to watch, as the forward leads the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game, and in rebounds at 6.5 per contest. Seniors Jalen Thomas (11.3 ppg) and Evan Benson (9.5 ppg) follow, with Benson hitting a team-best 28 treys, while junior guard Dante Dupiche has hit 24. Do they have the horses to pull off a huge GMCT upset?

Super Saturday: A game-by-game look at the GMC Tournament girls’ quarterfinals

One site, two days, eight games – four on the girls’ side, four on the boys.

It’s time for the Greater Middlesex Tournament quarterfinals, as the girls take the first day of four games at Middlesex County College in Edison all day Saturday. Seven of the top eight seeds made it to the quarters, with the only one not to make it eighth-seed Spotswood, which got knocked off by No. 9 Middlesex in the “first round” on Wednesday night.

Here’s a closer look at all four games on Saturday’s schedule:

#3 Colonia (12-10) vs. #6 Old Bridge (13-8), 11 am

The Patriots have taken their lumps having moved up from the White to the Red Division, but they can be a dangerous team, and they’re still the No. 3 seed for a reason. They also could just as well by 16-6 right now, with four of their five losses in the division coming by a total of 22 points, and none by more than seven. These teams have split their last four games, but only played once each in 2018 and 2021 before meeting twice this year. Old Bridge won 52-45 on January third, while Colonia won the rematch 46-43 on January 24th.

For the third season in a row, the Patriots are led by Mattison Chiera and Taylor Derkack. A junior, Derkack is the team’s top scorer at 21.6 points per game, while Chiera is averaging 14.7. That’s a combined 36.3 points; the problem is, they’re only scoring 47. They’ll need others to chip in, like swing sophomore Isabel Gidado, who’s third in scoring at 4.5 a game. No one else has scored more than 51 points the entire season. That’s something head coach Sandi Chiera – Mattie’s mom – was looking for coming into the year, a supporting cast, and so far, it’s been elusive.

Old Bridge, meanwhile, has won four of its last five, including a 52-44 win over Piscataway Wednesday night in the first round, their third win over the Chiefs this season. In their early January win over Colonia, Gabrielle Walker led the way with 14 points and seven boards, while Malvina Sullivan grabbed 11 rebounds. Limiting Chiera and Derkack will be the main goal here for Alec Alspach’s team. It doesn’t happen often, but Colonia is 1-3 when Chiera is held to single digits, 3-5 when Derkack scores in the teens.

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#2 South Brunswick (16-6) vs. #7 East Brunswick (13-10), 1 pm

The Vikings are a serious No. 2 seed, and have a lot of offensive weapons. They finished 10-4 in the Red Division, second behind top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas, which they lost to twice this year, but only by eight in their first meeting back on December 20th. That, along with Aquinas’ following game against Old Bridge, were their closest division games all year. Senior Katie Rausch – a newly-minted 1,000-point scorer – leads the team at 13.7 points per game, along with a team-best 44 three-pointers. But they have balance at the top. Alexis Lease-Springer – just a sophomore – averages 12.8 a game, and has hit 31 from downtown, while junior Meher Vig averages 11.1 per game. She’s hit 26 threes, while Leilani Pinder – another junior – has hit 20. Senior guard Cynai Price rounds a tough lineup that shares the ball, which is part of what makes them so tough.

The Lady Bears dropped both meetings this year to the Vikings, but played them to within 11 their last time out, just nine days ago, an 80-49 defeat. And they may be the hottest team all of a sudden on the GMC girls’ side. Consider than on January 26th, they were 6-9, and come into this one 13-10, having won seven of their last eight games. In the first round Wednesday, it was senior guard Nicole Motusesky, willing her team to a win in the final two minutes of the game, spurring a monumental comeback from down 12, scoring the last dozen points of the game on four three-point baskets. And she’s not even the team’s leading scorer. That falls to senior forward Tamea El with 12.1 points per game (and 10.8 rebounds) as well as Brooke Motusesky – Nicole’s cousin – with 11 a game. The Bears are deep as well, which makes this a great matchup.

#4 Monroe (13-7) vs. #5 Edison (19-4), 3 pm

The Falcons have beaten Edison five straight times, dating back to 2018, and none but that first one five years ago – by a 54-52 score – was close. The others have been wins by 34, 21, 25 and 24 points. This year’s matchup went Monroe’s way, 60-36, but the Falcons have come up with some big wins in years past, and this goes right on the list (see: their upset of eventual GMCT Champion St. Thomas Aquinas in the regular season last year). Leigh Vogtman is one of the top coaches in the GMC, and she will have her team ready for an Edison squad that is having its best year since 2018-19, when they went 20-7, lost to then-Bishop Ahr in the GMC Tournament final, and went to the North 2, Group 4 quarterfinals. Junior Halley Cottrell is the team’s leading scorer at 13 points per game, also getting significant contributions from seniors Katelyn Louro (also the team’s top rebounder at 5.5 a game) and Haley Higgins, as well as sophomore Evangelina Francisco, and junior Nicole Turco, the niece of Aquinas boys’ coach Bob Turco, daughter of his brother Dave, the current Kean men’s basketball coach who lead St. Joseph-Metuchen to the Tournament of Champions title in 2014.

Edison won its first eleven games of the year before that loss to Monroe on January 12th, and since has defeats to North Plainfield, East Brunswick and South Brunswick. They’re coming off a dismantling of Woodbridge in the opening round, 62-31, behind Ghelsey Go’s 24 points and 14 rebounds, her ninth game with 20 or more points this season. She averages 16.7 points and 7.8 boards a game, and is having a fantastic year. But so is the rest of the team. Go, senior Keisha Ortiz and freshman Trista Whitney – both averaging 12.7 points per game – all can score from deep; all have at least 30 made threes this year, with Go leading the way with 34. They’ve won some big, and some close this season, and that should make this one a good one to watch.

#1 St. Thomas Aquinas (18-6) vs. #9 Middlesex (17-5), 5 pm

An intriguing matchup as Blue Jays’ head coach Kevin Harper goes up against his old school, which unceremoniously let him go in 2016. The winningest coach in GMC girls’ history, he was quickly snapped up by Middlesex AD Mike O’Donnell, and has flourished since, now 122 and 26 with the Jays’ program. (He’s 719-322 overall, including 27 years at then-Bishop Ahr, where he won two GMCT titles.) And these teams naturally don’t play much. Their last meeting was in the COVID-shortened season, a game Middlesex won 59-50, but a highly anticipated matchup in the GMC’s Somogyi Family Pod that year never materialized, as they had to bow out due to COVID cases on the team before the four-game mini-tournament even began.

It’s a tall order for them in Saturday’s finale, simply because of their depth. Only six, maybe seven players see significant minutes, but they do have some very talented players in that group. Senior Neysa Aguilar – the only senior in the rotation leads the team in scoring at 21 points per game, grabbing nearly eight rebounds per contest. Then there’s sophomore Jess Divine, who is averaging 18.7 a game, along with a whopping 6.4 steals per, and dishing out 6.4 assists per contest. She sure get everyone involved, and is a three-point threat herself, with 31 from downtown, second only to junior Jaclyn DeShields, with a team-leading 41 treys on the year. Aguilar his hit 21 on the season, as well. Middlesex can get up and down the floor, and they will, but so can Aquinas.

St. Thomas – led by another girls’ basketball coaching giant in Joe Whalen, who’s 203-42 in his nine seasons in North Edison, plus time spent at St. Rose Belmar and Montclair-Immaculate – is deep and talented. And they’ve won three straight GMC Tournament titles. Amarillis Shubick is the point guard who makes everything go, and has not been needed to score as much this year. Senior Jessica Cooper – an Albany commit – leads the team there with 12.6 points per game. Gianna Chuffo (9.7 ppg) can bury it from deep, with 66 made baskets from beyond the arc. But maybe the biggest plus is the defense, which is averaging nearly 11 steals a game. They can get up and down the floor, too. They’re long, smart, and have been challenged by a grueling out-of-conference schedule, playing teams like Saddle River Day and Long Island Lutheran, the top team in the country for much of the year, among others. They’re the tournament’s clear-cut favorite, and watching them play, it’s easy to see why.

Instant replay: South Brunswick finally beats Middlesex to set up GMCT semi date with North Brunswick

The Middlesex Blue Jays have been a thorn in C.J. Hendricks’ side for a while now.

The South Brunswick head coach beat them in his first season as Vikings’ head coach, but had lost his last four meetings with them dating back to 2017.

The streak ended Tuesday.

Fifth-seeded South Brunswick topped 4th-seed Middlesex 8-1 on Tuesday in the GMC Tournament Quarterfinals on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving, thanks in large part to a five-hit complete game shutout by star pitcher Frankie Sanchez.

POSTGAME AUDIO: Lauri’s 3-run HR, Sanchez’ 12 K effort power South Brunswick to GMCT semis

And it was Jared Laurie’s bat that turned out to make the difference, cranking a three-run homer in the fourth of Middlesex standout pitcher Jared Young, the starter who had hit a solo shot on the first pitch of the bottom of the first to stake himself a 1-0 lead.

The win sets up a “Battle of the Brunswicks” as the Vikings will face 9th-seed North Brunswick in the semifinals Saturday at noon at East Brunswick Tech.

Click below to listen to the complete game broadcast of South Brunswick’s win over Middlesex in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals:

Instant Replay: Edison tops South Plainfield 7-2 in GMCT quarterfinals

The 6th-seeded Edison Eagles moved on to the GMC Tournament semifinals with a 7-2 quarterfinal win over GMC White Division foe South Plainfield.

The third-seeded Tigers had beaten Edison 11-1 and 7-5 this season, but Edison exacted revenge when it mattered most, in the county tournament.

In a game broadcast live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving, the Eagles scored three times each in the third and fifth innings, and added an insurance run in the top of the seventh.

Senior centerfielder Evrin Virola knocked in three runs, including two on an RBI double in the third inning. He was 2-for-4 on the evening.


All while freshman Jaxon Appelman turned in a big performance on a big stage, under the lights against a perennial contender in Middlesex County. The righty threw 6 1/3 innings of one-hit ball, allowing only two unearned runs, both of which scored after he had already exited the game in the seventh inning.


The win puts Edison in the GMC semifinals against 2nd-seed St. Joseph of Metuchen Saturday afternoon at 2:30, in a game that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Click below to listen to the full game broadcast of Edison’s quarterfinal win over South Plainfield:

Edison reaches first GMT semifinal since 2008 with upset win over South Plainfield

It’s not like Edison hadn’t beaten South Plainfield in years. In fact, their last win over the Tigers was in their first meeting in 2019.

But Tuesday night’s 7-2 win at North Brunswick Community Park over their White Division foes was monumental, in that it sent the third-seeded Eagles to the GMC Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2008, when they lost to Old Bridge 2-1.

In a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving, freshman pitcher Jaxon Appelman held third-seed South Plainfield (17-3-1) to just one hit through 6 1/3 innings, allowing two unearned runs in the seventh.


But the Edison bats did a job as well, scoring seven runs against a South Plainfield team that entered the game with a 0.86 team ERA. The run total was the second highest allowed all season by the Tigers (Woodbridge scored nine in a 12-9 South Plainfield win on May 13th), and they had surrendered fewer than five runs in all but five games before Tuesday night.

Senior centerfielder Evrin Virola knocked in three runs on a 2-for-4 night, including a two-run double in the third that made it 3-0 Edison.

The win pits third-seeded Edison (15-6) against second seed St. Joseph of Metuchen (16-8), which beat 10th-seed Spotswood 14-3 in five innings Tuesday night. The Eagles and Falcons will play in Saturday’s 2:30 semifinal at East Brunswick Tech, a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Edison’s 7-2 GMCT quarterfinal win over South Plainfield:

Lauri’s 3-run HR, Sanchez’ 12 K effort power South Brunswick to GMCT semis

South Brunswick had not beaten Middlesex in four meetings heading into Tuesdays quarterfinal matchup in the GMC Tournament.

Jared Lauri and Frankie Sanchez made sure the streak didn’t continue.

Down 1-0 after Middlesex starter Stephen Young led off the bottom of the first with a first pitch home run, South Brunswick exploded for four decisive runs in the top of the fourth inning, in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving.

After back-to-back singles by Neel Telidevara and Frankie Sanchez, Pete Cortez tied the game with an RBI single.

Then Lauri launched a homer to left about 315 feet.

That gave the Vikings the runs they would need, but Sanchez kept the Blue Jays off balance the rest of the afternoon.

He struck out 12, tying a season best, and allowed only five hits in seven innings of work.

The 5th-seeded Vikings will go on to play 9th-seed North Brunswick Saturday in the semifinals. The Raiders topped 16th-seed JFK 8-2 in the other quarterfinal.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from South Brunswick’s win over Middlesex in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals:

Starting pitcher Frankie Sanchez
Left fielder Jared Lauri
Head coach C.J. Hendricks

Edison hopes third time’s a charm, as Eagles seek breakthrough win against division rival for trip to GMCT semifinals

The first meeting was an 11-1 home loss, the second was a 7-5 road defeat.

If Edison can narrow a seven-run gap again tonight, they’ll beat South Plainfield, when the two teams meet in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals.

The Eagles are the (14-6) are the sixth-seed in the tournament, and have had a good season. And despite third-seed South Plainfield’s 17-2-1 mark, the Tigers are beatable.

Their lone blemishes in conference were a loss and a tie against North Brunswick, a team Edison split with this year, picking up a 4-3 home win, but taking a 3-2 loss in the second of the home-and-home series.


What could be an issue for Edison is pitching when they meet tonight at 7 pm in the GMC Tournament Quarterfinals, in a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio, following the first quarterfinal matchup between Middlesex and South Brunswick. Click here to listen to Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino call all the action, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving, presenting sponsor of the GMC Tournament on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Really, it’s not the pitching, but the potential lack of available pitching. Sal DellaFave struggled early in Edison’s opening round win Saturday over in-town rival JP Stevens.

Head coach Vinny Abene went with Dom LaPelosa out of the pen, and so the options get a little tighter for Abene tonight.

Click below to hear Abene talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about tonight’s matchup with the Tigers.