Tag: St. Joseph-Metuchen

Falcons’ Josh Ingram finished strong for St. Joseph, earning him CJSR Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year honors

Josh Ingram – like a lot of other basketball players in Middlesex and Somerset Counties – had a very fine 2022-23 season. He averaged 22 points a game, nearly eight rebounds, nearly four assists, and shot just under 60-perccent from the floor, 37-percent from downtown, and a nice 83-percent from the free-throw line.

In the early season, he provided enough offense as St. Joseph-Metuchen – missing some key pieces for various reasons – tried to find itself. Later in the season, with things hanging in the balance, and starter Jeremy Clayville out, Ingram “turned it up to eleven.”

In his final ten games of the season, which included not one, but two wins over Rutgers Prep and a run to the Non-Public South A title game against Union Catholic – the eventual Group A winner – Ingram turned averaged 23.6 points a game, had 33 in the regular season win over the Argonauts, and cracked 30 points four times, including a wild GMC Tournament first-round win over Spotswood, where he notched a career high 38 points.

Those efforts have earned him Central Jersey Sports Radio Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year honors for 2023.

He was virutally unstoppable from the time Clayville went down January 27th to the point that when he returned, it was just gravy.

“It’s been a privilege to coach Josh and watch him grow into the player and person has become,” said Joe’s head coach Jan Cocozziello. “His talent is undeniable, but he’s also a leader with a team mentality. He’s a selfless player who steps up when his team needs him.”

Scroll down for honorable mention selections.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with 2023 Boys’ Player of the Year Josh Ingram of St. Joe’s:


Deuce Jones, St. Thomas Aquinas: There was a lot of talent on the Trojans’ roster this season, but as head coach Bob Turco has said about Jones, “he’s the straw that stirs the drink.” He averaged six assists a game, while still scoring 16.5 points a game for the three-time GMC Tournament Champions. What made it more impressive is that the junior was playing just his first season in North Edison, a transfer from Trenton Catholic. But he fit seamlessly into a solid core that included players like Jalen “Pop” Pichardo, Terrell Pitts, Kamal Lee, and more.

St. Thomas Aquinas junior guard Deuce Jones (right) talks with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Justin Sontupe after a 69-46 win over Colonia in Edison on January 12, 2023. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Jadin Collins, Rutgers Prep: An outstanding two-year varsity starter for Matt Bloom’s club, he averaged 19.2 points per game in that span and four-and-a-half assists as the Argonauts’ point guard, while also racking up 224 steals. This year, he averaged 20.5 points per game for 22-8 Prep en route to the Somerset County Tournament Championship, a year after they won the 2022 Non-Public South B title on his then-career-high 33 point effort – kitting key bucket after key bucket down the stretch.

Jordin Collins of Rutgers Prep brings the ball up the floor in the second half against Gill St. Bernard’s on January 24, 2023. Collins finished with a game-high 22 points. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Jordan Summers, Bound Brook: Summers – who just signed on with Caldwell Monday – has been a stalwart from a great recent basketball family in The Brook. Summers finished with 1,456 career points, and scored 690 this year in 27 games, averaging an area-best 25.5 points per game – that’s tops among boys and girls in the CJSR coverage area. But it was the intangibles, leadership and unselfishness that made him most valuable to his team. “I have seen Jordan grow in front of my eyes since he was a kid, says head coach Anthony Melesurgo. “I am so proud of the young man he has become. The sky’s the limit for him!” He’ll also be playing in the North-/South All-Star game this Sunday at 2 pm at Rutgers Prep, the second player in as many years to do so; Quadir Harrell played last year.

Jordan Summers of Bound Brook – surrounded by teammates – signs on for a full scholarship with D2 Caldwell on March 6, 2023. (Photo courtesy Anthony Melesurgo)

St. Thomas Aquinas finishes the season where it began: No. 1 in the Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten

On the strength of a 25-4 season – and its third straight GMC Tournament Championship – the St. Thomas Aquinas boys’ basketball team finishes the year at No. 1 in the final Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, never budging from the top spot from the preseason rankings all the way through to the end.

The Trojans have been the dominant boys’ team in Middlesex County for the last several years. Though their three-year run as full county tournament champs was interrupted by a loss in the GMC’s COVID-year, one-off, Karl-Anthony Towns/Jay Williams four-team postseason pod to Colonia, they have won 31 straight games against Greater Middlesex Conference opponents since.

St. Thomas Aquinas has won 57 straight divisional regular season games, with the Trojans’ last loss coming in January 2018 at Carteret, back when they were in the Blue Division. And they are now 103-23 in five seasons with head coach Dave Turco at the helm.

Checking in at No. 2 in the final rankings is Colonia, which had a fantastic year, going 22-9 this season. Though they didn’t win the Red Division (STA did) or make the GMCT Final, they were the only boys’ basketball team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Coverage area to win a sectional title this season, beating Snyder to win its second straight North 2, Group 3 title, and third in the last four playoff seasons.

St. Joseph of Metuchen finished third, checking in at 18-11, rising all the way from No. 10 in the last rankings before the playoffs. The Falcons finished the year strong, reaching the Non-Public South A title game, where they lost to eventual Group A state champ Union Catholic.

Rutgers Prep (22-8) finishes fourth, having won both the Somerset County Tournament championship – beating defending champ Gill St. Bernard’s in a thriller – and the Skyland Conference Delaware Division title.

South River (26-4) checks in at No. 5, the darling of the GMC all year long. The Rams won the Blue Division title, but got the attention of Central Jersey basketball fans in late December, when they knocked off St. Joseph in Metuchen the day after Christmas. They picked up the third seed in the county tournament, and reached the semifinals. In the states, they went to the Central Jersey Group 2 final, losing to eventual state Group 2 champion Manasquan.

Gill St. Bernard’s finished 19-8 and comes in sixth in the final rankings. The SCT finalist had a successful season considering a Mergin Sina’s squad had almost a complete roster turnover of key players from last year’s team, and its highly-touted point guard returned to Europe just a couple of weeks into the season.

South Brunswick had a nice run all the way to the County finals, as well as the Central Jersey Group 4 final, and finished 20-7 on the season, checking in at No. 7.

In eighth is South Plainfield (23-6), which won the GMC White Division, and had one of the county’s top scorers in Brandon Dean.

Ninth is Bound Brook (22-5), the Skyland Conference Valley Division champs, followed by Hillsborough (19-8).

Below are the full final Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Rankings for 2022-23:

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. Joseph looks to claim first state sectional title since Towns era, battles Union Catholic tonight in South Jersey

Falcons head coach Jan Cocoziello has said more than once this season something to the effect of: “People forget, this isn’t your Karl Towns St. Joe’s.”

And he’s not wrong, of course. Talented as they are, there certainly is no one the caliber of Karl-Anthony Towns, the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Few teams have anyone like that.

But shades of that era – when the Falcons went to back-to-back Tournaments of Champions, and won it all in 2014 after reaching the finals in 2013 – are creeping back into the minds of fans, and likely for the first time into the minds of the Falcon Flock, the loud boisterous student section, even though the oldest of them would have been just nine years old when Towns shook the rims at the Maglio Gymnasium.

The 2022-23 campaign got off to a slow start in the ’22 part of the schedule, by St. Joe’s standards. They lost Game 3 to new Red Division member Colonia – up from the White – by five, then were shocked at home the day after Christmas by South River in Metuchen, 74-66, to send them into the New Year at 3-2.

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But Cocoziello’s squad would challenge itself the rest of the way, with games against the likes of Linden and Seton Hall Prep out of conference, get swept two games by St. Thomas Aquinas, but avenge their December loss to Colonia.

They would also beat Rutgers Prep on February second, the top team in Somerset County at that point, 73-61 in Somerset, a sign this team could be turning the proverbial corner. Just over three weeks later, it proved to be an omen, as Joe’s again topped the Argonauts, this time at home, back on Monday in the Non-Public South A semifinals.

And the 70-66 win came in the most dramatic of ways. The Falcons trailed 21-9 after one quarter. But they chipped away, cutting the deficit to nine at halftime, and three at the end of the third quarter. The gym was jumping the entire second half.

Now, 6th-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen (18-10) takes on fifth-seed Union Catholic (19-9) in the Non-Public South A Championship Game down in South Jersey. Game time is 7 pm at Lenape High School in Medford Lakes. Central Jersey Sports Radio will have complete postgame coverage after the game is over.

The contest will be a rematch of a late January meeting in Scotch Plains, where the Falcons won 60-55 behind 20 points from team leader Josh Ingram, who also had seven rebounds and dished out four assists.

But one key difference from that game will be a new player added to the mix for UC: Chimeziri Okeoma, who wouldn’t become eligible for four more days after the first meeting with Joe’s. All he;s done in a dozen games since sitting due to transfer rules is score 18.9 points per game, while scoring 43 combined in the last two, with wins over Paul VI in the quarterfinals, then top-seed Camden Catholic by eight in the semis.

Then again, Joe’s also missed shooter and creator Jeremy Clayville in that first matchup, who’d been injured and just played his first game back on Monday, chipping in seven points to the effort.

But in the last game, Joe’s also got a huge contribution from Anthony Williams, a senior forward who has stepped in Clayville’s absence, but even with him back in the lineup, led all scorers in Monday night’s game, with 24 points.

Tonight’s South A winner will face the North A winner on Friday night at 5 pm in the Non-Public Group A Championship Game at Jersey Mike’s Arena at Rutgers University in Piscataway. The North A final features 5-seed Bergen Catholic – the defending champ, which beat Rutgers Prep in the Group A final last year at Rutgers – taking on 3rd-seed St. Peter’s Prep out of Jersey City.

Strong second half propels St. Joe’s to another win over Rutgers Prep, bid in Non-Public South A final

St. Joseph-Metuchen shocked Rutgers Prep just two days into February. They did it again with two days left in the month, this time to put them just a win away from a sectional title.

On the heels of a strong third-quarter rally, and an equally strong final eight minutes, the 6th-seeded Falcons beat visiting 7th-seed and defending Non-Public South A champion Rutgers Prep, 69-66.

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Rutgers Prep controlled early on a big first quarter, but St. Joseph eventually crawled back into the game. Down by six with 1:43 left in the third, two baskets cut the Argonauts’ lead to two, then a pair of Falcon free throws tied it at 54-all, before Jadin Collins stopped the bleeding with a buzzer-beating three at the buzzer to make it 57-54 Prep.

But in the critical final eight minutes, Joe’s simply made the bigger buckets, the bigger free throws, grabbed the bigger rebounds – and drew two charges, to boot – giving them a hard-earned win.

The win moves the Falcons on to play Wednesday in the Non-Public South A final against 5th-seed Union Catholic, which upset top-seed Camden Catholic in the other semifinal in the section Monday night, 61-53. The title game will be Wednesday at 7 pm at Lenape High School in Medford, with tip-off set for 7 pm.

The Falcons will be playing for their first sectional title since the Karl Towns-era, when they won three Non-Public South A titles in a row from 2012 to 2014, capped by the Tournament of Champions title in the last of those three seasons.

They last appeared in a final in 2018 under head coach Mike Thompson, when they fell to Camden Catholic.

Click below for postgame reaction from St. Joseph head coach Jan Cocoziello with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

Rutgers Prep, Gill, Aquinas, St. Joe’s all advance to sectional semifinals Monday, while Colonia knocks off top-seed South Plainfield

There’s a pretty mammoth matchup brewing in the Non-Public North B section, and it’s not even for a trophy.

Top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas and 4th-seed Roselle Catholic – both top five teams statewide – will meet in the sectional semifinals Monday night in North Edison, after both won Friday evening games in the quarterfinals.

Aquinas (25-3) blew past Timothy Christian (14-13) in an all-GMC matchup, 99-40. The Trojans pulled ahead early on the strength of a 27-11 first quarter, and led 57-26 at the half. Seven players scored in double digits for Aquinas, which was led by Terrell Pitts and Jaden Kelly, each with 16 points. Point guard Michael “Deuce” Jones added 14.

Now, they get to host national power Roselle Catholic in their own gym Monday night for a trip to the sectional title game Wednesday night, 5 pm in Franklin. The Rams beat 5th-seed Morris Catholic 98-63 Friday evening.

In the other side of the bracket, 2nd-seed Gill St. Bernard’s (19-7) won its quarterfinal game over 7th-seed Saddle River Day, 64-59. The Knights trailed 28-24 at halftime, and 43-34 heading into the fourth quarter before outscoring SRD 30-16 over the game’s final eight minutes. Mario Castro-Sanchez led the way with 19 points and six rebounds, while big man Ebrahim Kaba added 15 points and seven boards.

Gill will play host to 6th-seed Montclair-Immaculate in the other semifinal Monday night, after they beat 3rd-seed St. Mary-Rutherford 81-45.

In Non-Public South A, 6th-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen and 7th-seed Rutgers Prep will play in one semifinal. The Falcons (17-10) were 71-68 winners over 3rd-seed Immaculata (19-6) in Somerville Friday night, as Josh Ingram put up a big 33 points in the win. Seventh-seed Rutgers Prep (22-7) won in deep South Jersey Friday night, beating 2-seed St. Augustine on the road, 78-74 in overtime, behind a 33-point night from Jadin Collins.

Prep and Joe’s played each other in a GMC-Skyland crossover just three weeks ago, with St. Joe’s Coming out with a 73-61 win in Somerset on February second.

Meanwhile, in the only game involving two local public schools, 4th-seed Colonia knocked off top-seed South Plainfield 64-45 in the North 2, Group 3 semifinals. Click here for a full recap of the game including postgame interviews by CJSR’s Chris Tsakonas. Now, the Patriots will play for a second straight sectional title when they host 6th-seed Snyder out of Jersey City Monday night. Snyder beat 7th-seed Payne Tech of Newark, 76-62.

Below are full results from Friday night in sections involving area teams. Scroll further down for the upcoming schedule:

North 2, Group 3
#4 Colonia def. #1 South Plainfield, 64-45
#6 Snyder def. #7 Payne Tech, 76-62

Non-Public South A
#1 Camden Catholic def. #8 red Bank Catholic, 62-33
#5 Union Catholic def. #4 Paul VI, 64-58
#6 St. Joseph-Metuchen def. #3 Immaculata, 71-68
#7 Rutgers Prep def. #2 St. Augustine, 78-74

Non-Public North B
#1 St. Thomas Aquinas def. #8 Timothy Christian, 99-40
#4 Roselle Catholic def. #5 Morris Catholic, 98-63
#6 Montclair-Immaculate def. #3 St. Mary-Rutherford, 81-45
#2 Gill St. Bernard’s def. #7 Saddle River Day, 64-59



Central Group 4 Semifinals
#4 Jackson Memorial at #1 Trenton
#7 Marlboro at #6 South Brunswick

Central Group 2 Semifinals
#4 Bound Brook at #1 South River
#3 Raritan at #2 Manasquan

North 2, Group 4 Semifinals
#8 Newark East Side at #5 Westfield
#3 Hillsborough at #2 Linden


North 2, Group 3 Final
#6 Snyder at #4 Colonia

Non-Public South A Semifinals
#5 Union Catholic at #1 Camden Catholic
#7 Rutgers Prep at #6 St. Joseph-Metuchen

Non-Public North B Semifinals
#4 Roselle Catholic at #1 St. Thomas Aquinas
#6 Montclair-Immaculata at #2 Gill St. Bernard’s

Good night for local boys’ squads in the NJSIAA state tournament, as five of seven advance

It was a good night generally for teams from the Central Jersey Sports Radio coverage area, as five advanced Wednesday night in the NJSIAA boys’ state basketball tournament, including two GMC schools that will meet for the first time this season with a sectional semifinal on the line.

In North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3, top-seed South Plainfield and 4th-seed Colonia both advanced, and will play for a trip to the title game Friday at 5:30 pm in South Plainfield. Click here for more detailed coverage of the game, including postgame interviews with Tigers’ head coach John Greco and Colonia head coach Jose Rodriguez.

In Non-Public South A, two area teams moved on to quarterfinal action. Sixth-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen got a game-high 27 points from senior Anthony Williams and led most of the way in a 75-61 victory over 11th-seed Pingry, while 7th-seed Rutgers Prep also led most of the way in knocking out 10th-seed Christian Brothers of Lincroft, 74-58. Senior Cameron Piggee, the hero of the Somerset County Tournament title game, scored 24 points, while fellow senior Jadin Collins added 22.

In Non-Public North B, eighth-seed Timothy Christian got past 9th-seed Eastern Christian 82-59 in Piscataway behind a career-high 33 points from sophomore Myles Dickerson.

The only teams to get knocked out Wednesday night were 6th-seed Manville in Central Jersey Group 1 – losing 58-46 at third-seed Point Pleasant Beach – while 5th-seed Calvary Christian of Old Bridge was bounced by 12th-seed Doane Academy of Burlington County, 63-36, in Non-Public South B play.

Below are results for all area teams, including full results in sections with area teams remaining. Scroll further down for the upcoming schedule, including games resulting from Wedensday night’s wins.

Central Group 1 Quarterfinals
#3 Pt. Pleasant Beach def. #6 Manville, 58-46

North 2 Group 3 Quarterfinals
#1 South Plainfield def. #8 Summit, 55-51
#4 Colonia def. #5 Chatham, 60-51
#6 Snyder def #3 Mendham, 56-53
#7 Payne Tech def. #2 West Morris, 69-59

Non-Public South A First Round
#8 Red Bank Catholic def. #9 Notre Dame, 65-51
#5 Union Catholic def. #12 St. John Vianney, 69-51
#4 Paul VI def #13 Donovan Catholic, 90-32
#6 St. Joseph-Metuchen def. #11 Pingry, 74-61
#7 Rutgers Prep def. #10 Christian Brothers, 74-58
Byes: #1 Camden Catholic, #2 St. Augustine, #3 Immaculata

Non-Public North B First Round
#8 Timothy Christian def. #8 Eastern Christian, 82-59
#5 Morris Catholic def #12 Morristown-Beard, 82-41
#4 Roselle Catholic def. #13 Koinonia, 101-25
#6 Montclair-Immaculata def. #11 Pioneer Academy, 79-43
#10 Hawthorne Christian at #7 Saddle River Day (score unavailable)
Byes #1 St. Thomas Aquinas, #2 Gill St. bernard’s, #3 St. Mary-Rutherford

Non-Public South B First Round
#12 Doane Academy def. #5 Calvary Christian (Old Bridge), 63-36



Central Group 4 Quarterfinals
#8 West Windsor-Plainsboro South at #1 Trenton
#5 Middletown South at #4 Jackson Memorial
#6 South Brunswick at #3 North Brunswick
#7 Marlboro at #2 Freehold Twp.

Central Group 2 Quarterfinals
#9 Point Pleasant Boro at #1 South River
#5 Rumson-Fair Haven at #4 Bound Brook
#6 Delaware Valley at #3 Raritan
#7 Roselle at #2 Manasquan

North 2, Group 4 Quarterfinals
#8 Newark East Side at #1 Ridge
#13 Scotch Plains-Fanwood at #5 Westfield
#6 Columbia at #3 Hillsborough
#7 Franklin at #2 Linden

North 2, Group 2 Quarterfinals
#8 Science Park at #1 Caldwell
#5 McNair at #4 Newark Collegiate
#14 West Side at #11 Bernards
#10 Hanover Park at #2 Madison


North 2 Group 3 Semifinals
#4 Colonia at #1 South Plainfield
#7 Payne Tech at #6 Snyder

Non-Public South A Quarterfinals
#8 Red Bank Catholic at #1 Camden Catholic
#5 Union Catholic at #4 Paul VI
#6 St. Joseph-Metuchen at #3 Immaculata
#7 Rutgers Prep at #2 St. Augustine

Non-Public North B Quarterfinals
#8 Timothy Christian at #1 St. Thomas Aquinas
#5 Morris Catholic at #4 Roselle Catholic
36 Montclair-Immaculata at #3 St. Mary-Rutherford
Winner of #10 Hawthorne Christian/#7 Saddle River Day at #2 Gill St. Bernard’s

INSTANT REPLAY: GMC Tournament Boys’ Semifinals

Top-seed and two-time defending champion St. Thomas Aquinas and seventh-seed South Brunswick moved on to Friday’s Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament Championship Game with semifinal wins on Wednesday, February 15th at Monroe Township High School, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Scroll down to hear Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the play-by-play.

In Game One, South Brunswick knocked off 3rd-seed South River behind 20 points from Harmehar Chhabra, and 11 from Kalani Antoine, while Jeremy Grospe had nine on three treys to lead the Rams in defeat.

#3 South River vs. #7 South Brunswick

In Game Two, St. Thomas Aquinas beat fourth-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen 91-49. The Trojans were led by Michael “Deuce” Jones with 16, including three treys, while the team hit 15 overall, a team record in the five seasons under head coach Bob Turco. Jaden Kelly added 15, while Terrell Pitts chipped in 14. Josh Ingram scored 28 to lead all scorers in a losing effort for the Falcons

#1 St. Thomas Aquinas vs. #4 St. Joseph-Metuchen

St. Thomas Aquinas “stuns” St. Joseph, bombing the Falcons in GMCT semis to move on to the finals yet again

It wasn’t “stunning” in terms of the result, or maybe even the margin, since it’s what St. Thomas Aquinas has been doing to opponents all year long.

But the fact that the Trojans and St. Joseph-Metuchen have played two games this year with a grand total differential of seven points – both Aquinas wins – made what happened in Wednesday night’s GMC Tournament semifinals stunning in every sense of the word.

Aquinas hit five of its first six three-point attempts before Joe’s could even blink, and found themselves with a 15-0 lead just over two minutes into the game.

Overall, the Trojans (23-3) hit 15 threes in the game, the most by Aquinas in the past five years under head coach Bob Turco. All five starters scored in double figures, seven different players hit from downtown, and two – Terrell Pitts and Deuce Jones – had a pair of thunderous jams each.

Jones led all scorers with 16, including three treys. Kamal Lee had 12, all on threes. Jaden Kelly had 15, including three trays. Jalen Pichardo has 12 including two threes, while Samir Thomas, Jebron Harris and Sherief Guinyard each had threes off the bench.

In a losing cause for St. Joe’s (15-10), senior Josh Ingram finished with 28 points, enough on a normal night, but this one was anything but, with Aquinas bringing it’s A++ game.

Now, the GMC Tournament Finals Friday night are set. Top-seed and two-time defending champ St. Thomas Aquinas will take on seventh-seed South Brunswick at 8 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio. No team higher than a six-seed has ever won the GMC or Middlesex County Tournament

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St. Thomas Aquinas Senior Jalen Pichardo and junior Michael “Deuce” Jones
St. Thomas Aquinas Head Coach Bob Turco

2023 GMC Tournament Boys’ Final Four: South River looks to continue historic run against South Brunswick, Aquinas-Joe’s set to do battle a third time

No matter how the Greater Middlesex Conference Boys’ Semifinals turn out Wednesday night at Monroe Township High School, an exciting finish is sure to be on tap for Friday.

South River is having a whale of a year, the Rams’ best in decades, seeking its first tournament championship since it won the Middlesex County Tournament (pre-GMC) in 1978 and 1979. They’ll face a South Brunswick team that was there as recently as three years ago, but has never won either tournament. St. Joseph of Metuchen appears to be peaking at the right time. And St. Thomas Aquinas is looking to keep the ball rolling and win their third in a row.

READ MORE: GMCT Semifinals set for Wednesday, with South River, South Brunswick, St. Joe’s and Aquinas all advancing on Super Sunday

Central Jersey Sports Radio will have live coverage of both semifinal games Wednesday, presented by Dayton Toyota Service and Dayton Collision on Route 130 in South Brunswick. It all begins at 4:45 with the pregame show before Game One of the doubleheader, with third-seed South River taking on seventh-seed South Brunswick at 5 pm. Then, at 7:00, it’s top-seed and two-time defending champion St. Thomas Aquinas facing fourth-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen.

Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call all the action; click here to listen.

Here’s a closer look at both of the GMC Tournament Boys’ Semifinals, complete with preview interviews with all four coaches:

#3 SOUTH RIVER (13-2) vs. #7 SOUTH BRUNSWICK (16-5), 5:00 pm

What a year the Rams have had, but they are not content to rest on their laurels. All they have is the GMC Blue Division title, but they want more, and they definitely can have it. From opening night to the tournament semifinals, South River has been relentless, playing great defense, getting up and down the floor, and hitting from beyond the arc, the recipe for success. People started to take notice on December 26th, when the Rams knocked off St. Joseph 74-66 in Metuchen. Some still wondered if they could keep up the pace. They’ve answered the bell and then some. In the quarterfinals, they came out of the game hot against North Brunswick, leading 24-2 after the first quarter, allowing just a single field goal.

Senior Roman Santos leads the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game, and is second with 5.6 rebounds, while fellow senior Laz Rodriguez is second in scoring at 14.6 points per game, and averages a team-leading 6.7 boards a contest. Another senior, Jeremy Grospe, is coming off a hot game against the Raiders, with four treys, giving him a team best 69 this year.

South Brunswick is the upset team in this year’s semifinals, shocking second-seed Colonia in the semis by 20, with a 63-43 win. Kalani Antoine had a monster game with 20 points, while Arshvir Singh had ten points and six rebounds. But it’s Antoine who has made the Vikings go all year, averaging 19 points a game to lead the team, and hitting a team best 39 three-pointers. South Brunswick is peaking at the right time. They started out the season slow, splitting their first four games, and sitting at just 4-4 after the first two games of the New Year. But since then, they have won 12 of their last 13. And they’ve showed the ability to make adjustments. Their quarterfinal win over the Patriots came after losing both regular season matchups by a single possession, three points each time.

There’s not much recent history between the teams. Since 2010-11, they’ve only met twice, with South Brunswick winning a 70-62 last year on February 25th in a regular season “bridge” game between the GMCs and states. Their 2019 meeting was a similar game on February 22nd, a 90-64 win for the Vikings

How they got here:

South River beat 19th-seed Middlesex in the first round 77-65, then ran past 6-seed North Brunswick in the quarterfinals.

South Brunswick beat 10-seed JP Stevens in the first round 65-52, then beat second-seed Colonia 63-43 in the quarterfinals.

Coaches’ Previews:

South River Head Coach Brandon Walsh
South Brunswick Head Coach Joe Hoehman

How they win:

South River just has to keep playing the game they play. Get out in transition, hit some threes in half court, and play their pesky style of defense.

South Brunswick won’t want to get into an up-and-down game wit the Rams, but they will want to attack the basket and try and get them in foul trouble. And they’ll want to avoid falling behind early; South River is tough to come back against.

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#1 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (22-3) vs. #4 ST. JOSEPH-METUCHEN (15-9)

While the Trojans are the team to beat in the GMC, and they’ve won three straight over St. Joe’s, only recently have they played often. Their last four matchups have all been since 2020, and in their previous matchup before that, in 2016, when the Falcons were in the midst of winning nine out of ten GMC Tournament titles from 2010-2019 – the “Decade of St. Joe’s,” if you will – Joe’s came out with a 72-17 win. But these teams are not those teams. They are more even that one might think, with none of their most recent four games decided by more than seven points. They include a St. Joe’s win by five in 2020, a seven-point Aquinas win last year, and two Trojan wins this year – 66-62 on January 17th, and 62-59 a week later. That’s two games this year decided by a total of three possessions.

Let’s start with Aquinas, which is what South River reminds us of, except the Trojans have more size. They play great, in-your-face defense, which fuels the transition game, but can also drive the hoop and score from beyond the arc, evidenced by their 168 three-pointers on the season, led by 46 from junior Jaden Kelly. And senior Kamal Lee is not far behind with 40. But “the straw that stirs the drink,” as head coach Bob Turco puts it, is Michael “Deuce” Jones, a transfer from Trenton Catholic who has blended seamlessly with a solid core of players as he runs the point and gets them the ball (162 assists). But he’s not just a distributor. He can score the ball, too, and is leading the team with 16.3 points per game, with 29 treys on the year – fourth on the team. And he takes pride in his defense, with a team-leading 81 steals on a team that gets a bunch of them night in and night out. Jalen Pichardo is the team’s top rebounder, averaging 9.2 a game, and he can turn a lot of those boards into putbacks, often drawing contact along the way and getting to the line for an and-one.

St. Joe’s has relied on Josh Ingram all year long, but the senior has faced some added pressure with the absence of Jeremy Clayville due to injury. He and his 18.5 points per game haven’t played since late January. But Ingram – averaging a team-best 16.3 points per game on the season has stepped it up, averaging 26 points a game in that span, four times topping 30 points, with 38 in the first-round win over Spotswood, a tight game until the final horn. He’s been a special player all year long, and his legend is growing. With Clayville out, Anthony Williams is the next best active scorer, at 10.7 points per game. Junior Jeremy DeCaro has hit some big threes along the way this season, including against the Chargers, and he’ll be an X-factor if St. Joe’s is to beat their rivals from a couple miles up Plainfield Avenue.

How they got here:

St. Thomas Aquinas rolled to an 81-50 win over 16th-seed East Brunswick int he first round, but was a little more sloppy in an uninspired 62-47 win over 8-seed Piscataway in Sunday’s quarterfinals.

St. Joseph had to fight off punch after punch from a game Spotswood ballclub to come away with a 75-72 win over the 13th seed, then beat fifth-seed South Plainfield 60-42 in the quarterfinals.

Coaches’ Previews:

St. Thomas Aquinas Head Coach Bob Turco
St. Joseph-Metuchen Head Coach Jan Cocozziello

How they win:

Aquinas, like South River, will have to play its game, and get everyone involved. And shake off whatever it was that had them struggling to put away an inferior Piscataway team at Middlesex County College.

St. Joe’s will have to value the basketball, and attack the hoop, trying to get Aquinas into foul trouble. And Ingram will need to go off and have one of his patented big-scoring games/


Non-Public Dominance: South Plainfield won the GMCT in 2004 and 2005, then Colonia in 2006, and Piscataway in 2007. Since the, a non-public has won it all but two seasons. Now-defunct Cardinal McCarrick of South Amboy won it in 2008, followed by the Chiefs again in 2009. But St. Joseph went on to win nine of the next ten titles – the only exception being Colonia’s upset of the Falcons in 2015. Joe’s won the next four, and then Aquinas won in 2020 and 2022. (There was no full tournament in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

This tournament brought to you by the letter “S” (Or, Meaningless Fact of the Day): All four schools in the semifinals begin with the letter “S”: St. Thomas Aquinas, South River, St. Joseph, South Brunswick. But more than that, never has the GMC Tournament (1986-present) nor the Middlesex County Tournament (1965-1985) ever had a semifinal with all four teams beginning with the same letter.

Who’s won it? Three of the four semifinal participants have won GMC or Middlesex County titles. St. Joseph has won more than anyone else, with 12 GMC titles to its credit. Aquinas has won three times, including once as Bishop Ahr in 1992. And South River won the Middlesex County Tournament in 1978 and 1979. But South Brunswick has never won it; they are 0-for-3 in the GMCT finals, with berth is 1993, 2016 and 2020.

Trailblazer? If South Brunswick reaches the final and wins the whole shebang, the Vikings – the 7-seed – will be the first team lower than a six-seed to win a title. Unseeded Piscataway won the MCT in 1968, as only the top four teams were seeded that year.

Combos: If South River makes the final, it will be against no one it’s ever played before in the final, as they beat Perth Amboy and Colonia in their back-to-back tourney wins in 1978 and ’79. If South Brunswick makes it, they could be playing Aquinas in the title game for the second time in three tournaments; they met in 2020 with the Trojans coming out with a 63-52 win, their only finals matchup. If it’s St. Joe’s in the final against the Vikings, well that’s happened twice. The Falcons beat them in 2016 (56-48) and in 1993 (57-54 in overtime).