Tag: Steve Mate

South River boys got their No. 3 seed. Can the Rams cash in and win it all?

Spotswood head coach Steve Mate has known Brandon Walsh for over a decade.

The South River skipper played against Mate’s Chargers when he was a Ram, and later worked under him at the Monroe Sports Center.

So for Mate to watch Walsh’s team have great success this year – despite it happening twice at the Chargers’ expense – it’s been something special.

Schools in the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue – in which which South River and Spotswood play – and Gold Divisions tend to stick together, and stick up for one another. Many on the inside – and some on the outside – feel they often take a backseat in some way to the White and Red Divisions.

That’s okay, because success and respect is earned. And this year, South River earned it, and got it.

The Rams were picked as the No. 3 seed this year in the GMC Tournament, which will begin for them at home on Thursday in the first round against the winner of Tuesday’s game between 14th-seed Edison and 19th-seed Middlesex.

We say picked – not awarded or given – because it wasn’t awarded or given. It was earned, by way of an eye-opening 74-66 win over St. Joseph in Metuchen the day after Christmas.

And despite an earlier loss to Piscataway, the Rams – now 20-2 after a non-conference loss to Ridge Saturday – are looking really good. They have gotten great guard play from Alex and Jeremy Grospe, an inside-outside game from Roman Santos, and a team-leading 15 points a game from Laz Rodrigez, a 1,000-point scorer. They can shoot, rebound, play pesky defense and get up and down the floor.

And now the question is, how deep can the Rams make a run in the GMC Tournament? Could they win the whole thing?

It might be an upset to the top-echelon teams in the GMC if they do, but it wouldn’t be to anyone inside the South River program. Even if this team is virtually all seniors, and enjoying the fruits of having played together for years as a group.

Everyone loves to root for the little guy. Throw in the fact that a public school has not won the GMC Tournament since Colonia in 2015, and that they’re the only team to do it since 2009 (Piscataway), well, there are going to be a lot of Rams fans the deeper they get in the tournament.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Spotswood head coach Steve Mate about fellow Blue Division foe and arch-rival South River’s chances in the 2023 GMC Tournament:

Spotswood basketball, baseball teams will remember Matthew Carlson in their own ways

Matthew Carlson should have been on the jayvee basketball team at Spotswood High School this year, and would eventually have contributed to the Chargers’ baseball team as well this Spring. The sophomore was a great kid, a leader by example, and loved by his classmates and teammates.

Instead, they are all remembering him, a month after his tragic death in an ATV accident in Georgia.

According to published reports in numerous media outlets, the 16-year-old sophomore was in an ATV while on a family vacation in Georgia over Thanksgiving break when it crashed, and he was thrown from the vehicle the night before Thanksgiving. He was pronounced dead early Thanksgiving morning at a local hospital.

“E4M” – Everything for Matt – is written in the top left corner of the Spotswood basketball team’s whiteboard in the locker room. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The news stunned the Spotswood community as word reached New Jersey.

The basketball team is remembering him by placing his jersey on a chair at home games this season, and with a message in the corner of their whiteboard in the boys’ locker room.

Matthew Carlson (Source: Spotswood Funeral Home obituary)

We talked to basketball coach Steve Mate and baseball coach Glenny Fredricks for their memories and recollections of Matthew Carlson.

Click below to listen:

Spotswood poised for a “big” year with four returning starters, opens home slate tonight

Granted, it’s early yet, but there’s good reason to be optimistic about Spotswood boys’ basketball this year.

Despite the loss of forward Roman Carone and his 19 points a game last year, the Chargers return four starters. Better yet, they are 2-0 to start a season for the first time since 2018-19, and are led in scoring through the first two games by a pair of juniors: forward Kiye Walker and guard Rion Ahmetaj.

And yes, Spotswood is big, a luxury head coach Steve Mate – now in his 28th season on Summerhill Road – hasn’t always had. Ahmetaj is 6-6, his younger brother Albion – a freshman – is 6-8, and junior forward Daniel Yarus is 6-6, while senior Casey Cumiskey and Walker are both 6-3.

Follow Sportsplex at Metuchen on Instagram for the latest on open gym sessions on their courts and turf!

Monday night, their arch rival South River comes into town, in a GMC Blue Division game that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call allt he action with pregame set for 6:15 pm, and tip-off at 7. Click here to listen live.

In addition to all that, Mate is just a win away from a major milestone: his 400th overall coaching victory. He’s 359-301 at Spotswood, and 399-334 overall, including a four-year stint at Verona where he was 40-33 before taking the Spotswood job – when this reporter was a senior in high school.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Spotswood head coach Steve Mate: