By Jeff Appelblatt
Woodbridge High School bowling coach Amanda Small was kind of disappointed to have her girls team ranked No. 3 in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) while South Plainfield High School was No. 2.
“I don’t fully agree with it,” the second-year coach said. “I expected a 2-seed.”
In the long run, it really didn’t matter; third-seeded Woodbridge defeated No. 5-seed East Brunswick High School, 2-0, in the GMC championship matchup Feb. 8.
The Barrons closed out the Bears with an 858-762 thumping in the second game after pulling out a narrow, 877-846, victory in the first game of the day.
Deanna Calantoni led Woodbridge with scores of 176 and 213, while Samantha Scalafani contributed a 190 and a 178.
With his team sitting at 19-4, Michael Carbone also expected a No. 2 seed for his wrestlers in the NJSIAA North Jersey II Group IV playoffs.
However, after thinking about the team that got that seed — Middletown High School North — Woodbridge’s coach, in his sixth season, accepted being No. 3 despite his team’s better overall record.
“Middletown North jumped us,” the coach said. “But they earned the 2-seed.”
That just meant after the Barrons beat up on Middletown High School South, 51-9, they’d be the lower-ranked road team Feb. 10 in the semifinals, where Middletown North was waiting for the Barrons.
While Alec Shea, Alex LaGrippo, Bryan McLaughlin, Hunter Kiraly, Jacob Catalano, Jack Quinn, La’Zhon Finney, Marquan Payne, Vincent Zecchino, Xavier Laracuente and Zackary Cottrell were accumulating victories on the mats for the Barrons, Middletown North had Feb. 8 off — each of the top two seeds in the tournament did.
The win against Middletown South was Woodbridge’s first state playoff victory in 11 years and the first time the Barrons were the home team in the sectionals.
“Woodbridge [hadn’t] ever had a home sectional match,” Carbone said. “I [was] excited to be part of the first.”
After the team’s first playoff victory in more than 10 years, Woodbridge’s goal is to give the Lions another day of rest Feb. 12, when the Group IV championship match takes place at 7 p.m. on the home floor of the top-ranked team.
The Barrons (20-4) or Lions (17-4) will face off that day with either No. 1-seed Phillipsburg High School (13-3) or No. 4-seed Montgomery High School (16-5).
The Barrons did get ranked second in the GMC on the ice.
After suffering back-to-back losses, Woodbridge (14-3-2) found its way back into the win column Feb. 6, when it defeated Hillsborough High School, 2-1, behind goals from Hunter Spearnock and Kyle Mortensen.
The Barrons are slated to play against the winner of No. 3-seed Old Bridge High School and No. 6-seed Colonia/John F. Kennedy (JFK) Memorial co-op Feb. 18.
A No. 4 seed for the boys bowlers in the GMC was more accepted by coach Small than the girls’ third seed. Prior to its six-match winning streak entering the GMC Tournament, the team (13-5-1) had trouble moving steadily through the win column.
Nevertheless, some of Woodbridge’s best bowling was at the right time, like when freshman James Stoveken closed January with his his third perfect game of the season.
“We’ve been on a roll lately,” the coach said before the start of the GMC competition. “The team’s trusting each other — putting it together.”
It wasn’t enough, though, as top-ranked East Brunswick rolled through the conference, finishing off the tournament with a 2-0 win over Sayreville War Memorial High School.
The boys basketball team from Woodbridge has refused to lose in 2016. Following a 10-0 January, the Barrons have been scorching through February.
Twelve student-athletes scored for Woodbridge in the 82-50 thrashing of New Brunswick High School Feb. 2, led by 32 points combined from Kemari Persol and Curtis Nesbit. Seven Barrons scored at least seven points in a 75-63 win over Monroe Township High School High School, led by Quran Robinson’s 15 points. And five players scored at least nine points in a 55-44 victory Feb. 8 over Edison High School. Quaasim Glover scored a game-high 15 points against Edison.
Woodbridge (15-3) hoped to finish off the regular season just as hot when it hosted Sayreville Feb. 9. The Barrons blew out the Bombers in Sayreville Jan. 14, 58-45.
Colonia High School
Colonia High School wrestling coach Dan Grasso said early in the season he hoped his team would reach the playoffs this year — not just as individuals but as a team.
After the team defeated six of 10 opponents in January before starting February with wins over Keansburg High School and Columbia High School, Grasso’s aspirations for the season seem likely.
Colonia wrestlers traveled to Red Bank Regional High School Feb. 10, and they will head to Highland Park High School for a 6 p.m. meet Feb. 11 before going to Hillsborough Feb. 13 for a 10 a.m. meet.
JFK Memorial High School
JFK Memorial High School (7-10) closed out its boys basketball season season on a positive note, dominating Middlesex High School, 44-31. But unless the team manages to pull a number of upsets in the GMC Tournament, it appears JFK Memorial will have at least another year to go until it can claim to be anywhere as talented on the court as either of its local rivals.
On the surface, the future looks to have a few negatives before positives for the Mustangs. That’s hard not to think when 6-foot-4 Kush Patel is slated to graduate in the spring. The senior was not only the second-leading scorer for JFK Memorial this season (9.35 points per game), but he also grabbed the most rebounds for the Mustangs.
But they’ll have Peter Obertan back for another year. The 6-foot-6 junior led the club with 13 points, seven rebounds and .70 blocks per game. He also knocked down a team-best 71 shots from deep.