By Jimmy Allinder
When the Bishop George Ahr High School girls basketball team is firing on all cylinders, it is capable of beating any team in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC).
That is what happened Feb. 20 when the sixth-seeded Trojans defeated third-seeded Sayreville War Memorial High School, 58-52, in the conference tournament quarterfinals. The victory elevated the Trojans’ record to 16-7, sending them to the semifinals Feb. 22, where they met second-seeded East Brunswick High School. The Feb. 25 championship game is at Kean University and will be played before the boys final.
“Everybody stepped up,” Bishop Ahr coach Kevin Harper said about his team’s workmanlike performance against Sayreville. “We knew they would play aggressive like always (the teams split a pair of regular-season games), so the key was to be relaxed and run our offense.”
It also helped that the Trojans put three seasoned veterans on the floor — seniors Lauren Barlow and Jenna Harsh and junior Elle Cimilluca — who have played together for three years, and it showed as they dissected the Bombers’ pressing defense, resulting in easy buckets. Barlow led with 20 points and junior Brianna Jackson contributed 12 points while playing, in Harper’s estimation, the best overall game of her career.
In regular-season action two weeks ago, Bishop Ahr defeated the GMC Tournament’s top seed, Monroe Township High School, 50-49. Monroe faced fourth-seeded South Brunswick High School in the other semifinal.
The top-seeded Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen boys (18-5) cruised to the GMC Tournament semifinals by easily handling eight-seeded Spotswood High School, 69-37, Feb. 21. The Falcons’ opponent in the semifinals Feb. 23 was fifth-seeded Woodbridge High School.
The NJSIAA state tournament pairings are set for the boys and girls.
In the boys tournament, 16th-seeded J.P. Stevens High School meets top-seeded Linden High School in North Jersey II Group IV March 1. In Non-Public A South, top-seeded St. Joe’s meets the winner of the first-round game between eight-seeded St. John Vianney High School and ninth-seeded Paul VI High School March 4. In the same section, 14th-seeded Bishop Ahr faces third-seeded St. Augustine Preparatory School March 2.
In the girls tournament, 12th-seeded J.P. Stevens meets third-seeded Union High School March 1 in North Jersey II Group IV. In Central Jersey Group I, 10th-seeded Metuchen High School plays seventh-seeded Bernards High School March 1. Edison High School (11th seed) meets third-seeded South Brunswick in Central Jersey Group IV March 1. In Non-Public A South, sixth-seeded Bishop Ahr hosts 11th-seeded Union Catholic Regional High School March 2.
The Bishop Ahr wrestling team finished in third place at the NJSIAA District 19 wrestling tournament but the highlight of the competition was five Trojans winning gold medals.
David Loniewski (106 pounds) pinned Jose Pacheco of Perth Amboy High School in 2:43; Gaven Ringwood (113) was awarded a forfeit; Dylan O’Connor (126) decisioned Jack Quinn of Woodbridge High School, 3-2; John Sheedy (145) scored a 5-1 decision over Jordan Cooke of Piscataway Township High School; and Andrew Brazicki (182) decisioned Joe Schenck of Perth Amboy, 6-3.
The only other area wrestler to capture a first-place showing was Edison High School’s Robert Cleary (132), who scored a technical fall, 17-1 decision over Victor Torres of John F. Kennedy Memorial High School. Runners-up were Anthony Maloney (195) and Joe Maloney (220), both of Metuchen.
Third-place consolation finishers include Edison’s Julian Burke (120) and Pete Tomasino (145) and J.P. Stevens’ Abhishek Singh (132) and Paul Kim (195).
First, second and third-place wrestlers moved on to the Region 5 Tournament Feb. 24 and 26-27 at Hunterdon Central High School. The state finals will be held in Atlantic City March 4-6.
The margin was one goal, but the St. Joe’s ice hockey team (14-3-3) edged Woodbridge High School to capture its fifth consecutive GMC Cup Feb. 20. The winning goal came with under 12 minutes remaining in the third period by Thomas Bauer to snap a 3-3 tie. Michael Nisky and Brian Coelho assisted on the goal.
The Falcons (seeded second) now wait until Feb. 26, when they meet seventh-seeded Bergen Catholic High School in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Non-Public Tournament.