Woodbridge heads into state playoffs with 20-win season


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By Jeff Appelblatt

Woodbridge High School’s boys basketball team has moved on from its Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament semifinals loss.

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Head coach Matt Gigliello and the Barrons are focused on one thing: the NJSIAA state sectional tournament. For the Barrons, that started March 1 at home against No. 12-seed East Orange Campus High School. If the Barrons won that contest, they would play the winner of the No. 4-seed Ridge High School vs. No. 13-seed Bayonne High School first-round game March 3. Woodbridge is the No. 5 seed in the North Jersey, Section II, Group IV section.

“You just play whoever is in front of you,” Gigliello said as he looked ahead to the state sectional.

Woodbridge played its way to the GMC semifinals only to run into the No. 1 seed and conference’s most dominant team, Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen. The Falcons beat the Barrons, 66-33, before going on to claim yet another tournament championship at the expense of South Brunswick High School.

The Barrons, meanwhile, were back on the court after that loss, getting a nice momentum builder to take into the tournament — a gritty 76-75 win over Lakewood High School.

It wasn’t a conference championship; it was only one more game in the books. But it was win No. 20 on the season for Woodbridge against only five losses. Hura Blaine, who scored five points per game this season for Woodbridge, scored a career-best 14 points. Harry Rutkowski, the Rutgers University-bound baseball star, dropped in 18 points for a career-high of his own.

Through the state competition, Woodbridge will just look for one more win at a time. And it will look to add more wins under the belt of Gigliello, the White Division Coach of the Year.

In the GMC Tournament, Woodbridge had three players in double figures beating Edison High School, 61-52, in its first-round game. Quran Robinson led the way with 16 points, followed by Keshaun Henry (12) and Rutkowski (10).

In the quarterfinals, the Barrons, the fifth seed, upset No. 4-seed Sayreville War Memorial High School, 69-61, led by Henry’s all-around game of 21 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Quaasim Glover also filled the stat sheet with 16 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Robinson contributed 12 points and four steals to the road win.

Linden High School (17-5) is the No. 1 seed in Woodbridge’s section with second-seeded Westfield High School (16-8), third-seeded Newark East Side High School (21-7) and fourth-seeded Ridge (16-7) rounding out the top seeds.

All game are played on the home floor of the higher seed.

The semifinals are March 5 and the championship game is March 7.

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