By Jimmy Allinder
Monroe Township High School’s girls had the only area basketball team to advance to last weekend’s Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament quarterfinals, and it didn’t turn out well.
The 11th-seeded Falcons (9-16 overall, 7-7 Red Division) were eliminated by third-seeded South Brunswick High School, 60-28, Feb. 18 — the third loss to the Vikings this season, although one was by four points, 48-44.
Monroe’s next action will be Feb. 27 in the NJSIAA state tournament’s first round, where the 12th-seeded Falcons travel to fifth-seeded Middletown High School North in Central Jersey, Group IV.
The area’s other teams were eliminated in the GMC Tournament’s first round. Sixth-seeded East Brunswick High School was ousted by Monroe, 56-43; seventh-seeded South River High School was ambushed by 10th-seeded Edison High School, 59-29; and 17th-seeded Spotswood High School was defeated by top-seeded Sayreville War Memorial High School, 78-58, after upsetting eighth-seeded Metuchen High School, 42-37, in the preliminary round.
This is a much different team than last year, when Monroe made a second consecutive trip to the GMC championships and captured the program’s first sectional title.
“This season has certainly been a learning experience,” Monroe coach Leigh Vogtman said. “We returned only one regular [in senior Casey Filiault] from last year and moved up to the Red Division. This season was about trying to establish our identity and build on our strengths. Unfortunately, we weren’t as consistent as we wanted to be.”
Asked about whether her team will return to being a top-echelon GMC team, Vogtman said, “Again, it’s finding an identity, what works best and get better.”
In other state tournament action, eigth-seeded South River (17-5 overall, 12-2 Blue Division) — a new entrant to Central Jersey, Group II — hosted ninth-seeded Delaware Valley Regional High School in the first round Feb. 27. The Rams visited South Plainfield High School Feb. 21 in the regular-season finale.
East Brunswick (11-10 overall, 8-6 Red Division) was the sixth seed in Central Jersey, Group IV and hosted 11th-seeded Colts Neck High School in the first round Feb. 27. Spotswood (15-10 overall, 10-4 Blue Division) was the 12th seed in Central Jersey, Group I and visited fifth-seeded Newark Vocational Technical High School Feb. 27.
For the first time in many years, the GMC quarterfinals did not include an area team. Monroe (22nd seed) survived the play-in and preliminary rounds but was eliminated in the first round by sixth-seeded Carteret High School, 51-46.
East Brunswick (12-11, 3-8 Red Division) was the 12th seed and won its preliminary-round game before dropping a 68-58 decision in the first round to fifth-seeded Old Bridge High School. Spotswood (6-19, 1-8 Blue Division) won its play-in game but was eliminated in the GMC preliminary round by ninth seeded Piscataway Township High School, 93-53.
South River (21st seed) also advanced to the GMC preliminaries but was eliminated by East Brunswick, 77-50.
In state tournament first-round action, which begins Feb. 27, East Brunswick is seeded 14th in Central Jersey, Group IV and travels to 3rd–seeded South Brunswick. Spotswood is seeded 16th in Central Jersey, Group II and visits top-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.