Saint Thomas Aquinas boys’ basketball clicking down the stretch

Saint Thomas Aquinas High School boys' basketball player Jaquan Harris celebrates a big play during the team's game against Saint Joseph Regional High School on Jan. 5. The Trojans are 19-4 on the season.

It’s been another successful season for the Saint Thomas Aquinas High School boys’ basketball team under the leadership of coach Bob Turco.

In Turco’s second year at the helm, the Trojans are 19-4 and received the No. 2 seed in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament on Feb. 13 during the conference’s seeding meeting.

It’s the highest seed Saint Thomas Aquinas has gotten in the conference tournament since 1992 when the school from Edison was the No. 1 seed and won its last conference championship.

“It’s been going really well,” Turco said. “It’s been my most enjoyable year coaching. We have a great bunch of kids on our team. They play together and are a complete team.”

Saint Joseph Regional High School in Metuchen is the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and is the only team in the GMC that has beaten Saint Thomas Aquinas outright this season.

Saint Thomas Aquinas does have a forfeit against Perth Amboy based on the Trojans violating state rules for playing five games in one week.

Saint Thomas Aquinas has dominated the GMC Blue Division the past two years, winning another title this winter with a perfect 12-0 record in the division. The Trojans are 24-0 in Blue Division play the past two seasons.

Senior and Wake Forest University commit Quadry Adams leads the way for the Trojans, averaging a team-high 18.5 points a contest this season. He also leads the team in assists and steals.

Turco is very impressed with Adams’ development this year, praising the senior for his ability to get everyone on the court involved and his team leadership.

“Quadry is the most dynamic player in the county,” Turco said. “He’s a tremendous athlete. He just keeps getting better every single day.”

Senior Derrick Grant is the team’s leader in the frontcourt, averaging about nine or rebounds a game and leads the team in blocked shots. Grant is also averaging just under 11 points a game this winter.

Besides Adams and Grant, the Trojans are a young team with a lot of sophomores and juniors seeing a lot of minutes on the court this season.

Point guard Jaquan Harris is one of those sophomores that has been making a huge impact on the squad this season, scoring 15.2 points a contest and is the team’s leader in assists.

Samar Abdullah is another sophomore that has contributed a lot of solid minutes this winter for the Trojans.

Juniors Jalen Jones, Kyree Henry and Tristian Jefferies have each been great contributors to the team’s success this season.

Jones is averaging close to seven points a game this winter, while Jefferies has been a great mid-season pickup for the Trojans. In 10 games played this season, Jefferies is averaging 15.4 points an outing.

Henry is the team’s top marksman from downtown, knocking home 41 three-pointers this season.

Senior Derrick Golden has given Saint Thomas Aquinas a lift off the bench this season as well.

Saint Thomas Aquinas is currently on an eight winning streak. The Trojans average over 77 points a game this season.

Turco is very happy with how his team is playing down the stretch and believes the team can continue that play in the playoffs because of their chemistry.

“Their team chemistry is very good,” Turco said. “Our defense this year is better than it was last year. Defense always travels and we’ve made sure that our guys understand that.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas will play its first conference tournament game on Feb. 20. The Trojans received the No. 7 seed in the NJSIAA South Jersey, Non-Public A Tournament and will be home in Edison to No. 10 Christian Brothers Academy in the first round on March. 4.

The state title is the ultimate goal for Turco, who believes his team has what it takes to bring home championships this season and in the future for Trojan Nation.

“We’ve built a foundation and now it’s time to put stuff on top of it,” Turco said. “I want to start putting banners up on the walls of the gym. Winning the county tournament would definitely put people on notice.”

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