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St. Joseph’s of Metuchen feels TOC victory one year later

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By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Trenton – Last year, the St. Joseph’s of Metuchen men’s basketball team had to deal with the pain of losing the NJSIAA Tournament of Championship game.

In last year’s final game, St. Joseph’s lost in the Tournament Championship game to Roselle Catholic at the Sun National Bank Center. But fast forward one year, and the St. Joseph’s of Metuchen men’s basketball team did not want to feel that same feeling once again.

Basketball Clip Art

Basketball Clip Art

Just a shot away from feeling the loss for the second straight year, The Falcons narrowly escaped. The Newark East Side High School’s shot missed, as the St. Joseph’s players rushed onto the court.

St. Joseph’s of Metuchen won the Tournament of Championship, 49-47 over the Red Raiders of Newark East Side.

This is the Falcons first Tournament of Championship in school history.

Saint Joseph’s were held scoreless from the field for the final four minutes and thirty seconds of the game. While they were not hitting their shots from the field, they were making shots from the free throw line, scoring 8 points from the free throw line down the stretch. Marques Townes came up big with 3 out of 4 from the charity stripe in the final seconds.

“I came to (Dave) Turco as a freshman and I always told him that my plan was not to only win multiple state titles, but to win the T of C,” Townes said. “And I’m glad that I was able to fulfill my promise. Turco always believed my promises, so I’m glad I was able to fulfill this one and leave my career on top and have the group finish on top for him.”

Townes ended the game with 10 points, as did his teammate Breein Tyree. The Falcons were led by Wade Baldwin with 12 points.

Raven Owen chipped in with 9 points, while Karl-Anthony Towns ended with 8 points.

“People talk about our offense, but our defense is pretty good too,” said St. Joseph coach Dave Turco. “We made some key stops, got some key rebounds and had to grind one out, something we haven’t had to do this season.”

The Falcons finished the season with a 30-2 record, reaching 30 wins for the first time in school history.

Newark East Side dropped to 26-2 on the season.

Jamar Gilbert led the Red Raiders attack with 16 points. He was joined in double figures with Ahmad Harrison with 10 points.

They had four other players score, but they all scored less than 7 points. Abdul Lewis scored 7 points, while Akbar Hoffman chipped in 6 points.

Ismael Sanogo scored 5 points, while Jibreel Ahmad scored 3 points.

Lewis game the Red Raiders a 47-46 lead when he made a three-point shot. After that, Townes three shots from the charity stripe to put the Falcons ahead for good.

“In typical fashion, backs against the wall, they just came back,” East Side co-coach Anthony Tavares said. “They almost did it. Hats off to the seniors. They’ve been a pleasure to coach, phenomenal student-athletes, and I wish them nothing but the best in their futures. They deserve it. If there’s anyone who deserves it, based on the way they represented the city, it’s them. They’re a great group of young men that are going to prosper.”

Saint Joseph was up 19-7 after the first quarter. That was before the Red Raiders made it 28-21 at halftime.

“We have faced defensive pressure this season, but their half-court defense was as good as we’ve seen, so give them the credit,” Turco said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of what we didn’t do after getting that big lead, it’s what they did.”

Saint Joseph had a 41-32 lead after the third quarter. But in the fourth quarter, that’s when Newark East Side started to come back to get so close. Their last shot of the game was when Lewis put Newark East Side up 47-46 with 1:36 left in the game.

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