CLARK, NJ – As tournament season heated up, it was another busy week for the Arthur L. Johnson High School winter sports teams.
It was a big week for the Crusaders on the ice. The top-seeded Johnson ice hockey team won the McMullen Cup after defeating third-seeded Frisch, 7-3, at South Mountain Arena on Saturday, Feb. 22.
Johnson dominated the game, putting in four first-period goals, and then adding another three in the second.
Nick Galati put in four goals and had two assists, Mike Midrano had two goals and Anthony Jacobs found the net as well. Anthony Morreale was in on three assists. Johnson goalie Nick Sofianakos made 27 saves.
The Crusaders edged fourth-seeded Kearny, 3-2, in overtime in the semifinal round on Feb. 19.
Two of three Johnson’s three goals came on the power play. Galati, Matt Bellucci and Adrian Skiba put in goals for the top seed. Richard Ledden and Jacobs had assists. Sofianakos made 33 saves. The Crusaders had an astounding 56 shots on goal.
Johnson (14-5-1), as the 21st seed, will have a quick turnaround when it takes on 12th-seeded Montville in the preliminary round of the NJSIAA Public C tournament on Monday, Feb. 24. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown. The winner moves on to play fifth-seeded Manasquan.
Coming off a double-digit victory over sixth-seeded Union Catholic, the 19th-seeded Crusaders went up against 14th-seeded Cranford in the first round of the Union County Tournament on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Cranford used a 46-32 second half to pull away and defeat Johnson 62-46. Three Johnson players finished in double figures, led by Aidan Laughery’s 13 points to go with six rebounds. Matthew O’Connor added 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a block, while Agustine Puentes totaled 10 points and four assists.
Cranford’s Liam Kwiatkowski led the team with 20 points and seven rebounds. Cranford eventually lost to third-seeded Elizabeth in the UCT quarterfinals.
Johnson then lost to Oratory, 57-53, on Friday, Feb. 21, dropping to 14-8 on the season. Laughery had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, Puentes finished with 13 points and six assists and O’Connor had 12 rebounds and five assists.
Johnson, as the ninth seed, edged eighth-seeded Elizabeth, 38-36, in the first round of the Union County Tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Katie Ledden led the Crusaders with 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Dominka Kosiek grabbed 10 rebounds and four steals, Peyton Collings finished with nine points, six steals and five rebounds and Lily Gull had 11 points.
The Crusaders lost to top-seeded Westfield in the county quarterfinals on Friday, Feb. 21, at Rahway High School.
Johnson (10-13) had a strong start with a 17-7 lead after one quarter. Westfield rallied with a 35-16 spurt between the second and third quarters. Ledden had a double-double for the Crusaders with 13 points and 16 rebounds, also finishing with four steals, three assists and two blocks. Gull finished with 11 points.
Johnson competed at District 14 on Feb. 22 at Westfield High School. The other teams that competed at District 14 were host Westfield, Bayonne, Bridgewater-Raritan, Cranford, Metuchen, Millburn, Union and Voorhees.
The highlight for Johnson came at 285, when second-seeded Thano Kafos reached the semifinals before losing to Cranford’s Kevin Shriner, the third seed and eventual winner at the weight.
At 106, Johnson’s Matthew Lordi reached the quarterfinals before losing to St. Joseph of Metuchen’s Giovanni Alejandro, the second seed and eventual winner at the weight.
At 120, Nicholas Mitichell reached the quarterfinals before losing to the top seed from Cranford, Patrick Kalnins. Seventh-seeded Christopher Manning reached the quarters before losing to Cranford’s Luke DiGiovanni by fall at 138.
Steven Acosta made the quarters at 152 before falling to Union’s Christopher Rodriguez, the top seed and eventual winner.
Griffin Jones, the sixth seed, reached the quarterfinals at 170 before losing by fall to Millburn’s Dennis Choe.
Jordan Downey reached the quarterfinals at 182 before losing to Millburn’s Liam Haggerty.
Marc Galati defeated a higher-seeded wrestler in Millburn’s Noah Fand at 195 in the first round. Galati lost to Bayonne’s Gerald Rovelo in the quarterfinals.