PISCATAWAY, NJ — As usually the case, when a much lower seed meets a higher seed in the early parts of any tournament, the results aren’t always pretty.
That was the case Thursday night when the second-seeded Piscataway High School boys varsity basketball team met 15th-seeded Spotswood in the first round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament in Piscataway. The hometown Chiefs left with a 71-43 victory.
Piscataway was led by Robert Terry’s team-high 12 points. Keshawn Grant and Mattias Arrindell also scored 11 points apiece. Piscataway made 10 3-pointers (Antonio Chandler and Terry each made two while six others made one triple) and saw a whopping 13 players score.
Chandler and Nasir Gray finished with six points each while Daryl DeCohen and Sam Ezenou each had five as well.
The Chiefs also raced out to a 31-11 first quarter lead. That allowed head coach Darius Griffin, Sr. to sit and rest his starters and get those who otherwise don’t see much action some playing time.
“I think we played well tonight,” Griffin said. “We knew Spotswood was a dangerous team and I know coach (Steven) Mate would have them ready. “... I took my starters out for the game with 6:00 to go in the second quarter. I wanted to give them some rest for the long haul.”
That long haul is something the basketball program hasn’t thought of in recent years and to recognize it and speak about it is a breath of fresh air for Piscataway. The Chiefs have not won the GMCT championship since 2009 and last reached the final in 2011. They’ve won seven times (twice as a 2-seed) in nine title game appearances overall.
St. Joseph’s of Metuchen has won six out of the last seven years and is the No. 1 seed in the GMCT again this year. Piscataway edged the Falcons in 2009.
Nonetheless, next up for the Chiefs is a date with seventh-seeded Colonia in the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. on Sunday at New Brunswick High School. The Patriots defeated 10th-seeded Woodbridge, 51-35, in their first round matchup.
Colonia brings a five-game winning streak into the battle and is led by Luke Valeriano, Kristian Chapmann, Frank Lehmann, Connor Bevilacqua, and Tim Carroll, who have all scored over 100 points this season. Bevilacqua and Valeriano are 3-point threats, as the duo have combined to make 59 shots from behind the arc with 30 and 29 respectively while Chapmann makes it a habit in getting to the free-throw line.
The two teams haven’t met since the 2013-14 season with Piscataway winning both games played.
Piscataway, which owns a 20-2 record, has its eyes on the big prize. And in order to achieve the main prizes and goals, it all starts with confidence.
“To keep advancing we have to continue to play with confidence and trust each other,” Griffin said. “We must play great defense and let our offense come naturally. We know it’s not going to be easy. We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. ... We just have to stay focused and take it one game at a time.”
Piscataway also received the No. 5 seed in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 state tournament which commences on Feb. 27. The Chiefs have one state title (1994). They also lost to Rancocas Valley in 2008.
*The second-seeded PHS varsity girls basketball team is playing its quarterfinals GMCT game against 10th-seeded Sayreville on Saturday at 2 p.m. at New Brunswick High School.
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