What a Union County Tournament seeding meeting it should be on Wednesday!
Here we go:
First Cranford swept Governor Livingston in Watchung Division play and then Roselle Catholic swept Cranford.
Then GL swept Roselle Catholic.
Meanwhile, Union ended up splitting Watchung Division games with GL and Cranford, while Linden swept Union in Watchung play.
Mountain Division champion New Providence has the most wins of any county team with 17 and has not been swept by an opponent.
Repeat Valley Division winner Hillside – which also has not been swept by anyone – begins the week with the county’s longest winning streak at nine and has the least amount of losses to county foes – which is zero.
All but one – 22 of the 23 teams situated in the Union County Conference – are scheduled to play Tuesday. Union Catholic is the only team that is off.
38TH ANNUAL FRANK J. CICARELL
UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT
The seeding meeting is Wednesday at Roselle Catholic at 10:30 a.m., the same time as the Union County boys’ seeding meeting.
The coaches on the girls’ seeding committee – the first of a two-year stint – include Linden’s Paul Gorski and Union’s Justin Meyer from the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division, Dayton’s Dave Rennie and Westfield’s Joe Marino from the Mountain Division and Hillside’s Sjocquelyn Winstead and Rahway’s Danielle Brown from the Valley Division.
The preliminary round is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9 and the first round for Monday, Feb. 11.
The quarterfinals – tentatively – are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 14 at Roselle Catholic and at Rahway.
The semifinals are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 18 at a site to be announced.
The final is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 24 at Kean University’s Harwood Arena in Union. The last two finals have taken place at Kean.
Sites should be confirmed at the seeding meeting.
SO WHO SHOULD THE TOP UCT SEED BE?
Which team should be seeded first?
The top seed won the tournament the last three years, including Roselle Catholic in 2010 and 2011 and GL in 2012.
The last top seed not to win the tournament was Scotch Plains in 2009, with the Raiders falling to fourth-seeded and eventual champion Roselle Catholic in the semifinals.
Roselle Catholic and New Providence have only two losses to county opponents, with Roselle Catholic owning a 60-53 home win over New Providence.
Who should be the second seed, the third seed and the fourth seed?
Should New Providence – with losses only to GL and RC – be seeded ahead of Cranford based on its overall record?
Some have argued that Mountain Division squad Oak Knoll deserves to be seeded ahead of Watchung teams Union and Linden because of its better overall record. However, Oak Knoll does not own a win over GL and Cranford the way Union does, nor does it have a win over Linden, which has two over Union.
“I would have put us at 5 or 6 before we lost to Westfield,” second-year Oak Knoll head coach John Bertollo said Sunday. “We had beaten them already.”
Oak Knoll defeated Westfield at home before losing at Westfield this past week in Mountain Division play.
“Now I would put us at, maybe around, the 7th seed,” Bertollo said. “If we win Monday and Tuesday we’ll have 17 wins and I think 17 wins should get us a decent spot.”
How does Hillside get figured in all of this? A team that ended up finishing 20-6 last year including a perfect 14-0 in the Valley Division, as the 15th seed the Comets came oh so close to upsetting eventual finalist Cranford, giving the second-seeded Cougars all they could handle before falling 61-55 at Roselle Catholic in a first round clash.
Here’s a look at the records of teams – going into competition this week – with the least amount of county losses and who they lost to in the county:
Hillside (12-3): 0 county losses.
Roselle Catholic (15-3): 2 county losses; both to GL
New Providence (17-2): 2 county losses; 1 to GL, 1 to RC
Oak Knoll (15-3): 3 county losses; 2 to New Providence, 1 to Westfield
Gov. Livingston (15-4): 4 county losses: 2 to Cranford, 1 to Union,
1 to Scotch Plains
Cranford (13-6): 4 county losses: 2 to RC, 1 to Linden, 1 to Union
Hillside has won nine straight.
New Providence has won seven in a row.
Westfield has won six consecutive games and GL five.
IN WATCHUNG DIVISION PLAY:
Cranford swept GL.
Then Roselle Catholic swept Cranford.
Then GL swept Roselle Catholic.
And . . .
Union split with GL and Cranford.
And . . .
Linden swept Union.
If Cranford, Roselle Catholic and GL – the top three squads in the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division – are considered the top three teams in the county, then they equally proved it by knocking each other off on the court.
In the meantime, New Providence keeps on winning and has been swept by nobody.
The up-and-coming team that had three huge wins this past week, including the first two over foes it previously lost to? That team would be the Westfield Blue Devils.
Westfield head coach Joe Marino, who guided the Blue Devils to their only Union County Tournament championship in 2008, would love nothing better than to draw the least amount of attention and sneak up on his next opponent.
Westfield improved to 12-7 overall and 10-4 in the UCC’s Mountain Division after beating Oak Knoll 60-52 at home Tuesday and then Dayton 50-49 at home Thursday. Westfield lost at Oak Knoll 63-50 Jan. 10 in Summit and then the next day in Springfield was defeated by Dayton 46-42.
Westfield avenged both of those losses to extend a season-high winning streak to five going into Friday’s conference-crossover game at Scotch Plains.
The arch rivals are used to playing each other at least twice during the regular season – home and away – because they are normally in the same division. Westfield dropped down to the Mountain Division this year, while Scotch Plains remained in the Watchung.
Westfield has wins over Watchung teams Union and Linden, falling at home to Union 47-44 Dec. 22 and winning at Linden 54-52 on Jan. 15 in a conference crossover contest. Westfield was also defeated by Linden 52-38 in a Len Sepanek holiday game Dec. 29 at Ridge.
Westfield won its sixth straight to improve to 13-7 overall when it downed Scotch Plains 54-50 in overtime Friday in Scotch Plains. The Blue Devils won overtime 5-1 after the Raiders, who fell to 8-10, won the fourth quarter 19-13.
Union scored a big win Thursday, defeating Cranford 43-39 at home to earn a split with the Cougars in Watchung play. Cranford defeated Union 49-38 at home on Jan. 10.
With Thursday’s win, Union improved to 12-7 overall and 7-6 in the Watchung Division, while Cranford slipped to 13-5 overall and 9-4 in the Watchung.
Union split with GL and Cranford and was swept by Roselle Catholic, although the Farmers led RC by five points early in the fourth quarter at home before falling by one point, 35-34.
Roselle Catholic, which was off Thursday, is 15-3 overall and 10-2 in the Watchung Division. If Roselle Catholic wins at Plainfield in division play Tuesday, the Lions will clinch the Watchung crown and repeat as champions.
New Providence already won the Mountain Division title, while Hillside repeated as Valley Division champions.
JR’s TOP 16 UCT SEEDS AS OF FEB. 4:
1-Roselle Catholic (15-3)
2-Gov. Livingston (15-4) – swept by Cranford, but better overall record than Cranford and playing much better now
losses to Cranford by one and two points
GL has won five straight
4-New Providence (17-2) – I would have no problem with New Providence 3 and Cranford 4 based on how the teams are playing at the moment
New Providence has won seven straight
5-Union (13-7) – split with GL and Cranford, almost split with RC
6-Linden (12-8) – swept Union, split with Cranford – I would have no problem with Linden 5 and Union 6
7-Westfield (13-7) – has a win over a Watchung team (Linden)
and has won six straight, plus split with Oak Knoll
Westfield has won six straight
8-Oak Knoll (15-3) – beat Scotch Plains – I would have no problem with
Oak Knoll 7 and Westfield 8
9-Scotch Plains (8-10) – beat GL by 15
14-Union Catholic (5-12)
15-Kent Place (9-4)
OAK KNOLL STANDOUT SENIOR MORAN CLOSING IN ON
BECOMING HER SCHOOL’S ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER
Oak Knoll standout senior Kerri Moran, who will continue playing in college in the Ivy League at Cornell, is 29 points away from becoming her school’s all-time leading scorer.
The present leader is Katie Cummings, who finished with 1,357 career points in 2003. Cummings is now second-year head coach John Bertollo’s assistant coach at the Summit school.
Moran, averaging 16 points this season, is presently at 1,329 career points.
Oak Knoll is scheduled to play conference-crossover games at Brearley Monday at 5:30 p.m. and at in-town rival Kent Place Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Oak Knoll’s next scheduled home game is a crossover contest Thursday at 4 p.m. against Cranford, which is Senior Day.
Bertollo said that Moran will most likely set the record Tuesday at Kent Place and then would be honored at home Thursday on Senior Day for doing so.
Moran, a resident of Bernardsville, and Cummings are two of only six Oak Knoll players that have scored 1,000 points. The others are 1980 graduate Helen McMenamin, 1996 grad Kate Veronneau, 2005 graduate Courtney Hubschmann and 2011 grad Catie Mota.
MONDAY, FEB. 4 SCHEDULE:
Manville at Roselle Park, 5:30 p.m.
Oak Knoll at Brearley, 5:30 p.m.
TUESDAY, FEB. 5 SCHEDULE:
Union at Gov. Livingston, 4 p.m.
Summit at Linden, 4 p.m.
Westfield at Rahway, 4 p.m.
Oak Knoll at Kent Place, 4 p.m.
Hillside at Johnson, 4 p.m.
Roselle at Benedictine, 4 p.m.
Roselle Park at Elizabeth, 4 p.m.
Dayton at St. Mary’s, Elizabeth, 4 p.m.
Roselle Catholic at Plainfield, 5:30 p.m.
Brearley at New Providence, 7 p.m.
Scotch Plains at Cranford, 7 p.m.
UNION COUNTY CONFERENCE STANDINGS
THROUGH GAMES PLAYED FEB. 3:
1-Roselle Catholic (10-2)
Gov. Livingston (9-4)
6-Scotch Plains (5-8)
1-New Providence (14-0) – champions
2-Oak Knoll (11-3)
Union Catholic (4-10)
1-Hillside (11-0) – repeat champions
2-Kent Place (9-2)
5-Roselle Park (3-8)
6-Benedictine Academy (3-8)
7-St. Mary’s, Elizabeth (0-11)
The Patrick School did not have a team this year.
Does not include:
Rahway at Kent Place, Jan. 31
JR’S UNION COUNTY TOP 11
Records through games played Feb. 3:
1-Roselle Catholic (15-3) – has 2 county losses: both to GL,
other loss is to Paramus Catholic,
a win at Plainfield Tuesday clinches another Watchung crown
2-Gov. Livingston (15-4) – has 4 county losses: 2 to Cranford, 1 to Union,
1 to Scotch Plains
begins week on 5-game winning streak
3-Cranford (13-6) – has 4 county losses: 2 to RC, 1 to Linden, 1 to Union,
also lost to North Hunterdon at home and at South Brunswick
4-New Providence (17-2) – has 2 county losses: 1 to GL, 1 to RC,
begins week on 10-game winning streak,
captured Mountain Division title with perfect 14-0 mark
5-Union (13-7) – split with Watchung foes GL, Cranford
6-Linden (12-8) – swept Watchung foe Union
7-Oak Knoll (15-3) – has 3 county losses: 2 to New Providence, 1 to Westfield
8-Westfield (13-7) – split with Mountain foes Dayton and Oak Knoll,
split holiday and crossover games with Watchung squad Linden,
begins week on 6-game winning streak
9-Dayton (12-7) – was 0-3 this past week
10-Scotch Plains (8-10) – split with Watchung foes GL, Union
11-Hillside (12-3) – has 0 county losses, with perfect 11-0 record
vs. county foes – all Valley Division rivals,
repeated as Valley Division champions,
begins week on county-leading 9-game winning streak,
3 losses are to Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Franklin
NEXT 5: Summit (5-12), Johnson (7-10), Union Catholic (5-12),
Kent Place (9-4), Brearley (9-6).