Boys basketball seeds get ready to square off in semifinals

UNION COUNTY, NJ — There is a very unique boys basketball Union County Tournament Final Four that will tip off Thursday, Feb. 15, at Kean University’s Harwood Arena in Union.

In the second game scheduled for 7:30 p.m., there is the two-time defending champion playing as the visiting team going up against a team that is the top seed, but has not won the tournament in exactly 20 years. The top seed is also tied with the Patrick School for the most championships won at 21.

The first game, set for 6 p.m., features an 11 seed in the semifinals for maybe the first time ever and it’s going up against a school, the second seed, that has never won the crown. Also, the 11th seed has won just one title and that was exactly 60, yes 60 years ago, right at the time when the Beatles took the United States of America by storm.

The two-time defending champion is fifth-seeded Roselle Catholic High School, as the Lions will tangle with top-seeded Elizabeth High School at Frank J. Cicarell Academy, seeking its first championship since 2004. Roselle Catholic beat Elizabeth in the final two years ago and then downed Linden High School in last year’s championship game at Kean University.

The 11th seed is Cranford High School, as the Cougars are now just 32 minutes away from playing for a second championship and first since 1964. The second seed is the Union Catholic High School Vikings, who have never won the title and only twice appeared in the final, in 1986 and before that in 1982.

Kean University should be rocking and rolling, with two exciting matchups pitting teams that have peaked at the right time.

Cranford, coached by former Cougar standout Sean Trotter, began the week at 19-5 and were winners of seven in a row and 13 of its last 14. The Cougars downed Plainfield High School, 62-54, in the quarterfinals at the Thomas Dunn Sport Center in Elizabeth on Saturday, Feb. 10. Leading the way was senior Nick Amitie with 14 points. He also reached 1,000 for his career.

Union Catholic, guided for a long time by UC grad and head coach James Reagan Jr., began the week at 17-6. The defending Non-Public A state champion Vikings ousted Westfield High School, 75-51, in its quarterfinal at the Thomas Dunn Sport Center on Saturday, Feb. 10, with Luke Schorr scoring 21 and AJ Altobelli and Yaw Ansong 4 each.

Roselle Catholic, now led by first-year head coach Todd Decker, began the week on a four-game winning streak that lifted its record to 12-9. The Lions still play a heavy out-of-state schedule and, this year, were not situated in the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division. In a rematch of last year’s final, Roselle Catholic topped fourth-seeded Linden, 60-46, in its quarterfinal at the Thomas Dunn Sport Center on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Elizabeth, guided by one of the best coaches in the state in 1984 Elizabeth graduate Phil Colicchio, began the week at 17-4, after downing eighth-seeded Union High School, 69-19, on its home court on Saturday, Feb. 10. Nine Elizabeth players scored, including Jordan Torres with 18 points, Cameron McRae with 12, London Carson with 11 and Kareem Anthony Jr. with 10.

Colicchio guided Linden to UCT titles in 2001, 2007 and 2015.
The championship game is scheduled to be played Sunday, Feb. 18, at Kean University. Times for the girls and boys championship games at Kean on Sunday, Feb. 18, were not released as of press time Monday night, Feb. 12.

State tournament play will commence around the state of New Jersey on Wednesday, Feb. 21, with Groups 2 and 4 going first and then Groups 1 and 3 on Thursday, Feb. 22.

87th Boys Basketball
Union County Tournament

Seeds: 1-Elizabeth. 2-Union Catholic. 3-Plainfield. 4-Linden. 5-Roselle Catholic. 6-Scotch Plains-Fanwood. 7-Westfeld. 8-Union. 9-Oratory Prep. 10-Summit. 11-Cranford. 12-Hillside. 13-Rahway. 14-New Providence. 15-Arthur L. Johnson. 16-Governor Livingston. 17-Jonathan Dayton. 18-Roselle.

Preliminary Round
Tuesday, Feb. 6

Union 59, Jonathan Dayton 38 – at Union
Oratory Prep 67, Governor Livingston 29 – at Oratory
Hillside 62, Rahway 61 – at Hillside
Cranford 69, New Providence 55 – at Cranford
Westfield 64, Roselle 26 – at Westfield
Arthur L. Johnson 37, Summit 34 – at Summit

First Round
Thursday, Feb. 8

Union 58, Oratory Prep 50 – at Union
Roselle Catholic 72, Hillside 37 – at RC
Cranford 56, Scotch Plains–Fanwood 48 – at Scotch Plains–Fanwood
Westfield 59, Arthur L. Johnson 34 – at Westfield

Saturday, Feb. 10

At Dunn Sport Center

8-Union vs. 1-Elizabeth
5-Roselle Catholic vs. 4-Linden
7-Westfield vs. 2-Union Catholic
11-Cranford vs. 3-Plainfield

Thursday, Feb. 15

At Kean University

11-Cranford vs. 2-Union Catholic, 6 p.m.
5-Roselle Catholic vs. 1-Elizabeth, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 18

At Kean University
Semifinal winners