This week starts the Frank Cicarell Union County Boy’s Basketball Tournament.
Here are this year’s top seeds:
1. St. Patrick’s is looking to defend their title. Since 1993, St. Pat’s has been a mainstay in the county finals. This year should not be any different
2. Plainfield—With a new coach and led by Pitt-bound Isaiah Epps and Tyrone Johnson, the Cardinals have a good chance to advance and play a rematch of the 2006 finals against the top-seeded Celtics
3. Elizabeth—Second-year coach Chris Balent will look to lead his football-turned-basketball squad led by Pitt football signee Raymond Graham and standout guard Latif Banks to the top of the county again.
4. Union reached the semi-finals last year in a close game against Linden. Union’s strong guard play can lead the Farmers again this year.
5. Linden—With a masterful coaching job done by Coach Colicchio after academic tutoring casualty David Bruce, Coach C will once against try to “shock the world” and win his third county title.
6. Rahway lost a lot of talent to graduation. The Indians’ Jose Pena-Benjamin and LaDonte Berry-White will have to be the one-two punch to lead Coach Conroy’s team back into contention.
7. St. Mary’s-Led by seniors Mudia Oswemgie and Tyler Roberson, the Hilltoppers could be the surprise team in the tournament. They will need some consistent play from 6’6” Ederson Exume to let their guards run free.
8. Scotch Plains-Last year’s Group III State Champ has a strong starting five. The Raiders can sneak past some teams into the semis.
In football news, former Elizabeth High School quarterback Mike Eargle will head out to Boone Pickens Stadium and play for Oklahoma State football team. Eargle had a last-second touchdown run to beat Philipsburg 16-14 in the state championship. For the past two seasons he was a standout at Lackawanna Junior College in Pennsylvania.
He is the fifth D-I player on that Elizabeth squad, which also included Hafis Williams (Notre Dame), Khaseem Greene (Rutgers), Raymond Graham (Pitt) and Busim Hudeen (Hofstra.)
Jim Whelan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.