If you had to summarize the 2012-13 Courier News-area boys basketball season with a catchy slogan, this would be it: Year of the Breakthrough.
Bound Brook advanced to a sectional final for the first time since 1979 and became the first Group I program to reach the Somerset County Tournament semifinals since 1998. Ridge advanced to a sectional final for the first time since 1965, Union Catholic won its first divisional title since 2005 and North Hunterdon won a state tournament game for the first time since 1991. Dunellen returned to its place atop the Greater Middlesex Conference Gold Division and Rutgers Prep won its first state tournament game ever.
Some awards for the season that was:
Game of the Year: Bound Brook was under a ton of pressure to justify its third seed in the Somerset County Tournament and did so in scintillating fashion, rallying from a nine-point deficit late in the third quarter to edge Rutgers Prep 61-60 at home. Honorable mention: Linden’s 49-46 win over Ridge in the North 2 Group IV final and Gill St. Bernard’s 63-59 win over Roselle Catholic at the Prudential Center.
Upset of the Year: Nine days after losing to Gill St. Bernard’s by 17 points on its home floor, Ridge stunned the Knights 69-56 in the Somerset County Tournament final, the SCT’s biggest upset since 1990.
Shot of the Year: Two of them actually. Scotch Plains-Fanwood senior Tom Bonacum drained two free throws with 10 seconds left to lift the 16th-seeded Raiders over ninth-seeded Roselle 44-43 in the Union County Tournament.
Rookie of the Year: Gill St. Bernard’s freshman guard Tyus Battle came in with a big-time billing and lived up to it, showing both explosiveness and savvy as he meshed with the Knights’ three standout seniors.
Most Improved Player: Last winter Hugh Morris was a frontcourt reserve. This winter he was the Somerset County Tournament MVP, posting 27 points and nine rebounds to spark Ridge to the title.
Most Underrated Player: Delaware Valley senior guard Peter Christ averaged 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists per game and broke the program’s career scoring record.
Most Improved Team: Despite not having a gym until January after a burst pipe wrecked the floor, Union Catholic won the Union County Conference’s Mountain Division and gave Linden a run for its money in the UCT quarterfinals.
Tough Guy Award: This one is shared by Watchung Hills senior Steve Weidlich and Dunellen senior Dylan Hoski, both of whom played—and played well—despite having broken bones in their shooting wrists.
Next year’s Top 10: 1. Rutgers Prep; 2. Ridge; 3. Hillsborough; 4. Plainfield; 5. Hunterdon Central; 6. Montgomery; 7. Union Catholic; 8. Bridgewater-Raritan; 9. Gill St. Bernards; 10. Piscataway Tech.
All-Defense Team: Matt Gerrity (Ridge); Eric Murdock (Bridgewater-Raritan); Jason Cabinda (Hunterdon Central); Levi Holmes (Rutgers Prep); Craig Gares (Delaware Valley); Mike Parkey (Watchung Hills).
All-Sixth Man Team: Jake Mahon (Ridge); Ben Miller (Bridgewater-Raritan); Tyler Curto (New Providence); Isaiah Williams (Bound Brook); Greg Tarca (Montgomery).
All-Sharpshooter Team: Jaren Sina (Gill St. Bernard’s); Damon Lynn (Union Catholic); Peter Christ (Delaware Valley); Kevin Doolan (Ridge); Curtis Kyzima (New Providence); Jake Phillips (South Hunterdon); Jack Welti (Bound Brook).
All-Improvement Team: Hugh Morris (Ridge); Vincent Pace (Bridgewater-Raritan); Jon Gregory (Hillsborough); Mike Knight (Hunterdon Central); Quaryee Bull (Scotch Plains-Fanwood).
All-Junior Team: Kevin Doolan (Ridge); Justin Kovacevich (Ridge); Jalen Parham (Hillsborough); Matt Hornich (Hillsborough); Vincent Pace (Bridgewater-Raritan).
All-Sophomore Team: Karl Charles (Rutgers Prep); Levi Holmes (Rutgers Prep); Derek Lyons (Ridge); Rob Imbalzano (Governor Livingston); Jachai Simmons (Plainfield).
All-Freshman Team: Tyus Battle (Gill St. Bernard’s); Nick Mele (Westfield); George Browning (Immaculata); Javon Reis Wilson (Governor Livingston); Mike Dwumfour (Scotch Plains-Fanwood).