Falcons’ Smith leads the way as effective scorer, defender

By JIMMY ALLINDER Correspondent

 Bishop George Ahr High School’s Tyler Earl, left, is locked up with Monroe Township High School’s Justin Gaffrey during their 152-pound match at the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament held on Jan. 31 at Piscataway Township High School. Earl won the match and finished seventh in his weight class.  SCOTT FRIEDMAN Bishop George Ahr High School’s Tyler Earl, left, is locked up with Monroe Township High School’s Justin Gaffrey during their 152-pound match at the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament held on Jan. 31 at Piscataway Township High School. Earl won the match and finished seventh in his weight class. SCOTT FRIEDMAN METUCHEN

Cassie Smith, a senior for the Metuchen High School girls basketball team, continues to be one of the most dominant players in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) with her 28.6-point and 11-rebound averages. Smith has accounted for over half of the Bulldogs’ points, and she has been just as effective as a defender.

Smith played a key role in Metuchen’s 40-24 victory over Spotswood High School on Jan. 31, which elevated the Bulldogs’ record to 8-7. The victory is a key one for Metuchen, which is battling for a high seed in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I sectionals that begin on March 3. The game was a physical contest, which was good preparation for the state tournament.

“I was really pleased how we played defense,” Smith said. “Spotswood has a lot of physical players, so we knew it would be a challenge.”

Smith said that she enjoys the opportunity to register points, but recognizes the importance of being a leader for her team, especially since transfer and University of Michigan-bound senior Katelynn Flaherty has been sidelined with an ankle injury.

“We’re a young team, and I feel I have to take on the added role of scoring more until Katelynn returns,” said Smith, who signed a letter of intent to attend Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., when she graduates. The Falcons are currently ranked the No. 1 NCAA Division II team in the latest USA/Coaches Poll.


It was a banner week for Edison High School student-athletes. Swimmer Amie Ko made school history as its first studentathlete to capture a GMC Championship event by winning the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:09.57. Kayla Johnson bowled a 679 series to help the Eagles’ girls bowling team finish second in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV championships and qualify for the Tournament of Champions. Finally, 106-pounder Robert Cleary and 138-pounder Bill Povolac placed first in their respective weight classes at the GMC wrestling championships.

Derek Allen, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound twoway lineman for the Edison football team, accepted a full scholarship to the University of Rhode Island, and was set to make it official by signing a letter of intent on Feb. 4 at a ceremony at the high school.

Boys basketball

The boys basketball team had one more opportunity to improve its record and gain a respectable seed in the NJSIAA North Jersey Group IV sectionals. The Eagles hosted Monroe Township High School on Feb. 4, before heading across the township to meet rival J.P. Stevens High School on Feb. 6. The cutoff for seeding is on Feb. 8.

Edison owned an 8-7 record before its second clash with Monroe. When the teams met last month, the Eagles led for all but the last five seconds, when the Falcons scored to win by two points. When the last power rankings were released by the NJSIAA on Jan. 26, Edison was ranked 15th in a section that is dominated by Union County teams. The Eagles were also tied with Monroe for third in the GMC White Division, with each team having four losses.

Considering the hard times Edison has experienced in prior years, head coach Charlie Mohr is satisfied with the way his team has responded in games this year.

“All of the players have contributed in one way or another,” he said. “But it’s the seniors that have really stepped up lately.

Raekwon Ross (15.4 points a game) and Travon Washington (15.7 points a game) have [played] really well lately. Hakim White has really embraced his role as the point guard and distributor, Dennis Amuzu always goes up against the other team’s best guard, and Devon Johnson (8.2 points a game) is scoring and rebounding well.

Other strong contributions have come from James Waldron, Al Newcombe and Juston Payne off the bench.

“We were struggling earlier, but the kids never stopped believing in what we were doing. And to me, that speaks volumes about the character of the kids on the team,” Mohr said. “They continued to work hard in practice every day and stuck together.”

Mohr said the Eagles’ goals for the rest of the season are to get a good seed in the GMC Tournament, qualify for the state tournament and play their best basketball at tournament time.

“We did not make the state tournament last year, so we have been talking about that since day one,” he said.

GMC swimming

In the GMC swimming championships, two area teams — Bishop George Ahr High School and Metuchen — finished second and third in the girls team standings behind first-place East Brunswick High School. The meet was held at the Raritan Bay YMCA in Perth Amboy on Feb. 1.

A day earlier, St. Joseph High School of Metuchen won the boys team swimming title for the 37th consecutive time, scoring 414 points to edge East Brunswick. Metuchen placed seventh with 116 points, while Bishop Ahr placed eighth with 36.

Area boys medalists were Tyler Catania, St. Joe’s, fifth in the 200-yard freestyle; Daniel Galarza and Eugene Kim, J.P. Stevens, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 200 individual medley; Joseph Baron, St. Joe’s, first in the 50 freestyle; Nicholas Torrisi, St. Joe’s, fifth in the 50 freestyle and sixth in the 100 freestyle; Brendan King, St. Joe’s, second in the 100 butterfly; Brendan Lawyer, St. Joe’s, sixth in the 100 butterfly; and Michael Sparks, Metuchen, second in the 100 freestyle.

Galarza also finished second in the 500-yard freestyle, where King was fourth. David Wang and Kim of J.P. Stevens were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 100 backstroke. Baron was fourth in the 100 breaststroke, while Jeffrey Lin of Metuchen finished fifth in the event. St. Joe’s relay teams competed well, finishing second in the 200 medley, first in the 200 freestyle, and fourth in the 400 freestyle.

Area girls medalists were Danielle Fontaine, Bishop Ahr, sixth in the 200-yard freestyle; Katrina Kuhn, Bishop Ahr, first in the 200 individual medley; and Jessica Schmidt, Bishop Ahr, first in the 50 freestyle.

In the 100-yard butterfly, Ko was third, Emily Louie of Bishop Ahr was fourth and Maggie O’Connell of Metuchen was sixth.

Julie Stankiewicz of Metuchen was first in the 100-yard freestyle, where Louie was third. Schmidt finished third in the 500 freestyle. In the 100 backstroke, Kuhn was first, Jillian Della Cruz of Metuchen was fourth, O’Connell was fifth and Fontaine was sixth.

In the relay events, Bishop Ahr finished first in the 200-yard medley and second in the 400 freestyle; and Metuchen placed third in the 200 medley, fourth in the 200 freestyle and fourth in the 400 freestyle.


Michael Allen, a senior at St. Joe’s, will play his final season for the Falcons’ lacrosse team, but it will not be the last time he wears a lacrosse uniform. Allen will be headed to Annapolis, Md., where he will matriculate at the United States Naval Academy and will also join the Midshipmen’s lacrosse team. Navy is located in one of the nation’s hotbeds for one of the country’s fast growing sports.