Falcons expect to be major state basketball threat



It would have been impossible for last season’s St. Joseph High School of Metuchen basketball team to top the previous year’s achievement.

All the Falcons did in 2013-14 was win the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions and, in the process, send four scholarship starters to the college ranks, including Karl-Anthony Towns, who spent a year at the University of Kentucky before joining the Minnesota Timberwolves as the NBA’s top overall draft choice.

As it was, St. Joe’s ended 2014-15 with a 21-5 record, including another Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Red Division title. Only one starter graduated from that team, Marcus Ashamole, and the addition of senior Tyus Battle (Syracuse University commit) to a rotation that is rich in talent and depth should make the Falcons a serious threat to duplicate what they did two seasons ago.

The architect of this formidable program is Dave Turco, who is in his 10th season as head coach. Turco will call on seniors Breein Tyree (University of Mississippi commit), Branislav Vujadinovic, Bryan Carley and Bryce Lane, as well as juniors Michael Granda and Xavier Townes. All are seasoned and understand what winning is about, but it’s the addition of Battle, who played at Gill St. Bernard’s School last year, that solidifies St. Joe’s chances of winning back the Tournament of Champions title.

Other members of the talent-rich squad include seniors Deladem Adadevoh and Jose Medina Jr.; juniors Dexter Jackson, Letrell West and Malachi Walker; sophomore Alanzo Frink; and freshman Khalif Battle, Tyus’ brother.

The Falcons’ streak of five consecutive GMC Tournament titles was interrupted by Colonia High School last year, but look for them to be favored to begin a new streak this season. Beyond their regularly scheduled Red Division games, St. Joe’s will play quality teams throughout the state, beginning with its participation in the Jingle Bells Jubilee Holiday Tournament at the Paterson Charter School. The tournament, which takes place Dec. 26-29, will feature such powerhouse teams as Gill St. Bernard’s, Columbia High School, Plainfield High School, St. Joseph High School of Montvale, Immaculate High School, Paterson Eastside High School and Hackensack High School.