Colonia falls to St. Joe’s in the GMC final by heart-breaking buzzer beater

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On February 22, the Colonia High School boys’ basketball team traveled to the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) to face St. Joe’s Metuchen in the GMC finals.  Despite their best efforts, Colonia consequently suffered a loss to St. Joe’s 46-43.

Colonia was the underdog entering the game as the 7th seed and upsetting both the 3 seeded, Old Bridge, and 2 seeded, Piscataway, to reach the finals. St. Joe’s, the heavy favorites, only faced three losses all year and were last year’s winners.

Before the game, Brandon Hall, Head Coach of the Patriots, explained, “Win, lose or draw, I cannot be anymore proud of my team. No one outside of ourselves has believed we could achieve this. We always want to win – but this ride has been amazing.”

Colonia came out strong, not intimidated by their dominant opponent. The score sat tied 12-12 after the 1st quarter as each team felt each other out.  As the second quarter began, it was clearly St. Joe’s that got into the swing of things. The Falcons began to pull away as they tacked on 17 points proving they were the powerhouse they had been all season.  Colonia could only manage to add two more points off of free throws. Hence, making the score 29-14 going into halftime.

Wasting no time in the second half, St. Joe’s came out strong, increasing their lead. Colonia would need a spark to get themselves back into a game that was quickly slipping out of hand. That spark came from Junior Chad Baker, Baker had four blocks and 10 points all in the second half.  This effort was enough to fire up the Colonia fans and players for a historic come back. Ensuing a 9-0 run lead by senior Kristian Chapman and Junior Luke Valeriano, cut the lead 36-33.


In addition, Junior Center, Chris Sica explained how the  Patriots were able to bounce back in the fourth quarter. “Coach told us to stay the course. We started making shots, playing defense . . . we started playing our game.”

As the Colonia fans cheered from the stands, a second 9-0 run would give Colonia a 43-41 lead capped off by a jump shot from Baker. However, Colonia’s lead was short lived as St. Joe’s K-Shawn Schulters stole the ball and tied the game at 43. As Colonia received the ball, they possessed chance to take the last shot and win the game.  While the Colonia fans watched, the ball was knocked away and St. Joe’s received possession.

As the Falcons passed the ball in with two seconds remaining, Colonia fans could only watch. Consequently, K-Shawn Schulters would once again come up big hitting a buzzer beater to pull the Falcons to victory.  This seemed routine fashion for St. Joe’s as they beat Carteret on a similar buzzer beater in the semi-finals.  While Colonia fans stood in awe, the Falcons stormed the court to celebrate the GMC title once again.

Despite the loss, Colonia had plenty to be proud of. They battled back from a 19 point hole and were the first 7 seed to make the GMC final. The Falcons top scorer was Tyree Taganceca-Ford with 14 points. In addition, MVP was Schulters who finished with 13 points.  On the other side, Colonia’s top scorers were Chapman and Valeriano each with 11 points.  Also, Senior Guard Frank also helped out with 8 points, but spent most of his time getting the ball to his teammates. 

Colonia is set to take on Barringer High School of Newark in the first round of the State Tournament on Monday, February 26.

Bouncing back from the GMC loss, Sica said, “We have to take that loss and put it to the side. And take our two days of hard practice and go chase a ring.”

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