End of the road

first_imgRaritan BY DOUG McKENZIEStaff Writer BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer PHOTOS BY JEFF GRANIT staff Raritan junior forward Qa’raan Calhoun consoles his teammates following their Tournament of Champions semifinal loss to St. Anthony’s of Jersey City on Friday at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway. PISCATAWAY — There were tears, but no regrets. Disappointment, but no shame. The Raritan High School boys basketball team walked out of the Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway with their heads held high on Friday, and for good reason. Despite losing to eventual Tournament of Champions winner St. Anthony’s of Jersey City in their semifinal game, 56-42, the Rockets had plenty to be proud of after winning the school’s first-ever Shore Conference, state sectional and group titles, and earning a TOC quarterfinal win over Haddonfield (63-44) which earned them the right to call themselves the top public school team in the state. It was a landmark season for a program which is not accustomed to such success. And a loss to St. Anthony’s (30-0), who went on to beat Bloomfield Tech, 67-55, for their ninth title in the 16-year history of the event, does nothing to diminish what the Rockets accomplished this year. Raritan senior Mike Nunes drives past St. Anthony’s Ahmad Mosby during the TOC semifinal game at Rutgers University on Friday. In fact, it added to the team’s already impressive status, as they managed to give the nation’s second-ranked team a bit of a scare early on. Led by juniors Marques Johnson (11 points) and Qa’raan Calhoun (12 points), the Rockets outscored the Friars 15-5 in the first quarter, giving the Friars the biggest deficit they faced all year. However, the Friars’ erratic shooting in that first stanza led to an early rebounding edge — something that allowed them to claw back into the game and eventually pull away. The comeback was quick and explosive, as the Friars used a 10-0 second-quarter run to take the lead and head into the second half with a 29-27 edge. Another 10-0 run in the third quarter was the turning point in the game, as the Friars entered the final quarter up 45-35, and never looked back, outscoring Raritan 11-7 over the final eight minutes. It was quite a run for the Rockets, who exceeded everyone’s expectations this year and provided fans with several memorable moments along the way. Qa’raan Calhoun slams home two of his team-high 12 points during the Rockets’ loss to St. Anthony’s on Friday. And while the Rockets will lose key players like Mike Nunes, Joe Reyes and Joe Kirby to graduation, they will return both Johnson and Calhoun, as well as sharp-shooting sophomore Dave Lonnay, and should be among the state’s top teams next year. That squad will have a tough act to follow, but with a championship season under their belts, the Rockets should be ready for another magical run.last_img

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