NOTEBOOK: South Amboy a surprising winner

The Greater Middelesex Confercne Girls Basketball Tournament has reached the quarterfinal stage after Wedmesday’s second round whittled thew field down to eight — and the surprise of the tournament has to be 24th-seeded South Amboy.

The Governors, a 56-50 winner on Wednesday over Timothy Christian, have shown that seeds don’t always count.

South Amboy, along with 19th-seeded Old Bridge, had been the only two teams that played in last Saturday’s preliminary round to advance through two rounds and into Wednesday’s action. Old Bridge fell to Monroe in its game.

South Amboy, a team that won just eight games in the regular season, earned itself an easy win over Perth Amboy Tech (57-39) in the preliminary round, using a 28-14 spurt in the middle quarters to pull away. But what’s more impressive was that leading scorer Amanda LaVigne – who averages 17.4 points per game – scored just nine points and the Governors were able to win by 18.

Beth Kudelka scored 21 points to go with seven rebounds and five blocks, while Beth Noble added a big double-double of 11 points and 17 rebounds.

Against ninth-seeded Dunellen in the first round (a 56-52 win), LaVigne got loose, scoring 34 points. She rounded out her night with seven rebounds, six steals and five assists, as South Amboy held on late for the four-point victory. Kudelka chipped in a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds to aid the Governors’ cause.

In two regular-season meetings with Timothy Christian, South Amboy was 0-2, losing both games by a combined 40 points, so Wednesday night’s victory was a bit of redepmtion for the Governors.

Old Bridge, which finished fifth in the GMC Red Division in the regular season, cruised past 30th-seeded Highland Park (64-22) in its opener and came from behind to knock off 14th-seeded Middlesex (49-36) Monday night, allowing just 58 points in the two games.

While the Knights held Monroe to 48 points, the offense just couldn’t generate enough to get the win on Wednesday night.

Freshman Amanda Carney was the focal point against the Owls, pouring in a game-high 17 points and senior captain Taylor Torre added 13. In the win over Middlesex, the Knights came from 17-6 down after the first quarter with a 25-8 run spanning the second and third quarters. Carney had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but it was Erin Halstead who led the team in scoring, with 16.

“Maybe in the smaller divisions, you get freshmen that succeed. But in the Red, Amanda came out of nowhere,” Old Bridge head coach Dan DiMino said. “I saw her in eighth grade, but I saw a lot of potential. She’s very confident and mature. Amanda’s like a sponge; she’s an ultimate freshman. She has no attitude and she’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

Before Wednesday’s game with Monroe, a team the Knights did not face in the regular season, DiMino acknowledged that his squad would need to play a great game to advance.

“This team doesn’t want this season to end,” DiMino said. “Monroe is a great team; I don’t see flaws. But this is why you play the games. We’re not going to back down.”

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