Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Syracuse-bound Jalen Carey leads Immaculate Conception to win over Hudson Catholic in New Jersey State Tournament
By ADAM ZAGORIAJERSEY CITY, N.J. — Syracuse-bound guard Jalen Carey and his Montclair (N.J.) Immaculate teammates drew a brutal draw in the New Jersey state tournament.
In the always tough North Non-Public B bracket, Carey and No. 5-seeded Immaculate first had to face defending Tournament of Champions winner the Patrick School, which was seeded as the 12 despite its history. After knocking them off on Tuesday, next up was No. 4 Hudson Catholic, many people’s favorites to win this year’s TOC title.
But when it was over on Thursday night at the Yanitelli Center at St. Peter’s College, Carey had scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half and his sophomore teammate Zion Bethea added a game-best 23 to lead Immaculate to a convincing 60-49 win over Hudson Catholic. Carey made three three-pointers in the game. It was the 10th win in 11 games for Coach Jimmy Salmon’s team.
Immaculate (20-8) will visit No. 1 seed Roselle Catholic in the North Non-Public B semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Lions (24-4) crushed No. 9 Christ the King, 101-47, on Thursday. No. 2 Gill St. Bernard’s faces No. 3 St. Mary’s-Elizabeth in the other North semifinal on Saturday.
“We were able to beat the reigning champs, as in the Patrick School, so that was just confidence and a swagger boost going in,” Carey told me after the game. “Going into tonight’s game we were able to prove all the doubters wrong with the victory.”
Led by coach Nick Mariniello, Hudson Catholic (22-5) entered as the favorite in the game because their roster featured three high-major players in Javhon Quinerly (Villanova), Luther Muhammad (Ohio State) and Louis King (Oregon), with Quinerly and King both invited to the McDonald’s All-American Game. Villanova assistant Ash Howard, fresh off his team’s 69-68 overtime win over Seton Hall Wednesday night in Newark, attended the game to support Quinerly, the former Arizona commit.
But King was not with the team after missing their Hudson County Tournament run, leaving Hudson Catholic without one-third of their Big Three. Muhammad scored 15 points and Quinerly 7, but both exited with the game well in hand with 1:10 remaining and took their places on the bench.
“I’m proud for us only to be here three years and in 72 hours to beat the Patrick School and Hudson, it’s an accomplishment and I’m very proud of us,” Salmon said.
Immaculate had plenty of size down low with ElijahHutchins-Everett and Justin Winston (8 points) and they out-muscled and out-played Hudson’s front line, while Carey and Bethea came on strong in the second half when Immaculate outscored Hudson Catholic, 39-29.
“I’ve always said we had a good team,” Salmon said. “It just took us some time to get together. We had a rough middle of the season trying to figure out roles on the team, but I think for the last month we’ve been really sharing the ball and have accepted roles and it’s coming together at the right time.”
Carey was not selected for the McDonald’s Game but he and Bethea were the two best players on the court on this night. After Hudson Catholic took a 24-23 lead on a floater by Wesleyan-bound ShackylleDezonie, Immaculate went on a 13-4 run to close the third with a 36-28 lead. Carey scored seven straight points, including a three-pointer, during the spurt and Bethea scored four.
“I came out slow in the first half,” Carey said. “I knew if we wanted to win, I would have to play big. I hit some threes, got to the basket. Just got others involved, making plays for others. Once that happened, Elijah had a big game, Justin played well. Zion had a big game. All those guys, once they started rolling, once I started rolling, it was just hard to stop us from there.”
Immaculate raced out to a 47-30 lead early in the fourth and the crowd slowly started to exit the building.
Carey said he planned to speak with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and the staff after the game. He chose them in the fall over UConn.
Carey was disappointed that he wasn’t selected to the McDonald’s Game, but on this night he defeated one player going to the game and a team that had two on its roster.
“We were disappointed that he didn’t make [the McDonald’s Game],” Salmon said. “We felt like he should have. I don’t know if this is any redemption for that. Hopefully the state championship might be that.”
Photo: Mustafa Hooten
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.