Boys basketball: No. 19 Middlesex topples No. 14 Edison in GMCT

EDISON — With a starting unit consisting of four juniors and a lone senior amid expectations of a hostile environment for a road tournament contest, the Middlesex High School boys basketball team knew it was in its best interest to get off to a fast start on Tuesday.

The 19th-seeded Blue Jays (15-8) promptly opened the festivities with seven unanswered points to check that box and, over the course of the next hour and a half, checked off most of their remaining agenda to deal 14th-seeded Edison (8-14) a four-point setback in the preliminary round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament.

Middlesex never trailed and the game was never tied up, though its lone double-digit lead lasted for less than 30 seconds midway through the second quarter.

Tyler Hurling led with 21 points and Jayden Pearyer added 14 for Middlesex, which gets a third crack at third-seeded South River (21-2) in the first round on Thursday. The Rams defeated the Blue Jays by scores of 80-48 and 68-47 this season, but why put a damper on Tuesday’s performance?

Middlesex built its 7-0 advantage in the opening three minutes on a layup by Jack Adamski, a jumper by Sebastian Cano and a 3 by Tommy Lavornia. Edison roared back to 7-6 and 10-9 but could never get the equalizer, let alone the lead. Middlesex led, 12-9, after the opening quarter and did so without a single point from Hurling, who saved his best for last.

Fast forward to the final quarter, which opened with the Blue Jays enjoying a 35-26 edge that was briskly reduced by a 5-0 burst by the Eagles, three of those coming from freshman Robert Roma. Just when Edison appeared to finally have some momentum in, Hurling went to work.

The smooth junior forward scored nine of Middlesex’s first 11 points of the final period and fed Tommy Lavornia for a layup for the other two, driving to the rim for three baskets and draining a 3 for the other.

It was still a one-possession affair after Roma canned a pair of free throws with 10.9 seconds remaining, but Adamski answered with a free throw with 9.4 to play, and Middlesex could start thinking about Thursday.

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Middlesex travels to Blue Division-rival South River for a third-round matchup on Thursday at 5 p.m.


After Edison rallied to within 35-31 at the start of the fourth quarter, Hurling began attacking the rim relentlessly. His first foray extended the lead back 37-31 with 5:53 to play, and his third maintained that gap at 46-40 with two minutes to play.


After being outscored in each of the first three quarters Edison amassed a 22-17 advantage in the fourth.

Pearyer led Middlesex with eight rebounds while Lavornia, the lone senior starter, contributed seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Roman topped Edison with 16 points and grabbed seven boards, while Ricky Harvey delivered all of his 14 points after halftime.


Hurling took over the contest for Middlesex in the fourth quarter.

Edison failed to score over the first four and half minutes and the Blue Jays’ opening barrage could have been much worse had it not been for the efforts of Edison’s Jonathan Baio, the one Eagle who matched Middlesex’s first-quarter energy. Baio had five of Edison’s nine first-quarter tear points and four of its five first-quarter rebounds. The senior forward finished with 11 points, a game-high nine rebounds, and two steals.


“It was very important,” Huntley said of Middlesex’s fast start. “That’s actually one of our key points we talk about before every game, especially coming into a playoff game, starting strong. Playing a division up, it’s key, every small detail’s key. Our chemistry and our brotherhood keeps us going. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs this season. I’ve had games where I’ve started off slow but my brothers have always picked me up. I kept thinking the next shot’s going in. I tried to make going to the rim one of my strong suits this year.” On South River: “Honestly, me and my brothers, we don’t fear anyone. We lost twice to South River but, they’re no problem for us, anyone who breathes oxygen is fair game, so we’re going to go in there thinking we’re going to rip their heads off. That’s how we feel right now.”

“Normally, when we go on the road, we always want to start off fast,” Middlesex coach Jared Goldstein explained. “We say that these first four minutes are going to be crucial, let’s make sure we’re executing, flying around on defense, and having that type of energy we’re looking for.” Goldstein gave credit for his squad’s various defensive schemes, which confounded Edison throughout the contest, to his “defensive coordinator”, associate head coach Stewart Lester, Goldstein’s first point guard when he began coaching. “He’s the mastermind behind our defensive plan. He initially went scouting, he said we’ll switch everything, our personnel matched up well.” On South River: “They’re a very good team. We’re going to defend, make some shots and come up with a game plan. Back to the laboratory.”

This article originally appeared on NJ Boys basketball: No. 19 Middlesex topples No. 14 Edison in GMCT