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Tigers Sports

Linden's 4-Year Standout Wade Heads All-Union Boys' Hoops

Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2008 by By JR Parachini For sidelinechatter.com Photo by Todd Mundt
Linden's 4-Year Standout Wade
Heads All-Union Boys' Hoops
By JR Parachini
For sidelinechatter.com

The 2007-2008 boys' basketball season in Union County was special one in many ways.

We say goodbye to one of the county's greatest players ever in Desmond Wade. For four years the Linden guard guided his team to an incredible amount of success - to the tune of a 103-20 (.837) record.

With Wade - who finished with 1,500 points and set the team record for most assists in one game - in the lineup, Linden defeated No. 1 St. Anthony his freshman year in 2005, No. 1 Bloomfield Tech in the Tournament of Champions semifinals his sophomore year in 2006 and No.1 in the country St. Patrick's to win the Union County Tournament championship his junior year in 2007.

Wade, who will continue at the University of Houston, also helped lead Linden to four consecutive sectional finals, two section titles and back-to-back Group 4 state championships for the first time. Linden won 30 games last year - finishing 30-3 - also for the first time. The Tigers went 23-7 this winter and captured another Watchung Conference-National Division title.

Scotch Plains senior shooting guard Bryan Dougher made got his college decision out of the way before the season began, choosing Division 1 Stony Brook. He then went out and led Scotch Plains to its first sectional title since 1960 and its first-ever state championship and a 23-8 record.

Dougher was a scoring machine in the North 2, Group 3 and then Group 3 state playoffs, leading the Raiders to their first-ever appearance in a state final. He finished his career with 1,634 points and is now Scotch Plains' all-time leading scorer.

Although Rahway fell short in its bid to win North 2, Group 3 and then challenge for the Group 3 state championship, the Indians did beat Scotch Plains by 10 in the Union County Tournament and had one of its best seasons ever, finishing 22-2.

Rahway was 21-0 when it played St. Patrick's in the UCT semifinals. The Indians cut a deficit to six points early in the fourth quarter before falling by 13 to the eventual champions.

Seniors Ronnie Sawyer, Bryan Champagne and Demetrius Washington-Ellison will be missed, but juniors Jose Pena-Benjamin, LaDante Berry-White and Troy Eastman will return for the Mountain Valley Conference-Mountain Division champions.

Big-time resurgence at these two schools: Union and Roselle had superb bounce-back seasons.

Union finished 21-7, posting its first winning season and qualifying for the state playoffs both for the first time since the 2002-2003 season. Union also won 20 games and reached the UCT semifinals for the first time since 1999-2000 and earned the second seed in the UCT for the first time since 1999. The Farmers also captured their first Watchung Conference-American Division title since 1998 and only second since 1980.

Senior center Travis Taylor had a breakout season after playing for the first time last year. Other seniors such as forward Thomas Goubadia and guard David Jackson enjoyed a great deal of success after enduring seasons like last year's 8-15 mark. Key returning players include sophomore Aishon White and juniors Dion Nesmith, Bryce Lewis, Javon Moore and Joshua Kolas.

Roselle went from being 3-20 last year to 21-6 this year and capturing its first sectional championship in five years. For fourth-year head coach Mike Smith, who had only one true returning starter in senior Darahn Worilds, it was his first winning season - and a most satisfying campaign at that.

The Rams, who only lost to St. Patrick's 68- 57 in the UCT quarterfinals, entered the Central Jersey, Group 2 playoffs for the first time and went on to beat Carteret and Rumson-Fair Haven at home and then Weequahic on a neutral site for the title.

Senior swingman Antoine Obery led the Rams in scoring with a 19-point average and poured in 28 in the sectional championship victory over Weequahic.

Roselle, which won just two games in Smith's first season at the helm in 2004-2005, posted its first winning season in four years. The Rams qualified for the states for the first time in five years since they repeated as North 2, Group 2 champion in 2002-2003.

Catholic schools end strong: Roselle Catholic and Union Catholic did not qualify for the Non-Public, North A playoffs and did not post winning seasons. However, both Mountain Valley Conference schools closed with a flourish.

Roselle Catholic ended its season with a four-game winning streak and won five of its final six to finish 11-14. Senior center Matt Henn finished his varsity career with 984 points, including 24 in a season-ending 83-53 home win over Johnson. The Lions were also sparked by the play of Brendan Trelease, Dominick Murphy, Mike Faughnan and Ryan Sullivan.

Union Catholic concluded its season with a three-game winning streak and won seven of its last nine to finish at 9-13. The Vikings were led by the likes of Mike Buczynski, Marcus Dyson, Keith Zukowski and Aaron Doherty. Dyson and Buczynski each netted 18 and Doherty 17 in a 79-76 overtime home win over Newark Central in the team's second-to-last game of the season. The Vikings began 1-10 and 2-11, but didn't quit and kept on playing and good things happened at the end of their season.

JR's ALL- UNION COUNTY
FOR 2007-2008:

FIRST TEAM
Desmond Wade, Linden, senior
Dexter Strickland, St. Patrick's, junior
Quintrell Thomas, St. Patrick's, senior
Bryan Dougher, Scotch Plains, senior
David Bruce, Linden, junior

SECOND TEAM
Travis Taylor, Union, senior
Ronnie Sawyer, Rahway, senior
Michael Gilchrist, St. Patrick's, freshman
Tyrone Johnson, Plainfield, freshman
Simon Smith, Cranford, senior

THIRD TEAM
Isaiah Epps, Plainfield, sophomore
Will Flenory, Elizabeth, senior
Jose Pena-Benjamin, Rahway, junior
Antoine Obery, Roselle, senior
David Steinman, Dayton, senior

HONORABLE MENTION
Union: Aishon White, Thomas Goubadia, David Jackson.
Elizabeth: Raymond Graham, James Frazier, Latif Rivers.
St. Patrick's: Paris Bennett, Jermel Jenkins, Jamin Shumate.
St. Mary's: Mudia Osemwegie, Tyler Roberson, Gabe Garcia.
Hillside: Stephen Alston, Kenny Ridley, Kelvin Amayo.
Dayton: Rondre Kelly, Tyrone Maye, Joe Pulice.
Roselle Park: Peter VanLoan, Steve Tansey.
Brearley: Dallis Ricks, Taquan Abdullah, Jack Hill.
Cranford: Chad Faulcon, Adam Fanelli.
GL: Tyler George, Ryan Kelly, Rob Ingebretsen.
Plainfield: Anthony Baskerville, Khalid Muhammad, Sean Blackmon.
Linden: Jerelle Louis, Xavier Freeman, Romell Bateman.
Rahway: Demetrius Washington-Ellison, LaDante-Berry White, Bryan Champagne.
Roselle Catholic: Brendan Trelease, Matt Henn, Mike Faughnan.
Roselle: Darahn Worilds, Anthony Obery, Kendall James, Pierre Noel.
Johnson: Dustin Berry, Joe Congiusta, Kevin Azydzik.
Westfield: Tony DiIorio, Chris Sheehan, Mike Lessner.
Scotch Plains: Kevin Maroney, Lordley Okartor, Danny DeTaldo, Greg Zabel.
New Providence: Dan Bucher, Billy Beck, Jimmy Griffith, Jimmy Siracusa.
Oratory Prep: Steve Zychowski, Scott Miller.
Union Catholic: Marcus Dyson, Mike Buczynski, Aaron Doherty.
Summit: Chris Kehoe, Jordan Healey, Kendall Baker.


PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:

Desmond Wade, Linden: One of the winningest players to ever come out of Union County, it's amazing that Wade is not going to continue at a school closer to home, more specifically a Big East school. Where was Rutgers? Where was Seton Hall? Rutgers last made the NCAA Tournament in 1991. Seton Hall's magical 1989 season is now going on 20 years ago.

Bryan Dougher, Scotch Plains: In the second game of the year, Dougher scored a then career-high 36 points to lead the Raiders past Neptune 80- 76 in overtime at Seton Hall. That put him over 1,000 for his career. He went on to score more than 600 points the rest of the way and helped lead Scotch Plains to victories over Union and Elizabeth.


COACH OF THE YEAR:

Mike Smith, Roselle: Before he became the head coach at Roselle for the 2004-2005 season, Smith was the junior varsity coach and an assistant to longtime varsity mentor Stan Kokie. Smith never lost faith in his present group and saw potential greatness before the season began, despite his team winning only three games last season. Roselle proved to be among the best teams in the Mountain Valley Conference and Union County this season and then went out and captured a sectional championship, winning seven times as many games as last year.

Also deserving: Tony DiGiovanni, Union; Kevin Conroy, Rahway; Dan Doherty, Scotch Plains; Ryan Huber, Cranford, Bob Martin, Dayton; Jim Grady, Brearley.

JR's FINAL UNION COUNTY
TOP 10 FOR 2007-2008:
1. St. Patrick's of Elizabeth (25-5)
2. Linden (23-7)
3. Union (21-7)
4. Rahway (22-2)
5. Plainfield (18-8)
6. Scotch Plains (23-8)
7. Elizabeth (13-11)
8. Roselle (21-6)
9. Cranford (14-9)
10. Dayton (16-9)
OTHERS: New Providence (13-11), Brearley (13-12),

Roselle Catholic (11-14), St. Mary?s (10-13), Summit (10-13),

Governor Livingston (10-14), Hillside (10-15),

Union Catholic (9-13), Westfield (7-17), Oratory Prep (5-18),

Johnson (4-18), Roselle Park (2-21).

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