St. Thomas Aquinas win the 2024 GMC Girls Basketball Championship
St. Thomas Aquinas celebrates winning the 2024 GMC Girls Basketball Championship. (Photo by Steven Wojtowicz - JSN)

Girls Basketball: St. Thomas Aquinas Secures Fifth Straight GMCT Title

St. Thomas Aquinas girls basketball took home the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament crown for the fifth straight year after a dominant 71-52 win against Colonia on Friday. 

Top-seeded St. Thomas has not lost a conference game this season and was looking to continue their 13 game conference winning streak. In their previous two meetings, the Trojans took both game, a 72-59 win on January 11 and a 56-51 victory on February 1. 

The Trojans were led by Jordan Barnes, who scored 23 points during this matchup and was named Most Valuable Player of the game. Barnes held strong and was able to get to the net and put some away. 

From the opening tip, the Trojans were dominant and were able to go on an 11-0 run to start the game. With about two minutes left in the first quarter, Colonia senior sharpshooter Taylor Derkack was able to shorten the Trojan lead to 11-9 after three consecutive three pointers. By the end of the first quarter, the score was a bit closer, 15-11 in favor of St. Thomas Aquinas. 

In the second quarter, the Trojans pulled away quite a bit, scoring 21 points to the Patriots 12. When the teams headed to the locker room at halftim, St. Thomas Aquinas led, 36-23.

Gianna Chuffo

Gianna Chuffo (Photo by Steven Wojtowicz - JSN)

During the start of the third quarter, Colonia had a difficult time getting the ball in the hoop as St. Thomas played a very strong defensive game. Derkack, Colonia’s leading scorer had all eyes on her as the Trojan defense looked to shut her down. Derkack had at least one defender on her at all times and was only able to break free a handful of times. 

The Trojans were able to move the ball from one end of the court to another, outscoring Colonia 19-10 in the third. St. Thomas led 55-33 going into the fourth quarter. 

The Trojans knew they had to remain strong to secure the win. Colonia was able to score more points in the fourth quarter but it was not enough to surpass the Trojans. Derkack worked to break free from the almost constant double team and put a few points on the board. As a team, Colonia put up 19 points in the last quarter. 

An excited St. Thomas team held strong and did not let up as they secured the 71-52 victory, their fifth straight GMC final win. 

Derkack led Colonia with 30 points and 10 rebounds and freshman Haley Conklin added 12 points. 

The Trojans, along with Barnes, were led by junior Gianna Chuffo, a very dynamic dribbler and scorer, who netted 16 points and sophomore Trista Whitney who scored 13. 

St. Thomas Aquinas will take on Princeton Day on Friday February 23, in the first round of the South Jersey, Non-Public A tournament and will look to continue their successful season. 

Colonia will take on Belleville on Thursday in the first round of the North Jersey, Group 3 tournament. 

Jersey Sporting News will have more coverage of the boys and girls high school basketball state tournament games.