By Jim Whelan
Basketball is back in Plainfield, there is no doubt about that.
With a 7-0 start going into tonight’s action against the Union Farmers, the Plainfield Cardinals are highest ranked public school basketball squad in state at number 6. The perch gives them the bullseye on their back for the remainder of the season.
Plainfield has always been fertile basketball ground, even though some Plainfield hoopsters opted out of the public school route. Just imagine if all the “Sons of Plainfield” stayed home to play for their local high school. “We would be ranked 20th in the country,” said Plainfield rooter Terence Johnson.
Imagine if second year Plainfield coach Jeff Lubreski had St. Peter’s guard Myles Davis, St. Pat’s 6’2 Derrick Gordon and 6’5 Chase Plummer, Union Catholic’s 6’4 Jamaad Nash, and Roselle Catholic’s 6’7 Jameel Warney all at his disposal. They would be unstoppable.
But, it would be only fitting to quote another Cardinal coach—Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s father, Buddy. When asked why he drafted linebacker Jamir Miller over John Thierry, who was taken by the Chicago Bears in the 1994 draft, Ryan was quoted, “That’s why they make Fords and that’s why they make Chevy’s.”
They are exercising their freedom of choice.
You don’t lose what you don’t have, but the team suffered an early blow over the summer when 6’2 guard Isaiah Epps also deiced to leave the Queen City and forgo his senior year to follow the prep route. Epps enrolled at Hargrave Military academy this fall and committed to play for Pitt Panthers next season.
With the loss of Epps, the sixth-ranked Cardinals are carried by 6’2 junior Tyrone Johnson, who is averaging just under 20 points per game for the young squad. Johnson also dons a football uniform in the fall. All bets are leaning towards a basketball future for the junior who is hearing from Georgetown, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, and Rutgers. “Tyrone is a born leader,” replied Terrence Johnson. “Whatever he does, he excels at.”
Tyrone Johnson’s coming-out party this season was in the semi-final game against Seton Hall Prep in the Holiday Jubilee in Neptune. The Plainfield junior standout scored 14 points in the final quarter and overtime to beat the Pirates. He then dropped 26 on Neptune in the final in a Plainfield 62-56 victory.
Plainfield has a strong sophomore class. Sakou Harris, Justin Sears, Dijon Allan-Jordan, and Jahmal Lane have cemented the Cardinals’ re-emergence and the future of Plainfield basketball.
Harris was going to enroll at St Anthony of Jersey City and leave. He decided to stay at home and play for Lubreski. “The sophomores are going to be a special group,” replied Terrence Johnson, the Plainfield home game announcer.
The sophomores like Harris provide the spark while players like Mike Price, Nathan Grant-Dewitt, and Dominique Blackmon provide the experience. “Mike is best ball defender on the team,” said Johnson. Blackmon is Johnson’s son and gives him another added incentive to cheer for the Cardinals this season.
The success is spilling down into Johnson’s rec ranks. “The younger kids are motivated to play basketball in Plainfield,” said Johnson. “We have a lot more kids at open gyms and have real good competition,” Johnson should know after working 14 years for Plainfield recreation and AAU coach of the MSU Skyliners.
“Players like Jihad Muhammad, Andre Dabney and Mike Gordon all left Plainfield and went on to bigger and better things ” said the Plainfield resident. The three former Plainfield players are inspiring the Plainfield youth that success can be attained right at Plainfield High. Muhammad played for Cincinnati, Gordon went toBinghamton, and Dabney played at Bloomfield.
Mike Gordon is the older brother of St. Pat’s Celtic Junior Derrick Gordon. The younger Gordon is following in his brother footsteps committed to play for a Division One program. As a sophomore, Gordon committed to Western Kentucky.
“Derrick wanted to play Division One basketball that’s why he went to St. Pat’s,” explained Johnson. “I told him if you’re good enough, they are going to find you.” Ignoring Johnson’s advice Gordon enrolled at St. Pat’s and is a big part of the Celtics’ success this season especially in the absence of Gordon’s junior classmate Michael Gilchrist.
On Jan. 26, St. Pat’s will host the Plainfield Cardinals. It might foreshadowing for the Union County Tournament and even the Tournament of Champions crown, but it will definitely be for bragging rights within Plainfield city limits. A lot of basketball has to played before then, though.
2009-2010 Plainfield Cardinal Roster
Michael Price 6’0
Dominique Blackmon 6’2
Ricky Terry 5’11
John Noel 6’3
Terrill Johnson 5’11
Michael Williams 6’2
Nathan Grant-Dewitt 6’4
Tyrone Johnson 6’2
Allan Brown 6’0
Sekou Harris 5’10
Jahmal Lane 6’4
Justin Sears 6’7
Dijon Allan-Jordan 6’3
Out of Town Plainfield Players
Derrick Gordon G/F-St. Patrick-Committed to Western Kentucky
Chase Plummer-Forward St. Patrick-Committed to UMBC
Taylor Plummer-Forward brother of Chase a talented sophomore
Myles Davis-St. Peter’s Prep after Transferring form St Benedicts-St. Peter’s Prep is ranked #5 ahead of Plainfield
Jameel Warney-6’7 F/C a talented sophomore and could be the next D1 player out Roselle Catholic since Jamaal Hilliard (RC 2002)
Jamaad Nash-6’4 forward for Union Catholic- building on a great sophomore season or Coach Regan.
Plainfield Cardinals Schedule
12/18 Scotch Plains win 65-33
12/26 Lakewood win 54-37
12/28 Seton Hall Prep win 60-54 (OT)
12/30 Neptune win 62-56
1/3 Don Bosco win
1/5 Columbia win 60-42
1/9 Linden win 55-45
1/19 @ Rahway
1/21 @ Westfield
1/26 St. Patrick
1/30 @Scotch Plains
2/12 St. Joseph’s of Metuchen
2/16 Governor Livingston
Jim Whelan can be reached at email@example.com
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