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Immaculate's coach Jimmy Salmon does not appear too pleased with what he sees transpiring on the court; however, he had to like much of what he saw from his Lions in Saturday's Essex County Tournament quarterfinals as they rolled to 69-54 victory vs. Newark Central to move into Tuesday's semis. (Photos by Gene Nann-nannphoto)

Immaculate's Jalen Carey, who had a game-high 26 points, surveys scene vs. Central

Immaculate's deep perimeter threat DeRohn Mitchell, Jr. (22) hoists one up vs. Central during Saturday's ECT quarters. The junior made two 3's and had 10 points.

Immaculate senior Jordyn Owens was key contributor with 19 points vs. Central

Veteran coach Shawn McCray directs his Blue Devils in ECT quarters vs. Immaculate

(continued from page 1)

Carey scored 11 second quarter points as IC outscored the Blue Devils, 23-10, to take a commanding 40-26 halftime lead.

Central tried to hang with the Lions; however, with senior point guard Jordyn Owns (19 points, 3 assists) displaying a good long-distance touch with a pair of 3-pointers, IC led 56-41 after three.

Central was led by its 6-3 strongman De’End McRae who battled all game long inside and had a team-high 20 points and 13 rebounds in a terrific effort.

The emergence of Owens, a senior, as a good complement to both Carey and Mitchell in the Lions backcourt, has been a key part of the team’s surge the past two weeks.

“I’ve been talking to Jordyn and just told him to play his game and keep working hard,” said Carey. “He had a rough start to the season like a lot of us did, but he’s really playing well right now and has helped us get into the flow.

“We need him a lot and he had a big game today.”

If IC can put four good quarters together like it did for the most part vs. Central then who knows what can happen during the season’s final few weeks as the ECT winds down and the NJSIAA state tournament begins.

The Lions are the eighth seed in Non-Public, North B and if they can get past ninth-seeded St. Mary’s of Rutherford in a first-round game, they would wind up playing top-seeded St. Anthony in the sectional quarters.

“St. Anthony is a really good team and we’d love to have the opportunity to see them, but there are still some games to play before that and we’re not taking anything or anyone for granted at this point,” said Carey. “The big thing for us is to practice hard and then play with a focus, a passion and with consistency.

“If we can do that I like our chances!”

GAME NOTES- Among the coaches of the past and present taking in Saturday’s Central-IC game in the Tracey Gymnasium, which was a prelude to the afternoon contest featuring the third-seeded, home-standing Seton Hall Prep Pirates and sixth-seeded Columbia were SHP head coach Kevin Williams and assistant Marty Berman, retired SHP coach Bob Farrell; former McNair Academic and present Kearny assistant Mike Reilly and current Columbia coach Eugene “Bam” Robinson…The last time IC reached the ECT semis was in 1995 when it lost to Irvington with Ramadan Brunson in the semifinals. The Blue Knights went on to win the title that season over Montclair…The 1994-95 IC hoops team was led by then future college football players Gil Ross (Rutgers), Omar Cheeseboro (Maryland), Troy Austin (Duke) and Reggie Johnson (Montclair State)….IC has reached thee ECT semis overall in the 71 years of the ECT…While the Lions are currently 11-27 all time in the ECT from the first round on, Central is 45-44 and was making its 26 th appearance in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

Essex County Tournament Quarterfinals:

(5) NEWARK CENTRAL 16 10 15 13 -54

(4) IMMACULATE 17 23 1613 -69

Central: Zarique Nutter 3-0-2-8, Keith Rogers 2-0-3-7, De’End McRae 7-1-4-20, Omar Terry 4-0-0-8, Solomon Mickens 0-0-0-0, Isaiah Smith 0-2-0-6, Mohammed Kata 0-1-0-3, Jihad Evans 0-0-0-0, Nasir Mack 0-0-2-2. Totals: 16-4-10-54

Immaculate: Jalen Carey 6-3-65-26, DeRohn Mitchell, Jr. 2-2-0-10, Justin Winston 1-0-1-3, Jordyn Owens 6-2-1-19, Raejon Figures 1-0-0-2, Justin Galea 2-0-2-6, Dejourn Cook 1-0-1-3, Jordan Livingston 0-0-0-0. Totals: 19-7-10-69

ECT Quarterfinals on Saturday:

(4) Immaculate 69 (5) Central 54

(1) East Side 85 (9) Barringer 59

(6) Columbia 67 (3) Seton Hall Prep 61

(2) West Side 42 (7) Millburn 41

ECT Semifinals Tuesday, Feb. 21, at West Orange High School:

5 p.m.: Immaculate vs. East Side

7 p.m.: Columbia vs. West Side

ECT Final, 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25, at Essex County College, Newark

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Central's powerful forward De'End McRae (5) was superb underneath for Blue Devils vs. Immaculate with a team-high 20 points to go along with 13 rebounds in 69-54 defeat.

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