The Middlesex County College Men’s Basketball team was honored Thursday by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders for its 27-7 season which was punctuated by a trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III National Tournament in Rochester, Minnesota. The players posed for photos with the freeholders and were issued a copy of the proclamation that praised the team for its camaraderie on and off the court.
“Deontae Crawford, Vincent Montgomery, Cheikh Ndiaye, Abdullah Nieskens, Alkeim Raines, Elmer Rivera, Cameron Saintil, Dareyus Valnecia and Letrell West were more than a team, they became a family,” the proclamation read. “They studied together, ate meals together and achieved basketball glory together.”
Freeholder director Ronald Rios praised the Blue Colts for their teamwork and tenacity, and said their exciting 68-67 victory over Union County College in the Region XIX championship game “shows you the teamwork” that runs through the roster.
“We are very, very proud of you guys.” Rios said. “You really did a great job. You put Middlesex County on the map. That they won the championship. anybody who wants to win the championship, they’re going to have to go through Middlesex County College and you guys should be proud of that.”
Rios singled out Coach Dave Turco, who was named Region XIX coach of the year, and West, who made a game-saving block in the final moments of the Region XIX title victory and was later named tournament most valuable player.
Turco thanked athletic director Derrick Johnson, assistant AD Carey Monkowski and assistant director of athletics Robert Edmonds for their support. He also thanked assistant coach Bill Kilduff, whom he referred to as his “trusty sidekick.”
He praised the players for buying into his system and believing they could win.
“There’s a lot of games, you look at our record 27-7 and you think everything was easy. It wasn’t,” Turco said. “There was a lot of games we were down, a lot of close games that they won. So, it’s a tribute to these young men and everything they did on the court they’re going to use outside the court to be successful. And, I know they will be.”
Freeholder and Piscataway native Kenneth Armwood pointed out that he hails from the same hometown as Turco’s most famous pupil, NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns.
“Congratulations to Middlesex County College,” Armwood said. “You not only represent us well on the court, you represent us well in the community and off the court. On the behalf of the residents, I just want to say thank you for all you do.”