Former PDS Standout Garita Dominates in the Paint As Jefferson Plumbing Makes Summer Hoops Semis
INSIDE PRESENCE: Ethan Garita heads to the hoop during his career for the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team. Last Monday, Garita, who played last winter for the Lincoln University men’s hoops program, tallied 20 points to help fifth-seeded Jefferson Plumbing defeat fourth-seeded Planet Fitness 50-38 in the quarterfinals of the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League playoffs. In other playoff action on Monday, seventh-seeded Princeton Supply defeated PATH Academy 75-56 and ninth-seeded Majeski Foundation topped eighth-seeded Market on Main 45-26 in first round contests. In quarterfinal action on Wednesday at the Community Park courts, top-seeded and three-time defending champion LoyalTees will face Majeski while third-seeded Athlete Engineering Institute will play sixth-seeded Pizza Den and second-seeded Homestead will take on Princeton Supply. The semis are slated for July 29 with game one of the best-of-three championships series scheduled for August 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Ethan Garita put his nose to the grindstone last winter in order to make an impact in his freshman season for the Lincoln University men’s basketball program.
“It is a different experience, going against great competition, going against grown men,” said former Princeton Day School standout Garita, a 6’9, 200-pound forward, who averaged 1.2 points and 1.5 rebounds in 23 games last winter for the Division II program. “I had to work for it, gradually I got better. I got more playing time, putting in the work in practice and the gym and it showed. It was a great season.”
Garita’s transition was aided by having some familiar faces on the squad, including former Princeton High star Zahrion Blue, fellow PDS player Freddy Young Jr., and former Trenton Catholic standout Peter Sorber.
“It is a great fit, great chemistry,” said Garita. “It is good to have some of the guys back from home.”
This summer, Garita had found a good fit, joining the Jefferson Plumbing team in his first season playing in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.
“I have a couple of close friends, they reached out to me,” said Garita, noting that the squad includes former PDS teammate Connor Topping and is guided by Panther assistant coach Chris Petrucelli. “I was looking for a different approach trying to prepare for next season in college.”
Last Monday, fifth-seeded Jefferson needed to take a different approach as it faced fourth-seeded Planet Fitness in the quarterfinals of the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League playoffs, having lost 72-68 to their foes in a regular season meeting on July 15.
“We are a strong offensive team,” said Garita. “Looking back on the last game, we definitely wanted to switch it up and dominate on the defensive end.”
Building a 26-24 lead at halftime, Jefferson stifled Planet Fitness in the second half on the way to a 50-38 triumph. The win improved Jefferson to 5-5 as it advanced to the semis on Friday where it will face the victor of the quarterfinal matchup between top-seeded and three-time defending league champion Loyaltees and ninth-seeded Majeski Foundation.
“It definitely was more emotion with the playoffs,” said Garita, who tallied 20 points in the victory. “We are all competing to make it to the finals and that is what we did today. It was a good fight. They are a talented team and we came out on top.”
In pulling away from Planet Fitness, Jefferson took care of basics.
“We made free throws downs the stretch and and kept up the pace,” said Garita. “We were up so they had to deal with our momentum.”
Planet Fitness had trouble dealing with Garita around the basket as he piled up most of his points on inside moves.
“That was the main goal from last game, they couldn’t stop us in the paint so do it again,” said Garita. “It was, don’t stop doing something if it is working.”
While Jefferson brought a losing record into the playoffs, Garita believes the team can make a deep postseason run.
“I feel like everyone is sleeping on us,” said Garita. “We are not a big team but we have heart. We have had a lot of close calls, a lot of close games. We know what we have to work on and we are here to fix that.”
No matter how far Jefferson goes, Garita is getting in some good work as he looks forward to his sophomore season at Lincoln.
“It is definitely good prep, I am enjoying it,” said Garita. “I love to compete, I am here to get better. I am just working on the things that I have got to work on. If someone is weak in the paint, I will take that every day.”