Aquinas, Rutgers Prep boys square off looking to make history in states

One way or another, St. Thomas Aquinas and Rutgers Prep are battling for a chance at history tonight, in addition to keeping their seasons alive.

When the 2nd-seeded Trojans and 3rd-seeded Argonauts face off in an NJSIAA state tournament Non-Public South A semifinal game tonight in North Edison, the winner will have a chance to do something they’ve never done before: win a sectional championship.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast Monday night’s game live, with pregame beginning at 5:45 pm, and tip-off set for 6:00. Mike Pavlichko will call all the action. Listen live by clicking here.

Aquinas (27-1) already is having a historic season, setting a school record for wins, and winning its second straight GMC Tournament championship (winning in 2020 and 2021; the 2020 season featured eight four-team pods).

The Trojans are led by Adam Silas, a senior who is having a monster year. He has notched five different career highs in scoring this season, capping it off with 37 in the GMC Tournament final, the second highest GMCT scoring effort since the league’s inception in the mid-1980s, second only to the late Keith Hughes of Carteret. It was the fourth-highest scoring total in a final dating back to the Middlesex County Tournament of the 1960s.

READ MORE: CLEAN SWEEP! St. Thomas Aquinas boys win GMC Tourney title, make it two trophies for the Trojans in one night

Silas is averaging 19.3 points per game, and five assists per game, to go along with 61 steals and 53 treys, all team bests.

Aquinas plays stingy, pesky, annoying defense. Junior Terrell Pitts – perhaps the team’s best defender – came back for the team’s quarterfinal win over St. John Vianney, and led the team with 14 points.

FEATURE: The veteran, the leader, and the newcomer: why St. Thomas Aquinas has a shot to win it all

For Rutgers Prep, junior guard Jadin Collins leads the way at 16.7 points per game, while senior point guard Ryan Pettit sets everyone up, averaging over six assists per game; but he plays defense, too, notching 4.3 steals per contest. Then there’s the long Ryan Zan, a 6-7 senior who transferred from Ranney Prep, who could present matchup issues for Aquinas, which is smaller, but plays bigger than it looks.

READ MORE: No. 1 Rutgers Prep girls outdone by national power St. John Vianney, but No 3. Argo boys return the favor

The Argonauts made the last Non-Public South A finals – in 2020 – losing to Wildwood Catholic in the finals, 80-67. Their history in the NJSIAA is short-lived, as the school played a prep schedule until the 2012-13 season, when they began NJSIAA play. They are 12-8 all-time in the state tournament, and have never missed the states in eight years, but are playing in just their third semifinals.

Both teams are ranked in the Top 20 in the state: Aquinas at No. 3 and Rutgers Prep at No. 9.

DID YOU KNOW? Before this season, St. Thomas Aquinas/Bishop Ahr had won only one NJSIAA playoff game in its entire history? That came in 2019, Bob Turco’s first season, a 75-48 home win over Donovan Catholic in the Non-Public South A first round. The Trojans are 2-2 under Turco in state tournament playoff games.

Click below to hear previews of tonight’s game with both coaches:

St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Bob Turco

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