Author: Dom Savino

Perez, Crosby guide top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas into yet another GMC Tournament Final

One offense has been more productive than the rest in the Greater Middlesex Conference.

Tonight was simply more of the same from the juggernaut.

Top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas (20-3) punched its ticket into the Greater Middlesex Conference Girls’ Basketball Tournament Final, handling 5-seed East Brunswick, 72-55, on Tuesday night at Monroe High School. The Trojans will aim for their third consecutive full GMCT title on Friday against 7-seed South Brunswick.

You can hear that game Friday against 7th-seed South Brunswick – an upset winner in the opener over Colonia – on Central Jersey Sports Radio as we broadcast the girls’ and boys’ championship doubleheader starting with the girls’ title tilt at 6 pm. Click here to listen to Mike Pavlichko call all the action.

READ MORE: Cinderella South Brunswick continues its run as Vikings knock off Colonia, head to GMC title game

Kayla Perez powered Aquinas’ stellar start, knocking down a pair of threes in the first four minutes as part of the Trojans’ 16-2 run to begin the game. The senior guard led all scorers with a season-high 27 points.

Up 24-5 after the first quarter, Aquinas sustained its up-tempo, transition-focused offense into the second half, building a lead as large as 32 points.

East Brunswick (16-8) put together its best run of the game early in the third quarter, disrupting Aquinas’ offensive flow by switching to a full-court defense reminiscent of Rutgers’ “55” pressure. The Bears put together a 19-2 run over a six-minute span in the period, cutting the deficit to as little as 15.

Yet Aquinas was able to remain comfortably in front throughout the second half thanks to second-chance buckets from forward Leah Crosby. The freshman finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds, earning her fifth double-double of the season and second of the tournament.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino with postgame reaction from St. Thomas Aquinas’ win:

Senior guard Kayla Perez
Head coach Joe Whalen

Cinderella South Brunswick continues its run as Vikings knock off Colonia, head to GMC title game

Ask any coach, and they’ll tell you their team needs to play its best basketball when it matters most.

Well, that’s exactly what South Brunswick is doing.

The 7th-seeded Vikings (17-6) pulled off their second straight upset win Tuesday night, downing 3rd-seed Colonia 57-49 in the semifinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Girls’ Basketball Tournament. South Brunswick will carry a seven-game winning streak into its first GMC Finals appearance since 2017, and try to win its first title since 2012.

You can hear that game Friday against top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas – a winner in the nightcap over East Brunswick – on Central Jersey Sports Radio as we broadcast the girls’ and boys’ championship doubleheader starting with the girls’ title tilt at 6 pm. Click here to listen to Mike Pavlichko call all the action.

READ MORE: Perez, Crosby guide top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas into yet another GMC Tournament Final

Vikings’ freshman Alexis Lease-Springer led the way with 18 points, including nine of her team’s 19 first-half points as Colonia led for the entirety of the opening half.

MORE COVERAGE: South Brunswick girls pull off big upset in GMCT quarterfinals, knocking off Monroe

The Patriots — who entered the night on a 14-game winning streak, but fall to 22-3 — capitalized on South Brunswick’s poor shooting start, growing a first-half lead as large as nine points. Colonia’s Taylor Derkack scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the opening half.

But South Brunswick mounted a 12-2 run that bridged halftime, claiming its first lead with five minutes left in the third quarter.

It was the first of nine lead changes as the teams traded basket for basket for much of the second half. But South Brunswick closed the game on a 15-6 run over the final 3:30, most of which came at the free-throw line.

The Vikings were perfect on all 12 of their free throws over the game’s final 100 seconds, staving off a late Colonia run. South Brunswick junior Katie Rausch scored all 14 of her points in second half, six of which came as part of the Vikings’ free-throw spree.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino with postgame reaction from South Brunswick’s win

Freshman guard Alexis Lease-Springer
Head coach Jeff Johnson

No. 9 Watchung Hills carries winning streak into Skyland battle with Franklin

It’s been a brilliant two weeks of basketball for Watchung Hills. 5 games, 5 wins, all by double digits.

Most recently, the Warriors were road warriors, claiming victories at Hunterdon Central, Hillsborough, and Jefferson.

Now, No. 9 Watchung Hills (8-1) returns home looking to extend its perfect 3-0 Skyland Delaware Division record against Franklin (4-4) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Click here to listen to the broadcast with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling all the action; pregame coverage starts at 5:45.

Note: Today’s game was moved from its original 5:30 start to a 6 pm tip-off, it was announced late Tuesday morning.

The Warriors are led by guard Elijah Lewis, who’s averaging 23.8 points-per-game – tops in Somerset County – and 7.6 rebounds-per-game. The senior went off for 25 points and eight rebounds last time out, in Saturday’s 58-44 win over Jefferson.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino talk with Watchung Hills head coach Justin Salton to preview the Warriors’ meeting with Franklin:

Simmon, Ingram lead St. Joe’s into GMC Red clash with East Brunswick

If you’re compiling a list of GMC breakout candidates, Ethan Simmon has scored his way to the top of the list. The St. Joe’s-Metuchen guard leads the team with 24.3 points-per-game, punctuated by a career-high 36 points in a blowout win over Old Bridge Tuesday.

It’s the latest triumph in a hot start for the Falcons (4-2), who stand at No. 4 in this week’s Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Rankings.

St. Joe’s now prepares for a battle of the last two GMC Red teams without a division loss, traveling to East Brunswick (3-1) Thursday at 7 p.m. for a game that will be broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Click here to listen to the broadcast with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling all the action; pregame coverage starts at 6:45.

Simmon represents one-half of Joe’s two-headed backcourt monster, complemented by the emergence of point guard Josh Ingram. The junior is averaging a career-best 15.5 ppg, including a season-high 18 points Tuesday.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino talked with St. Joe’s head coach Jan Cocozziello to preview the Falcons’ meeting with EB:

Manville faces must-win on the road against rival Bound Brook to keep playoff hopes alive

It continues to be a memorable season for Manville, which is 5-1 for just the second time in the last 15 years.

A year removed from a winless campaign, the Mustangs have made a swift turnaround thanks to their rushing attack. Manville’s Wing-T offense, which is run-heavy by design, has churned out over 250 rushing yards per game. Junior running back Shawn Purcell has paced the offense with 1,121 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns in a breakout year.

And yet, Manville is one of the 132 teams who sit outside the playoff picture, currently residing in 18th place in ther South Group 1 supersection. And they’re one of only four teams in the entire state who might not make the playoffs, but have two or fewer losses.

On the second-to-last weekend of the regular season, Manville prepares to face Bound Brook and quarterback Patrick LePoidevin, who leads the Big Central with 1,536 passing yards, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Mark montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

Kickoff is set for 7 pm from Bound Brook’s LaMonte Field; join Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino for all the action with pregame set for 6:45.

Click here to listen to the live broadcast for free.

Click below to hear Dom Savino’s conversation with Manville head coach Pat Gorbatuk:

Alumni Spotlight: Edison’s Stansbury finding success at New Hampshire

Back in 2018, when he was roaming the secondary in his final season at Edison, Noah Stansbury led the entire state in interceptions as he paced the Eagles to their best season since Y2K.

That team’s eight-win campaign – highlighted by a first-round playoff victory – set the tone for Edison’s recent success, including last year’s 4-2 record in the shortened season.

Fast forward, and Stansbury is playing at a new level of football yet making the same impact.

The Edison native has earned the starting free safety job at New Hampshire, where he has helped guide the Wildcats to their first 3-0 start in 12 years.

Playing in his redshirt freshman season, Stansbury has recorded 15 tackles, two interceptions, and two pass breakups, all of which ranks among the team’s leaders.

This weekend, Stansbury and New Hampshire prepare for their biggest test of the fall, going on the road for an FBS/FCS battle with Pittsburgh at the home of the Steelers, Heinz Field.

Dom Savino caught up with Stansbury to chat about New Hampshire’s undefeated start, Stansbury’s time at Edison, and more.

Hunter guides veteran Old Bridge to opening win over East Brunswick

With most starters back from last year’s 5-1 squad that won the program’s second straight division title, No. 8 Old Bridge has high expectations for its veteran group.

That wealth of experience was put to use immediately, as the Knights weathered a late rally from rival East Brunswick for Saturday’s 27-24 victory on Opening Day.

Old Bridge was paced by senior RB/LB Lawrence Hunter, who compiled a complete stat line: 150 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown, six tackles, and a fumble recovery.

Hunter’s early TD allowed Old Bridge to open the scoring eight minutes into the game, and in the fourth quarter his legs helped the Knights run out the clock. After East Brunswick’s Jayden Phillip cut the Bears’ deficit to three on a kick-return touchdown with less than five minutes left to play, the Knights leaned on Hunter to close out the win, collecting a crucial first down and forcing EB to burn all of its timeouts.

While the Bears did get the ball back with less than a minute remaining, another senior — WR/DB Evan Sobieski — reeled in an interception to cap off the win. Sobieski also finished with two second-half touchdowns: one receiving and one scoop-and-score fumble recovery that extended the Knights’ fourth-quarter lead to 27-17.

The win marked Old Bridge’s 11th straight victory over rival East Brunswick in the “Battle of Route 18.”

Click below to hear Dom Savino chat with Lawrence Hunter about Old Bridge’s win, expectations for the season, and upcoming battle with #1/#2 North Brunswick:

LaSala’s Woodbridge Set for New Season with New Leaders

It is the cyclical nature of high school sports: players gain experience, grow into seniors, and graduate to the next level, giving a new group of players the chance to break through.

After graduating an accomplished class that guided the Barrons to its first sectional final in 22 years, Woodbridge begins that cycle again this fall, as head coach Joe LaSala leads a team filled with skill players stepping into larger roles.

Seniors Isaiah Allen and Mike Calvert assume the mantle as the Barrons’ top offensive playmakers, replacing All-State running back Ali Lee, Jr. Under center, Saint Joe’s transfer Matt Stanton takes over for three-year starting quarterback Anthony Santino.

READ MORE: Ali Lee Jr. commits to Stony Brook

Woodbridge is one of ten teams that will open the 2021 season with a Week Zero game, as they play Winslow Township in the Sunday 6 pm finale of the mammoth Battle at the Beach showcase, hosted by the West Jersey Football League in Ocean City, NJ.

Click below to hear Woodbridge coach Joe LaSala talk with Dom Savino about the new-look Barrons:

Igbinosun prepares Union for another title pursuit

The last time New Jersey hosted a high school football postseason, Union hoisted the North 2, Group 5 trophy.

Even though Davison Igbinosun recorded an interception in that 2019 championship game, he was just a sophomore then, and he regards that title as his predecessors’ accomplishment – not his.

Now a senior and a Rutgers commit preparing for his final high school season, Igbinosun will lead another senior-laden Union squad in pursuit of the program’s 12th sectional crown.

Dom Savino caught up with Igbinosun to preview the 2021 Union Farmers, who have a “state championship or bust” mentality this fall:

Miller, Bryant ready to lead Somerville air attack

If you only knew a little bit about the Somerville Pioneers, it would be easy to write them off. After all, they graduated their top player on both sides of the ball – runningback Cookie Desiderio and defensive end A.J. Pena – from last year’s undefeated team.

How, then, do the Pioneers enter the fall as the consensus No. 1 squad in both Central Jersey Sports Radio Top 10 polls?

Enter Somerville’s latest cast of offensive stars – led by quarterback Mike Miller and wide receiver Jaimen Bryant – who are expected to post juggernaut numbers like last year’s 46 points-per-game.

Both players are returning starters who were key pieces of that powerful offense. After transferring in last year, the now-junior Miller racked up 1,600 passing yards – among the top ten in New Jersey – with 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Entering his senior season, Bryant is expected to be Miller’s top target once again, coming off a productive 2020 in which he led Somerville with 671 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

Dom Savino caught up with Miller and Bryant to preview the Pioneers, who are aiming for their fourth straight sectional final appearance. Click below to hear from both of them:

Somerville QB Mike Miller:

Somerville WR Jaimen Bryant