Author: Mike Pavlichko

Two of the GMC Blue’s best tussle when South River girls visit Middlesex

The Middlesex Blue Jays have been the epitome of small school dominance in the GMC for several years now.

In fact, you’d have to go back to January 31, 2018 to find the last time they lost a Blue Division game. It’s been 42 straight wins for Kevin Harper’s ballclub in divisional play, even if it almost ended Wednesday night against Spotswood, which incidentally, was the last team the beat them in a division game.

Friday evening, the Blue Jays (10-2) will face South River (9-4), the team that has been solid enough, but consistently played second-fiddle to Middlesex long enough, that it’s prompted eleventh-season head coach Mike Feaster – a former basketball and football standout for the Rams – to use it as motivation for tonight’s matchup.

You can hear the game on Central Jersey Sports Radio Friday night, with tip-off at 6:00 from Middlesex. Mike Pavlichko has the call, with pregame starting at approximately 5:45 pm. Click here to listen.

The Lady Rams lost the first meeting between the teams on January 7th, 49-37 in South River. That’s the only divisional loss by either team this season.

Click below to hear from both head coaches, as they talk about their seasons, most recent game, and tonight’s matchup:

Middlesex head coach Kevin Harper
South River head coach Mike Feaster

INSTANT REPLAY-GIRLS BASKETBALL: No. 5 Gill St. Bernard’s 35, No. 6 Franklin 33

Sophomore Brooke Baisley’s layup from the paint as time expired gave 5th-ranked Gill St. Bernard’s a 35-33 win over No. 6 Franklin, and a sweep of the season series. The Knights’ also got head coach Mark Gnapp his 300th career win, coming in a Skyland Conference Delaware Divison game on Thursday, January 27, 2022.

Click below to listen to Dom Savino and Chris Tsakonas call all the action from Franklin High School:

No. 5 Gill tops No. 6 Franklin on Baisley’s buzzer-beating layup

Defense ruled the day in the second matchup between two of Somerset County’s best girls’ basketball teams, and in the end, it was a sophomore who won it.

Brooke Baisley’s layup just before the final horn – in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio – gave No. 5 Gill St. Bernard’s a 35-33 road win at No. 6 Franklin two sweep the two-game season series, a little more than two weeks after the Knights’ edged the Warriors at home up in Gladstone, 38-35.

Baisley was just a point shy of a double-double on the evening, finishing with a team-high nine points and 12 rebounds, while on the other end of the floor, Christina Midgette was held to just three points, a season low, and her lowest offensive output since January 31, 2019 – her freshman year – when she scored just two against Watchung Hills.

Click below to hear Dom Savino with the final call on Central Jersey Sports Radio:

The win gave GSB the inside track on first place in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division. Technically, Franklin remains in first by having played one extra game, and winning it; the Warriors (9-3) are 7-2 in the division, with both of those losses to Gill; their other loss was to Rutgers Prep opening night on CJSR. The Knights’ are 6-2 in the division, with losses to Watchung Hills and Hillsborough. They have two games left: Hunterdon Central at home next Monday, and a rematch at home against Watchung Hills on February 10th.

The victory was also career win No. 300 for Mark Gnapp, who had several former players on hand to watch in Franklin Thursday night.

Click below to hear postgame reaction with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Chris Tsakonas:

Gill sophomore Brooke Baisley, who hit the game-winning shot as the clock ran down
Head coach Mark Gnapp, who won his 300th career game Thursday night

Top Ten girls teams battle tonight on CJSR when No. 5 Gill visits No. 6 Franklin

Their paths to this point in the season haven’t exactly been the same, but they are right next to each other in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten. And they will square off tonight on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Fifth-ranked Gill St. Bernard’s (8-3, 5-2) and No. 6 Franklin (9-2, 7-1) play each other in a critical game, where a win by the Warriors would solidify their grip on first place in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division, but a Knights’ win would give each team two losses, with Gill having beaten Franklin twice head-to-head.

Dom Savino and Chris Tsakonas call all the action with pregame at 5:45 pm, and tip-off at 6:00. Click here to listen live.

Franklin’s only division loss came to GSB on January 11th, a 38-35 ballgame that left Franklin just 3-2 less than a month into the season, interrupted by a long COVID stoppage spanning their opening game loss to Rutgers Prep on December 17th right on through to January fourth. Gill has two division losses, to Watchung Hills and Hillsborough.

Franklin is red hot, though, since that loss to the Knights, having won six in a row. Senior Christina Midgette is by far and away the team’s leading scorer, averaging 20.4 points per game, and the leader of the team’s recent hot streak; she’s scoring 26.8 a game in her last four, having scored no fewer than 24 in that span.

READ MORE: Big shuffle in Week 5 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten, though Rutgers Prep remains at the top

Gill, meanwhile, avenged a loss from earlier this month to Hillsborough Tuesday night, beating the Lady Raiders 62-43 in a game that was tight in the first half, but saw the Knights pull away.

It was also career win No. 299 for Gnapp, who will chase 300 at Franklin tonight. In addition to coaching the girls at Gill St. Bernard’s, he’s spent time coaching both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Parsippany, and girls’ basketball at Mendham.

Click below to hear Dom Savino and Chris Tsakonas preview the Gill-Franklin game:

Chris Tsakonas with Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Mark Gnapp
Dom Savino with Franklin head coach Audrey Taylor

Multiple area boys’ teams in serious contention for top seeds in the state tournament

There are just three full weeks of play left before the NJSIAA cutoff for the state tournament, and a number of GMC and Somerset County teams have legitimate shots at earning top seeds in their respective sections come tournament time.

One of the big changes this year, mainly due to the potential for COVID stoppages and cancellations, which could shrink teams’ schedules, is that only the best 13 games before the cutoff will count toward power points, which are used to seed teams. Typically, the first 16 before the cutoff count.

As of now, 35 teams from the GMC and Somerset County are in playoff contention, and three teams – Watchung Hills (North 2, Group 4), South Plainfield (North 2, Group 3) and South River (Central Group 2) – sit in first place.

This week, we have a section-by-section look as to where area teams may be headed, based on the NJSIAA’s power points, as published on as of Sunday, January 23rd:

Non-Public North B: Gill St. Bernard’s, highly regarded in the statewide rankings with much D-1 talent, sits in second, 13 points behind 12-0 Morris Catholic (271), one of just six unbeaten teams left in the state. This is a loaded section; Roselle Catholic sits in fourth. Timothy Christian is 5th, while Wardlaw-Hartridge (5-3) checks in 9th.

Non-Public South A: The top two teams here are Red Bank Catholic (390) and Christian Brothers (358), but St. Thomas Aquinas is right there at 343, undefeated at 14-0. Behind them is Rutgers Prep (11-0) in third at 296. Then, after St. John Vianney, St. Joseph-Metuchen is 6th with 265 points, ten behind the Lancers. Immaculata check in 12th, and Pingry is next-to-last in 13th among 14 teams.

Central Jersey Group 4: No doubt, Monroe’s win over St. Joseph-Metuchen helped the Falcons, who at 12-2 are in second place, just ten points behind 11-2 Marlboro; they lead 335-325. South Brunswick is in fourth, but with 210. Old Bridge sits in 12th, with North Brunswick, Sayreville and East Brunswick 14 through 16. Montgomery is just five points behind the 4-5 Bears, on the outside of the bubble at 4-7.

Central Jersey Group 3: With few are teams in this section, only Somerville, which is in 15th place (2-9), is in the picture.

Central Jersey Group 2: This is an intriguing one, as Bound Brook – winners of 24 straight and 10-0 this year, moving up from Group 1 – actually sits behind first-place South River, which is 11-1 and has 259 points, compared to the Crusaders’ 238. Of course, Brook also has only played ten games and has one less win. The top seed should be well within reach for Bound Brook. Spotswood checks in 9th with Middlesex right behind them. Metcuhen sits in 16th.

Central Jersey Group 1: Burlington City sits in first with 173 points, with the highest GMC team Perth Amboy Tech (8-1) in 4th with 133. Highland Park, Manville, Somerset Tech, South Amboy and Dunellen all are in the bottom half of the top 16 at the moment.

North 2, Group 4: Watchung Hills (9-3) is tied for first with Westfield (10-4), both having 260 points. Ridge has played one less game and has 225, sitting in third. Right behind them are JP Stevens, Franklin, Edison, and Bridgewater-Raritan in seventh. Perth Amboy (4-8) sits in 15th, while Piscataway (4-5) is nine points out, behind 5-7 Phillipsburg.

North 2, Group 3: South Plainfield (11-3) leads the pack here with 263 points, but 14 games played – remember, just the best 13 count this year – while Colonia sits in second at 9-2 with 226 points. But, they’ve only played eleven and are likely to pass the Tigers.

Big shuffle in Week 5 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten, though Rutgers Prep remains at the top

Only one team in this week’s Bellamy & Son Girls’ Basketball Rankings was in the same place a week ago. Other than Rutgers Prep, everyone shuffled into a new position, thanks to a couple of upsets.

Most notable was Monroe, previously unranked, knocking off No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas by 12 on Thursday night, a little more than a month after losing to them in the season opener by 38. It was a convincing win, too; the Falcons led virtually wire-to-wire.

Not to be outdone, unranked Watchung Hills beat No. 3 Gill St. Bernard’s, while Franklin beat Watchung Hills and now just has two losses; to Gill and No. 1 Rutgers Prep, which has now held the No. 1 spot every week of the Central Jersey Sports Radio/Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, since its inception in CJSR’s inaugural season last year, a total of 13 weeks.

Many other teams also shuffled around with a mix of wins and losses. Below are the full Week 5 Bellamy & Son rankings:

Top three remain the same in Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten

Going a combined 8-0 in the week gone by, St. Thomas Aquinas, Rutgers Prep and Gill St. Bernard’s remained Nos. 1, 2, and 3 in the Week 5 Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten, while the middle of the pack danced around a bit.

The rankings include three of the six remaining undefeated boys’ teams in New Jersey, No. 1 Aquinas at 14-0, No.2 Rutgers Prep at 11-0, and No. 7 Bound Brook at 10-0, which owns the state’s longest active winning streak, now at 24 games. The Crusaders’ last loss came on March 9, 2020, a 73-55 loss at Burlington City in the Central Jersey Group 1 title game.

The big upset of the week was then-No. 8 Monroe beating previously fourth-ranked St. Joseph-Metuchen on a buzzer-beater, to split the season series. In addition, Franklin joined the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten this week, after a nearly buzzer-beating road win at Watchung Hills, which stayed in at No. 9.

Following are the full Week 5 rankings:

Harrell’s 17 make him Bound Brook’s all-time leading scorer, help Crusaders extend state-best win streak to 24.

The horn blew in the middle of the third quarter, but it wasn’t a mistake, or anyone fouling out. In fact, it was celebratory in nature.

Quadir Harrell’s three-point basket to give his team a seven-point cushion in a tight game against New Egypt set a new scoring mark for the program, as he jumped over Jordan Hawkins, who just happened to be on hand.

Oh, and it also helped Bound Brook pull out a 45-38 win which extended the Crusaders’ state-best winning streak to 24 games.

Bound Brook’s last loss came when it was eliminated in the 2020 state tournament, when Harrell was a sophomore. The Crusaders went 14-0 last year – when there was no state tournament – winning the one-off Skyland Conference Tournament’s middle pod, and are now 10-0 this season after the win over New Egypt.

Brook jumped out to a 12-2 lead, but as has been the case all year long, the Crusaders seem to get everyone’s best effort. The Warriors got back within four, and Bound Brook went into the half up 27-23. But some key buckets by Harrell and Jordan Summers in the third helped their team get out to a 38-31 lead at the end of three, and they would hold on down the stretch.

Click below to hear Quadir Harrell talk about his new program record, and a big win over New Egypt on Saturday afternoon:

NJSIAA gets lenient on maximum games per week for basketball to alleviate COVID, winter weather stresses

The NJSIAA is giving high school basketball teams across the state a lot more leeway when it comes to how many games they’re allowed to play per week, in a move expected to allow teams more scheduling flexibility, in particular helping those who’ve suffered from a COVID shutdown.

Typically, high school basketball teams in New Jersey are allowed only one four-game week per season, and cannot play on three consecutive days. A week starts on Monday.

NJSIAA Assistant Director for Basketball Al Stumpf confirmed to Central Jersey Sports Radio this week that Association’s Executive Executive Committee approved a measure at it’s January 12th meeting that will allow an additional four weeks of four games each.

That means a team could play as many as five weeks of four games each, provided they meet one other criterion: The rule prohibiting games on three consecutive days remains in place.

In the COVID-truncated 2021 high school basketball season, the NJSIAA allowed one addtional four-game week, for a total of two. This year, five are being allowed, in a move likely to be welcomed by many head coaches and athletic directors whose teams are trying to make up games lost due to COVID.

Of the 20 teams in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ and Boys’ Basketball Top Tens to start the New Year, eleven – more than half of them – did not play over the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Some, like Franklin’s boys and girls, had a more than two-week layoff between Opening Night on December 17th and their next games.

Harrell, Summers team for key late shot to beat pesky Voorhees, extend NJ’s longest active winning streak to 23

Twenty-two and counting.

Not only are the wins for Bound Brook piling up quickly, but the attention being paid to them is growing.

That’s what happens when the team that used to have the longest active winning streak in New Jersey – which was Camden at 44 games – loses for the first time in the current decade, and you’re suddenly at the top of the pile.

But it took a full 48-minute from Bound Brook to beat Voorhees Thursday night, as a Quadir Harrell to Jordan Summers play that resulted in an old-fashioned three-point play broke a 40-all tie with under a minute to go, and gave the Crusaders – now 9-0 – a 44-40 victory.

Click below to listen to Bound Brook head coach Anthony Melesurgo talk about the win, and his team’s focus as they work through the winning streak:

Bound Brook went 14-0 last year and won the Skyland Conference middle pod championship. Combined with this year, they’ve won 23 straight. There are seven teams remaining in the state who are undefeated, but none have a streak as long as Bound Brook at the moment.

Two of those teams are in the Central Jersey Sports Radio coverage area: St. Thomas Aquinas (13-0) and Rutgers Prep (10-0). The others are Saddle River Day, Morris Catholic, Morristown, St. Augustine, and Governor Livingston.

Morristown is the only one of those teams playing tonight, according to’s online schedule. The Colonials visit Morris Knolls Friday night at 7 pm.