Author: Mike Pavlichko

Bound Brook boys remain undefeated with win in Skyland Tourney opening round; three teams out due to COVID

It was an up-and-down night for boys basketball on Day One of the Skyland Conference Tournament.

With two top-seeds having first-round byes – Gill St. Bernard’s and Somerville – the only one in action moved on, but three teams are out due to COVID shutdowns.

Pingry’s entire athletic department is shutdown, while Ridge and North Hunterdon also are out.

Blue Division

There won’t be a rubber match between Gill St. Bernard’s and Hunterdon Central, after 5th-seed Watchung Hills knocked off the 4th-seeded Red Devils 46-43. Central gave Gill a game in Gladstone in their first meeting, 77-64, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. But the Red Devils won the rematch last week in Flemington, 57-49. Now, it’ll be the Warriors (10-3) who take on the top-seeded Knights (6-3) for a trip to the Blue title game.

Continue reading “Bound Brook boys remain undefeated with win in Skyland Tourney opening round; three teams out due to COVID”

GMC Basketball Coaches Prez asks HS hoops fans to support Marisa Tufaro Foundation, in lieu of attending tourney games

There’s no Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament this year. No big semifinal weekend at Middlesex County College, no Championship Doubleheader at a place that should for all intents and purposes be at the RAC. (But that’s a conversation for another time.)

And the head of the GMC Basketball Coaches Association has a good idea what you could do with the two, three, four or five dollars you might have plunked down for your admission to any of those venues.

Donate it to the Marisa Tufaro Foundation.

Marisa Tufaro

From 2017 to 2019, the Association raised $8,000 for the Foundation – which does a wide range of terrific charitable work throughout New Jersey – via its annual senior all-start doublehader.

But COVID forced its cancellation last year – its status this year is uncertain – and the Marisa Tufaro Foundation still has good deeds to do.

Click here to donate to the Marisa Tufaro Foundation. Any size donation is welcome!

So, Jose Rodriguez – the former Carteret standout, St. Joe’s assistant and current Colonia head coach, who’s now president of the Coaches Assocation – says why not save the few bucks and help out a great local charity.

Its named in honor of Marisa Tufaro, the daughter of MyCentralJersey.com local sportswriter Greg Tufaro. Marisa tragically passed away at the age of 13 in 2017. Born with a heart defect, she received a transplant, but then was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which ultimately took her life.

Click below to listen to Jose Rodriguez’ suggestion for how you can help donate to the Marisa Tufaro Foundation:

Donations in the amount of a normal game admission can be made online at The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s website or checks can be made payable to The Marisa Tufaro Foundation and mailed to P.O. Box 10625, New Brunswick, NJ 08906

All three top seeds – Rutgers Prep, Bound Brook, Immaculata – advance on Day One of girls’ Skyland Tournament

Thirty-five points.

That was the average margin of victory for all three top seeds in the inaugural – and maybe last – Skyland Conference girls’ basketball tournament.

The event is likely a one-off this year, a COVID-shortened season with no state tournament.

Top seeds Rutgers Prep in the Blue Division, Bound Brook in the Gold and Immaculata in the Silver all won their fiest-round games easily on the opening night of play Monday.

Blue Division

Rutgers Prep, the overall No. 1 in the tournament, improved to 10-0 with an 82-36 home win over Hillsborough. All 14 players in the scorebook put up points for Prep, led by Mikayla Blakes with 11, and Christina Dalce with 10. The Argonauts will now host 5-seed Hunterdon Central (9-3), which knocked off 4th-seed Phillipsburg Monday, 37-31.

Continue reading “All three top seeds – Rutgers Prep, Bound Brook, Immaculata – advance on Day One of girls’ Skyland Tournament”

Wardlaw-Hartridge putting together another solid year under Wagner, earns top seed in its GMC pod

You can only talk about St. Joe’s and South Brunswick and St. Thomas Aquinas and Colonia for so long.

There were two teams that went unbeaten in Greater Middlesex Conference play this year. One was Aquinas, who finished 5-0 against the league.

The other? Wardlaw-Hartridge.

Brendan Wagner, who won a GMC Tournament title in 2006 as the seventh man playing for Ken Pace (and later for Justin Chiera) at Colonia, is in his second season at the private school in Edison. After an 18-7 season in his debut campaign where the Rams went 14-2 against the GMC, they’re now a combined 29-9 over nearly two full seasons, and 25-2 against the league.

Wagner spoke with Central Jersey Sports Radio this week about his team’s run, and their top-seed in the “Taylor Family Pod” in this week’s GMC postseason, where they’ll host 4th-seed Monroe tomorrow night.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s interview with Wardlaw-Hartridge Head Coach Brendan Wagner:

Rivera makes most of Senior Night as No. 2 Aquinas rolls past Raiders

Senior swing Joshua Rivera – who holds multiple D1 offers – continued to step up in the absence of two starters Monday night, pouring in 23 points to help No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas beat North Brunswick 83-58 on the final night of the regular season, in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving.

Rivera scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half for Aquinas (8-4, 5-0 GMC White), which earlier in the day received the top overall seed in the Greater Middlesex Conference’s postseason pods, even if the league isn’t revealing its overall seeds.

North Brunswick dropped to 6-6, 3-3 in the GMC White with the loss. The Raiders were paced by senior center Donovan Crawford’s 17 points, while Jabri Fitzpatrick – fresh off a season high 29 points in an upset of then-No. 2 St. Joseph of Metuchen Saturday – chipped in 15.

Three other players scored in double figures for Aquinas. Kyree Henry and Adam Silas each scored 17, including three treys each. Jalen Jones added 14.

St. Thomas Aquinas – the top seed in the “Karl-Anthony Towns/Jay Williams Pod” – will open postseason play at home Wednesday night at 7 against fourth-seed South Brunswick (10-2).

Click below to listen to Monday night’s game broadcast between No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas and North Brunswick:

No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas proves it’s No. 1 in the GMC; postgame reaction from win over North Brunswick

St. Thomas Aquinas let there be no doubt that it’s the overall team in the GMC, hours after being awarded the overall top seed – even though the league isn’t calling it that – in the Greater Middlesex Conference postseason pods.

It was between the Trojans and St. Joseph-Metuchen coming into this past weekend, but Aquinas separated itself with a win over state-ranked Hudson Catholic – which had lost to St. Joe’s days earlier – while the Falcons lost to North Brunswick.

Monday night, St. Thomas Aquinas put the exclamation point on it, by beating the Raiders, but good.

On his Senior Night, 6-7 swing D1 prospect Joshua Rivera scored 23 points – 17 after intermission – to send No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas past North Brunswick 83-58 in a GMC White Division Game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving.

Rivera also added three dunks, including one on an alley-oop.

The win puts Aquinas at 8-4 overall, 5-0 in GMC play, with all those game coming in their division.

And they did it without two key starters. Jaquan Harris ended his season last week due to a bout with tendinitis in his left knee, while Tristian Jeffries was out with an ankle injury suffered in a win last week against St. John Vianney.

Three other players scored in double-figures for the Trojans. Senior guard Kyree Henry scored 17, including a trio of treys, as did junior point guard Adam Silas. Senior forward Jalen Jones had 14.

St. Thomas Aquinas now moves on to the top-tier four-team pod in the GMC postseason, and as the top-seed in the “Karl-Anthony Towns Jay Williams Pod” will play 4th-seed South Brunswick Wednesday night at 7 pm. The other side of the bracket includes 3rd-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen at 2nd-seed Colonia.

The Trojans-Vikings game will be part of a girls’-boys’ doubleheader in North Edison Wednesday night, as the Aquinas girls – the 2nd-seed in the top-tier “Somogyi Family Pod” – will host 3rd-seed Monroe at 4 pm.

Click below to hear Dom Savino’s postgame talk with Rivera, and Aquinas head coach Bob Turco:

Senior swing Joshua Rivera
Head Coach Dave Turco

Rutgers Prep girls continue to cruise, and hold No. 1 spot in the rankings

One of three unbeaten teams remaining in the area, Rutgers Prep remains the Number One team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Girls’ Basketball Top Ten for Week Five.

The Argonauts are 9-0 following a 2-0 week, outscoring Immaculata and Phillipsburg by a combined total of 128-40; they beat the Spartans 74-15 and the Stateliners 54-25. Prep has now held five of its nine opponents under 30 points.

Gill St. Bernard’s also is 9-0; the Knights beat Franklin in overtime last week 44-42, en route to a 3-0 week, and are in second.

Mount St. Mary rambled through a four-win week, to end the regular season 12-0, with the maximum number of games that can be played through the start of the three-game Skyland Conference Tournament. They beat Pingry and Voorhees this week, bookended by wins in both ends of a home-and-home with Somerville.

Dropping from the ranks of the undefeated was Calvary Christian of the GMC Gold, which fell to 9-1 after a 2-1 week that began Monday with a 42-28 loss to Blue Division crossover foe Metuchen.

Entering the rankings is Middlesex; the Blue Jays check in at No. 8 after beating the highest-rated GMC team, St. Thomas Aquinas, 59-50 at home on Friday.

Aquinas actually held steady in third despite a 1-2 week, having beaten 4th-ranked Franklin but losing at Saddle River Day. The Trojans did not drop, however, because they beat Franklin and a were one spot ahead of them, and two weeks ago beat No. 5 Monroe head to head.

Franklin had a 2-2 week, but their losses were to two teams ahead of them in the rankings – Aquinas and No. 2 Gill St. Bernard’s. They followed those defeats with a pair of wins at Bridgewater-Raritan and Watchung Hills.

Below are the complete Week 5 rankings:

St. Thomas Aquinas boys, Middlesex girls get top seeds – unofficially – in GMC postseason as league announces pod pairings

The Greater Middlesex Conference has announced its postseason pods, and the top overall seeds appear to have gone to the St. Thomas Aquinas boys and the Middlesex girls.

Officially, but unofficially, that is.

While the league is not holding a full-on tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions, it’s pairing up teams in pods of four.

The league also is not revealing overall seeds, but much of that can be determined based on the pairings and looking at the standings and head-to-head matchups. The GMC officially is only numbering teams one through four in each pod for the purposes of determining what teams will host games.

On the boys’ side – as exepcted – the top-seed Trojans were followed by Colonia, St. Joseph of Metuchen and South Brunswick. St. Thomas Aquinas will host fourth-seed South Brunswick in the opening round Wednesday, while 3rd-seed St. Joseph will visit 2nd-seed Colonia in what’s being known as the “Karl-Anthony Towns/Jay Williams Pod.”

Aquinas was undefeated in conference play in 2021, while Colonia neat North Brunswick earlier this season in their only meeting, and the Raiders beat St. Joseph this weekend to knock them out of contention for the top spot. The Falcons got the third seed ahead of South Brunswick due to St. Joe’s winning their head-to-head matchup on February 6.

LIVE BROADCAST TONIGHT: Regular season finale between North Brunswick, No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas features two teams coming off signature wins

A case could have been made for East Brunswick in an odd year where not everyone played their division opponents twice due to the short season as well as COVID- and snow-related cancellations. The Bears beat South Brunswick, but finished below them in the standings, with losses to St. Joe’s, Monroe and JP Stevens. South Brunswick’s two losses were to St. Joe’s and East Brunswick.

In the next pod down, the “Dave Wohl/Bo Henning” pod, East Brunswick is the top-seed and will host 4th-seed Dunellen Wednesday, while 2nd-seed North Brunswick will host 3rd-seed South Plainfield.

Middlesex win sealed the deal…

On the girls’ side, it was widely considered a foregone conclusion that St. Thomas Aquinas would be the top overall seed – especially after winning their lone matchup with Monroe this season – but a loss to a very talented Blue Division foe in Middlesex Friday night threw that into question.

In the end, Middlesex vaulted all the way up to the top overall seed in the “Somogyi Family Pod,” as they drew a home game with 4th-seed North Brunswick Wednesday. The other matchup is 2nd-seed Aquinas hosting third-seed Monroe.

The Blue Jays are 10-2 overall, with their only losses to Monroe – and Bound Brook in the Skyland. They’re 10-1 in conference play and swept eight games in their division. The Trojans have four losses, three outside of the GMC – to Life Center, Stuart Day and Saddle River Day – with Middlesex their only league defeat.

The “Reggie Carney/Jack Krieger Pod” is the next one down with 10-2 Colonia as the top seed. The Patriots host 4th-seed JP Stevens in the first round while 3rd-seed South Brunswick visits 2nd-seed Sayreville.

One girls pod has a extra team in it, the “Kuziemski Twins Pod,” which features East Brunswick Tech at Wardlaw-Hartridge and South Amboy at Piscataway Tech. Somerset Tech has a bye as the odd team out, but will face the winner or Wardlaw and EB Tech. South Amboy or Piscataway Tech will then play one of those three teams.

Full GMC Boys Pods:

  • Karl-Anthony Towns/Jay Williams Pod: South Brunswick at St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Joseph-Metuchen at Colonia
  • Dave Wohl/Bo Henning Pod: Dunellen at East Brunswick, South Plainfield at North Brunswick
  • Taylor Family Pod: Monroe at Wardlaw-Hartridge, Woodbridge at Timothy Christian
  • Haley Family Pod: New Brunswick at Metuchen, Middlesex at Old Bridge
  • Jackson Family Pod: Piscataway Tech at South River, Sayreville at Piscataway
  • Dadika Family Pod: East Brunswick Tech at Perth Amboy Tech, Calvary Christian at Spotswood
  • Payne/Brokaw Pod: Somerset Tech at South Amboy, winner plays Highland Park

Full GMC Girls Pods:

  • Somogyi Family Pod: North Brunswick at Middlesex, Monroe at St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Reggie Carney/Jack Krieger Pod: JP Stevens at Colonia, South Brunswick at Sayreville
  • Flaherty Family Pod: South Plainfield at South River, Metuchen at Calvary Christian
  • Marisa Tufaro Foundation Pod: Old Bridge at Edison, East Brunswick at JFK
  • Malouf Twins Pod: Woodbridge at Dunellen, Timothy Christian at Spotswood
  • Asjha Jones/Lisa Guarneri Pod: New Brunswick at Piscataway, Highland Park at Woodbridge Academy
  • Kuziemski Twins Pod: East Brunswick Tech at Wardlaw-Hartridge, South Amboy at Piscataway Tech, Somerset Tech (bye) plays winner of East Brunswick Tech/Wardlaw-Hartridge; winner plays South Amboy/Piscataway Tech winner

Regular season finale between North Brunswick, No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas features two teams coming off signature wins

St. Thomas Aquinas has played a challenging out of conference schedule. Saturday they came up with a signature win, knocking off state-ranked No. 11 Hudson Catholic 60-58 in double overtime on a basket at the buzzer by a senior with a bum ankle.

Perhaps they were just trying to outdo North Brunswick, whose unranked ballclub had just finished earning what’s believed to be its first win over St. Joseph-Metuchen since shocking Jay Williams’ 1997 squad in the GMC Tournament final, by beating the Falcons 61-57.

Aquinas and North Brunswick will square off tonight in the regular season finale for both ballclubs, in a game that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving. Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino have the call, which you can listen to by clicking here, with air-time approximately 6:45 pm for the 7:00 game.

Aquinas may have its work cut out for it, however. As with the Hudson Catholic game, the Trojans will be without junior point guard Jaquan Harris. Head coach Bob Turco announced last week he would be out for the remainder of the season due to tendinitis in his left knee.

Tonight’s game is sponsored locally by St. Thomas Aquinas High School, now holding a virtual Open House online.

Turco also told Central Jersey Sports Radio Monday morning that senior guard Tristian Jeffries also would likely not start, and may not play, with an injured ankle he suffered in a win against St. John Vianney last week. Jeffries was able to give it a go Saturday, however, and was mobbed by his teammates when he hit the game-winner, according to Turco.

Click below to hear North Brunswick coach Ed Breheney and St. Thomas Aquinas coach Bob Turco talk about their teams, and tonight’s matchup:

North Brunswick head coach Ed Breheney
St.. Thomas Aquinas head coach Bob Turco

Gill closes regular season right where it started, No. 1 in rankings

Despite a loss to out-of-area Hunterdon Central, Gill St. Bernard’s held on to it’s No. 1 position in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Boys’ Basketball Top Ten.

The Knights finished the week 2-1, and the regular season with a 6-3 mark overall, with all losses out of area. Gill also lost to Bergen Catholic and the Patrick School.

They’ll have a bye in the first round of the Skyland Conference Tournament top pod, the “Blue Division,” and on Thursday will face the winner of 4th-seed Hunterdon Central and 5-seed Watchung Hills, with that game being played Tuesday night.

The only change in the Top Ten this week was a flip-flop of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Joseph-Metuchen, a reverse of what they did a week ago.

Aquinas (7-4) is back to No. 2 after beating state-ranked Hudson Catholic in double overtime Saturday, while the Falcons (9-3) lost at unranked North Brunswick.

The Trojans appear to have locked in the top overall seed in the GMC Tournament’s top pod. That postseason will be seeded Monday morning.

Below is the complete Week 5 Top Ten: