Category: Boys Basketball

Rutgers Prep’s Matt Bloom named CJSR Boys’ Coach of the Year after historic season

The first-ever sectional title in Rutgers Prep boys’ basketball history has earned Argonauts’ head coach Matt Bloom Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year Honors from Central Jersey Sports Radio.

They certainly reached new heights in 2022, getting contributions from so many players.

And Bloom is quick to deflect all praise to them: guys like Jadin Collins, Ryan Pettit, Cameron Piggee, Jordan Atkins and Ryan Zan.

So, Mike Pavlichko sat down not just with the head coach, but with Piggee and Atkins in the room, to get a sense of the player/coach/family dynamic Bloom has instilled at Prep.

Click below to hear Matt Bloom, Cameron Piggee and Jordan Atkins talk about Bloom’s recognition as Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year by Central Jersey Sports Radio:

St. Joe’s leads inaugural Bellamy & Son Paving Baseball Top Ten

Thanks to Joe Bellamy at Bellamy & Son Paving, high school baseball now has a weekly Top Ten on Central Jersey Sports Radio!

And it’s St. Joseph of Metuchen – the defending GMC Tournament champion – which holds the top spot in the preseason rankings.

The Falcons took the title last year over South Brunswick, which came in third, just behind second-ranked Watchung Hills, which is expected to be one of the top teams again in Somerset County.

Here’s the complete preseason Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, with each team’s 2021 record and postseason achievements, where applicable:

Trojans’ Adam Silas named CJSR Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year

Even in a year when St. Thomas Aquinas lost the de facto GMC championship to Colonia, junior Adam Silas was one of the best players on the floor.

In his senior year, he was almost always the best player on the floor. Even on the rare night he didn’t pour in 20-plus points, or have double digits in assists or rebounds, Silas was always doing something to lead and steer his team to new heights, like beating Gill St. Bernard’s in a battle for No. 1 in the Bellamy Top Ten, or holding off Colonia to win the program’s second GMCT title.

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

For that, he is Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year for the 2021-22 season. (Scroll down to see Honorable Mentions, in no particular order.)

Silas went through a lot to get to North Edison. He started his scholastic career four years ago at St. Benedict’s, which turned out not to be the right fit for him. Silas finally thought he found a home at Marist, but the school closed after his sophomore year.

That’s when he found his new home on Tingley Lane.

Silas scored 12 points a game last year in the COVID-shortened season, but upped his game this year, averaging 19 even, and 5.1 assists per game to boot. And yet, it wasn’t just about the numbers.

St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Bob Turco (left) and senior guard Adam Silas are all smiles after a huge win over national power Gill St. Bernard’s on February 12, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

All year, head coach Bob Turco, at least publicly, expected, or maybe just hoped – to have back Jaquan Harris, the Seton Hall-bound point guard who was the leader of the team. He suffered an ACL injury late last basketball season, and missed all of football. But he never came back. And slowly, but surely, the leadership role fell to Silas, who welcomed it with open arms.

Click below to hear CJSR’s Mike Pavlichko talk with 2021-22 Player of the Year Adam Silas of St. Thomas Aquinas:

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order):

  • Saivon Pressley, Colonia
  • Jadin Collins, Rutgers Prep
  • Denver Anglin, Gill St. Bernard’s
  • Mackenzie Mgbako, Gill St. Bernard’s
  • Quadir Harrell, Bound Brook
  • Ethan Simmon, St. Joseph-Metuchen
  • Elijah Lewis, Watchung Hills
  • Ryan Curry, Montgomery
  • Brandon Dean, South Plainfield
  • The Okocha Trio (Jon, Josh and Eli), Monroe

Rutgers’ WRSU celebrates 40th anniversary of Lady Knights’ AIAW National Championship with Grentz, Coyles and more

As the NCAA tournament rolls on, Monday will mark 40 years to the day since Rutgers won a hiostoric national championship.

On March 28, 1982 at the Palestra in Philadelphia, the Lady Knights – led by players like Mary and Patty Coyle, Chris Dailey, June Olkowski, and trailblazing head coach Theresa Grentz – beat heavily-favored Texas to win the final AIAW national title, in a year that was a crossroads for the sport.

That was also the first year the NCAA sponsored a national women’s basketball tournament, and women’s basketball programs were split. Some went with the NCAA, others stuck with the AIAW.

The Rutgers Lady Knights won the AIAW National Championship 83-77 over Texas at The Palestra in Philadelphia in 1982. (Source: Rutgers)

Since then, RU’s national title has largely been ignored. The NCAA, obviously, doesn’t recognize it, and Rutgers never really embraced it, particularly after Grentz left for Illinois in the mid-’90s (Athletic Director Fred Gruninger let her walk) and C. Vivian Stringer promised “the Jewel of the East.”

But in 2017, Rutgers’ campus radio station WRSU had the good fortune to connect with Jim Berman, Class of ’82, who had a cassette of the original audio broadcast. A few interviews and a lot of research later, the station aired a documentary – written and narrated by WRSU Sports junior Dom Savino – featuring the full game broadcast on Rutgers Day that year.

From that project, Berman and his classmates Jon Newman and Geoff Sadow had the idea to produce a film documentary on the team, calling it “Forgotten Champions.” The film would be completed over several years, narrated by U.S. National Soccer star (and Rutgers alum) Carli Lloyd, and it was set to debut this Winter at a gala in New Brunswick, but those plans were waylaid by the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Rutgers women’s basketball coach Theresa Grentz (back, left) and some of her players pose with their 1982 AIAW national championship trophy, nearly 40 years later, at The Palestra in August, 2018. (Photo by “Forgotten Champions”)

This Monday, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the historic title, WRSU will rebroadcast the original documentary, which includes the full game broadcast, at 6 pm. Immediately following, at 8:30 pm, a special “Alumni Knightline” will follow, hosted by Newman and Sadow, along with Berman and Savino, and they’ll be joined in studio by Grentz and the Coyle twins. Several other teammates and prominent figures from the era will phone in. And listeners are invited to share their memories by calling in at 732-932-8800.

To listen, tune in to 88.7 FM or click on wrsu.org.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko – Rutgers Class of ’00 and WRSU’s full-time faculty advisor – talk with 1982 alum Jim Berman about Monday’s show and the “Forgotten Champions” documentary:

Gill St. Bernard’s boys finish No. 1 in final Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten

In the middle of February, St. Thomas Aquinas made a statement with a win over Gill St. Bernard’s in the Hearts 2 Hands Showcase at Roselle Catholic. Key players were missing for both teams, but it established the Trojans as the No. 1 team in the Bellamy & Son Paving Rankings.

But then, Gill beat Rutgers Prep in the Somerset County Tournament Final, and Rutgers Prep beat Aquinas in the Non-Public South A semifinals, en route to a sectional championship.

Aquinas beat Gill, which beat Prep, which beat Aquinas, which beat Gill….

Ultimately, Gill St. Bernard’s will close out the season as the No. 1 team in the final Bellamy & Son Top Ten.

The Knights – with a host of Division 1 players, including Georgetown-bound Denver Anglin and junior Mackenzie Mgbako – finished the season 20-7, with only three of those losses coming to New Jersey schools. They lost to Aquinas, took then-No. 1 Camden to the wire, and lost to eventual Tournament of Champions winner Roselle Catholic in Non-Public North B title game.

Rutgers Prep finished second, going 26-4, and bringing home the program’s first-ever sectional title. They rallied to beat Red Bank Catholic in the Non-Public South A title game down at Lenape High School.

St. Thomas Aquinas, the GMC Tournament Champion came in third, at 27-2, also the White Division Champions.

One previously-unranked team made it into the final rankings: South Plainfield. The Tigers finished 23-7, won the Blue Division in the GMC, and made it all the way to the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 finals, where they lost to Colonia, 56-52 in double-overtime. They finished seventh in the final rankings, while the Patriots finished fourth.

Below are the full final rankings:

Rutgers Prep falls to St. John Vianney in last-ever TOC final

St. John Vianney certainly wasn’t 39 points better than Rutgers Prep. Everyone knew that after the first time the two girls’ basketball teams met in February up at Kean.

In the end, the Lady Lancers were 20 points better.

Click the ad above for more on Kean University’s next open house.

Third-seed Rutgers Prep fell behind big early, rallied from 15 points down to get to within six late in the first half, but could never get any closer as top-seed St. John Vianney claimed its record eighth Tournament of Champions crown, with a 72-52 win over the Lady Argonauts.

It was the third TOC win for 14th-year head coach Dawn Karpell, who won in her first season (2009) and in her program’s last trip (2016).

It was also the final Tournament of Champions event in basketball, as the NJSIAA has decided to scrap the tourney – which isn’t played in all sports – for the sake of uniformity between seasons, and allowing student-athletes some time off in between seasons.

Short of a brief spell midway through the second quarter when they rallied, Rutgers Prep never really got going, falling behind 8-0 out of the gate before Mary Klinger called a time out to stop the bleeding. But the deficit climbed to 15 beforfe the Argos showed signs off offense.

Trouble was, they couldn’t get a good long-distance look thanks to SJV’s pesky perimeter defense, and every time they were able to get a ball in the paint, the Lady Lancers had two defenders on the ball.

Turnovers – though not as much of an issue as the first meeting on Super Bowl Sunday at Kean University in Union – still plagued Rutgers Prep, which committed 21 to Vianney’s 12. That led to an all-important 25-14 SJV advantage on points off turnovers.

Sophomore Mikayla Blakes led Rutgers Prep with 18, finishing off a solid sophomore year. And she’ll be among a number of key returnees next year, including junior Katie Ledden – who had 8 – and 5′ 8″ sophomore Zahra Alexander, who had some nifty baskets en route to a 12 point game, two shy of a career high she set in a 75-15 sectional semifinal win against Holy Spirit, in nowhere near as big a game with as big an opponent as this one.

Vianney – which finishes the season 32-1 – was led by – who else? – senior Madison St. Rose and junior Zoe Brooks. The Princeton-bound St. Rose had a game-high 21, finishing her career with 1,747 points, while Brooks chipped in 14, and will have 1,260 heading into her senior year.

The Argonauts finish 29-3, with two of the three losses coming to St. John Vianney; the third was at the hands of Westtown (PA).

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Rutgers Prep head coach Mary Klinger:

INSTANT REPLAY-Boys’ Non-Public Group A Final: Bergen Catholic 66, Rutgers Prep 54

The Rutgers Prep boys’ basketball season came to an end – despite a 21-point effort from Jadin Collins – with a 66-54 defeat to Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public Group A Championship Game, heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Click the graphic above for more on Kean University’s next open house.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko call all the action from Jersey Mike’s Arena at Rutgers University in Piscataway on Saturday, March 12, 2022:

Rutgers Prep boys fall short of TOC bid in historic season

Rutgers Prep boys’ basketball coach Matt Bloom wants his team to remember that they made history in 2021-22, something no one can ever erase: they won a sectional championship that had eluded them in the prior nine seasons as a member of the NJSIAA.

But they will not make the Tournament of Champions in the final year of the event, as the South champion Argonauts fell to North winner Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public Group A Championship game at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, 66-54, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Click the ad above for more on Kean University’s next open house.

Rutgers Prep had brief leads of 2-0 and 4-2, but never lead again, as the Crusaders slowly built out to a double digit lead, which went back-and-forth to single digits on a number of occasions throughout the night. But most of the second half was spend with a double-digit deficit, though the Argonauts only trailed by seven at the break, 32-25.

Part of the problem was Prep wasn’t hitting its good looks, which it normally does. Junior Jadin Collins – who had back-to-back career highs in the sectional semis (30 against St. Thomas Aquinas) and finals (33 versus Red Bank Catholic) – came back to Earth with a 21-point night, to lead all scorers in the game.

Prep was active on defense. Senior Ryan Pettit had a handful of quick baskets off inbound turnovers by Bergen Catholic, all forced by the Argos being active on the trigger.

But Rutgers Prep only connected on one three-point bucket all night, a triple by Collins in the fourth quarter for his last three points of the game.

Prep – which ends its season at 26-4 – will graduate two key parts of its starting five, in 6-7 forward Ryan Zan, as well as Pettit. Senior swing Donovan Long, who didn’t get in Saturday’s final, also will graduate. Late in the game, Bloom got two other seniors some time on the Rutgers floor – Ryan Kokoszka and Kridshna Lekhi.

Looking like a college kid plucked from the stands with a chance to win a free tuition, Lekhi chucked a three from just inside half court with the game out of reach and 15-seconds left. There was no hurry, he just wanted to take the shot. He banked it off the glass, but it narrowly missed, bringing a chuckle and some smiles from the bench and Prep fans in attendance.

Click here for postgame reacton as Mike Pavblichko talks to Rutgers Prep head coach Matt Bloom:

INSTANT REPLAYS: Listen back to Rutgers Prep boys’ Non-Public South A and semifinal and championship game wins

For the first in its ten-year history of NJSIAA play, the Rutgers Prep boys’ basketball team is a sectional champion. Matt Bloom’s squad won the title down at Lenape High School Monday night, beating Red Bank Catholic 63-60.

Now, listen back to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s play-by-play of both the Non-Public South A semifinals and title game, as the Argonauts get set to face North A champion Bergen Catholic for the Group A title, and a berth in the last-ever NJSIAA Tournament of Champions.

Click the ad above for more on Kean University’s next open house.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast Saturday’s game, set for 4 pm from Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, on the campus of Rutgers University. Click here to listen to Mike Pavlichko call all the action.

Click below to listen On Demand to Rutgers Prep in the Non-Public A semifinals and finals:

Non-Public South A Semifinals: (3) Rutgers Prep at (2) St. Thomas Aquinas (March 7, 2020)
Non-Public South A Finals: (3) Rutgers Prep vs. (1) Red Bank Catholic at Lenape H.S. (March 9, 2020)

Argonauts peaking at the right time, ahead of rematch with Bergen Catholic for trip to boys’ TOC

It’s the Non-Public Group A final. That’s what the game is called.

But it’s really about a trip to the last-ever Tournament of Champions, an event that began in 1989, but will be played for the last time this year, scrapped by the NJSIAA to add extra weeks onto the season for the vast majority of teams, not just the last six to stay alive.

Click the ad above for more on Kean University’s next open house.

The Rutgers Prep boys’ basketball team is in uncharted territory. Since the tiny school on Easton Avenue in Somerset joined the NJSIAA for the 2012-13 school years, the Argonauts had never won a sectional final.

Until this year.

And they’ve done it in large part to Jadin Collins. He was already the team’s leading scorer, averaging about 17 points a game heading into the Non-Public South A semifinals against St. Thomas Aquinas. There, in North Edison, he scored a career high 30 points – and actually finished with a double-double – knocking off the second-seed in their own gymnasium.

What to do for an encore? How about 33 points – a new career high – and solid defense such that he took a key charge late in a comeback that Matt Bloom still hasn’t figured out how it happened.

That’s ok. It happened, and Bloom and Company are moving forward Saturday afternoon as South A champion Rutgers Prep (26-3) takes on North A Champion Bergen Catholic (21-8), which is certainly better than its record would indicate – and it’s not a bad one, at that.

The Crusaders have a tough national schedule, and have lot to the likes of Roselle Catholic, Cardinal Hayes (NY) and Kevin Boyle’s Montverde (FL). They also lost twice to Don Bosco Prep in the regular year, then beat them in the Bergen County Jamboree – their county tournament – and in the North A final.

The Crusaders are led by Fordham-bound Will Richardson and Wagner-bound Julian Brown, as well as a talented surrounding cast.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with both head coaches to preview the Non-Public Group A championship game:

Rutgers Prep head coach Matt Bloom
Bergen Catholic head coach Billy Armstrong