Category: Boys Basketball

St. Joseph alum, MiLB broadcaster John Nolan wins one for grooms everywhere

The average guy, when it comes to wedding prep, is somewhere in the background. Maybe an opinion or an idea here and there, but it’s often the bride-to-be designing and creating the wedding of their dreams.

John Nolan – a 2009 graduate of St. Joseph-Metuchen, who’s getting married this December – had one big idea. It went viral, and now it’ll be a part of the celebration when he marries his fiancee, Nicole.

Nolan – now in his tenth season broadcasting Fort Wayne Tin Caps baseball, a high-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres – grew up a big Mets fan, just like his father, who’s also the President of St. Joe’s. He’s been enjoying – from afar – the Mets’ run this year, leading the NL East through the end of play Sunday by 6 1/2 games over the Braves, after taking four of five from Atlanta at Citi Field this past weekend.

John Nolan and his fiancee, Nicole, take in an 8-5 Mets win over San Diego at Citi Field in New York on July 24, 2022. (Submitted photo)

And so John had the idea that he and his bride make their first public appearance, at their reception, walking out to the song “Narco,” performed by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet. That’s the tune that has been a sensation this summer, played over the PA in Queens as Mets’ closer Edwin Diaz comes in from the bullpen. The whole ballpark – even Mr. and Mrs. Met, faux trumpets blaring – participates.

Nicole didn’t think much of it, so Nolan took his idea to social media, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As of Monday afternoon, the post had surpassed 16,000 likes, more than four times his goal, and many more times what he ever thought it would get.

Click below to hear how John Nolan’s tweet went viral, and how he and his bride will walk out to “Narco” at their wedding this December:

Brown says St. Joseph took 2021 to bond, and still won the GMC; this year it’s full steam ahead

When the Middlesex baseball team won the statewide Group 1 title in 2021, and the Hillsborough Raiders won football’s South Group 5 championship, going 13-0 last year, it was the culmination of years of hard work, often together.

Most of the Blue Jays had been played Little League together; some even met there. Most of the Raiders had grown up on the Pop Warner fields in town.

That’s not typically the case at a parochial school like St. Joseph-Metuchen, where students often come from several towns away in any direction, and might take more time to mesh.

Which made it all the more remarkable what the Falcons did last year, playing consistent team baseball as they learned about each other, considering there was no 2020 baseball season, and not everyone was in school. They went on to win the GMC Tournament championship.

This year, the Falcons – now the top-seed – are in the finals again, looking for back-to-back titles and their eighth overall, when they take on 6th-seed North Brunswick at 2 pm Saturday at East Brunswick Tech’s Ray Cipperly Field. You can hear the game on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling all the action; click here to listen.

CJSR’s Mike Pavlichko talked about the 2022 season, their 2021 bonding, and Saturday’s title tilt with junior shortstop Josiah Brown. Click below to listen:

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: