Category: Girls Basketball

A look at girls’ basketball power points as we hurtle toward the NJSIAA cutoff

With the state tournament cutoff date just about two weeks away – Saturday, February 11th – a handful of teams in two sections are battling it out for top-seeds in the state tournament. We’ve got a section-by-section look below of where every team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio coverage area – the GMC and Somerset County – stands heading into play on Monday, January 30th:

Central Jersey Group 4

This is one of the sections where the top-seed could be up for grabs, depending on the strength of schedule the next few weeks for South Brunswick and Monroe. While the first place team – Hightstown (16-2, 493 points) appears comfortably ahead – one has to remember that the top 16 games count toward power points. That means teams that have won 16 games, as Hightstown has, have little room to increase their total. But teams like the Vikings (13-5, 400) and Falcons (10-6, 390) have a lot of room to make up points. South Brunswick, for example, could pick up three more wins and make up significant ground. Will it be enough? We’ll see. Teams often add games late if they need them, so it’s probably too early to call at this point.

Elsewhere in the section, Old Bridge (11-7, 356) sits in sixth-place, and is a good bet to finish in the top eight, earning a first-round home game, but it’s not a sure thing for the Knights yet. Likewise for East Brunswick (8-9, 309), which is in ninth, but just nine points out of the top eight. North Brunswick is in 14th with a 4-13 record and 221 points, and Montgomery (2-16, 192) sits in 17th.

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Central Jersey Group 3

Of the four area teams in this section, half are solidly in. Somerville (9-8, 329) is in fifth, a long way from top team Ewing (17-2, 574). South Plainfield (9-9, 267) sits in 8th. Neither team is likely a lock for the top eight at this point.

Similarly, JFK (5-14, 217, 13th) and Carteret (7-12, 208, 15th) are on the right side of the bubble, but may need some wins to really sew things up. Three teams behind them are within 50 points, not an insurmountable obstacle if they can put a few good wins together these last two weeks.

Central Jersey Group 2

Four teams from the CJSR-area should make the field here, where Manasquan (15-4, 481) is the top team right now, with a narrow lead over New Providence (14-3, 479).

Spotswood (15-4, 406) is tied with Holmdel (13-6) for fourth, with Metuchen (13-6, 372) behind them. Then South River (9-10) and Bound Brook (7-8) are tied with Voorhees (9-7) for ninth, all at 308 points, and just three ahead of Delran (9-6).

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Central Jersey Group 1

All eight area teams are on the right side of things here, with Middlesex (13-4, 284) just 45 points behind section leader Shore (16-2, 429). That’s not an impossible hill to climb for the Blue Jays, who have a huge matchup with North Plainfield Tuesday at 5:30, which can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

As an example of how much a win can do when you haven’t yet hit the 16-win plateau, a win over the Canucks would be worth 45 points in their 18th game. With 17 in the books now, their lowest score of 6 points comes off, but one more win would knock off their next lowest score, a 7-point game (a loss to Woodbridge). That’s a net gain of 38 points and gets them closer. Knocking a loss off the schedule allows for a bigger gain than Shore, which already has 16 wins, and would only be knocking off a lesser-quality win from their power point total.

In any event, Dunellen (13-3, 329) is having a fine year, and checks in fourth, just 21 points behind Point Pleasant Beach (15-2, 350). Behind the Lady Destroyers are Perth Amboy Magnet (12-2, 314) and Highland Park (10-7, 297).

Further down the list, outside the top eight, is Woodbridge Magnet (6-9, 201) in 10th and Manville (5-10, 191) checking in at No. 11, unlikely to move up much more than that.

In 14th and 15th, but still likely to be in the field of 16, are Somerset Tech (3-10, 130) and South Amboy (1-13, 122).

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North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4

Here’s another section loaded with teams from the CJSR coverage area. Bayonne (17-3, 534) is No. 1, with Elizabeth (19-0, 509) not far behind. With 17 wins already, Edison (17-2, 489) will be hard-pressed to make up that kind of ground, same for Watchung Hills (15-4, 485), which is only one win below the 16-victory threshold.

Right around that top eight bubble are three more teams: Woodbridge (10-8, 360), Ridge (10-8, 349) and Hillsborough (10-7, 342) are within 18 points of each other, but the last of them – the Raiders – are 34 points ahead of the next team back, 8-8 Union.

Toward the bottom, you’ve got Franklin (7-9, 257) – which is having an off year – and JP Stevens (7-12, 240) in 14th and 15th, respectively. They’re probably a good bet for the playoffs, especially with another win or two, and Perth Amboy (5-11, 227) could make a run with a win or two in the next few weeks.

North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3

Just two area teams are in this section, and both are locks to be in the playoffs, but a little more murky as to whether they’ll be in the top eight. Colonia (10-9, 381) and North Plainfied (13-4, 362) are fifth and sixth, respectively. But there are four teams behind the Canucks within 20 points, including Governor Livingston (10-8, 350), Warren Hills (11-7, 348), Cranford (9-9, 347) and West Morris (11-4, 342).

Randolph (15-1, 536) is comfortably in the lead in this section.

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North Jersey, Section 1, Group 2

There’s just one area team even in this section: Bernards (12-5, 321) sits in 13th place, pretty much in the postseason, and still potentially a chance to reach the top eight. In fact, everyone is bunched up in this section, and anyone could see a lot of movement. To wit: the Mountaineers are only 34 points out of 6th place.

The top team at the moment is Secaucus (17-1, 541).

Non-Public North B

Of course, the top of the non-public sections are loaded with talent, and Gill St. Bernard’s, as a result, sits in fifth at 12-4, with 352 points. They’re just ten points behind Montclair-Immaculate (14-3, 361) in fourth and Morris Catholic (15-3, 371) in third, but likely won’t catch Lodi Immaculate (14-3, 493) in second or top team Saddle River Day (13-5, 536).

Mother Seton of the GMC checks in at 11, with a 3-10 record and 131 points.

Non-Public South B

Defending group champion Rutgers Prep sits in fourth in the section, at 13-3 with 354 points. They’re a long way from top-teams Wildwood Catholic (16-4, 529) in first and St. Rose (16-3, 525) in second, but no matter.

Calvary Christian (8-9, 239) and Timothy Christian (4-12, 187), sit in 9th and 11th, respectively.

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Non-Public South A

St. John Vianney leads the pack here pretty well, at 20-0 with 585 points. They’re the team to beat in New Jersey, but with no more Tournament of Champions, they’ll have to settle for the team to beat in Non-Public Group A.

Mount St. Mary (13-6, 474) is in fourth, but could make up some ground on third-place red Bank Catholic (18-1, 516), but probably not Trinity Hall (17-2, 535). St. Thomas Aquinas (15-4, 468) is right behind Mount.

Then, there’s Pingry (11-7, 378) and Immaculata (9-9, 279) checking in at No. 11, tied with Union Catholic (7-9).

It’s 25 straight weeks atop the rankings for Rutgers Prep, with two new teams joining Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten in Week 7

On the strength of a 3-0 week, and a win that solidified their position as the team to beat in the Skyland Conference – a 75-36 thumping as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio last Tuesday afternoon – Rutgers Prep held on to the No. 1 spot in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten for Week 7.

The Lady Argonauts (13-3) had a 3-0 week, which also included an 80-19 rout at Bridgewater-Raritan, and a 76-56 win over Montclair-Immaculate on Sunday. They’re on a seven-game winning streak heading into the final week of the regular season, with the Somerset County Tournament seeding coming up a week from tonight.

St. Thomas Aquinas (15-4) holds in second, while Gill St. Bernard’s (12-4) stays put in third.

Edison (15-2) moves up to No. 4 on the strength of a 3-0 week, while South Brunswick (13-5) moves up two spots to No. 5, despite a 1-1 week in which they beat North Brunswick, but dropped an out-of-conference game to Morristown 54-51.

READ: Edison community and beyond comes together to “Fight For Allie,” help local 11-year old girl beat brain tumor

Bernards (12-5) had a 1-2 week and dropped to sixth, after a win over Delaware Valley, but losses to Belvidere and Dayton.

In seventh is Watchung Hills, which went 3-0, sweeping a week of games from Phillsipburg, Montgomery and Hunterdon Central.

North Plainfield (13-4) makes its debut this season at No. 8, with wins in the past week over Woodbridge and South Plainfield, but a loss to former Skyland Conference foe Bound Brook. (North Plainfield joined the Greater Middlesex Conference this season.)

Hillsborough (10-7) – which fell out of the rankings in Week 4 – rejoins the Top Ten at No. 8 after a three-win week that included victories over Franklin, Hunterdon Central, and previously-No. 9 Mount St. Mary (13-6), which dropped out, along with previous No. 10 Spotswood (15-4).

Below are the full Week 7 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten Rankings:

Edison community and beyond comes together to “Fight For Allie,” help local 11-year old girl beat brain tumor

Much has been written and talked about on this website regarding the sense of community fostered by sports in Edison, whether it’s a beloved baseball coach and mentor passing away, or the youth football programs that helped bring the Edison High Eagles their first state championship in more than three decades.

Now, that community is coming together again, to rally behind Alexandra “Allie” Ewing.

She’s just eleven, and not long after the New Year, she was having some stomach issues. Probably nothing major, her family thought.

She was out of school for a few weeks, but couldn’t seem to get over it. She’d been tired, and took a nap. But when she woke up Monday night, she was exhibiting tell-tale signs of a possible stroke. Facial drooping, lack of mobility.

Off they went to the hospital, and an immediate CAT scan discovered what turned out to be a golf ball-sized mass on her brain. Emergency surgery was successful, for now, and she’s spent the last few days recovering, and waiting for results of a biopsy.

A bright, full-of-life pre-teen, Allie and her parents have been active in the local youth sports scene, playing softball, soccer, and even football with the boys of the Edison Jets. She started with Edison boys’ baseball when she was four.

“Since the first day I met her, she had a ‘Never quit” and ‘Don’t tell me I can’t do it’ attitude,” says Edison Boys Baseball League President Brian Calantoni. “Our athletes are always taught to use what they learn on the field and at practice and utilize it in real life situations. We know she won’t ever give up. She will fight and she will win.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Allie, which has received over 500 donations totaling over $46,000 as of 10 pm Sunday. The family is in need of funds to cover medical costs and seek multiple opinions, so they can get the best care for Allie.

Her father, Keith, told Central Jersey Sports Radio on Sunday afternoon that they still have a potentially long road to go, and have no idea what the immediate future holds.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Allie’s father, Keith Ewing, about how she’s doing, what little they know of her prognosis, and the tremendous support of the community in Edison and beyond:

INSTANT REPLAY: No. 1 Rutgers Prep 75, No. 3 Gill St. Bernard’s 36 (Girls)

Mikayla Blakes scored her 1,000th point and the junior finished her night with 1,026 as top-ranked Rutgers Prep kept the pedal to the metal all day on defense, en route to a 75-36 home win over 3rd-ranked Gill St. Bernards, in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. The win locked up the Skyland Conference Delaware Division for the Lady Argonauts, and the top seed in the Somerset County Tournament.

Blakes had game-high honors with 29, including five threes, while Katie Ledden chipped in 14 – including two treys – and Chloe Escanillas added 13, helped by three from downtown.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tasakonas call all the play-by-play on January 24, 2023:

Blakes scores 1,000th point, finishes with 29 to power convincing No. 1 Rutgers Prep girls’ win over No. 3 Gill St. Bernards

It was a big moment, it just wasn’t as dramatic as it could have been.

But that didn’t keep Mikayla Blakes’ teammates from mobbing her on the court, presenting her with balloons and flowers, and celebrating the junior’s 1,000th career point, which came on a free throw less than midway through the first quarter Tuesday afternoon.

It was just the third point of the game for Blakes, who finished with 29 – and five treys – as No. 1 Rutgers Prep sprinted out to a 26-4 lead at the end of one quarter, and beat No. 3 Gill St. Bernards for the 19th straight time since 2015, by the final score of 75-36.

That 39-point lead was the Lady Argonauts’ biggest of the game, mainly because of Prep’s three-point shooting in the second half, as both teams kept their starters in well into the fourth quarter, as they are the best conference teams they will face in the regular season.

Overall in the game, Rutgers Prep (11-3, 9-0 Skyland Delaware) hit 10 times from beyond the arc, with Chloe Escanillas adding three, Katie Ledden hitting a pair from downtown, and Ava LaMonica adding another.

Brooke Baisley led the Knights with 14, and while it bested her season average of 11.4 points per game, she only had four in the first half when the game was really decided. That was more a testament to Prep’s defense than anything, which ran its full-court press the majority of the first half.

Click below for postgame reaction presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Follow Sportsplex at Metuchen on Instagram for the latest on open gym sessions on their courts and turf!
Junior Mikayla Blakes
Assistant coach Michelle Sharp (Note: Head coach Mary Klinger left the game after Blakes’ 1,000th point to travel to an athletic director’s conference, leaving Sharp to take over.)

Rutgers Prep, Gill St. Bernards girls play a big one Tuesday, with top seed in SCT on the line

To be clear: there is no disputing what single team has been the best in Somerset County for the last several years.

Since losing to Franklin in the 2019 Somerset County Tournament Final, Mary Klinger’s Rutgers Prep squad has not lost a single game against a Skyland Conference opponent. The streak is at 50 games and counting, and should it stretch to 51 Tuesday night, the Lady Argonauts will all but have sewn up the top seed in the upcoming Somerset County Tournament.

Again.

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Standing in their way when they meet at 3:45 Tuesday afternoon – in a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas on the call (click here to listen) – will be Gill St. Bernard’s. The third-ranked Knights (11-3) could at least make a case for the top seed in this year’s SCT if they are to knock off No. 1 Prep (10-3) in a Skyland Conference Delaware Division game. A win would be monumental.

Gill is 39-11 since the start of the COVID-shortened year, but three of those loses have come to the Lady Argonauts, and none by closer than 28 points, which came in the final of the top Skyland Conference pod in 2021.

Rutgers Prep, meanwhile, has won eight of its ten games this year by 10 points or more, and the only two that weren’t double-figure margins – came two weeks ago to non-Jersey opponents Pickering Central of Ohio and South Shore out of New York.

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They are led by junior Mikayla Blakes at 22 points per game, and backed up with Rhode Island-bound senior Katie Ledden’s 15 point per game average, while getting significant contributions from freshman Gigi Battle (9.2 ppg) and Ava LaMonica (4.8) among others.

Gill has no one pouring in points like Blakes, but they have a balanced scoring attack, with four players averaging over 7 points a game, including standout junior Brooke Baisley (11.6) and sophomore Maya Abramson (9.4 ppg).

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s preview interviews with both head coaches:

Rutgers Prep Head Coach Mary Klinger
Gill St. Bernard’s Head Coach Mark Gnapp

Rutgers Prep girls keep on keepin’ on, lead Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten again

Make it 24 straight weeks at No. 1 for Rutgers Prep in the Central Jersey Sports Radio/Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten, as the Lady Argonauts remain the only team ever to hold the top spot in the rankings, now in their third year.

Rutgers Prep (10-3) went 2-0 in an abbreviated week gone by, with wins at Hunterdon Central and Hillsborough by a combined 166-71. They will take a nearly four-year and 50-game winning streak against Skyland Conference opponents into a huge clash Tuesday afternoon at home against Gill St. Bernard’s, which can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. It’ll determine the Skyland Conference Delaware Division winner, and could figure into who gets the top seed in the Somerset County Tournament with the seeding two weeks from today.

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St. Thomas Aquinas (12-3) held in second with wins over South Brunswick and Old Bridge, while Gill (11-3) had a 2-0 week with wins over Hillsborough and Bridgewater-Raritan, keeping them in third.

The rest of the rankings, however, saw some shifts.

Bernards (11-3), Edison (14-2) and Middlesex (12-2) all edged up one spot each to fourth, fifth and sixth, while South Brunswick (12-4) dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 after a 1-2 week that saw them beat Piscataway, but lose to No. 2 Aquinas and unranked Colonia.

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The bottom three also saw some shuffling: Watchung Hills (12-4) moved up two spots to eighth on the strength of a 3-0 week that included wins at Ridge and Hillsborough, and at home over Immaculata.

Mount St. Mary (11-5) dropped one spot to No. 9 after a 1-1 week: a win over Somerville and a loss at Warren Hills.

Spotswood (12-4) entered the rankings after a 3-1 week where they lost to East Brunswick, 56-41, but rebounded with wins at Carteret and at home over South River and Keansburg. Metuchen (12-3) – previously ranked No. 9 – dropped out with a 2-1 week that included a loss at Woodbridge. The Chargers and Bulldogs square off against each other Monday.

Below are the full Week 6 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Rankings:

Still plenty of girls’ basketball to be played in Somerset County before seeding time

The boys’ and girls’ Somerset County Tournament seeding meeting is two weeks from Monday, and there’s still a lot to be decided when some of the best squads in the area face each other over the next couple of weeks.

So how are things shaping up?

It’s been this way for a while, but the Rutgers Prep girls are clearly the class of Somerset County right now. They have won 36 straight games against county opponents, including six tournament games, two “pod” games in 2021, and an NJSIAA game in 2020. Their last county loss came in the 2019 SCT finals to Franklin, which again is not its usual self this year.

But the Lady Argonauts still have some work to do. Should they beat Gill. St. Bernard’s at home Tuesday afternoon (3:45 on Central Jersey Sports Radio) they will pretty much wrap up the Delaware Division, with only one more division game left against Bridgewater-Raritan, a team they beat at home eleven days ago by 47.

Should Gill St. Bernard’s win, it would force a tie atop the division, but the Knights lost 74-46 to Prep at home back on January 5th. Even with a co-championship, you’d have to put Mary Klinger’s squad first, because they likely would have beaten Gill by more (i.e., there’s no way Gill is beating Prep by 28 points).

Either way, these two teams would very likely be the top two seeds, but the third and fourth places could get interesting. And if you’re third, you potentially avoid Rutgers Prep until the finals. That said, Watchung Hills is 6-0 against the county at 11-4 overall heading into the weekend, while Bernards (11-3) is 4-0 vs. Somerset opponents and doesn’t play anyone else from the county before the seeding.

Generally, it’s likely it would go to the larger school, but Bernards also hasn’t lost to anyone in the conference, with defeats at the hands of Madison, Governor Livingston and Hanover Park. Watchung Hills counts a loss to Mount St. Mary among its four defeats – the others are to Union City, Chatham and Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Does that bump Mount up and drop Watchung to the five? Good question.

Mount St. Mary has challenged itself out of conference, with losses to Red Bank Catholic, St. John Vianney (which recently knocked off the No. 1 team in the country, Long Island Lutheran), Middletown North and Staten Island Academy, but they’ve also lost a division game to Warren Hills.

They also play Franklin the Saturday before the seeding. And while the Warriors aren’t in their TOC championship form, they’re still a solid top-division opponents, and a win could impress the coaches.

It seems like there are the top teams, and then the rest this year, less of a gradual drop-down, so-to-speak. In the Delaware Division, after Rutgers Prep and Gill at 10-3 and 11-3, respectively, coming into the weekend, you have Franklin at 6-7 and Hillsborough 7-6. That’s probably not good enough to merit consideration before Bernards, Watchung Hills, or even Mount St. Mary, a small school in a small division that challenges itself.

Same thing in the Raritan after Watchung Hills. The next best team in the division is Ridge at 7-7, and after Phillipsburg (not in Somerset County) it’s Immaculata, also 7-7.

Few teams lose, but Franklin, Old Bridge girls bow out of Bellamy & Son Paving Week 6 Top Ten

The top four teams in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls Basketball rankings remained the same this week, while Franklin and Old Bridge dropped out, and Metuchen and Watchung Hills joined the group.

From No. 1 to No. 4, neither Rutgers Prep (8-3), St. Thomas Aquinas (10-2), Gill St. Bernard’s (9-3), no South Brunswick (11-2) dropped a single game last week.

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Previously-6th Franklin dropped out after suffering an 0-3 week – albeit losses to Gill, Rutgers Prep and Rumson – and falling to 4-7 on the year. Meanwhile, Edison (12-1) suffered its first loss of the season – falling at Monroe 60-36 – and dropped one spot in the poll from fifth to sixth.

That all paved the way for Bernards (10-3) to move up to fifth on the strength of a 4-0 week.

Middlesex (9-2) and Mount St. Mary (10-4) each moved up a spot to seventh and eighth, followed by two new teams.

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Metuchen (10-2) joins the rankings at No. 9, while Watchung Hills (9-4) takes the last spot at ten.

Below are the full Week 5 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Rankings:

Three teams out, two new ones join Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Rankings

It was a week of losses, some more impactful than others, in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten. Week Four saw the top five remain the same, but there were many changes in Week Four after that.

Rutgers Prep (6-3) continues to hold the top spot; their third loss of the season came by ten to McDonogh of Maryland. St. Thomas Aquinas (8-2) had a 3-0 week, while Gill St. Bernard’s (6-3) remained in third, despite a two loss-week; one came to top-ranked Rutgers Prep, which has not lost a Skyland Conference regular season game since a December 2018 loss to Franklin. The other came to statewide No. 1 St. John Vianney.

South Brunswick (8-2) holds at No. 4, while Edison (10-0) remains No 5.

Franklin (4-4) moves up from seventh to sixth despite a 2-1 week. Their two wins came in-league over Hunterdon Central and previously-6th-ranked Hillsborough.

Bernards (6-3) – which was tied for tenth with Middlesex last week – moves up to No. 7, while the Blue Jays (7-1) rose to No. 8. Mount St. Mary joins the rankings at 7-4 and in the nine-spot, while Old Bridge (6-3) debuts in tenth.

Dropping out were No. 6 Hillsborough, No. 8 Monroe, and ninth-ranked Colonia. The Raiders (4-4) went 0-3 last week against Rutgers Prep, Franklin and Watchung Hills. Colonia was 2-1 with a division loss to Old Bridge. Monroe dropped a pair of games to St. Thomas Aquinas and Colonia.

Below are the full Week 4 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Rankings: