Category: Boys Basketball Top Ten

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:

All but three teams drop games, but all hold steady in Week 7 Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten

St. Thomas Aquinas – despite suffering its first loss of the season and dropping to 20-1 Sunday night to George (PA) in the Metro Classic showcase in Toms River – remains the No. 1 team for a fourth straight week in the Bellamy & Son Paving rankings.

They were one of just three teams in the rankings to not lose a game this week, the others being third-ranked Rutgers Prep – which beat Phillipsburg and Bridgewater-Raritan during the week, then Paul VI in the Holy Cross Prep Showcase on Sunday – and Watchung Hills, which swept Hillsborough, Immaculata and North Bergen.

Gill St. Bernard’s remained No. 2 despite a pair of losses. Thursday, they fell by four to the No. 1 team in New Jersey, Camden. Saturday, they lost by 15 to La Lumiere, the Maxpreps top-ranked team in Indiana.

Following are the full Week 8 Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball rankings:

Aquinas rolls on, Gill inches up in Week 6 Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten

St. Thomas Aquinas – now 16-0 and on the state’s second longest active winning streak – remains the No. 1 team in this week’s Bellamy & Son Boys’ basketball rankings, on the strength of a three-win week, including a “W” against one of the last few undefeated teams to go down, Morris Catholic, in the Great 8 Showcase at Weequahic.

Gill St. Bernard’s inches up, as the Knights continue to plow through their divisional schedule, while also playing a national/prep slate, with an 85-49 win at Hillsborough, and a 78-66 win over Pioneer Academy of Wayne.

Gill edges over Rutgers Prep, which suffered its first loss of the season Sunday, albeit to state-ranked Red Bank Catholic in the Jimmy V Showcase at Central Regional down in Bayville, 90-79.

The next six teams remained the same, with Colonia fourth, followed by St. Joseph-Metuchen, Monroe, undefeated Bound Brook – with their state-best winning streak now at 26 games – Franklin and Watchung Hills.

Ridge – after an 0-2 week, falling to 8-5 dropped out – with Edison taking the Red Devils’ place. The Eagles are 11-4 after a 2-0 week, and are led by senior point guard Nico Barnes, averaging 21.4 points per game, with 5 assists.

Following are the full Week 6 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:

Two new teams join the Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten, but Colonia remains No. 1 ahead of clash with unbeaten Aquinas

The last time Colonia played St. Thomas Aquinas, they came out on top, with a win in the 2021 Karl Towns/Jay Williams pod final, the de facto GMC Tournament Championship.

Only the Patriots have dropped a game since, though it was an out-of-area loss to Lenape on Saturday in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Montgomery.

But a 2-0 week otherwise witgh wins over North Brunswick and Woodbridge was enough to keep Colonia atop the Week 3 Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Rankings.

Can they hold on to the ranking? That will be determined Tuesday night at 6:30, when the Patriots host St. Thomas Aquinas in their first matchup of the season; they’ll face off again in Edison on February 3.

Teams two through six stayed the same: Rutgers Prep, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Joseph of Metuchen, Gill St. Bernard’s and Bound Brook.

Jumping in at No. 7 is JP Stevens, which is 4-1, and beat Monroe back on Thursday. That knocks the Falcons down to No. 8, and their win over Watchung Hills drops the Warriors two places to ninth.

Debuting at the ten-spot is Ridge. The Red Devils are 5-2 following a 3-0 week this week.

Below are the full week 3 rankings:

Little movement in Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Top Ten as six schools sit out Christmas break

Whether due to contact tracing, positive tests, or opponents cancelling for the same reasons, a half dozen boys’ basketball teams – more than half the ranked schools – didn’t play over the Christmas break, leaving very little movement in the Week 2 Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten.

Colonia remains Number One, despite not playing at all, and the same could be said for Rutgers Prep, which held in second.

The Patriots resume play Tuesday at North Brunswick, in a game that will be broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The Argonauts don’t resume until Thursday, when they host North Hunterdon.

St. Thomas Aquinas, on the other hand, went 3-0 at the Boardwalk Classic down in Atlantic City, beating St. Joseph by the Sea (NY), Shawnee and Archbishop Carroll (PA).

The only movement saw Monroe and Montgomery flip-flop; the Falcons went 2-0 with wins over Woodbridge and Immaculata in their own holiday tournament, while the Cougars were idle. The two will play each other Tuesday at Montgomery.

Gill St. Bernards, Bound Brook, and East Brunswick also did not play in the past week.

Below are the full Week 2 rankings:

As you count down to the New Year, here are the Top Ten stories of 2021 on Central Jersey Sports Radio

Top Ten lists are king. Ever since the first David Letterman Top Ten on the original “Late Night” on NBC, they’ve been funny, entertaining, and – when it comes to sports – a great source for debate.

There’s not much debate to be had here, though. We’ve compiled the Top Ten stories of 2021 – our first full calendar year of operation on Central Jersey Sports Radio – with the most read and listened to stories on our website. Read by you, the fans!

All these stories are about the teams, schools, student-athletes, and great plays that made 2021 special. Some are combined when written about the same subject. Click on each heading to read and listen to the original stories. Enjoy!

10) No. 5 Old Bridge routs South Brunswick as Hunter, Haughney star

Old Bridge players take the field for pre-game warmups at South Brunswick on September 17, 2021.

Sometimes, it’s not a game-winning hit, touchdown or basket that makes a good story. Sometimes, it’s just a old-fashioned football game. For whatever reason, that was the case with our tenth-most read story of 2021, a win for Old Bridge football over South Brunswick from early this season. Lawrence Hunter III was the Autoland Player of the Game, and Owen Haughney figured prominently in the win as well. Listen to postgame reaction from Hunter and head coach Anthony Lanzafama with CJSR’s Tim Catalfamo.

9) Old Bridge finally wins a close one, in a big spot

Seniors on the Old Bridge baseball team pose before their 2021 Senior Night.

Another Old Bridge story, this time baseball. The Knights were having a rough season, but still in the state tournament. With a 7-17 mark, they had lost ten games by three runs or less, and four by one or two runs. That is, until the opening round of the playoffs, where 12th-seeded Old Bridge knocked off 5th-seed South Brunswick, behind solid performances from two sophomores: Justin Herbstman and Thomas Papeo.

8) “Walk ’em off Spotswood!” Lewandowski’s double off the wall lets Chargers keep Commanders’ Cup trophy another year

Spotswood holds the Bill Thompson Memorial Commander’s Cup Trophy after a 6-5 walk-off win over East Brunswick on May 19, 2021. It was the Chargers’ fourth straight win in the series.

Spotswood High School – my alma mater, for full disclosure, Class of 1996 – has always had that underdog mentality. Baseball coach Glenny Fredricks just brings it to another level, and he has a bunch of scrappy guys to prove it. There’s no fear in this small Group 2 school going up against a Group 4 like East Brunswick year after year after year, for what they call the “Commanders’ Cup.” In 2021, Spotswood won their fourth straight in the series, thanks to a walk-off off the wall by Tyler Lewandowski.

7) National recruit Davison Igbinosun of Union says Farmers are “heartbroken” over playoff cancellation, vows to keep fighting

Union senior CB Davison Igbinosun (source: Twitter)

COVID didn’t nearly have the effect on the 2021 high school football season that it did in 2020. Sure, games were cancelled, but not in an amount even closely approaching what happened the season prior. That did nothing to comfort Union, which had one of its most talented teams in school history, and was the odds-on favorite to win North 2 Group 5, and maybe even go all the way to win the North 5 regional championship. Then, COVID hit a few members of the team, the Superintendent shut down the season, and four-star national recruit Davison Igbinosun and his teammates became vocal to try and save their season. It didn’t work, but we helped give him and his teammates a voice, and Igbinosun represented them with class and dignity.

Click here for additional coverage with Union head coach Lou Grasso, Jr.

6) Loaded North Brunswick aiming high behind Garbolino and Co.

North Brunswick junior QB Frankie Garbolino

Coming off a 7-1 season, with an experienced junior quarterback and a talented ensemble cast returning, North Brunswick entered the 2021 football season with high hopes. They might have been achieved if not for a once-in-a-lifetime-talented Hillsborough squad, which they met twice – once in the regular season finale and once in the playoffs. Hear Frankie Garbolino and head coach Mike Cipot talk about the 2021 team, in our most-listened to preview story of ’21.

5) Somerville’s dynamic duo – Cookie and AJ – taking divergent paths after H.S., with big hopes for the future

From left to right, Somerville RB Cookie Desiderio, head coach Dallas Whitaker, and DE A.J. Pena pose with their commemorative footballs honoring their CJSR Player of the Year picks, and Somerville’s Team of the Year award for 2020.

They were two of the most dominant football players in the Big Central – maybe even the state – in the COVID-shortened 2020 season: runningback Cookie Desiderio and defensive end A.J. Pena of Somerville. The “Cookie Monster” scored almost every time he touched the ball (every 5.8 carries, in reality, but who’s counting) and A.J. loved “making quarterbacks cry,” which he did 12 times in seven games. They were named CJSR’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, but in the strange world of extra college eligibility and the FCS season being moved to the Spring – neither got the D1 offers they deserved.

4) Who’s the strongest team in the Big Central? Here are the league’s SI ratings heading into 2021

Phillipsburg was the “strongest” team in the Big Central heading into 2021, according to the NJSIAA’s Strength Index.

Yes, sometimes even true numbers, purely mathematical, can stir debate. And such has been the case since the NJSIAA revamped its playoff formula in 2018, initially using the Born Bower Index, and since 2019 using its own formula, loosely based on the BPI. It uses the OSI, or Opponent Strength Index, but needs the strength value of each individual team to calculate. So, we simply compiled the numbers for all the Big Central and published them. Not everyone may be a fan of our extensive knowledge of the system – it can be a dull read at times – but we do have many fans of this kind of thing, apparently. And we’re sure a good number of them are coaches, too, from both inside and outside the conference, as we’ll frequently get calls and texts asking “Where do you see us ending up?”

3) Listen to Bobby Ulmer talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about his walk-off grand-slam

Bobby Ulmer, Jr., live on the CJSR postgame, talking about his dramatic walk-off grand slam.

Kids dream of this kind of stuff, acting it out in their backyards. Bases loaded, two outs, last inning, two strikes, grand slam to win the game. Bobby Ulmer, Jr., of Middlesex lived it. His walk-off grand slam in the Group 1 semifinals sent Middlesex to the state title game, where they would win again in walk-off fashion, albeit in 13 innings on a seeing-eye single by Mark Geist. Ulmer’s moonshot in the team’s last home game of the year was as dramatic as they come.

Bonus coverage: Middlesex gains Group 1 final on Ulmer’s dramatic, walk-off grand slam

2) Big Central releases All-Division Teams

It doesn’t always have to be a Top Ten list that inspires debate, or at least inspires people to go to your website. Simply honoring student-athletes is a big draw. So a list recognizing all the outstanding football players in the Big Central Conference in 2021 – all-division teams chosen by the league’s head coaches featuring 384 players in toto – brought readers out in droves.

1) He brings the water bottles, and the excitement. And he wants to help bring Greg Schiano and Rutgers a national championship

Edison senior Raymond Taub wants to be a team manager for Greg Schiano at Rutgers.

This may be one of our most favorite stories – if not, favorite interviews – ever. I can’t really tell you how we first came to know about Raymond Taub – that’s an entertaining story just for a few of us to know – but suffice it to say, he’s an awesome kid. He’s the autistic, well-loved-by-everyone manager of the football team, keeps meticulous pitch counts for the baseball team, and is the Eagles’ biggest fan. He also may be the biggest Rutgers fan out there, and his Senior Night “goal” was to become a manager with the Scarlet Knight football team and “help Greg Schiano win a national championship.” He’s a little busy right now, but someone bookmark this story for him when he gets back from Jacksonville in 2022, will ya?

Colonia holds top spot in Week Two Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten

Off to a 2-0 start, the Colonia Patriots have held on to their No. 1 ranking in the Bellamy & Son Paving Week 1 Boys’ Basketball Top Ten.

The only movement in the Top Five this week was a flip-flop of No. 4 St. Thomas Aquinas, taking over the No. 3 spot from St. Joseph-Metuchen after beating the Falcons head-to-head.

Click below for an audio top ten with Mike Pavlichko, complete with notes on each team:

Colonia starts season atop the Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Preseason Rankings

The winners of the Greater Middlesex Conference’s top postseason pod – the Colonia Patriots – will start the 2021-22 high school basketball season as No. 1 in the Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten.

With an 11-4 mark a year ago, they avenged their only GMC loss of the 2021 COVID-abbreviated campaign with a win over St. Thomas Aquinas in the finals of the Towns/Williams Pod, on the Trojans’ home floor.

Rutgers Prep is the top Somerset County team, and checks in at No. 2.

Click below for a full audio top ten, with notes and commentary on each team:

SPONSORED: Now is the time to start planning fall fundraisers; John Tuohy of Fundraising U. explains how to raise the most money in the least amount of time

As the world keeps working to get back to a “pre-pandemic normal,” high school sports teams hopefully will be getting back to normal this fall, too.

But that also means they’re going to have to raise as much cash as they did before – if not more – to keep things going.

That’s why John Tuohy of Fundraising University – one of Central Jersey Sports Radio’s founding sponsors – says now is the time to start thinking about fundraisers.

What’s your fundraising goal? What would you like to sell? Who can be involved? Who are you selling to? How can you do it in the least amount of time, while raising the most amount of money?

All questions John Tuohy can answer.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with John Tuohy about the type of money-raising events Fundraising University can offer: