Category: Girls Basketball Top Ten

Rutgers Prep girls leave no doubt about it; they’re No. 1 in Bellamy & Son Paving final top ten of the year

When Central Jersey Sports Radio began its coverage of high school basketball last season, in the pandemic-shortened year, Rutgers Prep was the preseason No. 1 team. The went wire-to-wire with it last year, finishing 13-0, winners of the one-off Skyland Conference top pod.

To challenge themselves, they even played Saddle River Day the next day, after winning the pod final, and won that game, too.

They didn’t go undefeated in 2021-22, but they were by far the best girls’ team in the area, again, and once again, have gone wire-to-wire to finish No. 1 in the final Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, to be CJSR’s Team of the Year.

They finished 29-3, going all the way to the Tournament of Champions title game, where they fell for a second time this season to the state’s undisputed No. 1 team, St. John Vianney. Winners of the Somerset County Tournament, the Non-Public South B and the Non-Public Group B state titles, their only other loss came out of state, early in the season, to Westtown (PA).

That’s a run of 17 straight polls where the Lady Argonauts were No. 1, the only team to have that ranking in the entire – albeit brief, so far – existence of Central Jersey Sports Radio.

While Prep was no surprise this year – and would be a safe bet at a preseason No. 1 next year with key players like sophomore Mikayla Blakes and junior Katie Ledden returning – one surprise was Hillsborough.

The Lady Raiders made a late run in 2022, going all the way to the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 finals where they lost to eventual Group 4 champion Westfield. They got their first ranking of the season in the final top ten, at No. 4.

Below are the final Bellamy & Son girls’ basketball rankings for the 2021-22 season:

St. Thomas Aquinas holds on to No. 1 ranking in Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Top Ten

A second quarter rally and four-point win over No. 2 Gill St. Bernard’s – and a 2-0 week – keep St. Thomas Aquinas in the top spot in the Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball rankings for Week 8, the final ranking before the county tournaments get underway in earnest this week.

The Trojans – still without Jaquan Harris, coming off October knee surgery, and also without elite defender Terrel Pitts – beat Gill 61-65 Saturday night in the headliner of the Hearts 2 Hands Invitational at Roselle Catholic High School. The Knights were without two key players of their own; Denver Anglin sat with a wrist injury, and sophomore Naasir Cunningham – the top recruit nationally in the Class of 2024 – was a late scratch, not playing, though he was in the official scorebook.

GSB remains second despite the loss, followed by Rutgers Prep in third, and Colonia fourth, neither of whom lost last week.

In fact, the only change saw Franklin – which lost out of conference to Holmdel and to No. 7 Bound Brook – swap places with Watchung Hills, moving down to ninth, while Hills went up to eighth.

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

No change, top to bottom, in Week 7 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten

Not a single team moved one single place in the Week 7 Bellamy & Son rankings for girls’ basketball, with few losses by anyone, and many out-of-conference or to other ranked clubs.

Rutgers Prep remains No. 1, as the Argonauts have been since the rankings debuted at the start of last season, making it 14 straight week in the top spot for Mary Klinger’s squad. They had a 3-0 week, and a huge win Sunday over the 5th-ranked team in the state, Red Bank Catholic, in the Coaches’ Choice USA College Showcase in Holmdel.

Colonia – at No. 2 – also has a perfect week, going 2-0 with wins at North Brunswick and over Woodbridge. The Patriots have not lost a GMC game yet this season, their only two losses coming in their season opener to Albertus Magnus (NY) and January 12th at Westfield.

Third-ranked Bound Brook lost at Bayonne last Tuesday, while No. 4 St. Thomas Aquinas lost twice, to Long Island Lutheran Tuesday at home, and to Rumson-Fair Haven in the showcase down in Holmdel Sunday.

No. 7 Monroe lost to Bound Brook on Thursday, Watchung Hills lost to unranked Immaculata Thursday, and tenth-ranked Old Bridge lost Saturday at St. Thomas Aquinas.

Below are the full Week 7 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball rankings:

Top five keep winning and stay in place in Week 6 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten

The top five teams in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball rankings went a combined 12-0 in the week gone by, with no changes among them.

Led by Rutgers Prep (12-1) at No. 1, the rest – Colonia second, followed by Bound Brook, St. Thomas Aquinas and Gill St. Bernard’s – didn’t budge.

Even the rest saw minimal changes. Monroe flip-flopped with Franklin to take 6th place after the Warriors lost to Gill St. Bernard’s last Thursday (on Central Jersey Sports Radio) 35-33 on a buzzer-beater by Brooke Baisley, while Monroe went 2-0. The Falcons have the longest active win streak in the GMC at the moment, at nine games.

Watchung Hills did the same with Mount St. Mary, moving up to 8th after the Lions split with Pingry last week, while the Warriors went 2-0.

Old Bridge held in tenth, despite a 48-36 loss last Tuesday at Monroe.

Below are the full rankings for Week 6:

Big shuffle in Week 5 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten, though Rutgers Prep remains at the top

Only one team in this week’s Bellamy & Son Girls’ Basketball Rankings was in the same place a week ago. Other than Rutgers Prep, everyone shuffled into a new position, thanks to a couple of upsets.

Most notable was Monroe, previously unranked, knocking off No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas by 12 on Thursday night, a little more than a month after losing to them in the season opener by 38. It was a convincing win, too; the Falcons led virtually wire-to-wire.

Not to be outdone, unranked Watchung Hills beat No. 3 Gill St. Bernard’s, while Franklin beat Watchung Hills and now just has two losses; to Gill and No. 1 Rutgers Prep, which has now held the No. 1 spot every week of the Central Jersey Sports Radio/Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, since its inception in CJSR’s inaugural season last year, a total of 13 weeks.

Many other teams also shuffled around with a mix of wins and losses. Below are the full Week 5 Bellamy & Son rankings:

Another week at No. 1 for Rutgers Prep girls in Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten

On the strength of a 2-0 week after a COVID pause, the Rutgers Prep girls remain the Number One team in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Week Three Top Ten.

The Argonauts got back into action with a pair of games this past weekend, beating Camden Catholic Saturday 78-46, then topping Long Island Lutheran 68-49 down in West Deptford at the Blue Star High School Invitational.

There was a little movement this week, as St. Thomas Aquinas – with a 2-0 week – jumped over Gill St. Bernard’s. The Knights went 0-1 this week, losing their only game 45-42 at Hillsborough. The Trojans beat Edison by 24 and South Brunswick by 14.

Bound Brook held in fourth, while Colonia – which went 3-0 this week with wins over North Brunswick, at Woodbridge, and at Carteret – vaulted up to fifth, and Mount St. Mary held in 6th.

South Brunswick went 2-1 – the loss coming to St. Thomas Aquinas – and moved to seventh, while Old Bridge – undefeated at 5-0 – jumped into the rankings at No. 8. The Vikings had wins over South River and Edison.

Woodbridge went 1-1 and dropped to ninth, while Middlesex – which beat Spotswood and South River in the week gone by – held in tenth.

Below are the Week 3 rankings:

Two new teams debut in Bellamy & Son Paving Girls Basketball Top Ten, but Rutgers Prep remains No. 1

Despite not playing a game last week due to COVID-related issues, Rutgers Prep remains No. 1 in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls Basketball Week 2 Top Ten.

In fact, three of the top five teams didn’t play at all over Christmas break, including No. 2 Gill St. Bernards, third-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas, and 5th-ranked Monroe. Tenth-ranked Franklin didn’t play, either, and dropped out, as two GMC teams moved into the Top Ten, also bumping previous No. 8 North Brunswick.

Woodbridge (4-1) made its debut at No. 8, while South Brunswick (3-0) took its place at No. 9.

The full rankings are below:

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?

Rutgers Prep drops its first game in 15, but stays No. 1 in Bellamy & Son Paving Girls Basketball Top Ten

Despite having a 14-game winning streak snapped in a 62-51 loss to Westtown, PA, Rutgers Prep remains the top team in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten.

The Argos won their opener 60-34 on Central Jersey Sports Radio back on December 17, and face Southern in their opening game of the Score at the Shore Tournament Monday.

No one dropped out of the Week One rankings, with four teams only managing one game due to COVID-related cancellations either of their own doing or by their opponents.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko break down the full Top Ten, complete with notes on each team:

Rutgers Prep debuts as Preseason No. 1 in Bellamy & Son Paving Girls Basketball Rankings

Coming off a 13-0 season in which they won the one-off Skyland Conference top pod, the Rutgers Prep Argonauts are the No. 1 team in the 2021-22 preseason Bellamy & Son Paving Girls Basketball Top Ten.

Having lost four key starters, the Argonauts return key cogs in guard/forward Katie Ledden and talented sophomore Mikayla Blakes, who will be joined by Rutgers-bound Antonia Bates, who moved from Pennsylvania and transferred in from Notre Dame in Easton. She’ll be eligible immediately.

Prep opens the season tonight against No. 8 Franklin, which was 6-6 a year ago, but has won three of the last five against the Argonauts.

Click below to hear the audio version of the preseason Bellamy & Son Paving Girls Basketball Top Ten, with details on each team: