Tag: Bound Brook

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 1: Explaining No. 1, and a Group Size alternative?

On our latest trip around “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” veteran CJSR sportscaster Mike Pavlichko explains why North Brunswick is still his No. 1 team, looks at Hillsborough having not missed a beat, and wonders if the current method of determining a school’s group size is really fair?

Click below to listen to the Week One edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes”:

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:

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:

Bound Brook’s run ends in sectional final, with loss at Rumson-Fair Haven

Seeking its first sectional title since 1979, the Bound Brook Crusaders ran into a really good Rumson team.

Top-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven won its third title in the last six years, getting off to a good start out of the gate en route to a 75-44 win in the Central Jersey Group 2 championship game.

Bound Brook fell behind early, and couldn’t recover from the deep hole of an 11-2 Bulldog run to start the game.

And though the Crusaders found their offensive rhythm in the second quarter, with Donovan Nwenyi scoring 9 points and Brook getting as close as eight, a 6-1 run to close the half by Rumson left Bound Brook down 32-19, and it was an uphill battle from there. A 9-0 run to start the second half spelled the end for the Crusaders, who finish the season with a 22-5 record.

It was the end of the line for a trio of Bound Brook seniors who were the faces of the program for a while: quick guard Quadir Harrell, glue guy Donovan Nwenyi, and solid Bryce Cobb, who missed all of last year due to a football injury. They wound up going to two sectional finals, and winning the one-off Skyland Conference Gold (middle) Pod in 2021, finishing 14-0, the first undefeated season in modern history for the Crusaders.

Click below for postgame reaction as Chris Tsakonas caught up with Bound Brook head coach Anthony Melesurgo:

Bound Brook seeks first state title since 1979 when Crusaders visit Rumson

One has been there, done that, and the other has been there, but not done that for quite some time.

When second-seed Bound Brook (22-4) travels to top-seed Rumson-Fair Haven (20-3) tonight for the Central Jersey Group 2 title game the Crusaders will be gunning for their first sectional championship in over 40 years, while the Bulldogs will be seeking their third in the past six seasons.

Tip-off is at 6:30 pm. Follow Chris Tsakonas (@tsakonas_chris) on Twitter for periodic live updates and stats, with postgame reaction coming later tonight on cjsportsradio.com.

That’s OK for this group at Bound Brook, though. After all, they went 14-0 and won the Skyland Conference Gold (middle) pod last year, completing likely their first undefeated season ever, or at least in modern history. And at one point this year, they had the state’s longest active winning streak, which reached 27 before an early February loss at Immaculata.

READ MORE: Bound Brook wins (nearly) at the buzzer, moves on to CJ2 title game Monday night down the Shore

In the preseason, the big question for Bound Brook was how they might fare at the end of the season, making the move up to Group 2. Even against larger schools, head coach Anthony Melesurgo may have been thrilled just to get out of the same section as Burlington City, which ended their season in the playoffs four straight years, from 2017 to 2020, a stretch bookended by two losses in the finals.

That 2020 CJ1 final was one this team remembers. Seniors Quadir Harrell, Bryce Cobb and Donovan Nwenyi played in it, as did freshman-now-junior big Jordan Summers, who will be crucial tonight in the rebounding game against Rumson.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with the Crusaders’ about their season and tonight’s Central Jersey Group 1 title game against Rumson-Fair Haven:

Senior Bryce Cobb
Senior Donovan Nwenyi

Bound Brook wins (nearly) at the buzzer, moves on to CJ2 title game Monday night down the Shore

It was a move head coach Anthony Melesurgo says he taught senior guard Quadir Harrell, on a play “Q” says he and senior forward Donovan Nwenyi have done for years, going back to their playground days.

And it helped second-seed Bound Brook escape by the hair of its chinny-chin-chin in the Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals, with a 50-49 victory over 6th-seed Raritan.

After the Rockets missed two free throws with 13.1 seconds to go, they scored on a backdoor feed into the paint to go up 49-48 with exactly eight seconds left.

With no timeouts, Donovan Newnyi took the inbounds pass along the far sideline going left to right, and found Harrell in the forecourt, who drove in from the right baseline, split two defenders, and got the bucket with 1.8 seconds to go, plus the foul, as he went hard to the floor and ended up in a seated position along the baseline padding, where he could get a wide angle view of the hometown fans losing their collective minds over the play.

Harrell then bricked the free throw off the front iron intentionally so as not to let Raritan get a good look on a full-court inbound after a make. Bound Brook got the rebounds, time expired, and the Crusader student section mobbed their classmates in uniform.

It was the last game for Harrell, Nwenyi, and fellow senior Bryce Cobb, and what a way to go out. But their season’s not over. The Crusaders (22-4) will travel to top-seed Rumson-Fair Haven (20-3)Monday night for a 6:30 pm tip of the Central Jersey Group 2 title game. The Bulldogs were 75-56 winners over 4th-seed Holmdel Friday night.

Click below for postgame reaction from Bound Brook’s CJ2 semifinal win:

Senior guard Quadir Harrell
Head coach Anthony Melesurgo

Gill St. Bernards, Rutgers Prep girls advance to Saturday’s Somerset County Tournament final

Second-seed Gill St. Bernard’s successfully fended off a tough challenge from 6-seed Hillsborough Thursday night, beating the Lady Raiders 41-33 in a home semifinal game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The teams traded the lead a few times in the first quarter, but in the second Gill went on a 10-0 run to take a 16-8 lead. And yet and the end of the half, they only had a two point advantage, at 20-18.

On defense, though, they held Hillsborough scoreless the first six minutes out of the locker room, and built a ten point lead that would shrink a bit, get back to ten, shrink a bit, and so on, until they eventually closed an eight point win.

In Saturday’s final at 1:00 – which can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio – Gill (17-4) will take on top-seed Rutgers Prep, which beat 5-seed Bound Brook at home Thursday 86-42, led by Rutgers-bound Antonia Bates, who had 17 points, and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career.

Rutgers-bound Rutgers Prep senior Antonia Bates celebrates scoring her 1,000th career point, which came in the SCT semifinals Thursday at home. (Photo: Chris Tsakonas)

The Lady Argonauts (22-2) did what they have done all season long: score early and often, and let their defense do the dirty work. That helped Prep build a 26-7 lead at the end of one quarter, and from there, they never looked back.

Four other players scored in double figures. Katie Ledden scored 15 points, while Mikayla Blakes, Zahra Alexander and Morgan Ryan each had a dozen.

Click below for postgame reaction from Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko in Gladstone and Chris Tsakonas in Somerset:

GILL ST. BERNARD’S over HILLSBOROUGH 41-33

Gill St. Bernard’s Freshman Maya Abramson
Gill St. Bernard’s Head Coach Mark Gnapp

RUTGERS PREP over BOUND BROOK 86-42

Rutgers Prep senior Antonia Bates
Rutgers Prep head coach Mary Klinger

No. 8 Mount St. Mary wins second straight over No. 6 Bound Brook, 61-50

The tenor of Tuesday night’s Skyland Conference crossover game between the best two small schools in the league changed twice in the span of about 20 minutes of real time.

Neither team could find the basket in the early going, and it looked like 6th-ranked Bound Brook and No. 8 Mount St. Mary would be headed for a 15-10 halftime score, or something of that ilk.

After things settled in, the teams traded buckets with increasing frequency, and swapped the lead nine times by the first few minutes of the second stanza.

But once the Lions jumped ahead that last time, they never looked back, extending a seven-point halftime lead to as much as 15 in the third quarter, and 17 in the final period, to come away with a 61-50 win over the Crusaders.

Eventually, Mount found its touch from beyond the arc, burying eleven treys in the game, five of them from sophomore Rachel Castela, who set a new mark for buckets from downtown in a single season of 55, thanks to her quintet of treys in the game, four of which came in the second half, three in the third quarter alone.

Mount improved to 13-7 on the season, while Bound Brook dropped to 15-6. That’s the most losses for the Crusaders in a season since 2016 – which wasn’t a bad one by any stretch; they went to the Central Jersey Group 1 final and lost to University of Newark.

It was also the Lions’ second straight win in the series after Bound Brook had won the previous eight.

Click below for postgame reaction:

Sophomore Rachel Castela, who set a new single-game school record for threes of 55
Mount St. Mary head coach Ryan Shellhammer

No. 6 Bound Brook to square off with No. 8 Mt. St. Mary in battle between Somerset County’s best small schools

The game is a challenge every year, even if long winning streaks have been the norm over the last decade or so.

When Bound Brook was down on the early 2010s – as in 0-23 down in 2013, the Crusaders were getting walloped by scores like 53-18.

Enter coach Jen Derevjanik, a stellar player on Staten Island in high school who later won a WNBA ring, and the tide turned, with Brook winning 8 straight from 2016 until Mount turned the tables last season with a 47-38 victory.

That should make tonight fun in Bound Brook, where the Crusaders and Lions will do battle.

Brook (15-5) – the Mountain Division champion six years running now – is led by a pair of experienced players who aren’t seniors, though one will be out tonight.

Junior Casey Miller leads the team with 13.4 points per game, a whopping 116 assists and 86 steals. But sophomore Brenae Jones, averaging a double-double of 10.7 points per game and a team-leading 11.4 board, won’t be available.

Derevjanik says she’s not injured, and should be back for the county tournament, in which Bound Brook picked up a 5th-seed last night and will open at home Saturday against either 13-seed Bridgewater-Raritan or 12-seed Somerville.

On the other side is a young Mount St. Mary team (12-7) which is in first-place in the Valley Division of the Skyland Conference by a half-game over Voorhees (a win over the Vikings on Feb. 24 would give them the title outright, lest they share it). Rachel Castela – whom Derevjanik coached in 7th-grade AAU ball – can hit the three, 50 of them to be exact, and leads the team with 13.6 points a game. She’s just a sophomore, and freshman Mia Gestosani is next up at 11.1 points a game.

Click below to hear from both coaches as they preview tonight’s game with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

Bound Brook head coach Jen Derevjanik
Mount St. Mary head coach Ryan Shellhammer