Tag: Colonia

St. Joe’s is the favorite, but here’s how all 16 teams can win the GMC Tournament

No team worth its weight in stirrups and rawhide enters the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament bemoaning its seed and wishing they were someone else.

If you’re picked as one of the top 16 teams in the league and make the “big dance,” there’s reason to think you have a shot, or else why get up in the morning?

The way the tournament is laid out, with enough time for every team’s No. 1 starter to pitch three games – that is, if Mother Nature cooperates on Monday – just about everyone has a shot, since there are so many good No. 1s in the county.

So why should 16th-seed South River have hope like top-seed St. Joe’s or third-seed Middlesex has hope that they can win it all?

Click below to listen to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko break down all 16 teams:

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:

INSTANT REPLAY-Group 3 Boys’ Semifinals: Ramapo 49, Colonia 39

In a fast-moving, low scoring Group 3 semifinal game, North 2 Group 3 Champion Colonia was ousted by North 1 champion Ramapo, 49-39. It was the second group 3 semifinal for Colonia in the last three postseasons, and both times the Patriots were eliminated by the Raiders.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko call all the action from Phillipsburg High School:

Colonia falls short in Group 3 semifinals, 49-39 to Ramapo

Turns out, there was no lucky seven for the Colonia Ptriots.

Six times before, they had won a sectional title, and all six times they had been eliminated in the next game, in the Group Semifinals.

They could not change their luck in 2022.

A young Ramapo team – the North 1 champion – with only one senior and a slew of sophomores came out and attacked Colonia early, going right to the basket and getting shots to go down.

Colonia, on the other hand, couldn’t find the bottom of the net from in close, wasn’t drawing fouls, and didn’t get good looks on the perimeter for Saivon Pressley, who finished with 19, including a trey.

In the end, though, Colonia had a great season, adding to the trophy case with the North 2, Group 3 title, the seventh in program history.

Click below for postgame reaction with Colonia head coach Jose Rodriguez:

Colonia is much more than Pressley, as it seeks first-ever trip to a group final tonight against Ramapo

Colonia has won seven state championships, but never gotten to a group final.

The 2021-22 version wants to change that.

And it’s very well within their reach, as the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 champion Patriots (25-4) play North 1 champion Ramapo (22-6) tonight in the Group 3 semifinals at Phillipsburg High School.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast all the action, with Mike Pavlichko on the air at 6:40 for the pregamw show. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm. Click here to listen to all the live play-by-play, for free, with no paywall.

The winner goes on to face either Manasquan (the Central 3 champ) or Woodrow Wilson (the South 3 champ) in the Group 3 finals. All the public finals are held at Jersey Mike’s Arena (formerly “The RAC”) at Rutgers University this Sunday. Game times are noon, 2, 4, and 6 pm, but times won’t be announced until all the matchups are done being determined tonight.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko talk about the Patriots’ season and preview the Ramapo matchup with Colonia head coach Jose Rodriguez:

And then there were three: what happened, what’s ahead, and a breakdown on the CJSR-area teams still alive in the state tournament

Well, we’re down to just three: one public, two non-publics.

That’s who’s left in the NJSIAA state tournament from the Central Jersey Sports Radio coverage area.

Both the Rutgers Prep girls and boys won sectional titles just a couple of hours apart Wednesday night, about 24 hours after Colonia won its second in three playoff seasons.

But they’re not done yet. Here’s a look at each team, where they stand, and what’s next.

North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 Boys’ Champion Colonia:

The Patriots (25-4) may not be division or GMC Tournament champions, but they’re a state champion, and that’s saying something. It’s another banner to hang from the rafters, and this team deserves it. Saivon Pressley gets all the ink (and airtime) and right fully so, but none of it happens without Billy Anderson, Noah Taylor, Jaeden Jones, and others.

They’re up against a tough, but young, Ramapo team tonight in the Group 3 semifinals, and Colonia’s experience in playoff games will help. Of course, the Raiders (22-6) didn’t get here on a fluke, but the Patriots have a legitimate shot to get to their first-ever group title game with a win out in Phillipsburg Thursday night, in a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio, starting with the pregame at 6:45.

Click here to listen live, for free, with no paywall.

The North 2, Group 3 title is Colonia’s seventh sectional championship overall. Jose Rodriguez’ Patriots have never missed a sectional final, beating West Morris for the crown in 2019, falling to Irvington in 2020, and beating South Plainfield in double-OT back on Tuesday night.

READ MORE: Colonia needs double-OT to stave off South Plainfield as Pats take North 2, Group 3 title

The Patriots also beat Chatham for the title in 2015, and Union Hill (now merged with Emerson into Union City) in 2007, in a game that went to double overtime. Each year, Colonia was eliminated in the group semifinals.

They also won Central Jersey Group 3 titles in 1994 and 1985, and a CJ4 championship in 1972, but again, all three times were eliminated before getting to the Group Final.

So, Thursday night is a chance for Colonia to do something it’s never done before. This crew is as capable as any.

Waiting on the other side are Central Jersey Group 3 champion Manasquan (25-5) and South Jersey Group 3 champion Woodrow Wilson (20-6). They play at 7 pm tonight in the other Group 3 semifinal at Brick Memorial.

Non-Public South B Girls’ Champion Rutgers Prep:

We keep harping on it, but that’s because it bears repeating.

Rutgers Prep has been playing at another level since their eye-opening loss to St. John Vianney, the No. 1 team in the state. There’s still some basketball left to play for them to prove it, in the last-ever Tournament of Champions, and the Argonauts could very well get another crack at them if this keeps up.

What’s “this,” you ask?

Since the Super Bowl Sunday defeat to the Lady Lancers up at Kean, they have won every game by at least 24 points. In the Somerset County Tournament, that includes wins of 60, 30 and 31 points for an average margin of victory of 40.3.

That’s really all you need to know about a team that’s still pretty young – the biggest senior contributor is Rutgers-bound Antonia Bates – but has been immensely balanced all year and upped its game.

They will play at noon Saturday in the Group B title game at RWJ Barnabas Arena at Toms River North, with a trip to the Tournament of Champions on the line. You can hear the contest on Central Jersey Sports Radio beginning with pregame at 11:45 am. Click here to listen.

Prep has been to the TOC twice before, in 2016 and 2017, and both times they lost in the semifinals to the eventual champion: Manasquan in 2016 and Franklin the year after.

Here’s a look at Rutgers Prep’s title history in the tournament, since it began NJSIAA play in the 2013 postseason. All are in Non-Public South B:

  • 2020: lost in the sectional final to Trenton Catholic, 53-48
  • 2019: lost in the sectional semifinals to Gloucester Catholic, 54-47
  • 2018: Non-Public South B champions, beat Trenton Catholic, 58-54; lost in Non-Public B final to Saddle River Day, 73-49
  • 2017: Non-Public South B champions, beat Patrick School, 79-60; Non-Public B champions, beat Queen of Peace, 58-46; lost in Tournament of Champions semifinals to Franklin, 66-57
  • 2016: Non-Public South B champions, bear St. Rose, 65-47; Non-Public B champions, beat Saddle River Day, 69-40; lost in Tournament of Champions semifinals to Manasquan, 59-50
  • 2015: lost in the sectional semifinals to St. Rose, 67-59
  • 2014: lost in the sectional quarterfinals to Roselle Catholic, 50-34
  • 2013: lost in the sectional first round to St. Rose, 63-42

Non-Public South A Boys’ Champion Rutgers Prep:

What a finish Wednesday night down at Lenape for the Rutgers Prep boys’ team, in winning their first-ever sectional title with a 63-60 victory over top-seed Red Bank Catholic.

Matt Bloom, head coach of the third-seeded Argonauts, stresses team defense was how they succeeded in limiting Adam Silas in a thriller of a sectional semifinal game against St. Thomas Aquinas. Sounds like coach-speak, but he’s not wrong. Not by a longshot.

Team defense was the name of the game on Wednesday night, as well, going on a 4-0 run in the final minute to erase a 60-59 deficit and win 63-60, to clinch the title.

Next up is North A champion Bergen Catholic, as the top-seeded Crusaders beat Don Bosco Prep 69-57 Wednesday night. That Group A title game is set for 4 pm Saturday at Jersey Mike’s Arena at Rutgers University.

Colonia’s Group 3 semi opponent Ramapo has exceeded expectations

With ten sophomores in the program, Ramapo isn’t very senior-laden, and one might think easy pickin’s in a state tournament environment, where it’s win-or-go-home

But that hasn’t been the case. Sure, a fluke team might win a game or two in the sectionals, but you don’t get to this point in the season on a fluke. You get to this point in the season by being good.

And that’s how Ramapo won the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 championship, and now finds themselves in the Group 3 semifinals Thursday night against North 2, Group 3 champions Colonia.

The two will face off at 7 pm at Phillipsburg High School, with the winner moving on to Sunday’s NJISAA Public Group Finals at Jersey Mike’s Arena on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway. You can hear tonight’s game on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko calling all the action, starting with the pregame show at 6:45. Click here to listen live for free, with no paywall.

Ramapo was the top seed in North 1, Group 3, and won fourth straight at home to get to the group semi stage. They got here with a 72-54 win over 16th-seed Northern Highlands, a 62-44 win over 8-seed Morris Hills in the quarterfinals, a 63-36 win over 13-seed Paramus in the sectional semifinals, and a 58-47 win over 2-seed Tenafly in the North 1, Group 3 title game.

Only five players got in the scoring column in that game, led by 20 points from Nate Burleson – yes, the son of the former NFL player – while Peyton Seals, the team’s leading scorer this season, chipped in 16.

Learn more about Colonia’s Group 3 semifinal opponent Ramapo by clicking below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Raiders’ first-year head coach Nick Vier:

It’s GMC White versus Blue in North 2, Group 3 title tilt as Colonia, South Plainfield square off

Tonight at 6 pm, the Colonia and South Plainfield boys’ basketball teams will play a Greater Middlesex Conference crossover game.

Wait, hold on, being told it’s a state sectional championship game.

Yes, the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 final tonight will be an all-GMC affair, as the top-seeded Patriots (24-4) out of the White Division will take on 2nd-seed South Plainfield (23-6) out of the Blue.

The Patriots are the GMC Tournament runner-up, having lost to St. Thomas Aquinas in the finals, a Trojans team that is now out of the playoffs (they lost last night to Rutgers Prep in the Non-Public South A final) while Colonia is still playing, seeking it’s third title since 2015.

Colonia won that year (when they beat Chatham, and lost to Bergenfield in the Group 3 semis), and in 2019 (when they beat West Morris, but lost to Ramapo in the Group 3 semis). This will be their third straight sectional finals appearance; they also made it in 2018, but lost in the title game to Irvington.

South Plainfield, meanwhile, has not had that level of success of late, but has been building to this moment. Their last sectional title came in 1991.

Click below for a preview of the game as GMC Hoops’ Greg Machos talks with Mike Pavlichko about Colonia, South Plainfield, and their title gama matchup tonight:

Monday Rundown: Rutgers Prep boys and girls, Gill St. Bernard’s boys advance to sectional finals

With seven area teams in action as Monday opened the second week of state tournament play in New Jersey, three advanced to sectional finals this Wednesday, while four other teams saw their seasons end, two in the sectional finals themselves.

In the Non-Public A semifinals, third-seed Rutgers Prep never trailed in a 68-59 road win over 2nd-seed St. Thomas Aquinas, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. The Argonauts will face top-seed Rad Bank Catholic, 70-58 winners over fourth-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen.

Rutgers Prep will be seeking its first-ever sectional title in a rematch with the Caseys, who beat them on January 30th down in South Jersey at the Jimmy V Showcase at Central Regional in Bayville.

READ MORE: Rutgers Prep boys topple St. Thomas Aquinas in a slugfest, will try and claim program’s first sectional title

The final will be played at 7 pm at Lenape High School, and Central Jersey Sports Radio plans to broadcast the game, pending broadcast rights approval from the NJSIAA.

Two hours prior, the Rutgers Prep girls will be at Long Branch High School playing for their own sectional title, after the top-seeded Lady Argos beat 5th-seed St. Rose, 64-34. Katie Ledden had 20 points and eight rebounds, while Mikayla Blakes chipped in 19.

They will face second-seed Wildwood Catholic, a 45-39 winner over 3-seed Gloucester Catholic Monday night.

The finals are set for 5 pm at Long Branch.

Also advancing were the Gill St. Bernard’s Boys; the third-seeded Knights knocked off 2-seed Saddle River Day 81-42, advancing to play the top-seed Roselle Catholic, which beat 4th-seed Morris Catholic 93-73. It’ll be battle of two of the top teams in the state, with Roselle Catholic ranked second in all of New Jersey, and Gill – the Somerset County Tournament Champions – ranked fourth.

That game will be played at Franklin High School at 5 pm.

Besides St. Joe’s, three other teams saw their seasons end Monday night.

In the Central Jersey Group 2 boys’ title game, Bound Brook was seeking its first sectional crown since 1979, but the Crusaders were doomed by a slow start, and lost 75-44 at top-seed Rumson-Fair Haven.

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

The historic run for the Colonia girls’ came to an end down in Mercer County, as the 2nd-seeded Patriots lost in the Central Jersey Group 3 final, 70-45 to top-seed Ewing.

And in Non-Public North B semifinal action, 4th-seed Gill St. Bernard’s fell 62-35 to top-seed Saddle River Day.

Here’s the upcoming schedule of games, day by day, in the state tournament:


Boys – North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3:
2-South Plainfield at 1-Colonia, 6 pm

Girls – North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4:
6-Hillsborough at 1-Westfield, 7 pm


Boys – Non-Public South A Final:
3-Rutgers Prep vs. 1-Red Bank Catholic – Lenape High School, 7 pm

Boys – Non-Public North B Final:
3-Gill St. Bernard’s vs. 1-Roselle Catholic – Franklin High School, 5 pm

Girls – Non-Public South B Final:
2-Wildwood Catholic vs. 1-Rutgers Prep – Long Branch High School, 5 pm

THURSDAY, MARCH 10 (*if necessary)

Boys Group 3 Semifinals (North 1 vs North 2):
(either Colonia or South Plainfield) Phillipsburg High School, 7 pm

*Girls Group 4 Semifinals (North 1 vs. North 2):
Franklin High School, 5 pm