Tag: Katie Ledden

Rutgers Prep girls ride defense, Blakes and Ledden to back-to-back Non-Public South B titles with 70-40 win over Wildwood Catholic

Press. Score. Defense. Rebound. Transition.


The same tried and true formula that has worked her entire life at Rutgers Prep worked again on Wednesday night for head coach Mary Klinger’s squad, as the third-seeded Argonauts “knocked off” top seed Wildwood Catholic in the Non-Public South B championship game at Seneca High School, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

And so, it’s back-to-back sectional titles for Klinger, Mikayla Blakes, Katie Ledden and Co. with one more game to play, the Non-Public Group B final, to be played Saturday at the RWJBarnabas Health Arena in Toms River, at a time to be determined.

Rutgers Prep (25-6) will face 2nd-seed Morris Catholic (26-3), a team they lost to in December, after giving up what was a 13-point third-quarter lead to lose by three. Morris Catholic beat 4th-seed Montclair-Immaculate 55-49 Wednesday night in the Non-Public North B final.

For Rutgers Prep, it was the usual: Blakes leading on offense with 22 points, Ledden adding 20. Zahra Alexander finished with ninr.

Prep never trailed in the game, jumping out to a 9-2 lead they would never relinquish, and holding Wildwood Catholic without a field goal for most of the second quarter. The Argonauts built the lead to as many as 36 in the fourth quarter before the starters came out.

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Click below to hear for postgame reaction brought to you by SportsPlex at Metuchen:

Rutgers Prep junior Mikayla Blakes
Rutgers Prep senior Katie Ledden
Rutgers Prep head coach Mary Klinger

Soon-to-be-senior Katie Ledden reflects on Rutgers Prep’s run to TOC Final

Sure, we joked a lot on Central Jersey Sports Radio that this year’s Tournament of Champions would be the last one ever, until it’s not. But getting to the historic final game and winning it all was a goal for the Rutgers Prep girls’ basketball team from Day One.

They didn’t win it all, but they went as far as they could: the TOC final, running (again) into St. John Vianney, nationally ranked, and the No. 1 team in the state.

But it was a fantastic year when all was said and done. They won the Somerset County Tournament, again. They won the Non-Public South B title, the Group B title, and got contributions from everyone, however little or small.

And yet, this team has so much more to do.

That’s because its two biggest stars will be back next year: sophomore Mikayla Blakes – CJSR’s inaugural Girls’ basketball Player of the Year – and junior Katie Ledden. She averaged 15 points and over 6 rebounds a game, while Blakes led the team in scoring with 18.2 points per game, and nearly five assists per contest.

Rutgers Prep’s Katie Ledden (left) goes for a rebound against Franklin’s Tiffany Pecorella in the third quarter of a 60-34 win on December 17, 2021 (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

And then there’s the supporting cast. Though Antonia Bates – who’s headed to Rutgers – Leyla Castro and Morgan Ryan graduate, sophomores Chloe Escanillas and Zahra Alexander return.

And all of that will have Rutgers Prep starting the 2022-23 season right where they begin this year – and last year, for that matter: at No. 1.

Ledden spoke with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about the 2021-22 season, and the prospects for next year; click below to listen:

Rutgers Prep survives, advances, with first-ever Tournament of Champions victory; will face Manasquan Friday night in semis

NOTE: The time of Rutgers Prep’s TOC semifinal game has been corrected below to 5:00 pm.

Rutgers Prep surely wanted to be here, but after the first 24 minutes of play, they could be forgiven if they just wanted to get out of the damn building

Against a pesky 6th-seeded University team out of Newark, the third-seeded Lady Argonauts built a 20-point fourth quarter lead, but saw it shrink to 12 after Destiny Johnson bombed up trey after trey – and made them.

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With the season on the line, why not? She hit them from everywhere, even banked them high off the window outside the box, hitting four fourth-quarter treys.

But they were still not enough to counter Rutgers Prep’s high scorer, Katie Ledden, who – despite not scoring at all in the final stanza – tied Johnson for game-high honors with 23.

It was a monster night for Ledden until Prep got out of its offensive game, something head coach Mary Klinger said after that game she’d have to figure out why, in hopes of avoiding a repeat Friday night.

She knows Rutgers Prep (28-2) will need a much better effort in the semifinals here at Toms River North’s RWJBarnabas Health Arena, when they play second-seed Manasquan (30-4) at 5 pm. That game will be followed by the other semifinal at 7:00, featuring top-seed St. John Vianney (30-1) and 4th-seed Sparta, which beat 5th-seed Westfield Wednesday night, 55-47, in the early quarterfinal.

Click below for postgame reaction from the Rutgers Prep TOC quarterfinal game against University:

Junior Katie Ledden, 23 points
Head coach Mary Klinger

CHAMPS!! Rutgers Prep girls survive Saddle River Day, win third Group B title, earn berth in NJ’s last TOC

Rutgers Prep head coach Mary Klinger knew her team would face adversity, somehow, at some point, against Saddle River Day in the Non-Public Group B title game. It was just a matter of what form it would take.

In the end, the Lady Argonauts were winners, 62-51, down at the RWJBarnabas Health Arena at Toms river North High School, clinching their third berth in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions, which is in its last season.

But it was not easy, not by a long shot.

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To the fans in the stands, it looked like it might be over early. Prep sophomore Mikayla Blakes scored 17 points in a monster first quarter – going 8-of-8 from the foul line – to get her team out to a 31-21 lead. But Saddle River Day got back in the game with a slow and steady 15-2 run to close the half.

And yet, Rutgers Prep still led at halftime by seven, at 33-26. The momentum continued for the Rebels in the second half. UNC-bound Paulina Paris – who had 12 first-half points, and was the only one scoring for a while, along with Blakes for Prep – had an eight point third quarter, and her team took the lead by three late in the period. Rutgers Prep got it back quickly, and ended the third with a 41-40 advantage.

In the final eight minutes, when Klinger reminded her team that she told them they would face adversity in this morning’s game, they overcame that adversity.

And it was another sophomore who had a huge contribution. Chloe Escanillas had seven fourth quarter points, including a trey, to help build a double digit lead, and give Prep an 11-point win in the end.

The only question remaining for Rutgers Prep (27-2) this weekend is whether the Argonauts will get a first-round bye in the Tournament of Champions, which begins back down in Toms River on Wednesday. St. John Vianney – playing in the second game against Immaculate Heart Academy at RWJ, should they advance, will get the top seed. It’s up for debate whether Rutgers prep or Manasquan – should ‘Squan move on Sunday in Toms River in the public finals – would get the second seed and the other bye.

If Rutgers Prep gets it, they would open Friday in the TOC semis. Otherwise they open Wednesday.

And next, the Rutgers Prep boys will try and win the Non-Public A title this afternoon at Jersey Mike’s Arena at Rutgers University. If they take the title, Rutgers Prep will be the first school in Middlesex or Somerset County to have both its boys’ and girls’ teams make the Tournament of Champions in the same year.

Click below for postgame reaction from Rutgers Prep’s win in the girls’ Non-Public B Championship Game:

Sophomore guard Mikayla Blakes (game-high 27 points, 1 trey, 14/16 from the foul line)
Rutgers Prep’s Mikayla Blakes
Junior guard/forward Katie Ledden (16 points, 12 in the first half)
Rutgers Prep’s Katie Ledden
Head coach Mary Klinger

Dalce, Klinger talk dominant Rutgers Prep win in battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2

Ten players had ink in the scoring column Saturday afternoon for Rutgers Prep, and only one of them put up double figures.

Guess who?

Villanova signee Christina Dalce poured in 15 points – 13 which came in the very decisive first half – as No. 1 Rutgers Prep played stingy defense in a 65-33 win over No. 2 Franklin on Senior Day, heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, and powered by Bellamy & Son Paving.

Dalce scored nine in the first quarter, and four more in the second quarter. The rest of the Argonaut scoring was balanced, as freshman Mikayla Blakes and senior Kylie Favors – on three treys – each had nine. Sophomore Katie Ledden chipped in eight points.

Rutgers Prep dominated the game from the start, thanks to stifling defense. They never trailed, jumping out to an 8-0 lead, which Franklin cut to 8-5. But the Argonauts then went on a 25-0 run before a Morgan Jones free throw stopped the bleeding. Rutgers Prep finished the half with a 35-6 lead.

Click below to hear Christina Dalce and Rutgers Prep head coach Mary Coyle-Klinger talk about their dominating victory over Franklin.

Senior F/C Christina Dalce
Head Coach Mary Coyle-Klinger