Tag: Mark Gnapp

Rutgers Prep seeking third straight SCT girls’ title is a huge mountain to climb for Gill St. Bernard’s

The Rutgers Prep girls’ basketball team has been dominating the Skyland Conference for years, but for the last few, the Lady Argonauts have stood alone. They’ve won two straight Somerset County Championships by an average of almost 28 points, sandwiched around a one-off Skyland Blue Pod Championship in the COVID-shortened season by another 28 points.

In their last 108 wins – dating back to the start of the start of the 2017-18 season – only eight of them have come by fewer than ten points.

That’s the challenge Gill St. Bernard’s will face when they bring they’re very good basketball team to Montgomery High School Saturday afternoon for the Somerset County Tournament Championship Game. Sure, they have some scorers, and some balance, and some depth, too. But can they crack Rutgers Prep, which has beaten them by more than 31 points a game – none closer than 28 – in their last four meetings

You can hear Saturday’s entire SCT Championship Doubleheader presented on Central Jersey Sports Radio, as Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas call all the action. The girls game starts at 1:00 with pregame at 12:45; the boys’ final starts at 3 pm with the same teams. Click here to listen to the live broadcast for free.

Here’s a complete preview of the championship game, with audio from both coaches, analysis, stats, notes, nuggets and more.

#1 Rutgers Prep (19-4) vs. #2 Gill St. Bernard’s (17-6)
When: Saturday, February 18 at 1 pm
Where: Montgomery High School
Listen Live: Central Jersey Sports Radio, pregame begins at 12:45 pm

The Rutgers Prep girls’ basketball team hosts Gill St. Bernard’s on January 24, 2023 in Somerset. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

#1 Rutgers Prep
Head Coach: Mary Klinger – 39th season, 652-247)
2021-22 NFHS Coach of the Year

Though her team wound up winning big yet again, 67-38 in the semifinals of the SCT Thursday night against Franklin, Klinger was less than satisfied with the defensive effort, particularly in the half-court. It didn’t help that the shots weren’t falling early on either for the Argonauts. But defense is what you can control, it’s what Klinger preaches, and what they will have been working on to straighten up for Saturday’s SCT final against Gill. That said, they’ve had an excellent season, challenging themselves with stiff out-of-conference competition, only taking two losses to New Jersey opponents this year: Paul VI and Morris Catholic.

Junior phenom Mikayla Blakes runs the show; she’s the team’s top scorer and leads in assists and steals, as well as three-pointers made, with 55 on the year for a team that has hit 148 in just 23 games. Katie Ledden is a veteran steadying presence, the only senior in the starting lineup, a scary proposition down the road once she heads off to Rhode Island next year. Freshman GiGi Battle has been a starter since she set foot on the Rutgers Prep campus, and fellow freshman Ava LaMonica is contributing, too. Zahra Alexander and Chloe Escanillas are key parts as well. This team is so deep and talented, they’re the team to beat until someone does. No one in Somerset County has really come that close in quite some time.

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Projected Starting Five:

  • PG Mikayla Blakes (5-8, Jr): 22.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 55 treys, 81 assists, 73 steals
  • G/F Katie Ledden (6-1, Sr): 14.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 26 treys, 43 blocks, 45 steals
  • G/F Gigi Battle (6-0, Fr): 9.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 13 treys, 30 steals
  • G/F Zahra Alexander (5-8, Jr): 7.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 52 assists
  • F/C Alex DeIasi (6-0, Jr): 2.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg

Coach’s Interview:

Rutgers Prep Head Coach Mary Klinger

SCT History (7-5):

2005 – #1 Hillsborough 40, #3 Rutgers Prep 29
2006 – #5 Hillsborough 51, #2 Rutgers Prep 45
2008 – #1 Rutgers Prep 38, #2 Watchung Hills 34
2011 – #1 Rutgers Prep 62, #6 Bridgewater-Raritan 56
2012 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s 57, #6 Rutgers Prep 45
2015 – Rutgers Prep 52, Franklin 46
2016 – Rutgers Prep 41, Gill St. Bernard’s 28
2017 – Rutgers Prep 62, Gill St. Bernard’s 35
2018 – Franklin 68, Rutgers Prep 49
2019 – Franklin 63, Rutgers Prep 45
2020 – Rutgers Prep 60, Watchung Hills 34
2022 – #1 Rutgers Prep 64, #2 Gill St. Bernard’s 35

How they win: They can still win easily otherwise, and they often do, but getting out of the gate hot will make life a whole lot easier for Rutgers Prep. Don’t let Gill hang around. Get out early with the full-court press, force turnovers, and turn them into buckets.

Past Coverage:

Gill st Bernard’s takes on Watchung Hills in the Somerset County Tournament semifinals in Gladstone on February 16, 2023. (Photo: Chris Tsakonas)

#2 Gill St. Bernard’s
Head Coach: Mark Gnapp – 5th season, 80-36

There’s no secret who the star is for Gill St. Bernard’s: Brooke Baisley makes the offense go. The junior had a fantastic sophomore campaign and hasn’t disappointed in her junior season, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, three point shooting and steals, so she can play offense and defense. There is some balance, though on the rest of the team, from second-leading scorer and sophomore Maya Abramson – who contributed on a young team as a freshman last year – and fellow sophomore Sydney Quinn, the top scorer in the Knights’ semifinal win over Watchung Hills.

From Abranmson down to the third player off the bench, they range in scoring from 9 to 5.1 points per game. That’s good ball distribution, and good sharing. They’ll just need to take care of the ball against Rutgers Prep, something that’s easier said than done. They have some height, with 6-5 Gandy Malou-Mamel – another sophomore – in the middle and on the blocks, a matchup problem for Rutgers Prep, which has no one in the starting lineup taller than Katie Ledden, at 6-1.

Projected Starting Five:

  • G Brooke Baisley (5-10, Jr): 13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 30 treys, 57 assists, 64 steals
  • G Tessa Lozner (5-3, Soph): 5.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 80 assists, 11 treys
  • G Jennah Johnson (5-9, Jr): 7.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 10 treys
  • F Sidney Quinn (Soph, 6-1): 8.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 6 treys
  • F/C Gandy Malou-Mamel (6-5, Soph): 6.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 48 blocks

Coach’s Interview:

Gill St. Bernard’s Head Coach Mark Gnapp

SCT History (5-3):

2009 – #2 Gill St. Bernard’s 57, #4 Somerville 55
2010 – #2 Gill St. Bernard’s 64, #1 Bridgewater-Raritan 44
2012 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s 57, #6 Rutgers Prep 45
2013 – Gill St. Bernard’s 63, Franklin 57
2014 – Gill St. Bernard’s 55, Franklin 51
2016 – Rutgers Prep 41, Gill St. Bernard’s 28
2017 – Rutgers Prep 62, Gill St. Bernard’s 35
2022 – Rutgers Prep 64, Gill St. Bernard’s 35

How they win: Gill will have to bring it’s A++ game. Take care of the basketball, and if you can get Rutgers Prep miscues, take advantage. Don’t fall behind early; it’s extremely tough to come back against the Argos, especially when they run that relentless full-court pressure that can swing the score or build a lead in the blink of an eye. Using their size advantage with Malou-Mamel would be a plus, too.

Gill St. Bernard’s girls move on to SCT title game with 76-47 win over Watchung Hills

It started as a defensive battle, then things opened up.

And when the dust settled, second-seed Gill St. Bernard’s had a 76-47 Somerset County Tournament semifinal win over third-seed Watchung Hills, to move on to its second straight title game.

Four Knights finished in double figures – and Sidney Quinn led the offensive effort with a career high 16 points in the win.

Also finishing in double figures for Gill (17-6) were Brooke Baisley with 14 points, Jennah Johnson with 11 and Maya Abramson with 10. For Watchung Hills (17-6), Claire Gillenwater and Giana Lobozzo finished with 11 points each.

After a defensive-minded opening quarter ended 12-5, Gill began to pull away late in the half, going into the locker room up 32-20. That momentum carried over into the third quarter, where Gill outscored Watchung Hills 29-11.

With the semifinal in the rearview mirror, the stage is set for rematch against Rutgers Prep with a county title on the line this Saturday at 1 pm at Montgomery High School, a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Gill lost both meeting with Rutgers Prep this year.

Click below for postgame reaction sponsored by SportsPlex at Metuchen:

Gill St. Bernard’s sophomore Sydney Quinn
Gill St. Bernard’s Head Coach Mark Gnapp

Rutgers Prep, Gill St. Bernards girls play a big one Tuesday, with top seed in SCT on the line

To be clear: there is no disputing what single team has been the best in Somerset County for the last several years.

Since losing to Franklin in the 2019 Somerset County Tournament Final, Mary Klinger’s Rutgers Prep squad has not lost a single game against a Skyland Conference opponent. The streak is at 50 games and counting, and should it stretch to 51 Tuesday night, the Lady Argonauts will all but have sewn up the top seed in the upcoming Somerset County Tournament.



Standing in their way when they meet at 3:45 Tuesday afternoon – in a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas on the call (click here to listen) – will be Gill St. Bernard’s. The third-ranked Knights (11-3) could at least make a case for the top seed in this year’s SCT if they are to knock off No. 1 Prep (10-3) in a Skyland Conference Delaware Division game. A win would be monumental.

Gill is 39-11 since the start of the COVID-shortened year, but three of those loses have come to the Lady Argonauts, and none by closer than 28 points, which came in the final of the top Skyland Conference pod in 2021.

Rutgers Prep, meanwhile, has won eight of its ten games this year by 10 points or more, and the only two that weren’t double-figure margins – came two weeks ago to non-Jersey opponents Pickering Central of Ohio and South Shore out of New York.


They are led by junior Mikayla Blakes at 22 points per game, and backed up with Rhode Island-bound senior Katie Ledden’s 15 point per game average, while getting significant contributions from freshman Gigi Battle (9.2 ppg) and Ava LaMonica (4.8) among others.

Gill has no one pouring in points like Blakes, but they have a balanced scoring attack, with four players averaging over 7 points a game, including standout junior Brooke Baisley (11.6) and sophomore Maya Abramson (9.4 ppg).

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s preview interviews with both head coaches:

Rutgers Prep Head Coach Mary Klinger
Gill St. Bernard’s Head Coach Mark Gnapp

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


Rutgers Prep senior Antonia Bates
Rutgers Prep head coach Mary Klinger

Gill St. Bernard’s girls seeking first trip to SCT Finals in six years when Hillsborough comes to town

It’s been a while since Gill St. Bernard’s has been to the Somerset County Tournament championship game, and a lot of that has been due to the immense success Rutgers Prep and Franklin have had in recent years.

But there was a time when the Knights dominated themselves. They won three straight championships from 2012-2014, beating Rutgers Prep once and Franklin twice.

This year, they’re one step away, and probably a year earlier than Mark Gnapp had expected.

After all, when you lose players to graduation like Kayleigh Walsh – who’s now playing in the Big Ten for Northwestern – and Ella Fajardo – an international-caliber player who’s at FDU and a celebrity in her native Phillipines – who would think they’d be right back here?

And yet, here they are, a win away from the final.

To get there, they’ll have to dispatch 6th-seed Hillsborough, which is also having a solid year, in the SCT semifinals Thursday night at Gill St. Bernard’s in Gladstone, where Central Jersey Sports Radio will have all the action live beginning with the pregame show at 4:45 pm. Mike Pavlichko will call all the action; click here to listen.

Click here to listen to Mike Pavlichko talk to Gill head coach Mark Gnapp about the Knights’ season so far, and a third meeting this season with Hillsborough:

No. 5 Gill tops No. 6 Franklin on Baisley’s buzzer-beating layup

Defense ruled the day in the second matchup between two of Somerset County’s best girls’ basketball teams, and in the end, it was a sophomore who won it.

Brooke Baisley’s layup just before the final horn – in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio – gave No. 5 Gill St. Bernard’s a 35-33 road win at No. 6 Franklin two sweep the two-game season series, a little more than two weeks after the Knights’ edged the Warriors at home up in Gladstone, 38-35.

Baisley was just a point shy of a double-double on the evening, finishing with a team-high nine points and 12 rebounds, while on the other end of the floor, Christina Midgette was held to just three points, a season low, and her lowest offensive output since January 31, 2019 – her freshman year – when she scored just two against Watchung Hills.

Click below to hear Dom Savino with the final call on Central Jersey Sports Radio:

The win gave GSB the inside track on first place in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division. Technically, Franklin remains in first by having played one extra game, and winning it; the Warriors (9-3) are 7-2 in the division, with both of those losses to Gill; their other loss was to Rutgers Prep opening night on CJSR. The Knights’ are 6-2 in the division, with losses to Watchung Hills and Hillsborough. They have two games left: Hunterdon Central at home next Monday, and a rematch at home against Watchung Hills on February 10th.

The victory was also career win No. 300 for Mark Gnapp, who had several former players on hand to watch in Franklin Thursday night.

Click below to hear postgame reaction with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Chris Tsakonas:

Gill sophomore Brooke Baisley, who hit the game-winning shot as the clock ran down
Head coach Mark Gnapp, who won his 300th career game Thursday night

Top Ten girls teams battle tonight on CJSR when No. 5 Gill visits No. 6 Franklin

Their paths to this point in the season haven’t exactly been the same, but they are right next to each other in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten. And they will square off tonight on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Fifth-ranked Gill St. Bernard’s (8-3, 5-2) and No. 6 Franklin (9-2, 7-1) play each other in a critical game, where a win by the Warriors would solidify their grip on first place in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division, but a Knights’ win would give each team two losses, with Gill having beaten Franklin twice head-to-head.

Dom Savino and Chris Tsakonas call all the action with pregame at 5:45 pm, and tip-off at 6:00. Click here to listen live.

Franklin’s only division loss came to GSB on January 11th, a 38-35 ballgame that left Franklin just 3-2 less than a month into the season, interrupted by a long COVID stoppage spanning their opening game loss to Rutgers Prep on December 17th right on through to January fourth. Gill has two division losses, to Watchung Hills and Hillsborough.

Franklin is red hot, though, since that loss to the Knights, having won six in a row. Senior Christina Midgette is by far and away the team’s leading scorer, averaging 20.4 points per game, and the leader of the team’s recent hot streak; she’s scoring 26.8 a game in her last four, having scored no fewer than 24 in that span.

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

Gill, meanwhile, avenged a loss from earlier this month to Hillsborough Tuesday night, beating the Lady Raiders 62-43 in a game that was tight in the first half, but saw the Knights pull away.

It was also career win No. 299 for Gnapp, who will chase 300 at Franklin tonight. In addition to coaching the girls at Gill St. Bernard’s, he’s spent time coaching both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Parsippany, and girls’ basketball at Mendham.

Click below to hear Dom Savino and Chris Tsakonas preview the Gill-Franklin game:

Chris Tsakonas with Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Mark Gnapp
Dom Savino with Franklin head coach Audrey Taylor

OT hero Fajardo, head coach Gnapp, talk gritty win over Franklin to stay unblemished

Ella Fajardo – a big hit in her home country of the Philippines – is a big hit in Gladstone tonight. Not that she wasn’t before.

The senior guard – who’s headed to FDU next year, trading one Knights’ jersey for another – scored eight points in overtime, including two treys, to send No. 2 Gill St. Bernard’s to a 44-42 road victory over No. 4 Franklin, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving.

Her heroic efforts came after she missed a three in the closing seconds of regulation that would have won it without requiring an extra roll of Rolaids.

It was the first game all year that Gill St. Bernard’s (7-0) didn’t win by double figures.

Meanwhile, Franklin (3-4) is struggling, having lost two straight and three of its last four, including a defeat at the hands of Hillsborough last Tuesday and a drubbing Saturday at No. 1 and unbeaten Rutgers Prep.

Click below to listen to Dom Savino’s post game talks with Fajardo and Gill head coach Mark Gnapp:

Junior guard Ella Fajardo
Head Coach Mark Gnapp