Tag: Matt Bloom

Gill St. Bernard’s may have upper hand, but after buzzer-beating win, top SCT seed up for grabs in battle at Rutgers Prep tonite

In a series that has been dominated by Gill St. Bernard’s over the years – which has won 17 of the last 19 meetings between the schools, there’s a lot legitimately on the line tonight when the 2nd-ranked Knights travel to Somerset to square off against No. 3 Rutgers Prep.

Gill (12-3, 7-0 Skyland Delaware) is in the driver’s seat, of course, thanks to a buzzer-beating three-point shot by Nick Losada that gave the Knights a 67-65 win at home back on January 5th. A win, and they lock up the Skyland Conference’s top division title, and the top-seed in the Somerset County Tournament.

But a Rutgers Prep win would likely leave them co-champs, and then you can let the debate begin.

You can hear tonight’s game live on Central Jersey Sports Radio with pregame beginning at 6:45 pm and tip-off at 7. Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will call all the action. Click here to listen.

The Argonauts (11-6, 5-1) have not won in this series very often, but there have been some close games. In addition to this month’s previous matchup, Prep beat them in 2020, played to an eight-point game in February 2019, and lost by two in the county final the year prior.

Add to that the fact that Rutgers Prep has been without captain Cameron Piggee for a good chuck of the season, including the prior matchup this month with Gill, in which the Knights drained 12 three-pointers, while the Argos only hit one.

Click below for preview interviews with both head coaches:

Chris Tsakonas with Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Mergin Sina
Mike Pavlichko with Rutgers Prep head coach Matt Bloom

Somerville’s Bloom officially appointed full-time football coach

“You learn a lot about what to do from the people before you.”

That thought from Matt Bloom may best sum up the reason the Somerville Board of Education officially appointed him as the full-time football coach at the high school at its meeting Tuesday night, after he took over with just two games to go in the season from first-year head coach Ian Pace.

Though the move was not disclosed publicly and inspired a bit of a sense of mystery around the Big Central Conference, there’s no mystery as to why Bloom now has the job. He was the lone holdover from the highly successful Jeff Vanderbeek/Dallas Whitaker era, which saw the program go 57-8 under the two head coaches – winning a state title in 2017 and reaching two other sectional finals – after losing 25 straight from 2012 through 2015.

Bloom went 2-1 after being elevated from offensive line coach to head coach in time for the Pioneers’ October 14th home game against Hillsborough. With a 2-5 record at that point – in part due to a forfeit against Mastery Charter of Camden for using an ineligible transfer – and needing to likely win two games to clinch a playoff berth, Somerville did just that.

They beat the Raiders 35-14 at Brooks Field, then came up with an equally as critical and convincing 41-28 road win at South Brunswick on the Friday night of Cutoff Weekend to make the postseason at 4-5, though they eventually dropped a first-round game at Seneca.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s exclusive interview with Matt Bloom upon being approved by the Board of Education as Somerville’s full-time head football coach:

Somerville fends off South Brunswick to clinch playoff berth

It was a game that looked like it would be a rout at halftime, but turned out to be an old-fashioned Donnybrook.

That is, until Somerville finally decided to eat the clock before scoring its final touchdown in a 41-28 win over South Brunswick, a victory that appears to have locked up a playoff spot for the Pioneers, avoiding a miss for the first time since 2015.

On touchdowns from runningbacks Terrell Mitchel and Hashym Hobbs-Harris, and a touchdown catch by Quinn Carran that opened the scoring, Somerville led South Brunswick on the road 21-0 in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio Friday night.

But South Brunswick came out angry in the second half, with Jacob Brokaw leading the way on his Senior Night.

Brokaw had a five-yard touchdown run to pull the Vikings withing 21-7. But Julian Finger’s touchdown pass answered right back for the Pioneers.

Then quarterback Braden Paulmenn finished off a drive led by Brokaw to make it 28-14, but Hobbs-Harris came back with a 54-yard score.

Paulmenn added another one-yard run, but QB Mike Miller of the Pioneers got it back to a three-schore lead at 41-21.

South Brunswick would add another touchdown from Brokaw with 1:19 left, but that would be all they’d get as Somerville came away with a 41-28 road win that should clinch a playoff berth.

Official state playoff pairings will be out Sunday from the NJSIAA, but Central Jersey Sports Radio will have a live Playoff Update Saturday morning at 11 (click here to listen) followed by a live Twitter Spaces at noon for a Q&A with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko. Then, at 6, Mike is back with a full Playoff Projection Show, with a live look at the likely matchups.

Click below for postgame reaction from Somerville’s playoff berth-clinching win over South Brunswick Friday night:

Somerville sophomore RB Terrell Mitchell (13 carries, 192 yards, 1 TD)

Somerville head coach Matt Bloom

Somerville looking to finish strong, facing a “Win and In” game at South Brunswick Friday night

At 2-5, having a season-opening victory taken off the board, and going through the gauntlet of a mostly Group 5 schedule for Group 3 Somerville, the Pioneers season had come down to two games. But one at a time.

In rolled Hillsborough, ranked No. 3 in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten. Banged up to be sure, with its first two quarterbacks out due to injury, but a team whose only loss came at the hands of Phillipsburg, the top-ranked team in the league.

And with a coaching change less than 48 hours before kickoff at Brooks Field, Must-Win Game No. 1 could have gone a lot of different ways.

That kickoff was the difference. Terrell Mitchell took it to the house, and before Hillsborough could blink, the Pioneers were up 14-0, en route to a 35-14 win.

Now, the second of those two must-win games, as Somerville (3-5) visits South Brunswick (3-4) in a game that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, where the winner will make the playoffs, and the loser may have to do some scoreboard watching.

You can hear Friday night’s game with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling the play-by-play starting with pregame at 6:15, and kickoff at 6:30 pm from Mike Elko Field in Monmouth Junction. Click here to listen.

Somerville appears to have a new fire in its belly since offensive line coach Matt Bloom – the only holdover from the Dallas Whitaker/Jeff Vanderbeek era – was handed the reins, with Ian Pace no longer coaching the team. School administrators have not publicly commented on the change.

It wasn’t a distraction last week, and you can bet it won’t be this week.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Somerville head coach Matt Bloom:

Somerville shocks No. 3 Hillsborough to keep playoff hopes alive

The game started with a bang for Somerville, getting a kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game by sophomore Terrell Mitchell, and the Pioneers never took their foot off the gas.

After a defensive stop of Hillsborough, Somerville got another score to go up 14-0, en route to what would turn out to be perhaps the biggest upset of the so far in the Big Central: a 35-14 win over the third-ranked Raiders, to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The ‘Ville has not missed the playoffs since 2015, first under Jeff Vanderbeek, then under Dallas Whitaker. But they were coached Friday night by offensive line coach Matt Bloom, as head coach Ian Pace was not on the sidelines for Somerville.

Yet somehow, avoiding the distractions, the Pioneers prevailed over a young but talented Hillsbrough squad that was ranked third in the Week 7 Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten.

Somerville needed to likely win its final two games to have a shot at making the playoffs, and Hillsborough would have been the bigger of the two. They sit 21st in the South Group 3 playoff standings, but the win Friday night will give them a huge bump in trying to make the top 16.

The Pioneers visit South Brunswick next Friday night.

Click below to hear CJSR’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Somerville coach Matt Bloom:

Rutgers Prep’s Matt Bloom named CJSR Boys’ Coach of the Year after historic season

The first-ever sectional title in Rutgers Prep boys’ basketball history has earned Argonauts’ head coach Matt Bloom Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year Honors from Central Jersey Sports Radio.

They certainly reached new heights in 2022, getting contributions from so many players.

And Bloom is quick to deflect all praise to them: guys like Jadin Collins, Ryan Pettit, Cameron Piggee, Jordan Atkins and Ryan Zan.

So, Mike Pavlichko sat down not just with the head coach, but with Piggee and Atkins in the room, to get a sense of the player/coach/family dynamic Bloom has instilled at Prep.

Click below to hear Matt Bloom, Cameron Piggee and Jordan Atkins talk about Bloom’s recognition as Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year by Central Jersey Sports Radio:

Rutgers Prep boys fall short of TOC bid in historic season

Rutgers Prep boys’ basketball coach Matt Bloom wants his team to remember that they made history in 2021-22, something no one can ever erase: they won a sectional championship that had eluded them in the prior nine seasons as a member of the NJSIAA.

But they will not make the Tournament of Champions in the final year of the event, as the South champion Argonauts fell to North winner Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public Group A Championship game at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, 66-54, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Click the ad above for more on Kean University’s next open house.

Rutgers Prep had brief leads of 2-0 and 4-2, but never lead again, as the Crusaders slowly built out to a double digit lead, which went back-and-forth to single digits on a number of occasions throughout the night. But most of the second half was spend with a double-digit deficit, though the Argonauts only trailed by seven at the break, 32-25.

Part of the problem was Prep wasn’t hitting its good looks, which it normally does. Junior Jadin Collins – who had back-to-back career highs in the sectional semis (30 against St. Thomas Aquinas) and finals (33 versus Red Bank Catholic) – came back to Earth with a 21-point night, to lead all scorers in the game.

Prep was active on defense. Senior Ryan Pettit had a handful of quick baskets off inbound turnovers by Bergen Catholic, all forced by the Argos being active on the trigger.

But Rutgers Prep only connected on one three-point bucket all night, a triple by Collins in the fourth quarter for his last three points of the game.

Prep – which ends its season at 26-4 – will graduate two key parts of its starting five, in 6-7 forward Ryan Zan, as well as Pettit. Senior swing Donovan Long, who didn’t get in Saturday’s final, also will graduate. Late in the game, Bloom got two other seniors some time on the Rutgers floor – Ryan Kokoszka and Kridshna Lekhi.

Looking like a college kid plucked from the stands with a chance to win a free tuition, Lekhi chucked a three from just inside half court with the game out of reach and 15-seconds left. There was no hurry, he just wanted to take the shot. He banked it off the glass, but it narrowly missed, bringing a chuckle and some smiles from the bench and Prep fans in attendance.

Click here for postgame reacton as Mike Pavblichko talks to Rutgers Prep head coach Matt Bloom:

Argonauts peaking at the right time, ahead of rematch with Bergen Catholic for trip to boys’ TOC

It’s the Non-Public Group A final. That’s what the game is called.

But it’s really about a trip to the last-ever Tournament of Champions, an event that began in 1989, but will be played for the last time this year, scrapped by the NJSIAA to add extra weeks onto the season for the vast majority of teams, not just the last six to stay alive.

Click the ad above for more on Kean University’s next open house.

The Rutgers Prep boys’ basketball team is in uncharted territory. Since the tiny school on Easton Avenue in Somerset joined the NJSIAA for the 2012-13 school years, the Argonauts had never won a sectional final.

Until this year.

And they’ve done it in large part to Jadin Collins. He was already the team’s leading scorer, averaging about 17 points a game heading into the Non-Public South A semifinals against St. Thomas Aquinas. There, in North Edison, he scored a career high 30 points – and actually finished with a double-double – knocking off the second-seed in their own gymnasium.

What to do for an encore? How about 33 points – a new career high – and solid defense such that he took a key charge late in a comeback that Matt Bloom still hasn’t figured out how it happened.

That’s ok. It happened, and Bloom and Company are moving forward Saturday afternoon as South A champion Rutgers Prep (26-3) takes on North A Champion Bergen Catholic (21-8), which is certainly better than its record would indicate – and it’s not a bad one, at that.

The Crusaders have a tough national schedule, and have lot to the likes of Roselle Catholic, Cardinal Hayes (NY) and Kevin Boyle’s Montverde (FL). They also lost twice to Don Bosco Prep in the regular year, then beat them in the Bergen County Jamboree – their county tournament – and in the North A final.

The Crusaders are led by Fordham-bound Will Richardson and Wagner-bound Julian Brown, as well as a talented surrounding cast.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with both head coaches to preview the Non-Public Group A championship game:

Rutgers Prep head coach Matt Bloom
Bergen Catholic head coach Billy Armstrong

Rutgers Prep rallies for wild, late comeback win over Red Bank Catholic to claim Argos’ first-ever sectional title

After a back-and-forth first quarter, Red Bank Catholic took a lead in the second quarter, was up six at halftime, and ballooned it to 12 in the third quarter.

Things weren’t looking good for Rutgers Prep, except slowly they chipped away, and eventually, overtook the Caseys with solid D, and another career high night for Jadin Collins.

Yes, he had another career-high, back-to-back such efforts, with 33 points to lead third-seed Rutgers Prep to the Non-Public South A title, beating top-seed Red Bank Catholic 63-to-60.

Two key plays down the stretch helped seal the victory once the Argonauts – who’d gotten the dozen-point lead down to one with just under two minutes to go – took the lead with about a minute to go.

They forced a bad pass to an open C.J. Ruoff in the corner, who would have hoisted a three, and drew a charge underneath to force another turnover.

Collins did the rest on offense for Prep, scoring 16 of his 33 in the fourth, key bucket after key bucket.

Next up for Rutgers Prep, the South A champions take on the North A champs, Bergen Catholic, who beat Don Bosco Prep in Franklin Wednesday night, 69-57.

Click below for postgame reaction from junior Jadin Collins and head coach Matt Bloom:

Rutgers Prep boys’ aim for history in revenge game, facing Red Bank Catholic for a title

It’s been said somewhere that the Rutgers Prep boys’ basketball team played its worst game of the season on January 30th down in Bayville, when the Argonauts gave up a season-high 90 points and lost by eleven to Red Bank Catholic in the Jimmy V Showcase.

But head coach Matt Bloom says it’s only a bad loss if his team doesn’t learn from that game. And they’re determined to make amends tonight.

If they play the type of game they played Monday night – in stifling St. Thomas Aquinas and holding leading scorer Adam Silas to just 12 points all evening, including a single point in the entire first half – then the mission will be accomplished.

Third-seed Rutgers Prep faces top-seed RBC in the Non-Public South A championship game tonight down at Lenape High School in Medford, NJ, and you can hear the game on Central Jersey Sports Radio beginning with the pregame show at 6:45 and tip-off at 7:00. Mike Pavlichko will call all the action, and you can click here to listen live, for free, with no paywall.

Rutgers Prep is seeking its first state title since joining the NJSIAA in time for the 2012-13 school season

Besides the defensive pressure, the offense got a boost Monday from Jadin Collins, the junior guard who notched a double-double with a career high 30 points, as well as ten rebounds, four assists and seven steals. Senior forward Ryan Zan also had a double-double, with 12 points and ten boards.

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

The Caseys, meanwhile, are led by senior guard C.J. Ruoff at “just” 11.4 points per game, but they have a balanced scoring attack.

Alex Bauman can create matchup headaches. The senior was a football All-State tight end, first team, for the Non-Public B Champions in 2021, catching six touchdown passes, 26 overall, for 432 yards. All he did in the first matchup against Rutgers Prep was score 17 points and grab a whopping 19 rebounds. But the kid can rebound, too. The Tulane-bound (for football) Bauman also had four assists in that game.

READ MORE: Rutgers Prep boys’ opponent Red Bank Catholic brings balanced attack to Non-Public South A title game

How they got here:

(3) Rutgers Prep: defeated 14-Union Catholic in the first round, 81-58; defeated 11-Immaculata in the semifinals, 84-63; defeated 2-St. Thomas Aquinas in the semifinals, 68-59

(1) Red Bank Catholic: first-round bye; defeated 9-Camden Catholic in the quarterfinals, 88-62; defeated 4-St. Joseph-Metuchen in the semifinals, 70-58

Offensive/Defensive numbers: Stat-wise, Rutgers Prep outscores Red Bank Catholic on average nearly 77-63. But defensively, they have both been very good, and are fairly equal: 55.2 allowed by the Argos, to 50.2 allowed by Rutgers Prep. That out their meeting on January 30th for both, and it’s even closer: Prep is allowing 53.8 a game, 49.12 for RBC.

ONE NIGHT, TWO TITLES? – READ MORE: Rutgers Prep girls are playing at next level heading into Non-Public South B final tonight down the Shore.

What’s the goal? In all three Rutgers Prep losses, they’ve allowed at least 70 points. The Caseys are 8-0 when scoring more than 70. In RBC’s four losses, they never managed 60 points – 58 was their highest – so 60 may turn out to be the magic number on the board for the Argonauts.

Click below to hear Rutgers Prep coach Matt Bloom talk about his team’s title game against Red Bank Catholic tonight with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko: