Tag: 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.

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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.

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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:

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

The Rutgers Prep Argonauts have made it to a second straight sectional final, knocking off St. Thomas Aquinas 68-59 Monday night in the Non-Public South A semifinals.

It was a stellar defensive effort for 3rd-seeded Prep, which never trailed against the second-seeded Trojans, who got off to a slow start for the fifth-game in a row.

And individually, the Argos kept Adam Silas in check all night. The talented senior wound up scoring 12 points, but was held to just a single point from the foul line until the third quarter.

On the other end, Jadin Collins, Preps leading scorer averaging 16 a game, went off for a career high 32.

It sends Rutgers Prep into Wednesday’s Non-Public South A title game at 7 pm down at Lenape High School just outside of Philly for a rematch with Red Bank Catholic. The top-seeded Caseys were 70-58 winners over 4th-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen Monday night, and beat the Argonauts 90-79 in the Jimmy V Showcase back at Central Regional in Bayville back in late January.

Rutgers Prep is in the South A section for the first time, having played in the smaller South B section since joining the NJSIAA for the 2012-13 season. Now 13-8 all-time in the state playoffs, their eight prior playoff appearances include two trips to the Non-Public B semifinals, and a trip to the finals in the last state tournament played, in 2020. There, they lost to Wildwood Catholic, 80-67, with a team that was led by Trey Patterson, now at Villanova.

Click below for postgame reaction as Mike Pavlichko talks live following Rutgers Prep’s win with the Argos’ Jadin Collins and head coach Matt Bloom:

Aquinas, Rutgers Prep boys square off looking to make history in states

One way or another, St. Thomas Aquinas and Rutgers Prep are battling for a chance at history tonight, in addition to keeping their seasons alive.

When the 2nd-seeded Trojans and 3rd-seeded Argonauts face off in an NJSIAA state tournament Non-Public South A semifinal game tonight in North Edison, the winner will have a chance to do something they’ve never done before: win a sectional championship.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast Monday night’s game live, with pregame beginning at 5:45 pm, and tip-off set for 6:00. Mike Pavlichko will call all the action. Listen live by clicking here.

Aquinas (27-1) already is having a historic season, setting a school record for wins, and winning its second straight GMC Tournament championship (winning in 2020 and 2021; the 2020 season featured eight four-team pods).

The Trojans are led by Adam Silas, a senior who is having a monster year. He has notched five different career highs in scoring this season, capping it off with 37 in the GMC Tournament final, the second highest GMCT scoring effort since the league’s inception in the mid-1980s, second only to the late Keith Hughes of Carteret. It was the fourth-highest scoring total in a final dating back to the Middlesex County Tournament of the 1960s.

READ MORE: CLEAN SWEEP! St. Thomas Aquinas boys win GMC Tourney title, make it two trophies for the Trojans in one night

Silas is averaging 19.3 points per game, and five assists per game, to go along with 61 steals and 53 treys, all team bests.

Aquinas plays stingy, pesky, annoying defense. Junior Terrell Pitts – perhaps the team’s best defender – came back for the team’s quarterfinal win over St. John Vianney, and led the team with 14 points.

FEATURE: The veteran, the leader, and the newcomer: why St. Thomas Aquinas has a shot to win it all

For Rutgers Prep, junior guard Jadin Collins leads the way at 16.7 points per game, while senior point guard Ryan Pettit sets everyone up, averaging over six assists per game; but he plays defense, too, notching 4.3 steals per contest. Then there’s the long Ryan Zan, a 6-7 senior who transferred from Ranney Prep, who could present matchup issues for Aquinas, which is smaller, but plays bigger than it looks.

READ MORE: No. 1 Rutgers Prep girls outdone by national power St. John Vianney, but No 3. Argo boys return the favor

The Argonauts made the last Non-Public South A finals – in 2020 – losing to Wildwood Catholic in the finals, 80-67. Their history in the NJSIAA is short-lived, as the school played a prep schedule until the 2012-13 season, when they began NJSIAA play. They are 12-8 all-time in the state tournament, and have never missed the states in eight years, but are playing in just their third semifinals.

Both teams are ranked in the Top 20 in the state: Aquinas at No. 3 and Rutgers Prep at No. 9.

DID YOU KNOW? Before this season, St. Thomas Aquinas/Bishop Ahr had won only one NJSIAA playoff game in its entire history? That came in 2019, Bob Turco’s first season, a 75-48 home win over Donovan Catholic in the Non-Public South A first round. The Trojans are 2-2 under Turco in state tournament playoff games.

Click below to hear previews of tonight’s game with both coaches:

St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Bob Turco

Gill St. Bernards, Rutgers Prep to face off for SCT Tourney title in a battle of heavyweights

They are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the Somerset County Tournament, and the fourth and tenth-ranked teams in the state.

And though they play in the same Skyland Conference, they’re not in the same division, and don’t play each other in the regular season. In fact, they haven’t played since before the pandemic, their last meeting in early February of 2020.

Only three players who played in that game – albeit key ones – will be on the floor this afternoon when 2nd-seed Rutgers Prep (22-2) and top-seed Gill St. Bernard’s (17-6) square off at Montgomery High School for the Somerset County Tournament Championship.

Gill’s Denver Anglin scored 14, and Mackenzie Mgbako 13, while Prep’s Ryan Petit was scoreless but had two assists and two rebounds in a 65-59 win for his Argonauts.

You can hear today’s championship game on Central Jersey Sports Radio at 3pm, with Justin and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. Click here to listen.

Both teams have a lot of talent. The aforementioned Mgbako is one of the top recruits in the 2023 class nationally, which also includes Camden’s D.J. Wagner, the son of New Jersey’s all-time scoring leader DaJuan Wagner. Mgbako leads the Knights with 19.3 points per game, while Anglin leads the team with 39 triples on the season and will be headed to Georgetown next year.

Rutgers Prep junior Jadin Collins leads the team with 17 points per game, while Cameron Piggee (pronounced “pi-ZHAY”) chips in 15.8. And as a team, they hit from beyond the arc a whopping almost seven times a game, with Piggee having 53 triples on the season

Click below to hear previews with both head coaches:

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

No. 1 Rutgers Prep girls outdone by national power St. John Vianney, but No 3. Argo boys return the favor

The Rutgers Prep high school basketball teams split a boys/girls doubleheader Sunday at Kean University in Union, as the Argonaut girls – No. 2 in the state – lost big to St. John Vianney – No. 1 in New Jersey and five nationally – 87-48.

But in game two, the Rutgers Prep boys – third in the Bellamy & Son Paving Central Jersey Top Ten – turned the tables on their visitors from the Shore, beating the Lancers 90-43.

It was a balanced attack for Matt Bloom’s club, which is 12th in the statewide rankings, now 19-1, and has dates with Ridge Tuesday for Senior night and Camden – the No. 1 boys’ team in New Jersey – Thursday night this week before heading into the Somerset County Tournament.

Junior Jadin Collins scored 26 points, including three mammoth dunks and a pair of treys, while Cameron Piggee added 21, Ryan Pettit chipped in 12 and Ryan Zan contributed 11.

It was the first time this season the Argonaut boys had finsihed with a score in the 90s, and it was their third highest offensive output all season; they have ended up in the 80s three times, and twice eclipsed 100, maxing out at 105 in a road win at Bridgewater-Raritan back on February third. They also won at North Hunterdon 104-60 back on January 25th.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Collins and head coach Matt Bloom:

Girls: St. John Vianney 87, Rutgers Prep 48

Rutgers Prep’s Antonia Bates plays defense as St. John Vianney attempts a three. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Meanwhile, the Rutgers Prep girls hung in, but couldn’t get close enough against the Lady Lancers, who are ranked fifth nationally by ESPN, and now have won 49 straight games, the longest active streak in New Jersey. They had no answer for Princeton commit Maddie St. Rose – who finished with 26 points, including two treys – and Zoe Brooks, who finished with 24, including three from downtown.

It was only Rutgers Prep’s second loss of the year, as they fall to 17-2, and first against a New Jersey team since March 11, 2020, when they lost at Trenton Catholic in the Non-Public South B Finals. The margin of defeat, 39, was the biggest for Rutgers Prep going back at least beyond the 2006-07 season, the oldest year for which records are publicly available on either NJ.com or Maxpreps.com.

Sophomore Mikayla Blakes scored 19 as she tried to get her team back into it in the second half, scoring 15 of the Argos’ 25 points after the break. But both Blakes and junior Katie Ledden were held scoreless in the first quarter, and only managed six points between them in the first half; a single field goal in the second quarter was all Ledden could muster against a pesky SJV defense that denied good looks down low or around the perimeter.

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe talk to RU Prep head coach Mary Klinger after the game:

Collins leads Rutgers Prep into matchup with Shore Conference foe St. John Vianney

Roselle Catholic has talent to spare.

So, when Jadin Collins left and decided to enroll at Rutgers Prep, head coach Matt Bloom welcomed him with open arms.

All Collins has done is lead Rutgers Prep – with his 18 points per game – to an 18-1 record, their lone blemish to Red Bank Catholic in the Jimmy V Showcase at the end of January.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Collins will lead the Argonauts against St. John Vianney, in game two of a girls/boys doubleheader between the schools at Kean University’s Harwood Arena in Union. Game time is set for 12:30, immediately following the girls’ matchup between the top two teams in the state – SJV is ranked No. 1.

Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the action, and you can listen live by clicking here.

Click below for audio previews of Sunday’s game:

Rutgers Prep head coach Matt Bloom
St. John Vianney head coach Ryan Finch