Tag: Mergin Sina

Mergin Sina, Mark Taylor among those to be honored at The Basketball Reunion next month

Now in its second year, The Basketball Reunion – an event created to bring together players and coaches from high school and college teams throughout various eras – will induct two high school coaches with local ties into its Hall of Honor.

Gill St. Bernard’s boys’ basketball coach Mergin Sina, and St. Benedict’s boys; basketball coach Mark Taylor – who also previously coached at Ridge and St. Joseph-Metuchen – will be honored on April third at the second annual event at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Sina played his college ball in New Jersey at Seton Hall, and after a 12-year professional playing career overseas that saw him inducted into the Portuguese Basketball Federation Hall of Fame, took over the girls’ program at Gill, going 105-49 in six seasons and winning the program’s first two Somerset County Tournament titles in 2009 and 2010. He then took over the boys’ program, where he just wrapped up his 13th season, is 273-71, and has won seven of the last eight SCT championships, including five straight from 2015 to 2019.

Taylor has been at St. Benedict’s in Newark for 12 years and has racked up more than 300 wins, in addition to the 255 victories he had combined at Ridge at St. Joseph of Metuchen. With the Falcons – where he also played his high school ball and is in the Athletics Hall of Fame – Taylor coached two future NBA players in Andrew Bynum and Jay Williams, who was the second pick in the 2002 NBA Draft out of Duke.

Sina and Taylor will be inducted in the “Special Recognition” category.

The Basketball Reunion will be held on the floor of the Prudential Center the night of April 3rd, with a “steakhouse” dining experience, capped off by a watch party of the NCAA Tournament’s men’s basketball national championship game. The event will be emceed by award-winning sports anchor Bruce Beck of WNBC-TV, Channel 4, in New York for the second straight year.

Among those also being inducted in various categories: former Seton Hall stars Terry Dehere and Shaheen Holloway; the 1982 Rutgers women’s basketball AIAW National Championship team; , Dana O’Neil, senior writer for the Athletic; referees Tim Higgins, Ed Corbett and Tom Lopes, all of whom have New Jersey ties; and Mike Fratello and Brian Hill in the NBA Coaching Legends category.

For more information on the event, visit www.thebasketballreunion.com. The event is open to the public. Proceeds benefit the Team Hill Foundation and its “programs to assist disadvantaged youngsters on the path to success in life.”

Another war on tap in SCT Boys’ Final as Rutgers Prep and Gill St. Bernard’s will rematch

Last year’s Somerset County Tournament title win for Gill St. Bernard’s was a blowout over Rutgers Prep.

This year, Gill won a regular-season matchup with the Argonauts at the buzzer, then Prep turned it around at home and handled the Knights, who were in it, but never really threatened.

What’s next today?

You never know what can happen when Rutgers Prep and Gill St. Bernard’s meet, and today at Montgomery High School will be no exception when the top-seeded Argonauts take on the second-seeded Knights in the SCT title game, which you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio as part of a girls’/boys’ doubleheader.

Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will call all the action, starting with pregame at 12:45 pm for the 1:00 girls game – also between top-seed Prep and second-seed Gill – then with the boys’ final starting at 3 pm. 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, and more.

#1 Rutgers Prep (19-7) vs. #2 Gill St. Bernard’s (18-6)
When: Saturday, February 18 at 3 pm
Where: Montgomery High School
Listen Live: Central Jersey Sports Radio, pregame begins at 2:45 pm

Jordin Collins of Rutgers Prep brings the ball up the floor in the second half against Gill St. Bernard’s on January 24, 2023. Collins finished with a game-high 22 points. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

#1 Rutgers Prep
Head Coach: Matt Bloom – 6th season, 111-32)

Having just played an all-out battle with Franklin on Thursday night, with a quick turnaround to Saturday, Bloom says his players will have watched film on the day in between, and go through some walk-throughs in an hour-long practice. Mental and physical healing is needed after an all-out banger against the Warriors, which literally drew blood; point guard Jordan Atkins had to come out of the game briefly after getting hit, and came back with a bandage in the area above his eye.

Expect much of the same Saturday afternoon. Atkins runs the point so well, even to the point of a play that won’t show up in the box score. Against the Warriors, after Jake Novielli hit back-to-back threes to get his team back in the game, Atkins got a pass on a drive and quickly realized the better play was to kick it back out. He did so, to Johnny Nsenkyire on the wing, and he hit a three-ball to stop the Franklin win. It was a critical moment. But the fact is, those moments also don’t happen without the offensive finish. Jadin Collins is one of those guys, leading in every scoring category, and he’s the team’s top rebounder, too. He can play defense, to boot, with a team-leading 105 steals. John Kelly has been playing great defense for the Argonauts, and Cameron Piggee has been nailing it from downtown since his return from injury.

Follow Sportsplex at Metuchen on Instagram for the latest on open gym sessions on their courts and turf!

Projected Starting Five:

  • PG Jordan Atkins (6-0, Sr): 8.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 140 assists
  • G Cameron Piggee (6-2, Sr): 14.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 50 treys
  • G Franklin Jones (6-5, Sr): 8.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 27 blocks
  • G Jadin Collins (6-1, Jr): 20.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 105 steals
  • F John Kelly (6-7, Jr): 11.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg

Coach’s Interview:

SCT History (1-5):

1988 – #1 Bridgewater-Raritan West beat #2 Rutgers Prep 94-66
2011 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat #2 Rutgers Prep 68-59
2017 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat #3 Rutgers Prep 71-61
2018 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat #2 Rutgers Prep 56-54
2020 – #1 Rutgers Prep beat #3 Watchung Hills 71-57
2022 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat Rutgers Prep 84-63

Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Mergin Sina talks to his team before a matchup at Rutgers Prep on January 24, 2023. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

#2 Gill St. Bernard’s
Head Coach: Mergin Sina – 13th season, 272-69

Head coach Mergin Sina was working with a completely new lineup in the preseason, and as it was coming together, it took another blow, the return of Jon Ismaijli to his native Serbia. Back to the drawing board, sort of. The results have been typical Gill St. Bernard’s, even without household names like Mackenzie Mgbako and Naas Cunningham, who transferred after last year.

Senior Mario Castro-Sanchez has shouldered the burden of the scoring this year, also leading the team in the three-point department, and can dish the ball to people like fellow senior Nick Losada, who hit the game winning three as time expired in the first meeting with Rutgers Prep, in Gladstone in early January. Freshman Dorsett Mulcahy can run the point, too, and looks more and more like his older brother on the court than than off it, with great moves off the dribble-drive. But he’s not the only Rutgers connection; Scarlet Knight head coach Steve Pikiell’s son, Kevin, also is on the team.

Projected Starting Five:

  • G Mario Castro-Sanchez (6-1, Sr): 22.5 ppg, 68 assists, 95 treys
  • G Andy Hearn (6-1, Sr): 4.6 ppg, 8 treys
  • G Nick Losada (6-2, Jr): 14.3 ppg, 47 steals, 46 treys
  • G Luke Ruggerio (6-3, Sr): 2.1 ppg
  • F/C Ebrahim Kaba (6-8, Jr): 9.2 ppg, 17 treys

Coach’s Interview:

Gill St. Bernard’ Head Coach Mergin Sina

SCT History (8-2):

2011 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat #2 Rutgers Prep 68-59
2012 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat #2 Bridgewater-Raritan 88-72
2013 – #1 Ridge beat #2 Gill St. Bernard’s 69-56
2014 – #3 Hillsborough beat #1 Gill St. Bernard’s 53-52
2015 – #3 Gill St. Bernard’s beat (1) Ridge 48-39
2016 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat #3 Somerville 66-51
2017 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat #3 Rutgers Prep 71-61
2018 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat #2 Rutgers Prep 56-54
2019 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat #3 Watching Hills 73-53
2022 – #1 Gill St. Bernard’s beat Rutgers Prep 84-63

After defensive start, Gill St. Bernard’s boys need OT to dispatch of Ridge, gain trip to SCT finals

Each team had a touchdown, missed the extra point, and Gill St. Bernard’s had a field goal just before the half.

No, not really, but that’s what the scoreboard inside the Knights’ gym looked like when it read 15-12 in favor of Gill at halftime of their Somerset County Tournament semifinal game against Ridge in Gladstone Thursday night.

Repeat: That wasn’t the score after one quarter. That was the halftime score. Only two players each had scored for their respective teams, and the leading scorers at the time – Mario Castro-Sanchez for second-seed GSB and Nikola Borovicanin for the 6th-seeded Red Devils – each had only eight points.

It looked for a moment as if the game would be decided in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, when Castro-Sanchez scored the go-ahead bucket to make it 46-44 Knights with 12.1 seconds remaining. But Ridge had the answer, as Liam Clark finished a layup with 2.1 to go. to end it to the extra period tied at 46.

Gill (18-6) then closed the deal in overtime, outscoring the Red Devils 11-6 for a 57-50 win. Ridge fell to 19-5 with the loss.

Castro Sanchez finished with a game-high 26 points, with eight of them coming at the free throw line in OT. Ebrahim Kaba added 16, while Nick Losada finished with 13.

For Ridge, Nikola Borovicanin led with 16 points, and Liam Clark had 14.

Now, it’ll be a rematch of last year’s title game when Gill meets top-seed Rutgers Prep (19-7) in the Somerset County Tournament Final at Montgomery High School, Saturday at 3 pm. Gill won last year’s matchup 84-63.

That game can be heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, and will immediately follow the 1 pm girl’s title tilt with the same teams, top-seed Rutgers Prep and second-seed Gill St. Bernards. Pregame coverage starts at 12:45.

Follow Sportsplex at Metuchen on Instagram for the latest on open gym sessions on their courts and turf!

Click below for postgame reaction sponsored by SportsPlex at Metuchen:

Gill St. Bernard’s senior guard Mario Castro-Sanchez
Gill St. Bernard’s Head Coach Mergin Sina

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

Losada’s three as time expires powers No. 3 Gill St. Bernard’s past No. 2 Rutgers Prep

Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Mergin Sina had no timeouts left after Jadin Collins hit a 15-foot jumper head-on to put Rutgers Prep up 65-64 with 10.5 seconds remaining.

And, he says, that was probably a good thing.

The No. 3 Knights got the ball down the floor and into the right corner for senior Nick Losada, the only returning player with any real experience from last year’s Somerset County Tournament Champion squad.

Losada – with a defender in his face – took the three, falling down. It hit no rim, and plenty of twine with 1.2 seconds to go.


By the time he got up off his rear end, time had expired, and Gill had fired the opening salvo in the teams’ two-game series this regular season, with the Knights and No. 2 Argonauts now in the same division.

It was a 67-65 win that is just another in a long line of wars between these two squads.

Gill (6-2, 4-0 in the Skyland Delaware Division) was led by senior Mario Castro’s 36 points, while Losada chipped in 17. Rutgers Prep (5-4, 2-1) was paced by Jadin Collins’ double-double of 31 points and 14 rebounds.

While Rutgers Prep scored the opening bucket, GSB went on a run to take a double-digit lead they wouldn’t relinquish until early in the third quarter. Gill got the lead back with 4:32 to go in the game on a pair of free throws, and then it went back-and-forth down the stretch.


The Knights had a 62-61 lead with 1:27 left when they got called for a travel. Jordan Atkins lost it in the lane the other way for Prep, but Gill fell on it, it was called a travel, and the Argonauts got the ball back. The Knights got a tie-up on John Kelly, but the arrow favored Prep, and they retained possession yet again.

Jadin Collins hit a runner for the Argos’ to put them up 63-62 with 32-seconds to play, then Castro got fouled with 18.6 to go and hit a pair of free throws to put the Knights up one.

Collins then drove the length of the floor to hit a jumper from the foul line with 10-seconds left, leaving Gill enough time to get down the floor and put the ball in the hands of its most-experienced Knight, who became the hero as he fell to the hardwood.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Mergin Sina about his team’s wild win over Rutgers Prep:

With rare “complete exodus,” Gill St. Bernard’s expects success, but has a lot of questions

After five straight Somerset County Tournament wins from 2015 through 2019, Gill St. Bernard’s took another three years before they’d hoist another trophy.

They did it last season with a star-studded lineup that racked up frequent flier miles jetting off to showcase tournaments across the country.

This year, however, the Knights will stay a little closer to home.

Denver Anglin is gone to graduation and seeing a few minutes here and there as a freshman at Georgetown. Mackenzie Mgbako moved on to Roselle Catholic. Naasir Cunningham – who hails from Atlanta – signed with the Overtime Elite pro league, but declined a salary to keep his college eligibility. Others have gone as well, with only one starter back.

That’s senior Nick Losada, who averaged 4.6 points per game last year.

Gill will surround him with a host of new players, including a 6-5 sophomore point guard from Kosovo – Jon Ismasjli (pronounced “iss-my-EEL-ee”) – who Sina believes eventually will be one of the best point guards in New Jersey.

With those headline names gone, Gill won’t be in all those national showcases this year, but Sina says that will allow his team to focus on its main task of gelling and improving.

The Knights tip off their 2022-23 season Thursday night at 7 when they host Bridgewater-Raritan in Gladstone.

Gill is set to appear on Central Jersey Sports Radio on Tuesday, January 24th as part of a girls/boys doubleheader at Rutgers Prep.

Click below to hear CJSR’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Gill head coach Mergin Sina about the upcoming season:

Looking back: Gill St. Bernard’s won thriller of a sectional title game in 2012

Back in 2012, in my previous “radio” life, Mergin Sina was doing for Gill St. Bernard’s boys’ basketball what he had done for the girls’ program, elevating it to new heights.

In that life, I was along for the ride, broadcasting the Non-Public South B title game against Trenton Catholic. And early on, it didn’t look good for Gill, until the turnaround came like a flash, and the game wound up being one of the Top Ten I had ever covered to that point.

It still is.

So, I’ve dusted off the tape, and here it is, a look back at Gill St. Bernard’s and their 2012 Non-Public South B Championship over Trenton Catholic:

Mgbako, Gill St. Bernard’s just too much for Rutgers Prep, as Knights win 8th SCT title under Sina

When you’ve got multiple players being recruited to play high level college basketball, and another team with some really good, maybe even great players, sometimes it’s just not enough.

That was the case Saturday afternoon at Montgomery High School, where top-seed Gill St. Bernard’s (17-6) was in control for most of the Somerset County Tournament Championship game, as they beat 2-seed Rutgers Prep (22-3) by an 84-63 score, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Junior Mackenzie Mgbako – being recruited by NCAA blue bloods like Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina – had a monster game. He led all scorers with 29 – including four treys – while Georgetown commit Denver Anglin had 20.

The win was the eighth for Gill St. Bernard’s and Mergin Sina, who won their first together in 2011, another the next year, and five straight from 2015 to 2019 before missing the 2020 final after getting knocked out in the semifinals by Watchung Hills. That was their first year not appearing in the SCT finals under Sina.

Click below for postgame reaction from Gill St. Bernard’s:

Senior guard Denver Anglin

Head coach Mergin Sina

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

Gill St. Bernard’s boys looking to get back where they belong: Somerset County Tourney Championship Game

In the ten prior seasons Mergin Sina has been the Gill St. Bernard’s boys’ basketball coach – not including last year’s COVID-shortened year with the one-off Skyland Conference-wide pods – the Knights have missed just one Somerset County Tournament final, in 2020, and it was none too pleasing.

Prior to that Gill St. Bernard’s had been to nine straight, winning seven of them, including five in a row from 2015 to 2019, beating everyone from Rutgers Prep and Watchung Hills to Ridge, Bridgewater-Raritan and Somerville along the way.

So, pardon Mergin Sina if he’s been there, done that before, and is nothing but business when his top-seeded Knights (16-6) host fourth-seed Montgmery (13-10) tonight in the SCT semifinals in Gladstone, in a game that can be heard LIVE on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The game is part of a doubleheader, ans is set for 7:00, immediately following the Gill girls’ semifinal game against Hillsborough at 5. Click here to listen to Mike Pavlichko call all the action; pregame for the girls’ tilt begins at 4:45.

Back to the Gill boys, they’re the No. 1 seed in the tournament, and ranked fourth in New Jersey. They were No. 3 until they got beaten by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Hearts 2 Hands Invitational two weeks ago at Roselle Catholic.

The Knights had several key players out for that game, including their head coach. Sina had been having back issues, and was at Roselle Catholic for pregame, but left before tip-off.

GSB also was without senior point guard Denver Anglin, a top national recruit on a team with a few of them, including junior Mackenzie Mgbako, only the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2023 nationally.

While Anglin was out five games, Naasir Cunningham also missed the Aquinas game. (For their part, the Trojans were also down two key players: Seton Hall commit Jaquan Harris, who’s been out since late last year and should be back soon from a knee injury, and top defender Terrell Pitts, who’s also hopeful to make it back for states.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko catch up with Gill St. Bernard’s coach Mergin Sina: