Tag: Mikayla Blakes

Super sophomore Mikayla Blakes is Central Jersey Sports Radio Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year

It’s rare that a senior – sometimes even a junior – isn’t named Player of the Year, in just about any sport, whether in high school or college.

But when someone is as good as Mikayla Blakes, just a sophomore at Rutgers Prep, the class year gets thrown out the window.

And so, Blakes is the inaugural Central Jersey Sports Radio Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year, an honor that’s well-deserved.

The numbers are impressive. Consider that as a frosh in the short COVID year she scored double figures in seven of 13 games – and in each of the season’s final five games – her encore was even more impressive: 18.3 points per game, and double figures in all but three games – two of which were blowout wins, while the other was a loss to Westtown, PA.

But she was so much more than the numbers showed. A double-threat, she could get hot from downtown – hitting five times in a game twice, including against Gill St. Bernard’s in the Somerset County Tournament final – but was devastating off the drive as well.

And as she explained to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko this week, there’s a reason for that.

Click below to hear Rutgers Prep’s Mikayla Blakes talk about her 2021-22 season:

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

“REPEAT”: Rutgers Prep cruises past Gill St. Bernard’s to win second straight SCT title, 5th of last 7

When you think about how good the Rutgers Prep girls’ basketball team was Saturday in the Somerset County Tournament final against Gill St. Bernard’s, it makes you realize how good St. John Vianney is.

They’re only the No. 1 team in the state, and blew out Prep on Super Bowl Sunday up at Kean, a “wake up call,” Argos head coach Mary Klinger told CJSR this week as to what her team needed to do to win a championship.

Lesson learned, goal achieved.

After a tight first quarter, where second-seeded Gill actually led 10-8 after the first eight minutes, the next eight were in a different stratosphere, leading top-seeded Rutgers Prep (23-2) to a 64-35 win over Gill St. Bernards (16-5).

Super sophomore Maikayla Blakes hit a trio of treys in a 30-6 run by Rutgers Prep, with their stifling defense fueling their high-powered offense, and all of a sudden, the teams went to the locker room with Prep ahead 38-16.

Rutgers Prep may be a bit on the young side, but GSB head coach Mark Gnapp’s team is, too. And he admitted this week maybe his team was a year ahead of schedule. Sunday’s result bore that out.

It was the second straight Somerset County Tournament title won by Rutgers Prep, which won the 2020 championship over Watchung Hills. They’ve now won five of the last seven tourney titles, having taken three in a row from 2015 to 2017.

Gill also has dropped three straight meetings with Rutgers Prep in the finals, losing in 2016 and 2017 as well.

Blakes led Rutgers Prep with 25 points, while junior Katie Ledden added 16. Sophomore Jennah Johnson led Gill in defeat with 17.

Click below for postgame reaction from the Rutgers Prep girls’ Somerset County Tournament win:

Sophomore Mikayla Blakes
Head coach Mary Klinger

No Dalce? No problem. Rutgers Prep girls cruise to win top Skyland Tournament pod

With little fanfare, Villanova-bound Christina Dalce missed Wednesday’s 73-18 semifinal pod win over 5th-seed Hunterdon Central. You wouldn’t have noticed unless you saw the box score, and no line with her name on it.

She missed top-seed Rutgers Prep’s championship game as well in the league’s top Blue Division pod, but the Argonauts still won.

They beat 2nd-seed Gill St. Bernard’s in yet another dominant performance, 69-41, to win the Blue title, in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving.

Senior Belle Pellecchia had a game- and career-high 25 points, including 12 free throws, more than making up for the absence of Dalce. Freshman guard Mikayla Blakes added 11, and dished out three assists.

The win moves Rutgers Prep to 12-0, with one more game to play. They host a “regular season” game against Saddle River Day Saturday afternoon at 1, after which the Rutgers Prep boys play in the top boys’ pod against Watchung Hills, a surprise winner over top-seed Gill St. Bernard’s in the semifinals.

The Gill girls drop to 10-2.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Rutgers Prep’s win in the Skyland Conference Tournament’s Blue Division title game:

Rutgers Prep senior guard Belle Pellecchia
Rutgers Prep freshman guard Mikayla Blakes
Rutgers Prep head coach Mary Coyle-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