Tag: Monroe

Baker, Whalen talk No. 5 Aquinas girls’ big win over previously-unbeaten No. 3 Monroe

In what was a tie game at the half, fifth-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas pulled away just enough after intermission to come up with a 49-41 win over No. 3 Monroe, handing the Falcons’ (7-1) their first loss of the season.

Aquinas improves to 6-1 and takes sole possession of first place in the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division. The teams aren’t scheduled to meet again in the regular season, though there has been talk of a second matchup being scheduled, and the teams will likely meet again in the GMC’s postseason “pods.”

Senior Akyia Baker scored a game-high 17 points, 13 of which came in the decisive second half.

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Click below to hear postgame comments from Baker and St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Joe Whalen:

Senior guard Akyia Baker
Head Coach Joe Whalen

Monroe, Aquinas girls to square off tonight in battle of top GMC girls teams

They have 13 wins between them, 12 of them against the GMC.

They have – in total – outscored their league foes by a 62-34 margin, holding five of their 12 GMC opponents under 30 points.

No. 3 Monroe has allowed fewer points (29 per game), while No. 5 St. Thomas Aquinas has scored more points (70 per game).

Which just means something has to give when they square off tonight on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving. Game-time is set for 6 pm, with Dom Savino on the air for pregame at 5:45.

The game also is sponsored locally by Bishop Ahr High School.

It will be the first and only regular season meeting between the two schools, though they could meet in the “post-season” if they are placed in the same four-team pod.

There is no state tournament this season, the NJSIAA has allowed leagues to have a maximum three-game “playoff'” season on the final week of the year. The GMC has opted to go with four-team pods. Assuming the best four teams go in the first pod, these two teams should be in the same bracket, regardless of tonight’s outcome.

Click below to listen to Dom Savino’s preview of tonight’s game with Monroe head coach Leigh Vogtman and St. Thomas Aquinas coach Joe Whalen.

Monroe head coach Leigh Vogtman
St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Joe Whalen

Week 3 Girls’ Top Ten, led by Rutgers Prep, has a perfect week

While two teams dropped out of the Week 3 Central Jersey Sports Radio girls’ basketball rankings, the two that replaced them – and the eight that stayed – didn’t lose a single game last week.

The ten teams combined to go 23-0 in Week Three.

The group again is led by Rutgers Prep. The Lady Argonauts are 5-0 after a pair of wins – by an average 38 points – over Stuart Day and Ridge.

No. 3 Monroe (6-0) and No. 5 St. Thomas Aquinas (5-1) held steady; the two will meet Tuesday night on Central Jersey Sports Radio’s High School Basketball powered by Bellamy & Son Paving, in a Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division game. Both teams are undefeated in GMC play, a combined 11-0, with the Falcons scheduled to travel to East Brunswick Monday night, while the Trojans are off.

Check back Tuesday on Central Jersey Sports Radio for a preview of the Monroe-Aquinas game with Dom Savino.

Two new teams debuted in the Top Ten this week.

Colonia (6-2) debuted at No. 9 on the strength of a three-win week, beating South Plainfield, South Brunswick and North Brunswick.

Calvary Christian (5-0) edged in at the tenth spot. Starting the season late – on Feburuary 5th – the Lady Lions have beaten Wardlaw-Hartridge, Piscataway Tech and Timothy Christian.

Below is the Week 3 Central Jersey Sports Radio girls’ basketball Top Ten:

1-0 week enough to keep Lady Argos at the top of Week 2 rankings

Mother Nature only allowed Rutgers Prep to get one game in this week.

The Lady Argonauts made the most of it, downing Phillipsburg 61-28 in Somerset Saturday afternoon, keeping them undefeated at 3-0, and at the top of the Central Jersey Sports Radio girls’ basketball rankings.

There were few changes again in week two, with few games being played due to snow wiping Monday and Tuesday games off the slate. Six undefeated teams are sprinkled throughout the rankings, including Franklin, Monroe, Gill St. Bernard’s, and Mount St. Mary, which is an area best 5-0.

Edison pulled into the rankings with a 4-1 record, despite a 1-1 week, while Watchung Hills dropped out after falling to 1-2.

The full Week 2 rankings are below:

Rutgers Prep’s 2-0 start keeps them No. 1

Rutgers Prep was widely expected to be the team to beat heading into the 2021 season.

So far, so good.

The Lady Argonauts opened the season with a 2-0 Week One, and remain the No. 1 team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Girls Basketball Top Ten.

Below are the full Week One rankings:

How the Top Ten fared…

Rutgers Prep’s two wins were in typical fashion: scoring a lot of points and playing good defense. They won 73-39 at North Hunterdon, and won 83-19 at Montgomery.

No. 2 Franklin won its only game of the week, a 52-41 victory at Hillsborough.

Monroe moved up to No. 3 on the strength of a 2-0 week fueled by solid defense, winning 55-32 at Piscataway and 53-18 at Spotswood. That’s an average 25 points surrendered in two games.

No. 4 Gill St. Bernards didn’t play during the week, in a COVID contact tracing pause.

St. Thomas Aquinas dropped to No. 5 after splitting a pair of road games in Week One, dropping its opener on the road to Life Center Academy (Burlington County) 58-33, but holding Piscataway to under 30, in a 69-29 win.

Bound Brook held at No. 6 after a one-game week; they won their 16th straight game against Manville, putting the pedal to the medal to cruise past the Mustangs 70-36, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

MORE: Trio of Bound Brook standouts talk No. 6 Crusaders’ big season-opening win over Manville

Mount St. Mary moved up two places to No. 7 after a 3-0 week, holding two of their opponents to scoring in the teens. They beat Warren Hills at home 57-37, then won 56-13 at Bernards and 57-18 at Delaware Valley.

No. 8 Watchung Hills won 68-52 at Bridgewater-Raritan in its only game of the Week.

North Brunswick checks in at No. 9 after a 3-0 Week One. The Lady Raiders won a pair of road games – at Woodbridge 58-35 and at JFK 52-51, sandwiched around a home win against Colonia 47-41.

No. 10 Middlesex stayed put, powered by a 2-0 week. They won their opener at home 74-44 and then won at Spotswood 72-40.

Edison also received consideration for the rankings. The Eagles are 2-0, win win at East Brunswick (44-42) and at home against Piscataway (60-59).

Ridge – previously No. 7 – dropped out. They beat Immaculata 44-41, but lost at Phillipsburg 42-30.

Rutgers Prep is team to beat in first-ever CJSR Top Ten

The inaugural Central Jersey Sports Radio girls’ basketball rankings find Rutgers Prep at the top of the list. Mary Coyle-Klinger’s squad has a ton of returning talent, including Villanova commit Christina Dalce.

Below are the complete preseason rankings, followed by last year’s record and postseason accomplishments:

  1. Rutgers Prep (25-5, SCT champions, Non-Public South B runner-up)
  2. Franklin (24-5, North 2-Group 4 champions)
  3. St. Thomas Aquinas (25-5, GMC Tournament champions)
  4. Gill St. Bernard’s (15-11)
  5. Monroe (23-5, GMC Tournament runner-up)
  6. Bound Brook (26-3, Central-Group 1 champion)
  7. Ridge (22-8, North 2-Group 4 runner-up)
  8. Watchung Hills (22-6, SCT runner-up)
  9. Mount St. Mary (21-7)
  10. Middlesex (24-3, Central-Group 1 runner-up)

Also receiving consideration: Somerville (20-8)

COVID in Monroe program leads to cancellation of opener at St. Joe’s

by Mike Pavlichko

The Greater Middlesex Conference has its first COVID-related cancellation of the 2021 high school basketball season, and the season hasn’t even tipped off yet.

Monroe’s game at St. Joseph of Metuchen next Tuesday – opening day for high school basketball in New Jersey – has been cancelled due to COVID in the Monroe program, its Athletic Department confirmed Thursday afternoon to Central Jersey Sports Radio.

It’s the first known cancellation in the GMC due to actual COVID cases. However, a number of games were scrapped after Carteret and Perth Amboy opted not to play basketball and most other winter sports this year. And some districts, like Middlesex and Old Bridge, have decided to begin play the first week of February, rather than the NJSIAA first date of competition, which is Tuesday, January 26th.

READ MORE: “Like a kid in a candy store,” HS coaches and players welcome the start of practice

There was no immediate word on whether the game would be rescheduled, nor on a replacement game for St. Joe’s, which otherwise would open on Thursday night against Roselle Catholic at 5:30 pm at Maglio Gymnasium.

The “Battle of the Falcons” was to be the debut of high school basketball play-by-play on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Instead, we’ll have live coverage of East Brunswick at Dunellen (time TBA).

The Bears and Destroyers – two divisions apart in the GMC – are meeting because the Bears’ opening night game against Old Bridge was nixed when the Knights delayed the start of preseason practice by a week. They won’t start games until week two of the season, which starts February 1.

The opening week of games also includes girls’ basketball Thursday night, as Manville visits Bound Brook.

Click here for the full broadcast schedule of high school basketball on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Central Jersey Sports Radio unveils inaugural H.S. Basketball Broadcast Schedule

High school basketball is right around the corner (see the countdown timer on the right of this page!) and Central Jersey Sports Radio plans a big season of hoops play-by-play.

The schedule includes 13 regular season games in both the Greater Middlesex and Skyland Conferences. And for the first time, girls’ basketball in both leagues will have a play-by-play home.

Click here for the full 2021 High School Basketball Schedule on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Five of the 13 games on the schedule are girls’ matchups, including some of the top teams in the area: St. Thomas Aquinas, Bound Brook, Franklin, Rutgers Prep and Gill St. Bernard’s.

Franklin celebrates its North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 championship in 2020, their final game before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down high school sports last March.

The schedule also includes a pair of marquee affairs in a Saturday boys/girls day-night doubleheader on February 20th: Franklin at Rutgers Prep girls at noon, and The Patrick School at St. Thomas Aquinas at 7 pm.

Top boys’ teams on the schedule include St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Joseph-Metuchen, Bound Brook, and Colonia.

Monroe visits St. Joseph-Metuchen on Tuesday, February 26th at 7 pm (air time at 6:50) in the season opener on the first day of competition for high school basketball according to the NJSIAA’s schedule for winter sports in Season 2.

22 Big Central football players named to NJFCA Super 100 Team

by Mike Pavlichko

The Big Central Conference – in its first year of existence – was responsible for nearly a quarter of the players selected to New Jersey Football Coaches Association’s Super 100 Team, which is chosen annually in December.

The selections for 2020 were announced on Twitter Monday night.

Nominations are made by coaches who are members of the NJFCA, and comittees of coaches make the final selections based on NJSIAA playoff sections. For this season, with no playoffs, the NJFCS simply divided the state into quadrants based on geographical Northing numbers.

Only seniors can be named to the Super 100 Team, and those getting full scholarships to play football collegiately are automatically selected, according to NJFCA Commissioner John Jacob.

Cookie Desiderio and A.J. Pena of Somerville – Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Big Central Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively – were among the 12 players selected in the Central section.

CJSR’s Mr. Versatility Ali Lee Jr. of Woodbridge also was selected, along with teammate Jordan Harris.

Rounding out the Central section were Austin Scott (South Plainfield), Majid Howard-Baker (South Brunswick), Omar Shehabeldin (North Brunswick), Dylan McFadden (Montgomery), Kyle DeGraw (Monroe, Keyshawn Dixon (JFK), Longevity Award winner Sean Levonaitis (Hillsborough) and Zach Zebro (East Brunswick).

There were ten players selected in the North 2 section, headlined by Rutgers-bound Desmond Igbinosun of Union, along with his teammate Diante Wilson.

Others included Shawn Martin (Scotch Plains-Fanwood), Andrew Taddeo (Ridge), Matt Quetel (Phillipsburg), Chad Martini and James Coslet (Watchung Hills), Omakus Langley II (Hillside) and Bruce Myers (Bridgewater-Raritan).

Each year, the Super 100 Team is honored with a dinner in the Spring, but whether that will happen in person or virtually – due to COVID-19 protocols – has not yet been determined.

Cookie Monster! Somerville’s Desiderio named Big Central Offensive Player of the Year

In the end, there was no debate, little surprise: Cookie Desiderio was the top offensive player in the Big Central Conference.

The 6-1, 215-pound senior runningback was a dominant force on offense, right from the get-go.

In the Pioneers’ opener, Desiderio touched the ball only six times, four of them resulting in touchdowns. He had two rushing touchdowns on two carries, totaling 113 yards. Desiderio also had four catches, “only” two of them resulting in touchdowns, and a total 98 receiving yards.

LISTEN: Whitaker and Desiderio postgame reaction after Somerville knocks off Woodbridge

Of course, it could only go “downhill” from there, and it did. All the “Cookie Monster” did the rest of the season was score a touchdown every 5.8 carries, the best rate in the state of New Jersey. And he led the entire Garden State scholastic scene with 26 rushing touchdowns, adding four more TD grabs.

Click below to hear Cookie Desiderio and Defensive Player of the Year A.J. Pena of Somerville talk together about their undefeated 7-0 season:

Three others earned Honorable Mention status on offense: New Providence runningback Charlie Barth, Monroe quarterback Aidan McLaughlin, and North Brunswick signal caller Frankie Garbolino.

McLaughlin is the only senior of the bunch. He threw for 1,433 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, with only 5 INTs. That was good for an average of 238.8 yards per game, and he tossed for over 300 yards three times. In a Week 2 win over Perth Amboy where the Falcons scored a school record 63 points, McLaughlin was not to be outdone: he tossed for an all-time program best 315 yards on 14-of-23 passing, with three touchdowns. He eclipsed his own mark later in the season in a win over a solid South Brunswick team, tossing for a cool 370 yards.

LISTEN: Monroe senior QB Aidan McLaughlin credits his teammates for his record-setting performance

Barth is just a junior, so the Central Jersey Sports Radio Two-Way Player of the Year will be back for another year to defend his title. He rushed for 1,702 yards and 25 touchdowns on 186 carries, and was the closest of anyone in the Big Central – even the state – to Desiderio’s pace: scoring on every 7.4 carries. He scored 25 of the team’s 34 rushing touchdowns, and had multiple scores in all but one game, notching four TDs in a game twice.

Garbolino is the youngest of the bunch, a sophomore thrust into a starting role who came up roses. He went 124-for-215 for 1,685 yards, tossing 17 touchdowns and only 6 picks. The only game where he didn’t throw for at least 100 yards was his varsity debut, a 93-yard passing effort in an 18-9 win at Sayreville. And he spent his best offensive output on one of the Raiders’ toughest opponents, in a 32-7 home win over state-ranked Passaic Tech.

LISTEN: Garbolino appears on “Tuesday Night Quarterback” to talk about being one of the rising sophomore QBs in the Big Central