Tag: Montgomery

The goal was: “Get hardware.” They did, and Watchung Hills is the CJSR boys’ basketball 2021 Team of the Year

There were many good boys’ high school basketball teams in the GMC and Skyland Conferences in this COVID-shortened season, but when you beat three of them – including two that you lost two a total of three times this season – en route to winning your league’s top pod trophy, that has to count for something.

For us, that counts for making Watchung Hills the No. 1 team in the final Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten of the year, and thus the 2021 Boys’ Basketball Team of the Year.

The Warriors finished the year 12-3, their losses coming to Hunterdon Central twice, and once to Gill St. Bernard’s, at the time the No. 1 team in our rankings.

Watchung Hills beat both of those teams in the first two rounds of the Skyland Conference Tournament’s Blue Division pod, then knocked off then No. 5 Rutgers Prep in the finals on the road, on a game-winning baseline bucket by Tyler Bokatch in the final few seconds, holding off one last chance by the Argonauts, who had to go the length of the floor in just under 1.5 seconds.

LISTEN: An audio look back at Watchung Hills boys’ basketball, 2021 CJSR Team of the Year, with Coach Justin Salton, Trevor Bokach, Elijah Lewis

Second in the final rankings was Colonia. The Patriots – in a four-team GMC pod – took down the No. 3 and No. 2 teams in the rankings, respectively: St. Joseph of Metuchen and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Below are the final rankings, including postseason tournament superlatives:

Gill closes regular season right where it started, No. 1 in rankings

Despite a loss to out-of-area Hunterdon Central, Gill St. Bernard’s held on to it’s No. 1 position in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Boys’ Basketball Top Ten.

The Knights finished the week 2-1, and the regular season with a 6-3 mark overall, with all losses out of area. Gill also lost to Bergen Catholic and the Patrick School.

They’ll have a bye in the first round of the Skyland Conference Tournament top pod, the “Blue Division,” and on Thursday will face the winner of 4th-seed Hunterdon Central and 5-seed Watchung Hills, with that game being played Tuesday night.

The only change in the Top Ten this week was a flip-flop of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Joseph-Metuchen, a reverse of what they did a week ago.

Aquinas (7-4) is back to No. 2 after beating state-ranked Hudson Catholic in double overtime Saturday, while the Falcons (9-3) lost at unranked North Brunswick.

The Trojans appear to have locked in the top overall seed in the GMC Tournament’s top pod. That postseason will be seeded Monday morning.

Below is the complete Week 5 Top Ten:

Boys’ regular season wrap-up: Bound Brook heads into Skyland Tourney as lone unbeaten area team, and other notes of interest

What a year the Bound Brook Crusaders have had.

Lucky enough to have no COVID pauses, Anthony Melesurgo’s squad has persevered, and reaped the rewards of their sacrifice to stay safe and stay on the court.

Bound Brook has finished the regular season with an 11-0 mark, entering the postseason as the only undefeated team out of the 54 calling either the GMC or Skyland Conference home.

All but one of Bound Brook’s games came against league competition, with their lone out of conference game coming against a Linden team whose 1-11 record is deceptive, by virtue of playing in the Union County Conference’s stacked Watchung Division – which includes Roselle Catholic, Elizabeth and Union – as well as Paterson Eastside and Montgomery.

Bound Brook won all four of its games this week: Monday at Linden 68-61, Tuesday at North Plainfield 56-41, Thursday at home against Bernards 73-61 (on Central Jersey Sports Radio), and Saturday afternoon against Voorhees 78-55.

LISTEN: Harrell, McLarty, Melesurgo talk No. 9 Bound Brook’s gut-check win over Bernards

The Crusaders are the top-seed in the “Gold Division” bracket of the Skyland Conference Tournament, which will include three ‘pods” this year, and for the first time ever put teams in Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex Counties in the same field.

Continue reading “Boys’ regular season wrap-up: Bound Brook heads into Skyland Tourney as lone unbeaten area team, and other notes of interest”

Simmon’s clutch free throws put No. 2 St. Joe’s of Metuchen past No. 7 Montgomery

Junior Ethan Simmons hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 2.9 seconds remaining to give St. Joseph of Metuchen its seventh win in a row.

The Falcons (8-2) beat No. 7 Montgomery 46-42 Monday night on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving, and were led by Simmon’s 9 points. Six Falcons scored, but none reached double figures in a balanced effort.

The Cougars (7-2) were led by Ryan Curry’s 18 points, while senior Chris Rubayo chipped in 13.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko call all the action from Monday night’s game:

St. Joe’s Cocozziello, Simmon on Falcons’ slim win over Montgomery

It came down to two free throws to salt the game away and Ethan Simmon’s blood was as cold as the ice and snow blanketing the Montgomery High School campus.

The 6-3 junior hit both ends of the only one-and-one in the game to gave No. 2 St. Joseph of Metuchen a 46-42 win over No. 7 Montgomery, in a GMC-Skyland Conference crossover game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, powered by Bellamy & Son Paving.

Simmon led the Falcons (8-2) with nine points, while the Cougars (7-3) were led by Ryan Curry, the junior point guard who led all scorers with a game-high 18.

St. Joseph has won seven straight since starting the season 1-2.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from St. Joseph guard Ethan Simmon and head coach Jan Cocozziello:

St. Joseph guard Ethan Simmon
St. Joseph head coach Jan Cocozziello

Last-minute matchup pits red-hot St. Joe’s against Montgomery

St. Joseph of Metuchen’s last loss came much earlier in the season – six wins ago to be exact.

Montgmery’s first loss came just last week, after they had won their first six.

No matter, both are playing extremely well right now. The No. 2 Falcons (7-2) have been humming along with junior guard Ethan Simmon averaging 21 points in two games last week, while the No. 7 Cougars (7-1) have gotten steady play all year long from junior point guard Ryan Curry and senior center Chris Rubayo.

They’ll all square off tonight on High School Basketball powered by Bellamy & Son Paving on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling all the action. Pre-game is at 5:45, with game time at 6 pm. You can listen live by clicking here

Click below to hear both head coaches talk about Monday night’s Top Ten matchup:

St. Joseph head coach Jan Cocozziello
Montgomery head coach Kris Grundy

Gill still leads pack, Joe’s and Colonia climb in Week 4 Top Ten

A 2-0 week helped Gill St. Bernard’s hold the top spot in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Week 4 rankings. The Knights are 4-2 following a 90-71 win over then-No. 4 Watchung Hills on Tuesday and 71-70 over a tough Elizabeth squad on Saturday.

Big gainers in Week 4 included St. Joseph of Metuchen, which leap-frogged St. Thomas Aquinas into second, and Colonia. The Patriots had a 3-0 week to improve to 8-2, though all three wins were out of conference – over Rumson-Fair Haven, Newark East Side and Passaic.

Below are the full Week 4 rankings:

Rutgers Prep girls, Gill St. Bernards boys should be “top seeds” in Skyland’s “postseason”

Barring the unthinkable happening for either team, the Rutgers Prep Girls and Gill St. Bernard’s boys are likely to be the top seeds in their respective Skyland Conference “postseasons,” where eight-team pods will be formed to play down to champions.

On the girls’ side, Rutgers Prep – No. 1 in the Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings – showed their dominance against the No. 2 team in the rankings, Franklin, handing the Warriors their second Skyland Conference defeat this week (they lost to Hillsborough Tuesday). That hasn’t happened since January 2017. The Argos led 35-6 at halftime and won 65-33.

Gill, meanwhile, sits atop the Delaware Division, with a rematch with second-place Hunterdon Central not coming until Thursday, the day after the Skyland seeds the tournament Wednesday morning. Seeding committee chair Jason Miller says all games up to and including Tuesday, February 23rd will be considered.

The committee will include Miller, the athletic director at South Hunterdon, as well as six other ADs: Montgomery’s Chris Penna, Phillipsburg’s Tom Fisher, Bound Brook’s Jeff Steele, Immaculata’s Mike Gambino, Bridgewater-Raritan’s John Maggio, and Rutgers Prep’s Mary Coyle-Klinger. Jack Baum – the Sykland’s assignor of officials – also is on the committee.

Girls’ play begins Monday, and will continue Wednesday and Friday, while the boys will start Tuesday, and continue Thursday and Saturday, the final day of play allowed this season by the NJSIAA, which is not holding the state tournament this year due to the COVID-shortened season.

While the top picks on the girls’ and boys’ side seem easy, who will be right behind them? Who else will be in the upper pod of eight on the girls’ side? What other teams will be in the boys’ top pod of seven? (The boys’ side has one less team than the girls.)

Here’s a look at Central Jersey Sports Radio’s projections, based on results through Saturday, February 20th.

Oh, and one last request: please be kind? This is my first basketball tournament projection – ever! I don’t like to do projections unless there’s math involved – even if it is the Born Power Index.

Skyland Boys’ Top 7 Pod:

  1. Gill St. Bernard’s (4-2) – The Knights are the easy top pick from the league’s top division, despite their two losses, which have both come out of conference – to Bergen Catholic and Patrick School. They have legit D1 talent, are ranked No. 6 statewide, and pass the eye test. They’re the best team in the league until someone knocks them off. In the seven-team format, Gill would get a bye from Monday’s first-round.
  2. Hunterdon Central (6-2) – The Red Devils are right behind the Knights, and gave them a run in a 77-64 road loss on Feb. 4 (click here for our postgame coverage). Too bad they won’t get another crack at Gill – at home – before the seeding is done.
  3. Montgomery (7-1) – How much will Monday night’s result against St. Joseph-Metuchen (6 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio – click here to listen) weigh in? Tough to say. A win against one of the top few teams in the GMC and a state power program may boost the Cougars’ standing here more than a loss to a solid non-conference opponent. Their only loss came this week, to Shore Conference opponent Middletown North.
  4. Bound Brook (7-0) – Sure, the Crusaders are a small-school program, but undefeated has to count for something. And Bound Brook has been playing well, and deserves a home game (in a 4-5 matchup). The only problem is, only two of their seven opponents (Warren Hills and Bernards) have winning records at the moment. They’ve been mostly scoring points in bunches.
  5. Watchung Hills (6-2) – Led by dual-sport star Chad Martini – the football QB who just scored his 1,000th point – the Warriors are quietly having a good season, overshadowed in the big-boy Delaware Division by Gill and Hunterdon Central. Making the top seven would put three teams from the Delaware in the upper pod, but they deserve it. Hills lost by five to the Red Devils on February 5th, and rematch Tuesday, the day before the committee seeds this thing. That game could disrupt the apple cart. Stay tuned…
  6. Rutgers Prep (2-3) – The Argonauts were first hit by the late preseason news that Villanova signee Trey Patterson would be leaving the Somerset school to enroll early down on the Main Line. Then, they had not one, but two COVID stoppages, and are still trying to find their sea legs. They’re a tricky team to figure; they deserve to be in the top seven given the talent they have, but have three losses – yet they’re undefeated in league play at 2-0, with wins over Phillipsburg (2-6) and Franklin (2-3). Out of conference losses have come to state No. 1 Camden, Elizabeth and Hudson Catholic. The Argos are a tricky one, for sure; it’s hard to seed any tournament when a team has only played two games against their peers. They have one more game this week before the cutoff, Immaculata (5-3) on Tuesday.
  7. Ridge (6-2) – The Red Devils dropped out of the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten last week, but they’re the next best option down the list in the Skyland Conference. They should edge out Immaculata for the final spot, though the two have similar records. But Ridge has beaten them twice, including Saturday afternoon. However, should the Spartans beat Rutgers Prep on Tuesday, look for some movement here in the bottom two.

Skyland Girls’ Top 8 Pod:

  1. Rutgers Prep (7-0) – You know Rutgers Prep is good. Really good. No. 23 in the nation good. (How have they gone unbeaten and dropped seven spots since the preseason? Whatever!) But have you seen them play? Did you see them put on a defensive, ball pressure clinic against No. 2 Franklin Saturday afternoon. (Click here for our postgame coverage.) Probably not, thanks to COVID, but man they were impressive. They’re the odds on favorite to win the whole damned thing, let alone get the top seed.
  2. Gill St. Bernard’s (6-0) – Unfortunately, Franklin gets Gill on Tuesday – at least it’s at home – the day before the seeding committee puts this whole thing together. But Gill has been solid, too. Too bad we don’t get to see them play Rutgers Prep this year. Then again, maybe we will. Barring any more snow or COVID cancellations, the Knights should roll into the postseason at 9-0 or better.
  3. Mount St. Mary (8-0) – I’m still not sure if these are projections, or my version of the seeding. The Skyland postseason has never been done before, although much of the same seeding principles remain. But I’m a big believer in undefeated teams being rewarded. Regardless of school size or division, to maintain the focus says a lot. That said, I go with Mary’s here, with a perfect record. You play the schedule you’re handed, and when you beat them all, you deserve the credit.
  4. Bound Brook (6-1) – The Crusaders have one blemish, a loss to undefeated Mount St. Mary’s, which is why the Lions are ahead of them here. You can’t argue with that. But you also can’t argue with how good Bound Brook is. They should be winning their sixth straight sectional championship this year, but they won’t get a crack at it. Though they’re tied in the division behind Belvidere, they did dismantle the County Seaters in what will have been their only matchup this year, 78-34 on Feb. 6th.
  5. Ridge (5-4) – The Red Devils sandwiched between Rutgers Prep and Phillipsburg in the Division. They split with the Stateliners (but the win was more recent) and have losses to the Argonauts, plus Watchung Hills, Gill St. Bernard’s and Rutgers Prep, all “quality losses.”
  6. Voorhees (6-2) – The Vikings are red hot at the right time, having won four in a row after splitting their first four. The Voos have done it with defense, holding four teams under 40 points this year, allowing 37, 30, 30 and 27 on their recent streak. They’re deserving of being in the top eight.
  7. Franklin (3-2) – The Warriors should be in the top eight, as they’re one of the better teams in the county; they just don’t look elite this year. Part of that is being hampered by COVID, sure; they played one game before having to pause all team-related activities. They did not look good against Rutgers Prep, and the Hillsborough loss was a head-scratcher, no disrespect to the Raiders. Franklin – at least the Franklin on the last four seasons, with two TOC titles to their credit – doesn’t lose those types of games. They could make a big statement Tuesday against Gill, though, as mentioned earlier.
  8. Hunterdon Central (6-2) – Their only losses are to Gill St. Bernard’s and Franklin, and the jury is still out on Franklin. Still, the Warriors get the nod over the Red Devils due to their head-to-head: Audrey Taylor’s squad beat them by six – just last Wednesday. They’re the last team in, for now. Central has Watchung Hills, a team they beat by eight earlier this season – on Tuesday, but I’m not sure a win there moves the needle much.

Montgomery’s 6-0 start hasn’t taken a single Cougar by surprise

Not a single player or coach in the Montgomery boys’ basketball locker room – even if they can’t use the locker room – is surprised by a 6-0 start that has them No. 7 in the Central Jersey Sports Radio rankings, and the only six-win undefeated team in the Greater Middlesex or Skyland Conferences.

Only Bound Brook (4-0) and Bernards (2-0) remain unbeaten in the CJSR coverage area.

To a man,the Cougars say the ground work was laid in the off-season with a lot of hard work. But having a solid core back – led by 6-9 Lafayette-bound senior Chirs Rubayo and junior point guard Ryan Curry, and a host of key starters and off-the-bench players – doesn’t hurt either.

Montgomery coach Kris Grundy is in his 16th season. This one might rival the team he had in 2014 that made it all the way to the Central Jersey Group 4 title game. Unfortunately, there’s no state tournament for Rubayo and this group of seniors. But they have their sights set on making the Top 8 pod of the one-off Skyland Conference Tournament this year.

Click below to listen to Montgomery coach Chris Grundy, senior Chris Rubayo and junior Ryan Curry talk about the Cougars’ red-hot 6-0 start:

AUDIO: Montgomery interim head coach Sean Carty picks up first win, wishes Milich well

by Mike Pavlichko

Zoran Milich is the only head coach Montgomery High School has ever known.

Technically, that’s still true.

Assistant Sean Carty is technically the “interim” head coach, replacing Zoran Milich in the season opener after Milich had to go to the hospital for emergency surgery. And he’s officially in the record books now as he picked up his first win Thursday night, when Montgomery beat North Hunterdon, 22-8.

Carty talked with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about the victory, and how he’s enjoying his time but can’t wait for Milich to get back. Listen to their conversation below: