Tag: Old Bridge

INSTANT REPLAY-GIRLS BASKETBALL: No. 8 Old Bridge 69, East Brunswick 63 (OT)

Junior Leena Tran paced 8th-ranked Old Bridge with 20 points – 13 in the second half – to help the Knights beat East Brunswick 69-63 in overtime, sweeping the season series and taking sole possession of second place in the GMC Red Division, in a Greater Middlesex Conference game on Thursday, January 20, 2022.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino call all the action from East Brunswick High School:

No. 8 Old Bridge girls trail most of the way against East Brunswick, but pull one out in OT to sweep season series

The first time around, in the season opener, Old Bridge ran out to a 14-0 lead on East Brunswick, which clawed its way back, only to lose by two.

In their second meeting of the regular season Thursday night in East Brunswick, the script was almost completely reversed. The Bears stormed out to an 11-2 lead, but No. 8 Old Bridge clawed back, playing to within two at halftime at 28-26, and they came out with a 69-63 overtime win to take both games of the season series.

Down three in the third, Old Bridge finally tied it at 49-all with 4:30 to play, and sophomore Abby Jazmin’s big fourth quarter helped force overtime, tied at 57 apiece.

But getting to OT was almost a win in and of itself for Old Bridge. That’s because two key Bears fouled out late, in a game where both teams had multiple players in foul trouble. Senior guard Samantha Lederman – filling in for injured Nicole Motuseski at the position – fouled out with 1:24 to go, after junior Tamea El – a force down low – fouled out with 2:23 left.

Down their best ball-handler and low-post presence, Old Bridge took advantage, ratcheting up the pressure, forcing turnovers, and converting them into several buckets that proved the be the difference in the extra four minutes.

Junior guard Leena Tran led the Knights (7-3, 6-2) – who took sole possession of second place in the GMC Red Division with the win – with 20 points, 13 after intermission. East Brunswick (9-3, 5-3) junior Boorke Motusesky had a game-high 26, including four treys; she had five all season entering the evening.

Click below to hear Dominic Savino with postgame reaction from No. 8 Old Bridge’s win over East Brunswick:

Old Bridge junior guard Leena Tran
Old Bridge assistant coach Matt Donoghue

No. 8 Old Bridge girls try to regain momentum on road trip up Route 18 to face East Brunswick

Old Bridge head coach Alec Alspach says the losses aren’t always as bad as they seem, and sometimes the wins aren’t as good as they seem.

Certainly, he would have liked the season-opener against East Brunswick to be a little more comfortable, after his team raced out to a 14-0 lead. The won the game, but by a single possession, and it showed how tough the GMC Red Division would be this season.

Eighth-ranked Old Bridge (6-3, 5-2) and East Brunswick (9-2, 5-2) sit tied behind first-place St. Thomas Aquinas, but tonight’s winner will take sole possession of second place in the Greater Middlesex Conference red, a coveted spot when it comes time to seed the county tournament next month.

You can listen to tonight’s game live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling all the action. Tip-off is set for 6 pm, with pregame at 6:45. Click here to listen.

Click below to head Dom Savino talk about tonight’s game with Old Bridge head coach Alec Alspach:

East Brunswick girls look to exact revenge for season-opening loss to No. 8 Old Bridge

To say the season opener between East Brunswick and Old Bridge was a roller coaster would be an understatement.

The Lady Bears didn’t come out of the gate like they wanted to, and found themselves down early 14-0, but clawed back to within 14-11 at the first break. Then they held the Knights to just six points in the second quarter to take a 23-20 lead. Back and forth they’d go, but ultimately Old Bridge would win it 49-47.

Thursday night, East Brunswick (9-2, 5-2 GMC Red) look to even the score when No. 8 Old Bridge (6-3, 5-2 GMC Red) comes to town for a key divisional matchup. The winner would be in sole possession of second place in the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division, a coveted spot come county tournament seeding time.

You can hear Thursday night’s game on Central Jersey Sports Radio, beginning with pregame at 5:45 pm and tip-off at 6:00, as Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino call all the action. Click here to listen live.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with fourth-year East Brunswick head coach Travis Retzlaff:

This story was corrected to show Old Bridge’s record is 6-3 overall, 3-3 in division.

Another unbeaten week keeps Rutgers Prep atop the Week 4 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten

There’s no change in the top three places of the Week 4 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Rankings, with No. 1 Rutgers Prep, No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas and No. 3 Gill St. Bernard’s combining to go 9-0 in the past week.

Colonia and Bound Brook flip-flopped, with the Patriots (11-2) going 3-1 last week, losing only at Westfield. The Crusaders (8-3) also lost at Westfield, by fewer points, but dropped a second game in a 2-2 week, losing out-of-state to St. Joseph by the Sea of Staten Island.

Mount St. Mary (6-3) went 2-0 for the week to hold in sixth, while Woodbridge jumped from n inth to seventh on the strength of a 3-0 week. Old Bridge (6-2) held in 8th after a 1-2 week, losing to Monroe and No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas, but they picked up a win over a ranked foe, too, edging No. 7 South Brunswick 47-46. That loss put the Vikings (7-2) behind them in ninth, down two spots.

Middlesex (5-2) holds in tenth at 5-2, following a 2-1 week that included playing all the way up to the Red Division in a 58-48 loss to East Brunswick.

Below are the complete Week 4 rankings:

Another week at No. 1 for Rutgers Prep girls in Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten

On the strength of a 2-0 week after a COVID pause, the Rutgers Prep girls remain the Number One team in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Week Three Top Ten.

The Argonauts got back into action with a pair of games this past weekend, beating Camden Catholic Saturday 78-46, then topping Long Island Lutheran 68-49 down in West Deptford at the Blue Star High School Invitational.

There was a little movement this week, as St. Thomas Aquinas – with a 2-0 week – jumped over Gill St. Bernard’s. The Knights went 0-1 this week, losing their only game 45-42 at Hillsborough. The Trojans beat Edison by 24 and South Brunswick by 14.

Bound Brook held in fourth, while Colonia – which went 3-0 this week with wins over North Brunswick, at Woodbridge, and at Carteret – vaulted up to fifth, and Mount St. Mary held in 6th.

South Brunswick went 2-1 – the loss coming to St. Thomas Aquinas – and moved to seventh, while Old Bridge – undefeated at 5-0 – jumped into the rankings at No. 8. The Vikings had wins over South River and Edison.

Woodbridge went 1-1 and dropped to ninth, while Middlesex – which beat Spotswood and South River in the week gone by – held in tenth.

Below are the Week 3 rankings:

Old Bridge’s Lanzafama stepping down after 12 seasons with Knights

Saying “the time was right for a lot of different reasons,” Old Bridge head coach Anthony Lanzafama is leaving the program after a dozen highly successful seasons as just the school’s second head coach following the merger of Cedar Ridge and Madison Central.

Lanzafama took over for Bob DeMarco, who retired in 2010, but he wasn’t an outsider. In fact, he grew up in town, played youth football there, played high school football in Old Bridge, and worked as an assistant under DeMarco.

Promoted from within, Lanzafama went 72-47-1 in his 12 seasons, with just two losing records in that span. He had four eight-win seasons with the Knights, the most recent of which came in 2019.

He started with a 2-8 campaign 2010, then the Knights won the final three games of 2011 to go 5-5. But after that, Old Bridge ripped off a four-year run that included two eight-win seasons, going 29-14 overall from 2012-2015, including a berth in the Central Jersey Group 5 championship game at Rutgers. They would lose that game to South Brunswick, whose head coach Joe Goerge was officially hired Thursday to begin a second stint with the Vikings.

And when it came to their big rival, Lanzafama’s teams were nearly perfect. After losing to East Brunswick in the 2010 version of the “Battle of Route 18,” his first, the Knights have won eleven straight since.

Click below to listen to Anthony Lanzafama talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

As you count down to the New Year, here are the Top Ten stories of 2021 on Central Jersey Sports Radio

Top Ten lists are king. Ever since the first David Letterman Top Ten on the original “Late Night” on NBC, they’ve been funny, entertaining, and – when it comes to sports – a great source for debate.

There’s not much debate to be had here, though. We’ve compiled the Top Ten stories of 2021 – our first full calendar year of operation on Central Jersey Sports Radio – with the most read and listened to stories on our website. Read by you, the fans!

All these stories are about the teams, schools, student-athletes, and great plays that made 2021 special. Some are combined when written about the same subject. Click on each heading to read and listen to the original stories. Enjoy!

10) No. 5 Old Bridge routs South Brunswick as Hunter, Haughney star

Old Bridge players take the field for pre-game warmups at South Brunswick on September 17, 2021.

Sometimes, it’s not a game-winning hit, touchdown or basket that makes a good story. Sometimes, it’s just a old-fashioned football game. For whatever reason, that was the case with our tenth-most read story of 2021, a win for Old Bridge football over South Brunswick from early this season. Lawrence Hunter III was the Autoland Player of the Game, and Owen Haughney figured prominently in the win as well. Listen to postgame reaction from Hunter and head coach Anthony Lanzafama with CJSR’s Tim Catalfamo.

9) Old Bridge finally wins a close one, in a big spot

Seniors on the Old Bridge baseball team pose before their 2021 Senior Night.

Another Old Bridge story, this time baseball. The Knights were having a rough season, but still in the state tournament. With a 7-17 mark, they had lost ten games by three runs or less, and four by one or two runs. That is, until the opening round of the playoffs, where 12th-seeded Old Bridge knocked off 5th-seed South Brunswick, behind solid performances from two sophomores: Justin Herbstman and Thomas Papeo.

8) “Walk ’em off Spotswood!” Lewandowski’s double off the wall lets Chargers keep Commanders’ Cup trophy another year

Spotswood holds the Bill Thompson Memorial Commander’s Cup Trophy after a 6-5 walk-off win over East Brunswick on May 19, 2021. It was the Chargers’ fourth straight win in the series.

Spotswood High School – my alma mater, for full disclosure, Class of 1996 – has always had that underdog mentality. Baseball coach Glenny Fredricks just brings it to another level, and he has a bunch of scrappy guys to prove it. There’s no fear in this small Group 2 school going up against a Group 4 like East Brunswick year after year after year, for what they call the “Commanders’ Cup.” In 2021, Spotswood won their fourth straight in the series, thanks to a walk-off off the wall by Tyler Lewandowski.

7) National recruit Davison Igbinosun of Union says Farmers are “heartbroken” over playoff cancellation, vows to keep fighting

Union senior CB Davison Igbinosun (source: Twitter)

COVID didn’t nearly have the effect on the 2021 high school football season that it did in 2020. Sure, games were cancelled, but not in an amount even closely approaching what happened the season prior. That did nothing to comfort Union, which had one of its most talented teams in school history, and was the odds-on favorite to win North 2 Group 5, and maybe even go all the way to win the North 5 regional championship. Then, COVID hit a few members of the team, the Superintendent shut down the season, and four-star national recruit Davison Igbinosun and his teammates became vocal to try and save their season. It didn’t work, but we helped give him and his teammates a voice, and Igbinosun represented them with class and dignity.

Click here for additional coverage with Union head coach Lou Grasso, Jr.

6) Loaded North Brunswick aiming high behind Garbolino and Co.

North Brunswick junior QB Frankie Garbolino

Coming off a 7-1 season, with an experienced junior quarterback and a talented ensemble cast returning, North Brunswick entered the 2021 football season with high hopes. They might have been achieved if not for a once-in-a-lifetime-talented Hillsborough squad, which they met twice – once in the regular season finale and once in the playoffs. Hear Frankie Garbolino and head coach Mike Cipot talk about the 2021 team, in our most-listened to preview story of ’21.

5) Somerville’s dynamic duo – Cookie and AJ – taking divergent paths after H.S., with big hopes for the future

From left to right, Somerville RB Cookie Desiderio, head coach Dallas Whitaker, and DE A.J. Pena pose with their commemorative footballs honoring their CJSR Player of the Year picks, and Somerville’s Team of the Year award for 2020.

They were two of the most dominant football players in the Big Central – maybe even the state – in the COVID-shortened 2020 season: runningback Cookie Desiderio and defensive end A.J. Pena of Somerville. The “Cookie Monster” scored almost every time he touched the ball (every 5.8 carries, in reality, but who’s counting) and A.J. loved “making quarterbacks cry,” which he did 12 times in seven games. They were named CJSR’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, but in the strange world of extra college eligibility and the FCS season being moved to the Spring – neither got the D1 offers they deserved.

4) Who’s the strongest team in the Big Central? Here are the league’s SI ratings heading into 2021

Phillipsburg was the “strongest” team in the Big Central heading into 2021, according to the NJSIAA’s Strength Index.

Yes, sometimes even true numbers, purely mathematical, can stir debate. And such has been the case since the NJSIAA revamped its playoff formula in 2018, initially using the Born Bower Index, and since 2019 using its own formula, loosely based on the BPI. It uses the OSI, or Opponent Strength Index, but needs the strength value of each individual team to calculate. So, we simply compiled the numbers for all the Big Central and published them. Not everyone may be a fan of our extensive knowledge of the system – it can be a dull read at times – but we do have many fans of this kind of thing, apparently. And we’re sure a good number of them are coaches, too, from both inside and outside the conference, as we’ll frequently get calls and texts asking “Where do you see us ending up?”

3) Listen to Bobby Ulmer talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about his walk-off grand-slam

Bobby Ulmer, Jr., live on the CJSR postgame, talking about his dramatic walk-off grand slam.

Kids dream of this kind of stuff, acting it out in their backyards. Bases loaded, two outs, last inning, two strikes, grand slam to win the game. Bobby Ulmer, Jr., of Middlesex lived it. His walk-off grand slam in the Group 1 semifinals sent Middlesex to the state title game, where they would win again in walk-off fashion, albeit in 13 innings on a seeing-eye single by Mark Geist. Ulmer’s moonshot in the team’s last home game of the year was as dramatic as they come.

Bonus coverage: Middlesex gains Group 1 final on Ulmer’s dramatic, walk-off grand slam

2) Big Central releases All-Division Teams

It doesn’t always have to be a Top Ten list that inspires debate, or at least inspires people to go to your website. Simply honoring student-athletes is a big draw. So a list recognizing all the outstanding football players in the Big Central Conference in 2021 – all-division teams chosen by the league’s head coaches featuring 384 players in toto – brought readers out in droves.

1) He brings the water bottles, and the excitement. And he wants to help bring Greg Schiano and Rutgers a national championship

Edison senior Raymond Taub wants to be a team manager for Greg Schiano at Rutgers.

This may be one of our most favorite stories – if not, favorite interviews – ever. I can’t really tell you how we first came to know about Raymond Taub – that’s an entertaining story just for a few of us to know – but suffice it to say, he’s an awesome kid. He’s the autistic, well-loved-by-everyone manager of the football team, keeps meticulous pitch counts for the baseball team, and is the Eagles’ biggest fan. He also may be the biggest Rutgers fan out there, and his Senior Night “goal” was to become a manager with the Scarlet Knight football team and “help Greg Schiano win a national championship.” He’s a little busy right now, but someone bookmark this story for him when he gets back from Jacksonville in 2022, will ya?

Despite injury, Knights’ Haughney picks up CJSR’s “Longevity Award”

While he suffered a season-ending injury in his sixth game of the season, it still feels like Owen Haughney has been an Old Bridge Knight forever.

A dual-threat quarterback, it was a disappointing ending in a promising season, but Haughney had one heckuva career, and was named Central Jersey Sports Radio’s “Longevity Award” winner for 2021.

Despite the injury, Haugney went 52-82 passing this year for 823 yards and 9 TD with just two picks. He also rushed 60 times for 336 yards.

In his career, he racked up 2,533 passing yards and 26 TDs. He easily would have passed 3,000 had he not gotten hurt this year. Haughney threw for over 100 yards in 14 career games. He also had 732 career rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground.

Click below to hear Dom Savino talk with Old Bridge’s Owen Haughney:

Honorable mentions included Colonia’s Josh Oluremi, who has rushed for over 2,000 yards and passed for over 1,800 in his career, as one of the most electrifying players in the Big Central Conference. Mike Leanza also was recognized, a senior who rushed for 1,000 yards this year in seven games, despite breaking his leg late in the season and missing his team’s playoff games. Also noted was Matt Marchesi of South River, the son of Rams’ head coach Rich Marchesi, who just finished his 33rd season. Matt has been a water boy for his dad since he was five, and hasn’t missed a practice in 12 years!

Are we there yet? Top 5 longest treks for Big Central schools in the opening round of the playoffs

The way the NJSIAA now seeds the high school football playoffs – choosing the top 16 teams in the North and South halves of the state in each group, then snaking them through eight-team sections with no regard for geography other than that the overall Number One seed gets to be in their “natural” section – can lead to some long bus rides of a Friday night or Saturday morning.

We’ve compiled the five longest road trips for Big Central Conference teams in the opening round.

5. South Hunterdon at Paulsboro (1 hour, 6 minutes – 58 miles): Though both are along the Delaware River, they couldn’t be in more different towns. South Hunterdon Regional High School is in Lambertville, just under four miles from the bridge that takes you to New Hope, PA. Paulsboro High School is practically within walking distance of the Delaware, south of Philadelphia, but with its straight-line view marred by oil tank after oil tank at the Sunoco refinery, and with Philly International across the way. Believe it or not, Google says the fastest way between the schools is to take I-95 in Pennsylvania, then cross back over the Walt Whitman Bridge into Jersey. Taking the Turnpike all the way down from Trenton would add another six minutes to the trip.

4. Montgomery at Northern Highlands (1 hour, 15 minutes – 63 miles): When we trekked up to Northern Highlands to cover Woodbridge’s North 1 Group 4 title game there a couple of years ago, that was a trek coming from New Brunswick. Coming out of Skillman is no fun either. That’s a trip up 287 in the heat of rush-hour. Bring a good movie for the bus, or maybe a game of Risk, and settle in. For fans, there are some good eats in downtown Allendale, a quaint little village. Jerry Seinfeld even taped an episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” there.

3. Old Bridge at Kingsway (1 hour, 19 minutes, 75 miles): In 2019, 6th-seed Kingsway pulled off an upset at Lombardi Field, heading back home for the nearly hour-and-a-half ride with a 34-7 win over third-seed Old Bridge. This time, the Knights are the five-seed on the road, and Kingsway is the four-seed at home. Maybe with the seeds flipped, the Knights can turn the tables on the Dragons.

2. St. Thomas Aquinas at St. Joseph-Hammonton (1 hour, 30 minutes – 78 miles): The parcohial schools, particularly down south, are used to this. With so few of them, and so far in between, trips are never a picnic. That doesn’t make it any easier. And the 7-2 Wildcats are a beast just about every year, so it’ll be a tall order for our Trojans. Then again, everyone said “Wait ’til they play Del Val.” Point taken.

1. Middlesex at Woodstown (1 hour, 42 minutes – 92 miles): This has got to be one of the longest trips for any team in the state in the opening round. It’s 287 to the Turnpike, all the way down to Exit 2, then through farms and fields until you get to the little village that is Woodstown. Ionically, the Wolverines’ baseball team made this same trip back in June for the Group 1 semifinals, which Middlesex won 7-5 in dramatic fashion, on Bobby Ulmer Jr.’s two-out, two-strike, walkoff grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Blue Jays would go on to win the Group 1 title, defeating New Providence in a 13-inning affair, their third straight in walkoff fashion – fourth if you count a walkoff mercy rule win in the sectional semifinals over Florence.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Click here to listen again – and again – to Bobby Ulmer Jr.’s game-winning grand slam against Woodstown from June 2021.