Tag: Spotswood

Rutgers Prep girls keep on keepin’ on, lead Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten again

Make it 24 straight weeks at No. 1 for Rutgers Prep in the Central Jersey Sports Radio/Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten, as the Lady Argonauts remain the only team ever to hold the top spot in the rankings, now in their third year.

Rutgers Prep (10-3) went 2-0 in an abbreviated week gone by, with wins at Hunterdon Central and Hillsborough by a combined 166-71. They will take a nearly four-year and 50-game winning streak against Skyland Conference opponents into a huge clash Tuesday afternoon at home against Gill St. Bernard’s, which can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. It’ll determine the Skyland Conference Delaware Division winner, and could figure into who gets the top seed in the Somerset County Tournament with the seeding two weeks from today.


St. Thomas Aquinas (12-3) held in second with wins over South Brunswick and Old Bridge, while Gill (11-3) had a 2-0 week with wins over Hillsborough and Bridgewater-Raritan, keeping them in third.

The rest of the rankings, however, saw some shifts.

Bernards (11-3), Edison (14-2) and Middlesex (12-2) all edged up one spot each to fourth, fifth and sixth, while South Brunswick (12-4) dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 after a 1-2 week that saw them beat Piscataway, but lose to No. 2 Aquinas and unranked Colonia.


The bottom three also saw some shuffling: Watchung Hills (12-4) moved up two spots to eighth on the strength of a 3-0 week that included wins at Ridge and Hillsborough, and at home over Immaculata.

Mount St. Mary (11-5) dropped one spot to No. 9 after a 1-1 week: a win over Somerville and a loss at Warren Hills.

Spotswood (12-4) entered the rankings after a 3-1 week where they lost to East Brunswick, 56-41, but rebounded with wins at Carteret and at home over South River and Keansburg. Metuchen (12-3) – previously ranked No. 9 – dropped out with a 2-1 week that included a loss at Woodbridge. The Chargers and Bulldogs square off against each other Monday.

Below are the full Week 6 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Rankings:

South River clears perhaps its biggest remaining hurdle, as Santos, Rodriguez power Rams past Chargers

Ever since Spotswood took its high schoolers out of South River and opened its own high school in 1976, Chargers-Rams has been an intense rivaly. And 47 years later, little has changed.

The crowd got here for the JV game and never left, and the doors were shut well before tip-off.

Spotswood kept it close for a while, down just eight points at the half.

But the fifth-ranked Rams (13-1, 9-0 GMC Blue) pulled away, getting well into double digits in the third, and beat Spotswood (11-4, 7-3) 73-51 before a packed house in South River.

Senior Roman Santos led all scorers with 18 points, 16 in the first three quarters. By then it was well in hand for the Rams. Santos’ final bucket, his only score in the final eight minutes, was a thunderous one-handed jam in transition.

Senior Laz Rodriguez added 17 in another very balanced game.

Spotswood kept punching, but every time they cut a double-digit lead to six or seven, the Rams always had an answer, and eventually, South River was just too much for them.

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

South River won its first meeting with the Chargers just two games into the season in Spotswood. That was a five-point game, and one of the toughest opponents they’ve played all year. It may have been their toughest remaining divisional challenge, as South River is widely considered to have a strong argument for the third-seed in the GMC Tournament next month – providing they don’t trip up the rest of the way – by virtue of beating St. Joseph-Metuchen after Christmas, and despite suffering its first loss of the season last weekend against Piscataway.

Click below for postgame reaction presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Senior Alex Grospe
South River sophomore Alex Grospe (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)
Senior Kobe Taylor
South River senior Kobe Taylor (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)
Head Coach Brandon Walsh0

Spotswood basketball, baseball teams will remember Matthew Carlson in their own ways

Matthew Carlson should have been on the jayvee basketball team at Spotswood High School this year, and would eventually have contributed to the Chargers’ baseball team as well this Spring. The sophomore was a great kid, a leader by example, and loved by his classmates and teammates.

Instead, they are all remembering him, a month after his tragic death in an ATV accident in Georgia.

According to published reports in numerous media outlets, the 16-year-old sophomore was in an ATV while on a family vacation in Georgia over Thanksgiving break when it crashed, and he was thrown from the vehicle the night before Thanksgiving. He was pronounced dead early Thanksgiving morning at a local hospital.

“E4M” – Everything for Matt – is written in the top left corner of the Spotswood basketball team’s whiteboard in the locker room. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The news stunned the Spotswood community as word reached New Jersey.

The basketball team is remembering him by placing his jersey on a chair at home games this season, and with a message in the corner of their whiteboard in the boys’ locker room.

Matthew Carlson (Source: Spotswood Funeral Home obituary)

We talked to basketball coach Steve Mate and baseball coach Glenny Fredricks for their memories and recollections of Matthew Carlson.

Click below to listen:

South River boys win Blue Division battle of attrition, back and forth affair at Spotswood

Both teams played with key starters on the bench in foul trouble for much of the second half – Jeremy Grospe and Laz Rodriguez for South River, and Aiden Scher, Kiya Walker and Casey Cumskiey for Spotswood. In the end, the Rams hung on longer to beat the Chargers on the road, 73-68, in a key early season Blue Division contest heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Senior guard Roman Santos was not one of those in foul trouble, and he tied for game-high honors, leading South River with 21 points in the victory, on a pretty balanced night: 12 points in the first half, and nine more after intermission, when he went 5-of-6 in the foul line, including 4-for-4 in the critical fourth quarter.

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

Spotswood trailed most of the way, down 21-15 after the first eight minutes and 34-33 at the half, leading on a handful of occasions, but only briefly. They led 46-43 at the end of the third, but the Rams put together a solid quarter as the Chargers’ fould racked up.

Despite the foul trouble, junior forward Kiye Walker tied Santos’ game high with 21 points of his own, including a pair of treys.

Spotswood drops to 2-1 with the loss, 1-1 in the GMC Blue. The Rams are 2-0, both wins coming in divisional play.

Click below for postgame reaction from the game, presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Senior Forward Roman Santos
Head Coach Brandon Walsh

South River’s veteran squad has big early-season clash tonight with rival Spotswood

Whenever the Chargers and Rams get together – in any sport – it’s a headline game in both towns.

But tonight’s meeting between Spotswood (2-0) and South River (1-0) is a big early season Blue Division matchup in a season where both have a good shot to win the title.

For the Rams, that’s big news, and something that hasn’t happened in 30 years.

Tonight’s game can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio tonight, with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino on the call from Spotswood. Click here to listen, beginning with pregame at 6:15 and tip-off at 6:30 pm.

Both teams have experienced cores, with the Rams led by its most veteran players, seniors Jeremy Grospe and Lazaro Rodriguez. In a season-opening 72-50 home win Friday against Metuchen, Grospe scored 18 – fueled by five treys – whle Rodriguez added 17 points and four rebounds. Grospe’s younger brother, Alex – a sophomore – added 10 points and dished out nine assists.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with South River fourth-year coach Brandon Walsh:

Spotswood poised for a “big” year with four returning starters, opens home slate tonight

Granted, it’s early yet, but there’s good reason to be optimistic about Spotswood boys’ basketball this year.

Despite the loss of forward Roman Carone and his 19 points a game last year, the Chargers return four starters. Better yet, they are 2-0 to start a season for the first time since 2018-19, and are led in scoring through the first two games by a pair of juniors: forward Kiye Walker and guard Rion Ahmetaj.

And yes, Spotswood is big, a luxury head coach Steve Mate – now in his 28th season on Summerhill Road – hasn’t always had. Ahmetaj is 6-6, his younger brother Albion – a freshman – is 6-8, and junior forward Daniel Yarus is 6-6, while senior Casey Cumiskey and Walker are both 6-3.

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

Monday night, their arch rival South River comes into town, in a GMC Blue Division game that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call allt he action with pregame set for 6:15 pm, and tip-off at 7. Click here to listen live.

In addition to all that, Mate is just a win away from a major milestone: his 400th overall coaching victory. He’s 359-301 at Spotswood, and 399-334 overall, including a four-year stint at Verona where he was 40-33 before taking the Spotswood job – when this reporter was a senior in high school.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Spotswood head coach Steve Mate:

Coming off COVID shutdown and winless season, Piscataway earns CJSR’s “Turnaround Team of the Year” honors in ’22

The fall of 2020 was not an easy one for Dan Higgins, or his players. When the district shut down the fall sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic – one of two districts to do so in the Big Central Conference that year, the other being Carteret – Higgins all of a sudden had no team to coach.

And it wasn’t just the fact there were no games. There were no practices, no weight room, no film study, no team meals. Nothing.

Some players even moved on to other schools.

To return in 2021 made things normal in a way, but not in another, as the program – no doubt hurt by a year away from football – struggled mightily. Seniors had not played since their sophomore year. Young contributors, normally key to the Chiefs’ success, saw their football IQ stunted. And the varsity went 0-8, its first winless season since 1968.

After a loss in the opener to Hunterdon Central, one could be forgiven if Piscataway hung its collective head. Instead, they went 6-2 to the rest of the way, to finish 6-3, with a berth in the state playoffs, just three seasons removed from becoming the first Middlesex County school to go 13-0 when they won the inaugural North Group 5 “bowl” game at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko talk with Piscataway head coach Dan Higgins:

Honorable Mentions:

The Spotswood Chargers had a remarkable turnaround in 2022 under second-year head coach Chris Meagher. After winning seven games in Andy Cammarano’s final three seasons before stepping down, Meagher’s team struggled mightily in 2021, going 1-8 and getting shut out five times in the process, scoring under six points a game. This year, they went 7-3 – amazingly missing the playoffs, another story for another time. They improved to 19 points per game on the offensive side, while pitching one shutout and holding four teams to single digits on the scoreboard.

Another great turnaround happened in South Plainfield, where the Tigers rebounded from a 2-8 season in 2021 – where they lost half of those games by eight points or less – to run the table in the 2022 regular season, winning their first-ever division title, taking the Big Central’s United Silver Division crown. They went 8-0 before falling in the playoffs at home to Camden Eastside, their first loss of the season.

UNOFFICIAL: Group 2 Playoff Standings Update

Bernards moves up, and Spotswood is eliminated in the playoff chase, according to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s unofficial calculations of playoff standings after Friday night’s Week 7 games. Here’s a closer look:

Bernards‘ win over New Providence Friday night helped the Mountaineers move up one spot in the standings into 8th place, the cutoff for getting a guaranteed first-round home playoff game, at least pending the rest of Saturday’s game action.

The main question is this: Will a win over 3-4 Governor Livingston be enough to keep them in the top eight?

The first and third teams had a little juggle at the top of the standings, even though all three teams won to improve to 7-0. It’s now Westwood, Rutherford and Caldwell, as Westwood and Caldwell flipped places from last week.

Spotswood would have needed to win its final two games of the season – over Johnson and JP Stevens – to make the playoffs, and even then might have needed some help. But a loss to the Crusaders cost them Friday night, so the Chargers are eliminated.

Elsewhere, going top down, Delaware Valley and New Providence hold in 8th and 9th, still in play for a home game in the first round, except that the Terriers are a bit more in play.

That’s because the Pioneers lost Friday night to Bernards, but that’s a “good” OSI loss that kept them steady. Del Val plays at Hillside Saturday. A win over a very highly-ranked Comets team could solidify a top-eight finish. We’ll have to see where everything shakes out this weekend with the other games yet to be played before we start running scenarios.

Johnson appears to be in, and a solid bottom eight team.

But can Roselle get in? They beat a “weak” Bound Brook team Friday night, and dropped from 16th to 17th – tied with Haddon Heights – as a result. Next week’s game at 0-7 Belvidere doesn’t do them any favors here, either.

Bottom Line: Del Val has a better shot at a top eight finish than New Providence, but it’s still in play for both. Johnson is in and should start on the road. Roselle is going to need some help and likely won’t control its own destiny next week.

Spotswood inducts third Athletics Hall of Fame Class, including its most decorated girls basketball player, its best baseball team ever, and Ron Mazzola

The most decorated girls basketball player and the most successful baseball team in school history – along with its star pitcher – were among several inductees into the Spotswood Athletics Hall of Fame this past weekend.

Beth Dickinson Cipot (then known as Beth Dickinson) is the school’s all-time leading scorer in girls’ or boys’ basketball, while the 2007 Charger baseball team won every possible title it could: GMC Blue Division, GMC Tournament, Central Jersey Group 2 and the statewide Group 2 title.

Dickinson scored 2,100 points in her career, and is the only player on either side to pass the 2,000-point mark, She captained the 19989-99 team that won the Central Jersey Group 1 title, and was a three-time all-county player in the Star-Ledger and Home News Tribune, ultimately making third-team All Group 1 by the Ledger and Associated Press.

She played collegiately at St. Peter’s and Fordham, where she was an All-Academic Atlantic Ten selection in 2004, and later coached at the Bronx school, as well as Georgetown from 2004 to 2007.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko talk with Spotswood Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Inductee Beth Dickinson:

Editors’ Note: Beth Dickinson and Mike Pavlichko both attended Spotswood High School, where Mike was the PA announcer while in school, graduating in 1996, and continuing through Beth’s senior season in 1999. Mike was inducted into the SHS Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007, as a contributor.

The 2007 Spotswood baseball team – coached then, as now, by Glenny Fredricks – went 26-4 and remains, by far, the best the school has ever had. It set school records for wins, batting average (.369), runs scored (239) and RBI (196). The Chargers finished the season ranked No. 1 in Middlesex County, and No. 7 statewide. And they are one of only two Greater Middlesex Conference teams to win the conference tournament and a state group championship in the same year. (Edison did it first, in 1993.)

Inducted were Fredricks, along with his assistants – his brother, Danny, Chris Ferrone, Matt Ardizzone, Mike Bruschini and Mike Feaster – and the following players: Anthony Addone, John Michael Berner III, Michael Collins, Brian Curci, Daniel Hohman, Richard Kuhn Jr., Jonathan Martin, Cody Pace, Joseph Reid, Timothy Snook, Vincent Vizzi, William Beard, Nicholas Brown, Jamie Cullen, Patrick Dwyer, Mike Hohman, David Lynch, Christopher Mooney, Joseph Petosa, Brian Scott, and Phil Spina.

Inducted separately was William Beard, who set single-season pitching records in 2007 for victories, strikeouts and complete games. He threw three no-hitters for the Chargers, including a perfect game. He’s the winningest pitcher in Middlesex County history with 27 victories and holds nearly all of Spotswood’s single-season and career pitching records. Beard later pitched at Rutgers, where he was a team captain and three-time Academic All-Big East pick.

Two other athletes, a coach and a contributor also were inducted.

The contributor was the late Ron Mazzola. Known as “Mr. Old Bridge,” he was also “The Voice of the Chargers,” providing the public address announcements for football for many years. Ron has been honored by so many of the schools and organizations he worked with before his untimely passing last Spring. Last month, Old Bridge renamed its press box after him.

READ MORE: A fitting tribute for Mr. Old Bridge, as Knights’ football press box is named for the late Ron Mazzola

READ MORE: Remembering Ron Mazzola, Mr. Old Bridge

The coach was Kevin Brady, who’s currently the girls’ soccer and softball mentor at East Brunswick, but who began his career with the Chargers in 1995, taking that very first team to the GMC Blue Division title with a record of 15-5-1. His teams won four Division title – in 1995, 2001, 2003 and 2005 and went 139-65-14 during his tenure. The 2001 team set a school record for victories with 16 – surpassed with 17 by his final team in Spotswood – and won the Chargers’ first-ever sectional championship: a penalty-kick victory over arch-rival South River. Brady also was an assistant on the girls’ basketball team when Dickinson starred on the hardwood.

Tim Logan, class of 2005, was a multi-sport athlete who is one of the few Chargers to be named first-team All-GMC in more than one endeavor. A four-year varsity letterwinner in basketball, he scored nearly 20 points a game and was fourth in scoring in the area, which he led in three-point shooting. In soccer, he was a two-time Captain, an all-section pick by the Soccer Coaches Association of New Jersey, and was the 2004-05 Spotswood High School Athlete of the Year. He played basketball for a year, but soccer for four seasons at the University of Scranton, where he ranks ninth all-time in school history in both career goals and career points.

Jason Pope, class of 1999, was a four-year first-singles varsity tennis player, who to this day holds the school record for career victories with 72. He was an All-GMC pick three times, and an All-Blue Division selection all four years with the Chargers, leading them to a division title in 1996. He competed collegiately at Niagara University, where in four years, he set school records for most season and career wins, and achieved an NCAA ranking in singles in 2002, as well as being named to the MAAC All-Academic team three times. He set that precedent in high school when he was president of the Spotswood chapter of the National Honor Society, and was presented with the SHS Booster Club’s Scholar-Athlete award in 1999.

Group 2 playoff analysis: Bernards benefits from big win at Del Val, while Terriers drop

With high school football season at its midway point, it’s time to start taking a look at the playoff picture, with Cutoff Weekend just four weeks away. Here’s a look at Group 2 teams in the Big Central Conference, and where they stand:

NORTH (Click here for official standings)

The only Big Central team here is Bernards, whose game Friday night at Delaware Valley was billed as a boon for whoever won. It was the Mountaineers, 17-14, and they jumped from eighth place to third with the victory over the Terriers; it was a solid Strength Index and power points game. OSI went from 49.01 to 53.52, while power point average climbed from 10.75 to 12.80. That puts them behind leader Westwood (4-0, 1.6 UPR) and Caldwell, owner of the state’s longest winning streak, now at 19, dating back to their last three games of 2020.

Caldwell may not lose again this year, and the SI of their last four opponents are all 67 or higher. Bernards, on the other hand, has winless North Plainfield and Bound Brook, plus Governor Livingston and New Providence. The Highlanders have won three straight since starting 0-2. If they can continue that run, it’ll help the Mountaineers.

We don’t think they’re a solid top four team yet – which would mean they’d be a 2-seed in either section and guaranteed home field at least through the sectional semifinals – but if they run the table, they at least have a shot at it. It depends who can come up from behind on them. Bernards has a 3.6 UPR, but at 3.8, Ramsey (4-0) is right behind them. Rutherford, though, in fifth, is a healthy 2.8 UPR points behind Bernards.

SOUTH (Click here for official standings)

Little surprise here that Rumson-Fair Haven is in familiar territory, atop the supersection. It could be surprising when you look at their 2-2 record, until you realize one of those losses is to a multiplier, in Donovan Catholic. And since they also play Red Bank Catholic – another multiplier – on cutoff weekend, well, you can just sew it up right now for the Bulldogs. (Is that fair? Definitely not, but that’s a rant for another time.)

The highest-ranked team here is Delaware Valley, which dropped from third to tenth after Friday night’s home loss to Bernards, its first of the season, leaving them 3-1 on the year. And they’ve still got Hillside to go, with the Comets’ powerful run game. Likely bet that the Terriers will make the playoffs, barring a collapse, but they may be hard-pressed to get a first-round playoff game out of it – unless they can knock off Hillside, Saturday afternoon road game the week before Cutoff Weekend, October 15th.

Johnson is right behind Del Val, at 4-0, having a nice year so far, with a UPR of 11, one full point behind the Terriers, who have a 10 UPR. They’re at New Providence this Friday night, with the Pioneers in 14th with a UPR of 15. That’s a big game for either team, and a loss could relegate whoever’s on the short end of the stick to bubble status, though likely on the inside – and it’s more harmful to New Providence than the Crusaders.

Dayton is in a 16th place tie for the final playoff spot with Haddon Heights. The Bulldogs are 2-2, while the Garnets are 3-1, both with 16.6 UPRs. Dayton will need to keep winning, and have a middle of the road schedule the rest of the way.

They play their next three on the road, and the games get progressively tougher – at Highland Park this Friday night, at Spotswood the following Saturday, and at South Hunterdon on Friday, the 14th – before coming home to face Metuchen the Friday night of Cutoff Weekend. They might have to win out.

The next question is: What about Spotswood? The Chargers are 4-1, their best start since 2016. Can they pick up enough power points and OSI value to get in, even if they go 4-0? The jury is still out and it’s probably too early to tell. JP Stevens is their final opponent – yes, Group 5 JP Stevens – and that will at least soften the blow from the Hawks not having won a game yet this season. (They’ve lost 27 straight, in fact, the second longest streak in New Jersey at the moment.)

Will it be enough? Stay tuned.

View Post

South River – despite a 2-2 mark – sits in 24th place, and would be hard-pressed to make a dent. Then again, their last three games are at Delaware Valley and Governor Livingston, then home to Johnson. Should they win at least two of those, maybe – maybe – they have a shot. Check back in a couple of weeks.