Tag: St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas finishes the season where it began: No. 1 in the Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Top Ten

On the strength of a 25-4 season – and its third straight GMC Tournament Championship – the St. Thomas Aquinas boys’ basketball team finishes the year at No. 1 in the final Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, never budging from the top spot from the preseason rankings all the way through to the end.

The Trojans have been the dominant boys’ team in Middlesex County for the last several years. Though their three-year run as full county tournament champs was interrupted by a loss in the GMC’s COVID-year, one-off, Karl-Anthony Towns/Jay Williams four-team postseason pod to Colonia, they have won 31 straight games against Greater Middlesex Conference opponents since.

St. Thomas Aquinas has won 57 straight divisional regular season games, with the Trojans’ last loss coming in January 2018 at Carteret, back when they were in the Blue Division. And they are now 103-23 in five seasons with head coach Dave Turco at the helm.

Checking in at No. 2 in the final rankings is Colonia, which had a fantastic year, going 22-9 this season. Though they didn’t win the Red Division (STA did) or make the GMCT Final, they were the only boys’ basketball team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Coverage area to win a sectional title this season, beating Snyder to win its second straight North 2, Group 3 title, and third in the last four playoff seasons.

St. Joseph of Metuchen finished third, checking in at 18-11, rising all the way from No. 10 in the last rankings before the playoffs. The Falcons finished the year strong, reaching the Non-Public South A title game, where they lost to eventual Group A state champ Union Catholic.

Rutgers Prep (22-8) finishes fourth, having won both the Somerset County Tournament championship – beating defending champ Gill St. Bernard’s in a thriller – and the Skyland Conference Delaware Division title.

South River (26-4) checks in at No. 5, the darling of the GMC all year long. The Rams won the Blue Division title, but got the attention of Central Jersey basketball fans in late December, when they knocked off St. Joseph in Metuchen the day after Christmas. They picked up the third seed in the county tournament, and reached the semifinals. In the states, they went to the Central Jersey Group 2 final, losing to eventual state Group 2 champion Manasquan.

Gill St. Bernard’s finished 19-8 and comes in sixth in the final rankings. The SCT finalist had a successful season considering a Mergin Sina’s squad had almost a complete roster turnover of key players from last year’s team, and its highly-touted point guard returned to Europe just a couple of weeks into the season.

South Brunswick had a nice run all the way to the County finals, as well as the Central Jersey Group 4 final, and finished 20-7 on the season, checking in at No. 7.

In eighth is South Plainfield (23-6), which won the GMC White Division, and had one of the county’s top scorers in Brandon Dean.

Ninth is Bound Brook (22-5), the Skyland Conference Valley Division champs, followed by Hillsborough (19-8).

Below are the full final Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Rankings for 2022-23:

Aquinas girls’ coach Joe Whalen stepping down after three seasons, two GMCT titles

St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Joe Whalen hasn’t let Multiple Sclerosis define him, not at any time since his summer 2021 diagnosis. In fact, it was something few people outside the program even knew he had by the time his Trojans had won their first GMC Tournament title under his wing, and their third straight overall.

But ultimately, MS does require taking care of one’s self. And that’s the decision Whalen has now made, stepping down as the head coach of the STA program.

He actually made the decision during the season. He wanted to announce it before the GMC Tournament Finals, so there was no going back. Because a coach always has that lingering question in his or her mind: Is it the right time to leave? Do I have one more in me?

In the end, he decided to wait until after the season, though his players knew sooner, in varying stages, starting with the seniors like Jessica Cooper and Nia Clemons, D-1 recruits who are going to Albany and Caldwell, respectively.

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Whalen debuted in the COVID-shortened season, which saw the Trojans go 9-5, 7-0 in the GMC Red, but falling to Monroe on their home floor in the final of the four-team GMC Somogyi Family Pod.

What followed were back-to-back 20-win seasons: 22-4 last year, 22-7 this year, with GMC Tournament titles both seasons. That’s a total 53-16 record for Whalen in three seasons, and a 35-1 record in Red Division play, the lone loss coming also to Monroe, last year, on the road, in the regular season. They didn’t lose a single Red Division home game under Whalen’s tenure.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko got a chance to talk with Whalen as he departs Aquinas, and gets set to leave the keys to a successor who is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Click below to listen to the interview:

Roselle Catholic’s early spurt keeps Aquinas behind the eight ball all night, ends Trojans’ season in sectional semis

St. Thomas Aquinas brought its A game against Roselle Catholic. Or at least its A effort..

But it still wasn’t enough as the fourth-seeded Rams – the No. 1 team in New Jersey – proved why it deserved that ranking with a 90-72 win over top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas – ranked No. 5 in New Jersey – in the Non-Public North B Semifinals in North Edison Monday night, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The Rams – with several high-level Division 1 college recruits – jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first couple of minutes before Aquinas head coach Bob Turco called a timeout to stop the bleeding. It worked, if only momentarily, as the Trojans got the next two buckets to cut it to 10-4.

But Roselle Catholic went on a 15-9 run from there to close the half with a 25-15 lead, and built their lead by five more points at halftime, taking a 47-32 lead into the break that they could not overcome.

The loss ends the season for Aquinas at 25-4, and ends the scholastic careers of three senior starters, Kamal Lee, Terrell Pitts and Jalen Pichardo. Bench players Chris Santner and Sherief Guinyard also will graduate.

The game had all the hype leading up to it, and it wasn’t even a title game. It was just a semifinal, with the Rams seeded fourth and Aquinas first based on power points, not human rankings, which bore themselves out in the game.

North-Carolina bound Simeon Wilcher led all scorers with 27 for Roselle Catholic, and Mackenzie Mgbako – in his first action since late January, added 13. Michael “Deuce” Jones led the Trojans with 19 in defeat.

Roselle Catholic (20-5) now goes on to the Non-Public North B title game Wednesday night at 5 pm at Franklin, against the winner of second-seed Gill St. Bernard’s and 6th-seed Montclair-Immaculate.

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COMING SOON! Postgame reaction from CJSR’s Justin Sontupe with Aquinas head coach Bob Turco, presented by SportsPlex at Metuchen.

Statewide Top 5 battle on tap in Non-Public North B semis, as St. Thomas Aquinas squares off with Roselle Catholic

It’s a game that’s more befitting a sectional final, a group final, or maybe even a Tournament of Champions final – if they still played it.

But it’s only going to be a trip to a title game on the line Monday night when top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas (25-3) welcomes fourth-seed Roselle Catholic (19-5) into the Trojans’ tiny, sweaty gym in the a Non-Public North B semifinal game at 6 pm, that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Justin Sontupe and Chris Tsakonas will call all the play-by-play of what is a marquee state matchup, with pregame beginning at 5:45 pm. Click here to listen to the fill broadcast live on Monday night.

Aquinas is the three-time defending Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament Champion, and has gone 84-15 over the past four seasons. They’ve got some great players who are household names in the GMC, including Jaden Kelly, Jalen Pichardo, Terrell Pitts, and seamlessly added Trenton Catholic transfer Michael “Deuce” Jones to the mix this year.

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That’s all well and good, but Roselle Catholic – last year’s last-ever TOC winner – is stacked with major D-1 talent. Senior guard Simeon Wilcher is going to the ACC to play for North Carolina. Akil Watson is committed to Arizona State. Mackenzie Mgbako will face Wilcher in the ACC at Duke. Tarik Watson, Akil’s younger brother also is a physical presence.

And even though Mgbako – the transfer from Gill St. Bernard’s – is injured, and hasn’t played since late January, there’s plenty of talent at the ready for the Rams, who count three losses to teams ranked No. 1 nationally – Duncanville (TX), Paul VI (VA) and Montverde (FL) – among their five losses.

In fact, Roselle Catholic hasn’t lost to a New Jersey opponent since dropping its opener last year to Camden, the team it beat to win the Tournament of Champions.

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe talk about the matchup with St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Bob Turco:

Rutgers Prep, Gill, Aquinas, St. Joe’s all advance to sectional semifinals Monday, while Colonia knocks off top-seed South Plainfield

There’s a pretty mammoth matchup brewing in the Non-Public North B section, and it’s not even for a trophy.

Top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas and 4th-seed Roselle Catholic – both top five teams statewide – will meet in the sectional semifinals Monday night in North Edison, after both won Friday evening games in the quarterfinals.

Aquinas (25-3) blew past Timothy Christian (14-13) in an all-GMC matchup, 99-40. The Trojans pulled ahead early on the strength of a 27-11 first quarter, and led 57-26 at the half. Seven players scored in double digits for Aquinas, which was led by Terrell Pitts and Jaden Kelly, each with 16 points. Point guard Michael “Deuce” Jones added 14.

Now, they get to host national power Roselle Catholic in their own gym Monday night for a trip to the sectional title game Wednesday night, 5 pm in Franklin. The Rams beat 5th-seed Morris Catholic 98-63 Friday evening.

In the other side of the bracket, 2nd-seed Gill St. Bernard’s (19-7) won its quarterfinal game over 7th-seed Saddle River Day, 64-59. The Knights trailed 28-24 at halftime, and 43-34 heading into the fourth quarter before outscoring SRD 30-16 over the game’s final eight minutes. Mario Castro-Sanchez led the way with 19 points and six rebounds, while big man Ebrahim Kaba added 15 points and seven boards.

Gill will play host to 6th-seed Montclair-Immaculate in the other semifinal Monday night, after they beat 3rd-seed St. Mary-Rutherford 81-45.

In Non-Public South A, 6th-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen and 7th-seed Rutgers Prep will play in one semifinal. The Falcons (17-10) were 71-68 winners over 3rd-seed Immaculata (19-6) in Somerville Friday night, as Josh Ingram put up a big 33 points in the win. Seventh-seed Rutgers Prep (22-7) won in deep South Jersey Friday night, beating 2-seed St. Augustine on the road, 78-74 in overtime, behind a 33-point night from Jadin Collins.

Prep and Joe’s played each other in a GMC-Skyland crossover just three weeks ago, with St. Joe’s Coming out with a 73-61 win in Somerset on February second.

Meanwhile, in the only game involving two local public schools, 4th-seed Colonia knocked off top-seed South Plainfield 64-45 in the North 2, Group 3 semifinals. Click here for a full recap of the game including postgame interviews by CJSR’s Chris Tsakonas. Now, the Patriots will play for a second straight sectional title when they host 6th-seed Snyder out of Jersey City Monday night. Snyder beat 7th-seed Payne Tech of Newark, 76-62.

Below are full results from Friday night in sections involving area teams. Scroll further down for the upcoming schedule:

North 2, Group 3
#4 Colonia def. #1 South Plainfield, 64-45
#6 Snyder def. #7 Payne Tech, 76-62

Non-Public South A
#1 Camden Catholic def. #8 red Bank Catholic, 62-33
#5 Union Catholic def. #4 Paul VI, 64-58
#6 St. Joseph-Metuchen def. #3 Immaculata, 71-68
#7 Rutgers Prep def. #2 St. Augustine, 78-74

Non-Public North B
#1 St. Thomas Aquinas def. #8 Timothy Christian, 99-40
#4 Roselle Catholic def. #5 Morris Catholic, 98-63
#6 Montclair-Immaculate def. #3 St. Mary-Rutherford, 81-45
#2 Gill St. Bernard’s def. #7 Saddle River Day, 64-59



Central Group 4 Semifinals
#4 Jackson Memorial at #1 Trenton
#7 Marlboro at #6 South Brunswick

Central Group 2 Semifinals
#4 Bound Brook at #1 South River
#3 Raritan at #2 Manasquan

North 2, Group 4 Semifinals
#8 Newark East Side at #5 Westfield
#3 Hillsborough at #2 Linden


North 2, Group 3 Final
#6 Snyder at #4 Colonia

Non-Public South A Semifinals
#5 Union Catholic at #1 Camden Catholic
#7 Rutgers Prep at #6 St. Joseph-Metuchen

Non-Public North B Semifinals
#4 Roselle Catholic at #1 St. Thomas Aquinas
#6 Montclair-Immaculata at #2 Gill St. Bernard’s

NJSIAA girls’ state tourney will get an all-GMC semifinal in Central Group 1, as five teams advance in playoffs

Dunellen and Middlesex will meet for a second time this year – this time for a trip to the Central Jersey Group 1 title game – as the two were among five Central Jersey Sports Radio-area schools to advance Wednesday in the NJSIAA state playoffs.

In a defensive battle, second-seed Middlesex held 7th-seed New Egypt scoreless in a 5-0 first quarter, led 12-5 at the half, then pulled away for a 46-30 win behind 17 points from Neysa Aguilar and 16 from Jessica Devine.

Third-seed Dunellen won a GMC matchup over 6th-seed Highland Park at home, 48-47 in overtime, in a game that was neck-and-neck throughout. Sophomore Jahzara McLaughlin led all scorers with a career-high 24 points for the Destroyers.

Now, the teams will square off Friday night in the CJ1 semifinals, in Middlesex, with a trip to the finals on the line. The Blue Jays beat Dunellen 65-42 on December 27th in the Clem Santy Holiday Tournament.

Other winners Wednesday night on the girls’ side included 5th-seed Colonia coming up with a road win at 4-seed Fort Lee, 47-40, in North 2, Group 3; fifth-seed St. Thomas Aquinas powered past 12th-seed Union Catholic 92-48 in Non-Public South A; and third-seed Rutgers Prep cruised past 14th-seed Moorestown Friends at home in Somerset, 76-25. The Lady Argonauts bolted out to a 27-0 lead at the end of the first quarter of play.

Seven area teams were eliminated Wednesday night.

Below are results for area teams, and full results in sections with teams still alive. Scroll further down for the upcoming schedule, including matchups based on Wednesday’s results.

Central Group 3 Quarterfinals
#4 Allentown def. #5 Somerville, 40-24

Central Group 1 Quarterfinals
#1 Shire def. #8 South Hunterdon, 50-30
#5 Pt. Pleasant Beach def. #13 Keyport, 46-11
#3 Dunellen def. #6 Highland Park, 48-47 (OT)
#2 Middlesex def. #7 New Egypt, 46-30

North 2, Group 3 Quarterfinals
#1 Randolph def. #8 North Plainfield, 71-46
#5 Colonia def. #4 Fort Lee, 47-40
#11 Mendham def. #3 Millburn, 51-47
#2 Chatham def. #7 Warren Hills, 68-32

Non-Public South A First Round
#9 Our Lady of Mercy def. #8 Pingry, 48-43
#5 St. Thomas Aquinas def. #12 Union Catholic, 92-48
#4 Red Bank Catholic def. #13 Donovan Catholic, 86-35
#3 Trinity Hall def. #14 Princeton Day, 67-21
#6 Camden Catholic def. #11 Immaculata, 60-17
#10 Notre Dame def. #7 Mount St. Mary 29-27
Byes: #1 St. John Vianney, #2 Paul VI

Non-Public North B First Round
#9 Villa Walsh def. #8 Eastern Christian, 50-29
Byes: #1 Saddle River Day, #2 Morris Catholic, #3 Lodi-Immaculate, #4-Montclair-Immaculate, #5 Gill St. Bernard’s, #6 Roselle Catholic, #7 Wardlaw-Hartridge

Non-Public South B First Round
#8 Gloucester Catholic def. #9 Ranney 43-38
#5 Holy Spirit def. #12 St. Joseph-Hammonton, 81-37
#4 Holy Cross Prep def. #13 Doane Academy, 67-24
#3 Rutgers Prep def. #14 Moorestown Friends, 76-25
#6 Trenton Catholic def. #11 Timothy Christian, 99-13
#7 Bishop Eustace def. #10 Calvary Christian (Old Bridge) 53-17
Byes: #1 Wildwood Catholic, #2 St. Rose



Central Group 4 Quarterfinals
#8 Old Bridge at #1 Hightstown
#5 Jackson Memorial at #4 East Brunswick
#6 Howell at #3 Monroe
#7 Long Branch at #2 South Brunswick

Central Group 2 Quarterfinals
#8 Roselle at #1 New Providence
#5 Voorhees at #4 Rumson-Fair Haven
#11 Bound Brook at #3 Holmdel
#10 South River at #2 Manasquan

North 2, Group 4 Quarterfinals
#8 Hillsborough at #1 Bayonne
#5 Edison at #4 Westfield
#6 Watchung Hills at #3 Irvington
#7 Scotch Plains-Fanwood


Central Group 1 Semifinals
#3 Dunellen at #2 Middlesex
#5 Pt. Pleasant Beach at #1 Shore

North 2 Group 3 Semifinals
#5 Colonia at #1 Randolph
#11 Mendham at #2 Chatham

Non-Public South A Quarterfinals
#9 Our Lady of Mercy at #1 St. John Vianney
#5 St. Thomas Aquinas at #4 Red Bank Catholic
#6 Camden Catholic at #3 Trinity Hall
#10 Notre Dame at #2 Paul VI

Non-Public North B Quarterfinals
#9 Villa Walsh at #1 Saddle River Day
#5 Gill St. Bernard’s at #4 Montclair-Immaculate
#6 Roselle Catholic at #3 Lodi-Immaculate
#7 Wardlaw-Hartridge at #2 Morris Catholic

Non-Public South B Quarterfinals
#8 Gloucester Catholic at #1 Wildwood Catholic
#5 Holy Spirit at #4 Holy Cross Prep
#6 Trenton Catholic at #3 Rutgers Prep
#7 Bishop Eustace at #2 St. Rose

INSTANT REPLAY: GMC Tournament Championships

For the third time in a row, the St. Thomas Aquinas girls’ and boys’ basketball teams have swept the GMC Tournament Championships. The top-seeded Trojan girls won their fourth title in a row, while the boys won their third in a row, taking both titles on Friday, February 17th at Monroe Township High School. Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino were on the call from Monroe Township High School

In the girls’ final, St. Thomas beat 3rd-seed Colonai 49-42 behind 12 points from Leah Crosby, a sophomore who won her second MVP Award. Fellow sophomore Gianna Chuffo added 11. Colonia senior Matti Chiera led all scorers with 20 in defeat.

Girls’ Final: #1 St. Thomas Aquinas vs. #3 Colonia

The the boys’ final, St. Thomas Aquinas beat 7th-seed South Brunswick 53-50, with MVP Deuce Jones leading the way, scoring 21 points.Juniors Jaden Kelly and Samir Thomas each added eight. For South Brunswick, Kalani Antoine led all scorers with 23 in the losing cause.

Boys’ Final: #1 St. Thomas Aquinas vs. #7 South Brunswick

INSTANT REPLAY: GMC Tournament Boys’ Semifinals

Top-seed and two-time defending champion St. Thomas Aquinas and seventh-seed South Brunswick moved on to Friday’s Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament Championship Game with semifinal wins on Wednesday, February 15th at Monroe Township High School, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Scroll down to hear Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the play-by-play.

In Game One, South Brunswick knocked off 3rd-seed South River behind 20 points from Harmehar Chhabra, and 11 from Kalani Antoine, while Jeremy Grospe had nine on three treys to lead the Rams in defeat.

#3 South River vs. #7 South Brunswick

In Game Two, St. Thomas Aquinas beat fourth-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen 91-49. The Trojans were led by Michael “Deuce” Jones with 16, including three treys, while the team hit 15 overall, a team record in the five seasons under head coach Bob Turco. Jaden Kelly added 15, while Terrell Pitts chipped in 14. Josh Ingram scored 28 to lead all scorers in a losing effort for the Falcons

#1 St. Thomas Aquinas vs. #4 St. Joseph-Metuchen

St. Thomas Aquinas boys win back-and-forth GMC Tournament final to complete the three-peat

In a game that saw 18 lead changes – ten in the third quarter – and neither team lead by more than six, No. 1 seed St. Thomas Aquinas got by No. 7 seed South Brunswick 53-50 to win the GMC Tournament Boys’ Championship, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio Friday night from Monroe Township High School, presented by Dayton Toyota Service and Dayton Collision.

South Brunswick (17-6) had been vying to be the lowest seeded team to win the title, which has never been won by any lower than a sixth-seed.

Instead, the Trojans (24-3) now have won three full GMC Tournament Championships in a row, and – coupled with their girls’ 49-42 win over Colonia earlier in the evening – you can make it three straight sweeps by the Aquinas girls’ and boys. No other school has done that.

Deuce Jones led Aquinas with 21 points; the Trenton Catholic transfer had two thunderous jams that brought Monroe’s gym to its feet.

South Brunswick led after each of the first three quarters, even though the third was back and forth. St. Thomas Aquinas – which only led by as many as two until taking the lead late in the fourth quarter, was up two with 34.9 seconds to go when Jones – shooting only 5 of 10 from the line at that point, strode to the foul line and hit two free throws to put Aquinas up by four.

South Brunswick senior Harmehar Chhabra scored on a drive to cut it to two, and after an Arshvir Singh foul sent Jaden Kelly to the line and he split a pair, the Vikings had it with 14.9 seconds to go, down 53-50.

South called time out, and on the ensuing inbound, Chhabra got the ball up the floor, but the play designed in the huddle by head coach Joe Hoehman seemed to not materialize. Stuck, Chhabra threw up a three from right of the key with just one foot on the hardwood. It hit the back iron, the rebound tipped around, time expired, and the Trojans had their championship.

Kalani Antoine of South Brunswick had game-high honores, with 23, including three treys, and two big ones in the third quarter when the game was back-and-forth.

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Click below for postgame reaction sponsored by SportsPlex at Metuchen:

St. Thomas Aquinas junior Michael “Deuce” Jones
St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Bob Turco

Two-time MVP Crosby leads St. Thomas Aquinas to fourth straight GMC Tournament Championship

A 12-point night from 6-2 sophomore Leah Crosby earned her MVP honors, and she helped lead top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas (21-6) past stubborn 3rd-seed Colonia 49-42 in the GMC Tournament girls’ championship game Friday night in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, presented by Dayton Toyota Service and Dayton Collision of South Brunswick.

The win was the Trojans’ fourth straight county title.

Colonia (14-11) held the ball for over a minute on the first possesion of the game, and was content to slow things down in order to have a better chance than they did 15 days ago, when they lost to the Trojans in North Edison by 50.

And they were in this game almost to the final horn. In fact, it was down to a one-possession game on a drive by Taylor Derkack for the Patriots, who trailed 45-41 with under 40 seconds to go. But Colonia couldn’t hit the buckets they needed, and St. Thomas hit the free throws they had to, to finish with a seven point win.

It was also the second straight for head coach Joe Whalen.

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Behind Crosby, Gianna Chuffo scored 11, Amarillis Shubick had 8, and Albany Commit Jessica Cooper had nine.

For Colonia, senior Mattison Chiera finished with a game-high 20 points, while junior Taylor Derkack finished with 24.

Click below for postgame reaction presented by SportsPlex at Metuchen!

Sophomore MVP Leah Crosby
Seniors Jessica Cooper and Nia Clemons
Head Coach Joe Whalen