The Bulldogs made it five straight Essex County Tournament titles and 11 in the last 12 years with a definitive 61-46 victory over East Orange Campus on Saturday. Junior forward Zaire O’Neil, who makes a habit rising to the occasion in marquee games, collected 21 points and 17 rebounds and classmate De’Ashia Jones added 16 points.
Junior guard Taylor Rooks supplied 31 points and 10 rebounds while fellow juniors Jasmine Sina and Trevena Bennett netted 10 apiece to fuel the Knights past No. 10 Franklin for the third time this winter, 63-57, for the Somerset County Tournament championship.
Yet another junior, forward Grace Fallon, partially tipped a potential game-tying 3-point bid in the closing seconds to stamp a her 12-point, five-rebound, three-block effort that sent the Caseys past No. 4 Point Pleasant Boro, 50-46, for their sixth Shore Conference Tournament crown.
Senior guard Kelly Hughes erupted for 15 of her 28 points during a feverish fourth-quarter rally that came up just short against No. 3 Red Bank Catholic in the Shore final. Hughes enters the NJSIAA state tournament 28 points shy of surpassing Patti Delehanty of Shore Regional as the all-time leading scorer in the Shore Conference.
The Blue Eagles benefitted from the well-rounded showing by senior point guard Samantha Wilkes. The Villanova recruit was fierce defensively to go with 18 points and nine rebounds in a 44-24 victory over No. 8 Northern Highlands in the Bergen County Tournament final.
The ease in which the Lady Lancers make every player on the floor a potential scoring threat is exactly why they are a serious contender for the Non-Public A state title. Freshmen Emily Uribe and Kelly Campbell, juniors Katie Beriont and Jackie Gallagher and senior Lyndsay Rowe have no problem sharing the basketball.
The Eagles bounced back from a semifinal loss to No. 3 Red Bank Catholic in the Shore Conference Tournament by downing crosstown rival Middletown North and now can turn its attention to Central Jersey, Group 3, where it opens as the top seed in pursuit of the program’s first sectional title since 1979.
Tournament MVP Loren Kaiser flipped in a game-high 17 points to steer the Stateliners to their first Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament Championship by defeating High Point, 45-36.
Making its first appearance in a Somerset County Tournament final, Franklin showed well, whittling a 15-point deficit against defending champion and second-ranked Gill St. Bernard’s down to six in the final quarter before bowing 63-57. Adreana Miller netted 17 points in the loss.
Freshman Rachel Mills came off the bench to deliver six points, stamped by a three-point play on a heady back-door cut that put the Crusaders ahead to stay with 1:01 left in regulation en route to a 41-35 victory over Hanover Park in the Morris County Tournament final. Sade Idera, who was named MVP, delivered the feed on the pivotal bucket to go with a game-high 15 points.
Sophomore swing Grace Stant is averaging 15.0 points per game over the last seven outings for the Bulldogs. She dropped in 22 Thursday night in a 55-41 victory over Toms River South.
The Spartans embarked on a dramatic turnaround. After starting the season 1-7 against a string of quality opponents, they’ve gone 13-3 since, including a 59-39 triumph against defending champion Passaic Tech in the Passaic County Tournament final. Freshman Nikki Johnson powered the win with a career-best 20 points.
The Highlanders ran into a defensive buzzsaw on Saturday as No. 5 Immaculate Heart limited them to a season low in a 44-24 loss in the Bergen County Tournament final. Princeton-bound senior forward Jackie Reyneke and gritty junior point guard Madison Dunbar will look to recharge their team as the No. 1 seed in North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3.
The Raiders primed for the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 playoffs by downing Weequahic, 63-46, behind the senior trio of Tori Woetzel (14 points), Kaitlyn Amato (11 points) and JK McAvoy (11 points).
Under first-year coach Lisa Kukoda the Warriors kept their heads above water in the extremely grueling Shore Conference A Central, which features No. 3 RBC, No. 6 St. John Vianney and No. 11 Rumson. Key to the cause has been the frontcourt combination of senior Amanda Hagaman and junior Sam Sullivan.