Girls Play Competitive State Final

Girls Play Competitive State Final Two South Jersey Girls Basketball Teams Play Competitive State Final There were no NJSIAA state champions among South Jersey girls basketball teams, but two area squads came awfully close.

For the second year in a row, both Shawnee and Haddon Township advanced to the state championship game. While neither earned a crown for a second straight season, both acquitted themselves well.

As we frequently mention in these articles, winning a sectional title is difficult enough. And just advancing to the state championship game is a great feat.

Of course, getting the participants who lose a state final to believe this is not easy at first. Yet when time passes, the teams at Shawnee and Haddon Township will realize how much they truly accomplished.

Shawnee (27-4) lost a tight 54-48 decision to Franklin the Group 4 final. The winners outscored Shawnee, 17-10 in the decisive fourth quarter. This was a much more competitive state final for the Renegades than last year, when they fell to Paterson Eastside, 60-41.

The Renegades didn’t have an easy path to this year’s state final. But in Group 4, that is usually the norm. Shawnee opened with an 82-22 win over Pennsauken (OK that wasn’t too hard) and then defeated Absegami, 57-36 (a little more challenging) before having its toughest South Jersey game, a 57-55 win over Rancocas Valley.

Then there was a 49-38 victory over Lenape in the sectional final, the second year in a row these rivals have met in the Group 4 title game. That win was followed by a 49-40 victory over Marlboro in the state semifinal.

Senior Nikola Williams, who has been Shawnee’s key leader the last two years, had game-high 16 points in the state final, while junior guard Jen Byrne added 13.

Next year, it will be Byrne who will accept the leadership mantle for coach Chrissy McGovern’s Shawnee team.

Haddon Township (26-4) looked buried after one half in its 32-30 state Group 1 championship loss to New Providence.

At halftime, the Hawks trailed 20-7. Haddon Township always plays great defense and that kept the Hawks within distance until the offense got a little untracked.

Coach Tom Mulligan had a senior-laden team, although the offense was run by one of South Jersey’s top juniors, point guard Morgan Lenahan, who had a game-high 17 points in the state final.

Haddon Township breezed through its first three tournament games, beating Palmyra, 61-35, Salem, 57-30 and Wildwood 68-45 in its first three games. Then it was a rematch of last year’s title game against No. 2 seed Gloucester, with the Hawks winning, 42-34.

Even though the schools are in different leagues, Gloucester and Haddon Township is becoming one of the better local rivalries.

Haddon Township then breezed in the state semifinal, beating South River, 56-27 before facing a very difficult New Providence team.

Despite losing so many key seniors, look for the Hawks to contend yet again next year for a sectional title.

This is one of South Jersey’s most consistent winning programs and that trend should continue well into the future.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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