Girls’ Basketball State Tournament...

Girls’ Basketball State Tournament... Girls’ Basketball State Tournament Preview

The NJSIAA girls’ basketball tournament begins on Monday Feb. 27 and several of the Groups appear up for grabs. Here is a look at each of the six South Jersey sectionals.

South Jersey Group 4
Defending champion: Lenape.
Favorite: No. 1 Toms River North.
Chief contenders: No. 2 Cherokee, No. 3 Lenape, No. 4 Kingsway, No. 5 Rancocas Valley.
Darkhorse: No. 7 Shawnee. The Renegades lost by four points earlier to Lenape and own recent win over Group 2 contender Haddonfield.

Outlook: Toms River North recently lost by 21 to powerful Red Bank Catholic in the Shore Conference Tournament but that should be great prep for the state tourney. Still, this one is up for grabs and it’s possible a team not mentioned could sneak off with the tile.

South Jersey Group 3
Defending champion: Ocean City.
Favorite: No. 1 seed Ocean City.
Chief contenders: No. 2 Mainland, No. 3 Delsea.
Darkhorse: No. 4 Toms River South.

Outlook: This looks to be between Ocean City and Mainland, who split their regular season games. Ocean City won 29-27 earlier this season but Mainland won 38-25 last week.

South Jersey Group 2
Defending champion: Sterling.
Favorite: No. 2 Haddonfield.
Chief contenders: No. 1 Middle Township, No. 3 Manchester Township.
Darkhorse: No. 4 Sterling. The defending champions have played much better in the second half of the season. The defense is strong but the offense must be more consistent.

Outlook: Haddonfield’s two losses have been to Group 4 Cherokee and Shawnee by a total of five points. The Bulldogs haven’t lost to a Group 2 school this year. Led by senior forward C.C. Mooney (14.1 ppg.) Haddonfield is the team to beat but the Bulldogs aren’t explosive. They rely on balance and a stingy defense and that will be the formula needed to win the title.

South Jersey Group 1
Defending champion: Haddon Heights.
Favorite: None
Chief contenders: No. 1 Wildwood, No. 2 Haddon Township, No. 3 Haddon Heights.
Darkhorse: None.

Outlook: This is up for grabs among the top three seeds. Haddon Township and Haddon Heights split their two regular season games. Heights has a major difference maker in senior forward Ashley Reynolds who is averaging 17.5 points. If Heights and Haddon Township meet in the semifinals, that winner would likely be a slight favorite in the finals.

South Jersey Non Public A
Defending champion: St. John Vianney.
Favorite: No. 2 Red Bank Catholic.
Chief contenders: No. 3 St. John Vianney, No. 1 Camden Catholic.
Darkhorse: No. 5 Paul VI.

Outlook: Red Bank Catholic owns a regular season victory over St. John Vianney and these two Shore Conference powers will likely meet in the semifinals. Paul VI and Camden Catholic could be in the other semifinal.

South Jersey Non Public B
Defending champion: Rutgers Prep.
Favorite: No. 1 the Patrick School.
Chief contenders: No. 2 Rutgers Prep, No. 3 Gloucester Catholic
Darkhorse: No. 6 St. Rose.

Outlook: Gloucester Catholic moves from South Jersey A to B. The Rams lost to St. John Vianney in last year’s A final and will be a major contender this year. The potential semifinal between Gloucester Catholic and defending champ Rutgers Prep should be one to watch. The Patrick School owns a 65-53 win over Rutgers Prep, giving it the favorite’s role.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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