Mainland the SJ Girls basketball favorite in Group 3

by Marc Narducci | Feb 17, 2022
Mainland the SJ Girls basketball favorite in Group 3

Mainland’s girls’ basketball team will be the unofficial No. 1 seed in the upcoming South Jersey Group 3 tournament which begins the week of Feb. 28. (At press time official seedings hadn’t come out, but Mainland was No. 1 at the Feb. 12 cutoff date, according to NJ.com.)

This is neither surprising nor is it a new occurrence that Mainland is in the thick of things.

As recently as 2019, Mainland was the state Group 3 champion.

There was no tournament last season due to COVID, but as the postseason returns, Mainland is certainly rounding into postseason form.

The Mustangs have a nice blend of youth and experience, starting two seniors and three sophomores.

The two seniors are 5-7 Camryn Dirkes and 6-0 Kaitlyn Boggs. The starting sophomores are Kasey Bretones, Ava Mazur and Bella Mazur.

The Mustangs began the week 19-2 and even positives can be taken from a recent 64-39 loss to Paul VI, which began the week ranked No. 9 in the state according to NJ.com..

I would hope that our schedule will help us entering the tournament,” veteran Mainland coach Scott Betson said. “Even losing the Paul VI game, they took it to us but we learned from that experience.”

Of course Mainland has learned by winning some big games against quality teams.

One of those wins was a recent 52-49 triumph over a Shawnee teams that should seriously contend in South Jersey Group 4.

Ava Mazur led the way with 19 points, including three three-point field goals.

What makes the Mustangs so difficult is that they play tenacious defense. Under Betson, that has always been the case.

The Mustangs are also unselfish on offense and have several options.

Betson says there should be plenty of competition in Group 3.

While he could be correct, it would be a surprise if the Mustangs don’t win the title.

Timber Creek is expected to be the No. 2 seed and the Chargers will be formidable.

After that, it’s difficult to see many viable challengers.

For instance Ocean City, Mainland’s chief rival, is the No. 3 seed.

Mainland beat the Red Raiders, twice this season, 56-30 and 58-30.

Of course who knows in this rivalry? After all, Ocean City is the last team to beat Mainland in the postseason, winning a 32-29 decision in the 2020 South Jersey Group 3 final.

So nothing can be taken for granted when these two rivals meet, but it’s fair to say that Mainland has earned the top seed on merit.

And any team aspiring to win Group 3 will have to go through Linwood, the home of Mainland, this year’s deserving top seed.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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