SJ Girls’ basketball public school playoff preview

by Marc Narducci | Feb 17, 2023
SJ Girls’ basketball public school playoff preview
The NJSIAA girls’ basketball state tournament begins a week earlier this season. The first games are Monday, Feb. 20. This season’s state championships will be the first weekend of March. There is no Tournament of Champions since the NJSIAA has discontinued it.

Here is a look at the four Public School Groups in South Jersey. At press time the seedings weren’t official, but these are the likely seed according to NJ.com.

South Jersey Group 1

Defending champion: Wildwood.

This year’s expected contenders: Woodbury would have been the top seed, but the Thundering Herd are disqualified from competing after having seven players ejected in a game vs. Delran. NJSIAA rules state that if a team has as many as three disqualifications heading into the state tournament, then they are ineligible. Woodstown is the top seed and another Tri-County Conference team, Wildwood, is No. 2. In the season opener for both teams, Woodstown won a 41-35 home decision over Wildwood. The closeness of that game played nearly two months ago shows that both teams should be competitive. Sophomore Megan Donelson (15.3 ppg.) is leading the way for Woodstown. It would be a surprise if one of these two teams didn’t win.

South Jersey Group 2

Defending champion: Haddon Heights.

This year’s expected contenders: This might be the most wide-open Group. Middle Township is the top seed and Cinnaminson is No. 2 and both are major threats. Yet there are four teams from the Colonial Conference, No. 3 Sterling, No. 4 Haddonfield, No. 6 Haddon Township and No. 8 Haddon Heights that can’t be discounted. Haddon Heights (12-12) has rebounded well after an 0-6 start, and the Garnets have one of the more dangerous scorers in senior Maddy Clark (15.7 ppg.), but depth is a question. Still, this could be a Group with several lower-seeded teams winning games.

South Jersey Group 3

Defending champion: Mainland

This year’s expected contenders: Old rivals Mainland and Ocean City are the projected top two seeds. Mainland (21-2) hasn’t lost to a South Jersey Group 3 this season. The Mustangs are 2-0 this season against Ocean City, winning 51-35 on opening night and 31-19 in the rematch on Jan. 19. Scott Betson’s Mainland team is also one of the toughest defensive teams in South Jersey and that always plays well in the postseason. Maybe a potential dark horse could be No. 4 Moorestown, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mainland and Ocean City play for the title.

South Jersey Group 4

Defending champion: Cherokee

This year’s expected contenders: Shawnee is the projected No. 1 seed with Cherokee No. 2. These two met in the regular season and Cherokee won, 35-30 at Shawnee on Jan. 12. Cherokee, which began the week 21-2, is coming off a championship win over Camden Catholic in the South Jersey Invitational Basketball, which consists of many of the top South Jersey teams. Cherokee would have to be the favorite despite being seeded lower than Shawnee. It would be a surprise if one of these two didn’t emerge as champion.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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