NJSIAA Girls’ Basketball Tournament Public School Preview

by Marc Narducci | Feb 14, 2024
NJSIAA Girls’ Basketball Tournament Public School Preview
The NJSIAA girls’ basketball tournament is coming up quickly. The first round begins on Feb. 21 with the sectional finals on March 1 and 2 at the higher seed. The sectional finals for Groups 2 and 4 will be on March 1, with Groups 1 and 3 on March 2. The Non-Public sectional finals will be March 4 at a site to be determined. 

Here is a look at the four South Jersey public school Groups. The seedings were not official, but pretty accurate, as of press time, according to NJ.com power ratings.

 

Group 1

Defending champion: Woodstown. 

Outlook: Wildwood, which lost to Woodstown in last year’s sectional final, should be a major contender and is an expected No. 2 seed. In junior guard Macie McCracken (23.6 ppg.), Wildwood has the type of player who can take over in a state tournament and become the difference. Last year Woodbury was a viable threat, but was banned from the tournament after having seven players disqualified after leaving the bench during an altercation. NJSIAA rules stipulate if three players are thrown out of a game over the season, then that team is ineligible to compete in the state tournament.

This year Woodbury has another chance, and could be on a mission. The Thundering Herd will be the expected top seed. Senior guard Maya Braxton-Young, leads the way for Woodbury, averaging more than 19 points per game. 

 

Group 2

Defending champion: Middle Township

Outlook: Cinnaminson is the projected top seed. The Pirates advanced to last year’s sectional championship game before losing to Middle Township, 57-48. Now the No. 2 seed, Middle Township appears especially dangerous. 

The Panthers play in the extremely difficult Cape Atlantic League American Division, which Group 3 power Millville won this year. Since Middle Township played such a difficult regular season schedule, the Panthers should be prepared for the state tournament. Middle Township may be the most balanced team, with six players having scored between 110 and 191 points. No. 4 Haddonfield, a stingy defensive team, bears watching. 

 

Group 3

Defending champion: Ocean City

Outlook: Last year Mainland as the No. 2 seed, lost to rival Ocean City, 39-27 in the sectional final. 

This year Mainland is the projected top seed and will be the clear favorite. (On another note, Ocean City, hit hard by graduation, began the week just 5-16, but still projects as one of the 16 playoff teams). 

Mainland began the week 23-1, with the only loss to perennial state power St. John Vianney. The Mustangs have three double-figure scorers. Senior Kasey Brestones began the week averaging 17 points per game. Senior twins Bella and Ava Mazur were both averaging 12.8 points.

This type of balance will make the Mustangs difficult to beat. 

The biggest challenger should be No. 2 seeded Moorestown. The Quakers eliminated defending Group 4 champ Cherokee in a South Jersey Basketball Invitational Tournament semifinal, 45-29 before losing to South Jersey’s top team Paul VI, 61-40, in the final. 

 

Group 4

Defending champ: Cherokee

Outlook: Williamstown is projected as the top seed, but never count out Cherokee in the postseason. The Chiefs are the expected No. 3 seed. On Jan. 27, Cherokee beat visiting Williamstown, 52-31.

Two other teams in addition to Cherokee from the Lenape School District, appear to be contenders. Projected No. 2 Lenape and No. 6 Shawnee are viable contenders. Cherokee has gone 2-1 this season against Lenape, while Shawnee earned a 32-31 decision over Cherokee.  Lenape won the Olympic Conference American Division by a game over Cherokee. (Shawnee finished third in the Olympic Patriot, behind champion Moorestown and second place Cherry Hill West).

Photo Courtesy of Mainland Basketball

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Author: Marc Narducci

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