Representing South Jersey

by Marc Narducci | Mar 11, 2024
Representing South Jersey
South Jersey had a strong showing in the NJSIAA girls’ basketball state tournament with two of New Jersey’s six state champions coming from the seven-county South Jersey area.

Mainland captured the state Group 3 championship and Lenape won in Group 4.

Lenape accomplished the difficult feat by winning all six games in the state tournament by 10 or more points.

The Indians finished with a 26-7 record and what helped was playing a most difficult schedule leading up to the postseason.

Two of the losses came to eventual state champions by close margins. On Dec. 28, Lenape lost 50-46 to Mainland and a month later fell, 62-57 to Group 2 state champ Manasquan on Jan. 27.

That loss to Manasquan would be the last defeat that Lenape would suffer.

The Indians ended the season on a 15-game winning streak, capped by a 43-28 victory over Morristown in the state Group 4 final.

Lenape began the state tournament with a 56-23 win over Atlantic City and followed that with a 53-39 victory over Southern Regional. Then came a 41-20 defensive masterpiece over Lenape School District rival Cherokee in the sectional semifinal. It was the fourth game this season between Lenape and Cherokee and the two Olympic Conference American Division teams each won twice.

Lenape then beat top seeded Williamstown, 58-37 to win the South Jersey Group 4 title.

The Indians earned a 64-31 state Group 4 semifinal win over Howell, before their 15-point win over Morristown in the state final.

As the scores indicated, Lenape won with a tenacious defense. 

In the six state tournament wins, coach Sean McAneny’s Indians allowed an average of just 29.6 points. 

During the state final, Lenape freshman El-Anita Joe-Samuel had a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Needless to say, the freshman wasn’t too shook by playing in a pressurized state championship setting.

Junior Alexa Henry added 11 points and Sienna Fedoruk, the lone senior in the starting lineup, had seven points and 10 rebounds. 

This type of balanced scoring, coupled with one of the top defensive teams in the state, was the winning formula for the Indians.

Mainland (31-1) culminated a dominating season with a 59-51 victory over Chatham in the state Group 3 championship.

The Mustangs’ lone loss was to perennial state power St. John Vianney.

Unlike Lenape, Mainland had some nail-biters along the way, none more than its 45-43 state Group 3 semifinal win over Ewing on a buzzer-beating layup by senior Sydney Stokes.

In the state final, senior guard Bella Mazur led the way with 20 points. Classmate Kasey Bretones added 16 points, while Stokes scored 11. Ava Mazur, the twin sister of Bella, contributed eight points, six assists and four rebounds. 

It was Bretones who led the way in the state semifinal win over Ewing with 18 points, while Ava Mazur contributed 11 points and 15 rebounds. Stokes had eight points and 13 rebounds and Bella Mazur had eight points for coach Scott Betson’s Mustangs. 

Like Lenape, Mainland benefited from a tough regular season schedule, plus by competing and winning the Cape Atlantic League Tournament, beating Wildwood Catholic, 61-52 in the final.

That set the way for a great state tournament run that capped a truly memorable season.

Photo Courtesy of Lenape Girls Basketball's Twitter

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Author: Marc Narducci

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