Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Roselle Catholic, Ranney set for rematch in Non-Public B state final; Edert, Bergen Catholic win first state sectional since 2003
By ADAM ZAGORIASOMERSET, N.J. — The state of New Jersey will now get the high school basketball rematch everyone wants to see.
The game will feature three McDonald’s All-Americans and will pit the Ranney School against Roselle Catholic in the Non-Public B state final. The teams will square off at 7 p.m. Saturday at the RWJ Baranbus Arena in Toms River.
Villanova-bound Bryan Antoine, Florida signee Scottie Lewis and Ranney held off Wildwood Catholic, 54-50, in overtime in the Non-Public B South final at Jackson Liberty High School on Wednesday night to advance to the state final. About half an hour later, Kentucky-bound wing Kahlil Whitney and Roselle Catholic fended off Gill St. Bernard’s, 48-44, to win the Non-Public B North final at Franklin High School. The Lions (28-3) improved to 2-0 against Gill St. Bernard’s this season.
Roselle Catholic is the reigning New Jersey Tournament of Champions winner and has won three titles since 2013. Ranney is seeking its first TOC crown.
“In Jersey it kind of seems to work out this way,” Roselle Catholic coach Dave Boff said of Ranney. “The games people want to see at the end somehow end up happening. I heard they had to grind one out, we had to grind one out and we’ll see them on Saturday.”
Antoine, Lewis and Whitney — the three McDonald’s All-Americans — will share the floor for a second time this season after Ranney handled Roselle Catholic, 61-49, on Jan. 30 at Brookdale Community College in a game in which Antoine went off for 25 points and Kentucky coach John Calipari watched the first half.
“I’m going into that game as every other game,” Whitney said of the rematch. “Our biggest goal was to win so I’m going to do whatever it takes to win.”
Against Gill, the 6-foot-7 Whitney finished with 15 points while UNLV-bound point guard Josh Pierre-Louis had 10 points before leaving the game with a wrist injury in the fourth quarter and being taken to the hospital. It was unclear whether Pierre-Louis broke his wrist or sprained it.
“It looked pretty bad when we were on the court,” Whitney said. “Hopefully it’s not that severe.”
If he’s unable to play Saturday, Whitney and junior Richie Greaves would have to handle the ball more against Ranney.
“I feel like Josh is a big part of our offense,” Whitney said. “He’s pretty much the fastest guard in the state so that will put a dent in our team and we’ll just have to play harder.”
Gill junior big man Zach Martini had 19 points and Rutgers-bound point guard Paul Mulcahy scored 7.
Gill closed to within 39-37 on a Mulcahy 3-pointer early in the fourth but the Lions went on a 5-0 including a 3-pointer by Colby Rogers to go up 44-37.
Gill got within 44-43 but Mulcahy missed the back end of a one-and-one that would’ve tied it. He later rimmed out a 3-pointer that would’ve put Gill ahead.
Greaves made two foul shots to put the Lions up 46-43 and Whitney stole the ball from Mulcahy in the final seconds and then iced the game with two free throws with 2.3 seconds left.
“We needed a play,” Boff said of Whitney. “We needed a defensive stop and then a couple of more free throws. He was able to come up with the loose ball which we needed and then stepped to the free throw line and made two huge free throws to ice the game.”
EDERT, FREEMANTLE LEAD BERGEN CATHOLIC TO FIRST SECTIONAL TITLE SINCE 2003
The last time Bergen Catholic won a state sectional title, Doug Edert was 3 years old.
That was back in 2003.
Sixteen years later, the St. Peter’s-bound Edert went off for 32 points to lead the Crusaders to a 100-63 rout of St. Joe’s-Montvale in the North Non Public A final.
Xavier-bound big man Zach Freemantle added 17 points and Will Richardson 10 in the win for coach Billy Armstrong and Bergen Catholic, which shot 11-of-16 from deep. They will face Camden Catholic in the Non-Public A final on Saturday in Toms River.
“We played well, we had good shots,” said Edert, who made six 3-pointers. “We shoot open shots so if we have a big advantage, we shoot the ball. And that’s what happened. We got in a rhythm, we just continued to roll on it.”
Said Freemantle of Edert’s shooting: “Doug is friggin’ amazing. He’s so good. He does not know how to miss the basket. He’s so good at basketball.”
Leading 18-15 in the first period, the Crusaders used a 15-0 run bridging the first and second periods to go up 33-15 and break the gam open. They led 45-25 at the break and 68-45 after three.
The 6-9 Freemantle banged a 3-pointer to open the game and then hit another to key the game-turning 15-0 run.
As for winning the school’s first sectional title in 16 years, he said, “It feels amazing to finally win it. After losing in the championship it feels amazing.”
The Non-Public B winner has dominated the Tournament of Champions, with St. Anthony’s (13), St. Patrick/The Patrick School (6) and Roselle Catholic (3) winning 22 of 30 titles.
But Freemantle says this will be the year a Non-Public A team is crowned.
“I definitely think we can win it,” he said. “An A team definitely can win it. We’re going to win it.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.