Winter sports seasons draw to a close
By Michael R. Sicilia | Correspondent [[In-content Ad]]
The Trenton Catholic Academy girls basketball team saw much success in this year’s NJSIAA tournaments. The Lady Mikes began their run by going 4-0 in the South Jersey Non-Public B Tournament, capped by a convincing 70-53 win over Gill St. Bernard, Gladstone, in the championship game March 6.
Trenton Catholic’s next stop was the Non-Public Group B Championship three days later, where the Lady Mikes continued their run with a 60-49 triumph over Morris Catholic, their second championship win of that week.
But on March 12, the Lady Mikes’ run ended in the opening round of this year’s Tournament of Champions, as they suffered a tough 74-68 loss to the Point Pleasant Beach Garnet Gulls in the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.
Against Point Pleasant Beach, Trenton Catholic was down 17-12 after one quarter, yet stayed in the game and went into the half trailing 35-32. The Lady Mikes did manage to grab a one-point lead late in the third quarter, but Point Pleasant Beach’s dynamic duo of sophomore Marina Mabrey and junior Katelynn Flaherty took over, as the Gulls took a 48-44 lead into the fourth quarter and never trailed again. Flaherty scored 36 points, tying a TOC single-game record, while Mabrey pumped in 29.
“I had no idea at all that something like this was coming,” Trenton Catholic Academy’s head coach Khaliq Lewis-El said afterward. “Our intensity level never matched theirs in the game.”
For Trenton Catholic, junior center Tyler Raysor led the Lady Mikes with 21 points and 19 rebounds, and Isis Young added 19 points more, keeping Trenton Catholic in the game. The Lady Mikes also stayed in it on the strength of 28 offensive rebounds, out-rebounding Point Pleasant Beach 54-42. But in the end, foul and free throw troubles for Trenton Catholic (they were whistled for 22 fouls, and were 11-for-26 at the line), along with Point Pleasant Beach’s near-perfection at the free throw line—the Garnet Gulls made 34 out of 40 total attempts, with 19 successful free throws in the fourth quarter alone—brought down the curtain on Trenton Catholic’s season.
“No one thought that this team was even going to be here, and even discussing this loss in this locker room,” Lewis-El said. “I let them know that they’ve got a lot to be proud of after going on a five-game losing streak, and then go on a run to a state championship,” he concluded.
Lewis-El had high accolades for Point Pleasant Beach’s duo of Flaherty and Mabrey.
“We got beat by two great, smart, good players,” he said.
Despite the tough loss, Trenton Catholic can be proud of what they accomplished in 2012-13, as the Lady Mikes finished the year with an overall record of 23-7, including their Sectional and Group Championships.
Raysor, following her stand-out performance, immediately began setting her sights to 2013-14.
“All we can do is come back stronger next year,” she said. Raysor, knowing that Trenton Catholic now has some unfinished business, did not want to waste any time in getting to work.
“Tomorrow, I’ll be back in the gym,” she said.
That motivation could allow Raysor, and her fellow teammates who will be seniors next year, to not only get back to the Tournament of Champions, but to win it all, and go out on top.
It was a busy basketball season at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, as both the boys and girls teams qualified for the NJSIAA’s Non-Public South Group A Tournament. Notre Dame boys clinched the top seed and a first-round bye in this year’s NJSIAA Non-Public South Group A Tournament. Their first assignment was in the quarterfinals against eighth-ranked Holy Spirit on Feb. 28, and Notre Dame prevailed in a 50-48 comeback win. Senior Isaiah Johnson led the team with 21 points, and his three-point shot with 3:19 left in regulation sent the Irish on a 9-0 run that put them ahead for good.
“This is my last go-round,” Johnson said, “so it feels good to advance.” Referring to last year, when Pope Paul VI High School, Haddon Township, defeated the Irish in the sectional tournament, Johnson said, “They (Paul VI) beat us, and now we get them again. We’ve been waiting for another shot at them.”
But two days later, on March 2, Notre Dame’s run came to an end. The Irish had no better luck the second time in the semi-finals, getting upended by Pope Paul VI for a second straight year by a score of 88-66. In defeat, Josh Williams led Notre Dame with 27 points, including 18 from three-point range.
Elsewhere in boys basketball, Holy Cross qualified for this year’s Non-Public South Group A Tournament as a number 10 seed. The Delran school saw its season end in the opening round, with a 52-36 loss to number seven seed Bishop Eustace Preparatory School, Pennsauken Township. Brandon Rowe led all Holy Cross scorers with 14 points.
Notre Dame girls entered the tournament as a number 9 seed, and was defeated 50-35 by eighth-seeded Holy Cross in the first round. Samantha Widmann led Notre Dame with 14 points, while Alliya Butts led Holy Cross with 30 points in her sixth 30plus point game of the season.
Despite a loss that saw Notre Dame go cold at the start and after halftime, Irish head coach James Martinos is encouraged by what the future holds.
“We started two freshmen and two sophomores, and games like this show us that we’ve got a lot of work ahead,” Martinos said of his team, which finished 15-9.
Holy Cross was then knocked off by top seed and eventual champion Red Bank Catholic 51-37 in the quarterfinals. Red Bank Catholic also went on to win the State Non-Public Group A Championship with a 54-42 win over Immaculate Heart.
On the ice, the Non-Public Hockey Tournament saw second-seeded Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, clinch a first-round bye, then advance to the semi-finals where the Colts were defeated 5-3 by third-seeded Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey. Brendan Van Riemsdyk scored five goals in the tournament, including four in the Colts’ first game, a 9-0 defeat of Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, in the second round.