Every player on the Bishop Eustace girls’ basketball team wears the same bright neon green sneakers.
Their warm-ups are black with matching neon lettering.
It’s a bold look for a team whose typical colors are black, gray and white.
And when asked the story behind it, senior guard Madison Grubb smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
“There is none,” she said. “We just like the colors, and we all want to match.”
It’s actually a solid metaphor for this year’s Crusaders, who were 47-35 winners over Westampton Tech in Saturday night’s Elite 8 matchup of the South Jersey Invitational Basketball Tournament at Eastern.
Bishop Eustace is a senior-laden team that plays with as much chemistry as any in South Jersey.
The seniors have taken marked steps forward every year since they were freshmen, and now they’re one of the top teams in South Jersey largely because of the way they play together -- as a unit.
They all seem to fit. They play as one, so, of course, it makes sense to dress as one.
“We work really well together,” Grubb said. “We joke about having a sixth sense with each other. We know where everyone is going to be and when.
Saturday night, despite a solid defensive effort by Westampton Tech, players still made their cuts, and the ball always seemed to find the open player.
Grubb and fellow senior Kaitlyn Deiter, a forward, each chipped in nine points, for a Bishop Eustace team that held a double-digit lead for most of the game.
Senior forward Lauren Punk scored a team-high 12 points to go with five rebounds and three assists.
Senior forward Ciarra Brannon stood out for Westampton Tech. She generated 13 points and 13 rebounds.
“We love this tournament. It’s just a really cool atmosphere. The director, Mike Hallahan, does a great job, and we come back every year because the girls love it so much,” said Bishop Eustace coach John Considine. Westampton Tech “is a very talented team. They played a style of defense we weren’t used to, but we still held our own.”
The Crusaders (15-4) advance to next week’s Final Four. Eustace advanced to the SJIBT championship game a year ago.
And with every player back, the team is hungry for more in a tournament that annually brings together some of the best teams from around South Jersey, regardless of group.
“This tournament is my favorite part of the whole season. I love coming to Eastern. I love playing in it. I love the atmosphere,” Punk said. “So it feels great to be back in the Final Four.”
Saturday night, Punk was solid on both ends of the floor as Eustace jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter.
Though Tech (12-7) closed the gap a bit before the end of the first quarter, the Crusaders clamped down defensively over the second and third quarters.
There was an almost eight minute stretch between those quarters when Bishop Eustace outscored Tech, 19-2.
At that point, with 2 minutes, 29 seconds left in the third quarter, the score was 36-17, and the Crusaders were able to ride out the win and immediately turn their attention to what lies ahead in the SJIBT.
“Winning [the championship] would mean everything to us,” Grubb said “We’re out for blood this year.”
Bishop Eustace 17 8 14 8 — 47
Westampton Tech 10 3 10 12 — 35
BE: Lauren Punk 12, Kaitlyn Deiter 9, Madison Grubb 9, Katie Kempter 6, Sophia Cross 5, Brenna McQuillan 3, Elena Yates 3.