Mission not yet over for Paulsboro in Tournament of Champions
The state title is in the bag. The trophy is back in Paulsboro. The championship jackets are on order. Paulsboro coach Sean Collins wants his boys' basketball team to have a "great experience" in the Tournament of Champions.
The state title is in the bag.
The trophy is back in Paulsboro. The championship jackets are on order.
Paulsboro coach Sean Collins wants his boys' basketball team to have a "great experience" in the Tournament of Champions.
"Enjoy the moment," Collins told his players of an adventure that included the T of C luncheon at Pines Manor in Edison on Monday afternoon.
Still, Collins knows his players. He knows what is likely to happen when the T of C quarterfinal between Paulsboro and Bergenfield tips off Wednesday at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.
"What I have learned about my kids is that when the ball goes up, they are going to fight and compete to win like always," Collins said.
Paulsboro (30-2) is the Group 1 state champion and the No. 5 seed.
Bergenfield (22-5) is the Group 3 state champion and the No. 4 seed.
The winner of the opening-round game will meet top-seeded Roselle Catholic (26-4), the Non-Public B champion, in the semifinals Friday night.
No. 3 seed Paterson Eastside, which beat Cherry Hill East in the Group 4 final, and No. 6 seed Newark Tech, which beat Camden in the Group 2 title game, will play in the second quarterfinal Wednesday.
That winner will play No. 2 seed Pope John, the Non-Public A champion, in Friday's other semifinal.
The title game will be Monday at Sun National Bank Center in Trenton.
Paulsboro won 26 of its last 27 games. The Red Raiders' lone loss in 2015 was 53-51 to Haddonfield in a Feb. 19 game that leading scorer Theo Holloway missed with an injury.
Holloway, a 6-foot-4 senior, averages 17.4 points. Saleem Little, another 6-foot-4 senior, averages 15.3 points and is the Red Raiders' leading rebounder.
Senior guards Brandon Hamilton, who scored 20 in the victory over University in the Group 1 title game, and De'Shaun Burgess along with junior forward John Pellegrini round out the starting five for Paulsboro.
Bergenfield surprised many observers by beating Ewing, 80-75, in overtime in the Group 3 title game.
Bergenfield is led by brothers D.J. and Jovani Haskins, a burly pair of athletes who are better known for their accomplishments on the football field.
Both brothers are 6-foot-4. D.J. Haskins has signed with Division II Stonehill (Mass.) on a football scholarship. He's projected as a wide receiver.
The 230-pound Jovani Haskins is regarded as one of the top football prospects in the state in the class of 2016. He has several Division I offers as a tight end from programs such as Ole Miss, Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Rutgers.
On Sunday against Ewing, which was ranked No. 8 in the state by NJ.com, the Haskins brothers dominated the paint.
D.J. Haskins finished with 26 points and 19 rebounds. Jovani Haskins generated 20 points and 22 rebounds.
For the game, Bergenfield outrebounded Ewing by 51-25.
Little said Paulsboro will be motivated by the opportunity to prove itself against the best teams in the state.
The Red Raiders get their first chance Wednesday night against the Group 3 champions.
"We're not done yet," Little said. "Of course, we already accomplished our goal [of winning a state title], but to have the chance to call ourselves the best team in New Jersey, not just in Group 1, will definitely continue to drive us forward."