It's the time of year when players can't help but be excited.

"We're all pumped, but we all get pumped in different ways," said Bella Preziosi, a senior guard for the Haddon Township girls' basketball team. "I consider myself more calm. But someone like Morgan [Lenahan's] energy is just off the roof - she's everywhere right now.

"But I think that works for us. We balance each other out well."

Balance is Haddon Township's trademark quality. On and off the court, the Hawks complement each other. Every player has a distinct role, every player contributes.

"Everybody has really bought into the idea that when we step on the court, we're one," said coach Tommie Mulligan, whose Hawks will play for the Group 1 state championship at noon Sunday against New Providence at the Pine Belt Arena.

Haddon Township entered this year with five returning starters but had to make it through this postseason without senior forward Katie Burns, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament last month.

The team's success is a testament to veteran leadership and role players' stepping up.

"With everything that's been thrown at us, I'm just thrilled with what we've accomplished," Mulligan said.

If nothing else, Haddon Township (26-3) has more confidence than it had before last season's state championship matchup with Shabazz - a virtually unwinnable game against one of the country's top teams.

That's not to say Sunday isn't a formidable challenge. New Providence (21-9) is led by Florida recruit Sydney Morang, a 6-foot junior guard.

Morang is a crucial test for senior guard Alayxiah Carr and particularly for Lenahan, a junior guard who has developed into one of South Jersey's premier players.

"We all want this more than anything," Lenahan said. "We've been playing together for so long. We've been preparing for this exact moment. And now is our time."