Ocean City Advances Furthest Among...

Ocean City Advances Furthest Among... Ocean City Advances Furthest Among South Jersey Girls’ Basketball Teams

It was another exciting season for high school girls’ basketball, but one that ended with no state championships.

In fact, just one team from the seven-county South Jersey area played for a state title and that was Ocean City, which lost, 48-45 to Pascack Valley in the state Group 3 title game.

What that shows is how difficult it is to win a state championship. In fact winning a South Jersey title is no easy feat and there were some impressive sectional champs from the seven-county South Jersey areas.

First off was Ocean City, which finished its outstanding season with a 30-2 record. The Red Raiders only other loss was a 38-25 defeat to Mainland.

That’s a Mainland team that Ocean City also beat twice, 29-27 on Jan. 25 and 38-31 in the South Jersey Group 3 championship.

It was the second consecutive sectional title for coach Paul Baruffi’s team. Senior Alexis Paone led the Red Raiders in the championship game with 12 points.

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This was a veteran Ocean City team, which also won the overall Cape Atlantic League championship with a 39-37 overtime victory over Middle Township as Paone scored a game high 14 points.

The other sectional champions from the seven-county South Jersey areas were Cherokee in SJ Group 4, and Wildwood in SJ Group 1.

Cherokee (27-3) was led by 6-foot senior Isabella Therien, who is a major candidate for South Jersey player of the year. Therien, who is headed to Loyola (MD), averaged 21 points per game.

Therien’s buzzer-beater gave the Chiefs a 37-35 win over Toms River North in the SJ Group 4 championship.

She also tied for game-high scoring honors with 16 points.

In the semifinal, Cherokee defeated rival and defending state Group 4 champion Lenape, 55-42. The two teams had split in the regular season but behind 31 points from Therien, Cherokee defeated the defending state champions.

Cherokee’s season ended with a 43-38 loss to Sayreville in the state Group 4 semifinal.

Considering that Therien was the only returning starter from last year’s South Jersey Group 4 finalist, it was an outstanding showing for coach Ron Powell’s Chiefs.

Wildwood was the top seed in South Jersey Group 1 and the Warriors proved worthy of the top spot.

The Warriors defeated No. 3 seeded Haddon Township, 42-31 in the sectional final as senior forward Mackenzie McCracken exploded for 26 points.

Besides the scoring of McCracken, defense was a major reason the Warriors won their ninth sectional title. In Wildwood’s four South Jersey tourney wins, the Warriors allowed an average of just 35.2 points.

Wildwood’s season would end with a 78-51 state semifinal loss to Bound Brook. The Warriors ended 24-5 and like Cherokee and Ocean City, will surely cherish earning a South Jersey championship.

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For more Local Sports features, visit our South Jersey Sports page.

Author: Marc Narducci


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