There might be one team in the state the Rutgers Prep girls’ basketball team can’t beat this season, and even now, that’s not automatically a certain guarantee.
The Lady Argonauts got walloped by St. John Vianney, the top team in the state, on Super Bowl Sunday in a doubleheader up at Kean University. But head coach Mary Klinger says that loss was a wake-up call to her team, showing how much harder they needed to work to be at that elite level.
Her team seems to have taken the message to heart. That’s evident in watching them play of late, if you’ve seen any of their games. In a 64-34 home win over St. Rose Belmar (you can see some of the highlights here) Klinger’s squad was clearly playing with a purpose, and a sense of urgency they didn’t quite have against the Lancers a month ago.
Tonight, down at Long Branch, they’ll play in the Non-Public South B finals for the fifth time in program history (Prep only joined the NJSIAA for the 2012-13 school year, and played in the Prep postseason tournament before that). The top-seeded Argonauts (25-2) take on 2nd-seed Wildwood Catholic (23-5) play for the crown at 5 pm.
If Wildwood Catholic can’t stop super sophomore Mikayla Blakes, it’s going to be a long night, and a title for Rutgers Prep. Even if they can, Prep is still a heavy favorite, as they are pesky on defense and can get up and down the floor in transition. Wildwood Catholic hasn’t probably seen the likes of Rutgers Prep all year.
How they got here:
(1) Rutgers Prep: first-round bye, def. 8-Holy Spirit in the quarterfinals, 75-15; def. 5-St. Rose in the semifinals, 64-34
(2) Wildwood Catholic: first-round bye, def 7-Calvary Christian in the quarterfinals, 69-22, def. (3) Gloucester Catholic in the semifinals, 45-39
Defense wins championships: Since the St. John Vianney win, in seven games, Rutgers Prep has outscored its opponents an average of 71-35, and held five opponents under 35 points, three of them under 30.
Here is the NJSIAA Tournament history for the Rutgers Prep girls’ basketball team, with all games in Non-Public South B:
- 2020: lost in the sectional final to Trenton Catholic, 53-48
- 2019: lost in the sectional semifinals to Gloucester Catholic, 54-47
- 2018: Non-Public South B champions, beat Trenton Catholic, 58-54; lost in Non-Public B final to Saddle River Day, 73-49
- 2017: Non-Public South B champions, beat Patrick School, 79-60; Non-Public B champions, beat Queen of Peace, 58-46; lost in Tournament of Champions semifinals to Franklin, 66-57
- 2016: Non-Public South B champions, bear St. Rose, 65-47; Non-Public B champions, beat Saddle River Day, 69-40; lost in Tournament of Champions semifinals to Manasquan, 59-50
- 2015: lost in the sectional semifinals to St. Rose, 67-59
- 2014: lost in the sectional quarterfinals to Roselle Catholic, 50-34
- 2013: lost in the sectional first round to St. Rose, 63-42