Rutgers Prep came into its Tournament of Champions semifinal game with Manasquan as the lower seed, the Warriors also ranked above them in the statewide Top 20.
The Argonauts had something to say about that.
With only one tie, at 2-2, the third-seeded Lady Argonauts led virtually wire-to-wire, coming strong out of the gates, and beat 2nd-seed Manasquan 64-48 in the Tournament of Champions semifinals, to give them their first-ever birth in the TOC title game, in the event’s last season.
They will play top-seed St. John Vianney at 4 pm Sunday at Rutgers for the Tournament of Champions title. The Lady Lancers were 87-48 winners over the Argonauts back on Super Bowl Sunday as part of a girls’/boys’ doubleheader at Kean University in Union.
While the whole team came up big offensively, finding open threes and hitting them to the tune of seven in the first half – and nine in the game – Rutgers-bound senior Antonia Bates hit three of them and led all scorers in the game with 17 points. It was her fourth time leading the team in scoring this season, her second time in the postseason, also scoring 17 to lead the Argos’ in a Somerset County Tournament semifinal win over Bound Brook.
Now, Bates will get to play her last scholastic game on the same court she’ll call home in college, at Rutgers University’s Jersey Mike’s Arena. Central Jersey Sports Radio will have the game at 4:00, with pregame set for approximately 3:40 pm.
Rutgers Prep (29-2) never put together a huge, blitzing run as they have often done. Instead, they slowly, steadily built a lead: as big as eight in the first quarter, 12 in the second quarter and at intermission, and 17 in the third quarter before winning it by 16.
Prep’s scoring also was nearly perfectly balanced.
After Bates’ 17, fellow senior Leyla Castro had 13 (including two treys), Katie Ledden had 12, Mikayla Blakes had 12 (including a triple) and Morgan Ryan had nine, all from downtown.
Click below to hear postgame reaction from Rutgers Prep’s TOC semifinal win over Manasquan: