When Mary Klinger’s team takes the floor for the opening tip-off Sunday afternoon against Morris Catholic in the quest for a second straight state title – and her program’s fourth overall – it will be much improved from the last time the Argonauts faced the Crusaders.
That was December 17th – Game Two of the season for both squads – in the She Got Game Classic down at St. John Vianney in Holmdel. Klinger will tell you it was not one of Prep’s best.
And the numbers bear it out, too. The Argonauts like to start hot, hitting baskets, then falling back into that full-court press, creating turnovers, and do it all over again. But they trailed after the first quarter.
And while they came back to go ahead by 13 with just three minutes to go in the third quarter, the next eleven minutes saw the Crusaders rally for a three-point win, 72-69.
Klinger doesn’t think it will happen again, and she’s got good reason to feel that way. It was only the second game with last year’s seniors gone, with this year’s senior Katie Ledden and junior Mikayla Blakes taking on additional roles. It was only the second start for GiGi Battle, a freshman who – along with fellow rookie Ava LaMonica – has been a key contributor this year.
Now with a full season behind them, a Somerset County Tournament title and a Non-Public South B trophy on their resume, they are a much different team.
And so it will be when Rutgers Prep (25-4) takes on Morris Catholic (26-3, North B Champ) Sunday at Toms River North’s RWJBarnabas Arena for the Girls’ Non-Public Group B title. Tip-off time is 2 pm, and you can hear all the live play-by-play on Central Jersey Sports Radio beginning at 1:45 with the pregame show. Justin Sontupe and Raj Shah will bring you all the action. Click here to listen.
Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Rutgers Prep head coach Mary Klinger:
How They Got Here:
Rutgers Prep: #3 seed, beat #14 Moorestown Friends 76-25 in first round, beat #6 Trenton Catholic 91-43 in the quarterfinals, beat #3 St. Rose 70-47 in the semifinals, beat #1 Wildwood Catholic 70-40 in the sectional final
Morris Catholic: #2 seed, first round bye, beat #7 Wardlaw-Hartridge 89-16 in the quarterfinals, beat #5 Lodi Immaculate 88-57 in the semifinals, beat #4 Montclair-Immaculate 55-49 in the sectional final
State Championship History:
Rutgers Prep is seeking its second straight state title, and fourth overall, though unlike the other three, this is the end of the line. All three times, the Argonauts went on to the Tournament of Champions, but that was eliminated this year by the NJSIAA across all sports.
- 2016: Non-Public Group B Champion over Saddle River Day
- 2017: Non-Public Group B Champion over Queen of Peace
- 2018: Non-Public Group B runner-up to Saddle River Day)
- 2022: Non-Public Group B Champion over Saddle River Day
Morris Catholic has won the group title twice, and been to this game eight times, but is making its first appearance since 2014.
- 2004: Non-Public Group B Champion over St. Rose
- 2005: Non-Public Group B runner-up to Sacred Heart
- 2006: Non-Public Group B Champion over Trenton Catholic
- 2007: Non-Public Group A runner-up to Red Bank Catholic
- 2008: Non-Public Group A runner-up to St. John Vianney
- 2012: Non-Public Group B runner-up to Gill St. Bernard’s
- 2013: Non-Public Group B runner-up to Paramus Catholic
- 2014: Non-Public Group B runner-up to St. Rose