Head coach Billy Lovett sees a lot of parallels and similarities in his life right now.
Having played for the legendary Bob Hurley at St. Anthony’s in the 1990s, he has given his team the same experiences, playing in national showcases far from New Jersey that create great moments for his players, and top-notch exposure – like the John Wall Holiday Invitational.
He played in that tournament before it was even called that, back when it was the Raleigh Times Holiday Festival, which celebrated its 50th year this past December.
Other similarities are less intentional, like the fact this his team is very much like the Rutgers Prep team they will meet Sunday in Toms River for the Non-Public Group B state title.
Both focus on defense, which fuels their offense, which wins them championships.
Sunday’s game between Non-Public South B winner Rutgers Prep (25-4) and North B Champ Morris Catholic (26-3) tips off at 2 pm at Toms River North’s RWJBarnabas Health Arena, and you can hear it live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Justin Sontupe calling all the play-by-play, and Raj Shah providing the color. Click here to listen to the live broadcast.
The Crusaders began the season in the national rankings, and though they’ve since dropped out, they and Rutgers Prep are both Top 5 teams, with Morris Catholic No. 4, and Rutgers Prep No. 3. Only Paul VI (which both lost to this season) and St. John Vianney (which neither has played) are ahead of them.
Sophomore twins Mia and Mya Pauldo lead the way – two of the top point guards in the sophomore class – with Mia averaging a team-leading 17.3 points and 5.7 assists per game, while grabbing a team-best 91 steals. Mya is averaging 10.9 points a game, but just behind her sister in assists, with six fewer on the year.
And they can shoot the three. Surely, everyone knows Rutgers Prep can, and they have hit on 192 this season, but Morris Catholic has hit on a whopping 275, and average just a shade under 10 per game.
And then there’s the fact these two played each other in Game 2 of their respective seasons. The Crusaders won 72-69 in the She Got Game Classic on December 17th, wiping out a 13-point deficit with three minutes to go in the third quarter.
Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Morris Catholic head coach Billy Lovett: