We have four very challenging and entertaining matchups concerning the 39th annual Frank J. Cicarell girls’ basketball Union County Tournament, which will tip off at two sites Friday night.
The bottom side of the bracket – featuring sixth-seeded Summit vs. third-seeded Union at 6 p.m. and seventh-seeded Dayton vs. second-seeded Westfield at 7:30 p.m. – will take place at Rahway.
The top side of the bracket – featuring fifth-seeded Plainfield vs. fourth-seeded New Providence at 6 p.m. and ninth-seeded PatrickSchool of Elizabeth vs. top-seeded Roselle Catholic at 7:30 p.m. – will take place at JohnsonHigh School.
Friday, Feb. 21
BOTTOM SIDE OF BRACKET:
6-Summit (14-6) vs. 3-Union (19-4), 6 p.m.
7-Dayton (13-6) vs. 2-Westfield (19-2), 7:30 p.m.
TOP SIDE OF BRACKET:
At Johnson High School
5-New Providence (17-4) vs. 4-Plainfield (13-7), 6 p.m.
9-Patrick School (18-2) vs. 1-Roselle Catholic (20-1), 7:30 p.m.
Union seeks to make it to the semifinals for the first time since 2006 and with a record of 19-4 that includes a three-game winning streak the Farmers are one victory shy of winning 20 games for the first time under 12th-year head coach Justin Meyer.
The Farmers won the UCT once – in 2000.
Summit last reached the semifinals in 2012 after upsetting Roselle Catholic in the quarterfinals.
The Hilltoppers won the UCT once – in 1999.
Westfield seeks to get back to the semifinals for the first time since 2010 after it upset an 18-2 Summit team 47-45 in the quarterfinals at Roselle Catholic.
The Blue Devils won the UCT once – in 2008 – after reaching the final in 2007.
Dayton upset Cranford at Rahway to reach the semifinals in 2011.
The Bulldogs, who have never won the UCT, defeated Westfield at home this year when Westfield was 15-0.
Plainfield last reached the semifinals in 2009 and then advanced to the final where it lost a classic, double-overtime game to Roselle Catholic at RC.
The Cardinals have won six UCT titles – all in a row – from 1979-1984.
New Providence, which is the only team that has defeated Roselle Catholic this season, is seeking to reach the semifinals again for the first time since 2011.
The Pioneers won the UCT once – in 1990.
The PatrickSchool of Elizabeth did not have a team last year, but this season has bounced back to post an 18-2 record that includes a 13-0 slate for the championship of the Union County Conference’s Valley Division.
The Celtics, who have never won the UCT, have lost only to out-of-state teams from Staten Island and Long Island.
Roselle Catholic has won five UCT championships, first capturing the title in 2003 and then again in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Lions have been upset in the quarterfinals the past two seasons.
Here’s a look at the four quarterfinal round matchups:
Summit (14-6) vs. Union (19-4), 6 p.m. – Summit has won five in a row, but is seeking its first win against Union this year. The Farmers won Watchung Division games vs. the Hilltoppers by the scores of 68-34 at home on Jan. 4 and 60-43 on the road on Jan. 23.
Union was dominant in the first game, with sophomore guard Jasmin Bonaparte pouring in a career-high 23 points, including six of her team’s nine 3-pointers. Union made 15-of-32 field goal attempts in the first half, including 7-of-17 from long range.
Summit standout sophomore Cassidy O’Malley, who leads the Hilltoppers with a 14.9 scoring average, paced her team with a 17-point effort in the second game.
Caution to Union: Two years ago on the same Earl H. Walter Gymnasium in Rahway, Summit upset 3-time defending champion Roselle Catholic in the quarterfinals after RC swept Summit in UCC-Watchung Division play. Summit snapped RC’s 12-game UCT winning streak and handed the Lions their first county tournament loss in four years.
Regular season UCC-Watchung Division results:
Jan. 4: Union 68, Summit 34 – at Union
Jan. 23: Union 60, Summit 43 – at Summit
Dayton (13-6) vs. Westfield (19-2), 7:30 p.m. – This game can be termed the rubber match after the teams split Mountain Division contests.
Westfield led from start to finish in thoroughly dominating Dayton 57-30 at home on Jan. 10. Then on Jan. 30 in Springfield, Dayton came back to defeat a 15-0 Westfield team 46-39.
Westfield is led by junior guards Lillian Scott and Jacqueline Knapp. Scott became the program’s fourth 1,000 point scorer earlier this year and Knapp is on the verge of becoming the fifth. Also strong in the middle is senior Carly Friedman.
“We have more depth than our 2008 team (which won the county championship),” Westfield head coach Joe Marino said.
Dayton is sparked by seniors Nikki Athan and Gianna Izzi and junior center Elyssa Pollack.
The Bulldogs trailed Westfield 39-35 going into the fourth quarter of the second game. In the all-important final eight minutes, Dayton outscored Westfield 11-0.
“Our goal was to make sure we challenged their shooters and gave them no open looks,” Dayton head coach Dave Rennie said.
Dayton is closing in on a 14th consecutive winning (above .500 record) season.
“It was just one of those things,” Rennie continued. “Their shots were not falling from the perimeter – some rattled out – and it was critically important that we rebounded and didn’t allow them to have too many second chances.”
Regular season UCC-Mountain Division results:
Jan. 10:Westfield 57, Dayton 30 – at Westfield
Jan. 30:Dayton 46, Westfield 39 – at Dayton
AT JOHNSON HIGH SCHOOL:
5-Plainfield (13-7) vs. 4-New Providence (17-4), 6 p.m. – These two teams were first scheduled to play a conference-crossover contest Feb. 6 at New Providence in what was to be a key game before the Feb. 11 seeding meeting.
However, according to the New Providence athletic department secretary, the Plainfield bus was unable to make it to New Providence and there was no game.
The contest was re-scheduled to be played Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m., but cancelled due to the teams playing each other the next night in the UCT.
New Providence, sparked by arguably the best player in the county in sophomore all-purpose performer Sydney Morang, is one of the hottest teams in UnionCounty right now, owners of an 11-game winning streak.
Also led by senior point guard Jill Balog, who will continue playing lacrosse at Louisville, the Pioneers defeated a 9-0 Roselle Catholic team 53-51 at home in a Jan. 14 conference-crossover clash.
New Providence also came back late to defeat Westfield 47-43 at home on Feb. 1 after losing twice to the Blue Devils.
Plainfield is guided by senior guards Drew Winter and Breana Spencer, both of whom have scored more than 1,500 career points. Spencer poured in 44 in Plainfield’s 67-57 first round home victory over Johnson Wednesday night.
Spencer’s 44 points are second for a single-game Plainfield total behind the 49 Pam Chisolm scored in a game during the 1989-1990 season.
9-Patrick School (18-2) vs. 1-Roselle Catholic (20-1), 7:30 p.m. – The Patrick School, winners of seven straight, has lost only to Staten Island Academy of New York 55-49 on Dec. 27 and to Long Island Lutheran of New York 37-28 on Jan. 26.
The Valley Division champions will finish a perfect 14-0 in the division if they make up their last league game against BenedictineAcademy and then defeat the Elizabeth school at home.
The only team outside of the top eight seeds to advance to the quarterfinals, the Celtics received 17 points from Shyasia Pridgen and eight from Raven Farley-Clark and Qadashah Hoppie in turning back host and eighth-seeded Cranford 51-46 in Tuesday night’s first round.
Roselle Catholic, like the only team it has lost to, has also won 11 straight. The Lions captured the Watchung Division title for the fourth consecutive year and a division championship for a sixth straight season.
This year, for the first time in program history, Roselle Catholic finished perfect in league play, winning the Watchung Division at 14-0.
Roselle Catholic, which has also won 20 games now for six straight seasons, has an impressive 130-24 (.844) record since the beginning of the 2008-2009 campaign.
In Tuesday night’s decisive 69-32 first round win at home over 16th-seeded Hillside, Colgate-bound senior Tori Pozsonyi reached and passed 1,000 career points.
Although she is a four-year varsity performer, Pozsonyi is a three-year starter who played somewhat and did not score that many points her freshman season. That means she scored most of her 1,000-plus points in just three years.
The Lions are also led by fellow starters Kate Tobie, senior defensive specialist who will continue playing at MontclairState; Dolapo Balogun, Allieyah Cubbage and Ashley Skrec.
Although Roselle Catholic is the top seed, has won the most games in the county and is the favorite to capture its fifth county championship and first since winning a third straight in 2011, veteran head coach Joe Skrec has the utmost respect for his quarterfinal round opponent.
“The PatrickSchool is a very well-coached team that plays hard and with a lot of effort and determination,” Skrec said. “It looks like they are creating a lot of positive emotion and energy with the way they play, substituting a lot of really good players in and out all the time.”
The Celtics have not played a team from the Watchung Division, but are 2-0 against Mountain Division teams, including a 51-32 win at Union Catholic on Feb. 4.
“The PatrickSchool clearly plays stifling defense, which leads to a lot of offense,” Skrec said. “You need to be strong with the ball vs. their defenders or you won’t be in possession of the basketball for very long.”
Roselle Catholic has also not played a team from the Valley Division. Whereas the RC and PatrickSchool boys’ teams have a rivalry, this could be the start of one on the girls’ side.
“The PatrickSchool does a lot of good things that can win you a lot of basketball games, which is why they have a great record and why they are such a threat in the UCT,” Skrec said.
POZSONYI 4TH RC GIRL TO NET 1,000 POINTS
Tori Pozsonyi became the fourth girls’ basketball player at Roselle Catholic to reach 1,000 points when she did so against Hillside.
Here’s the list:
Allison Skrec, (class of 2010), 1,338
Schrene Isidora, (class of 1999), 1,267
Melissa Tobie, (class of 2011), 1,016
Tori Pozsonyi, (class of 2014), 1,013 and counting
Pozsonyi scored 17 points against Hillside Tuesday in The Lions’ Den to push her career total to 1,013. She needs just four more points to move to third place, which will have her pass present MontclairState junior standout Melissa Tobie.
Entering the UCT contest with 996 points, Pozsonyi sank a free throw with 6:05 left in the first quarter to reach the highly-coveted milestone.
After Pozsonyi, a RosellePark resident, made the second free throw for her fourth point of the game – and a 6-0 RC lead – the game was halted for pictures and teammates to bring balloons out for the forward.
Pozsonyi, one of the top frontcourt players in UnionCounty, added eight rebounds and two blocked shots vs. the Comets.
Cubbage, a junior, scored 17 points, while Balogun finished with 16 and 10 rebounds, posting her second consecutive double-double.
Tobie contributed seven points and 10 assists and Skrec eight points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Pozsonyi began the week with 976 career points. She scored 20 in Monday night’s 54-26 win at Timothy Christian of Piscataway.
39TH ANNUAL FRANK J. CICARELL
GIRLS’ BASKETBALL UCT
SEEDS: 1-Roselle Catholic. 2-Westfield. 3-Union. 4-New Providence.
5-Plainfield. 6-Summit. 7-Dayton. 8-Cranford.
9-Patrick School. 10-Gov. Livingston. 11-Oak Knoll. 12-Johnson.
13-Scotch Plains. 14-Union Catholic. 15-Rahway. 16-Hillside.
17-Linden. 18-Kent Place. 19-Roselle Park. 20-Roselle.
Friday, Feb. 14
Scotch Plains 72, Roselle 32
Saturday, Feb. 15
Union Catholic 70, RosellePark 19
Monday, Feb. 17
Johnson 58, Elizabeth 39
Hillside 55, Linden 48
Tuesday, Feb. 18
Rahway 55, Kent Place 33
Tuesday, Feb. 18
Roselle Catholic 69, Hillside 32
Union 54, Union Catholic 22
Dayton 58, Gov. Livingston 54
PatrickSchool 51, Cranford 46
New Providence 55, Scotch Plains 34
Summit 53, Oak Knoll 33
Wednesday, Feb. 19:
Westfield 71, Rahway 40
Plainfield 67, Johnson 57
Friday, Feb. 21
BOTTOM SIDE OF BRACKET:
6-Summit vs. 3-Union, 6 p.m.
7-Dayton vs. 2-Westfield, 7:30 p.m.
TOP SIDE OF BRACKET:
At Johnson High School
5-New Providence vs. 4-Plainfield, 6 p.m.
9-Patrick School vs. 1-Roselle Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 25
Friday, Feb. 28
FRANK J. CICARELL UCT
GIRLS’ BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS:
2013 – Gov. Livingston
2012 – Gov. Livingston – first time
2011 – Roselle Catholic
2010 – Roselle Catholic
2009 – Roselle Catholic
2008 – Westfield – first time
2007 – Scotch Plains
2006 – Cranford – first time
2005 – Scotch Plains
2004 – Scotch Plains – first time
2003 – Roselle Catholic – first time
2002 – Roselle – first time
2001 – Union Catholic
2000 – Union – first time
1999 – Summit – first time
1998 – Union Catholic
1997 – Elizabeth
1996 – Elizabeth
1995 – Elizabeth – first time
1994 – Linden
1993 – Linden
1992 – Union Catholic
1991 – Linden – first time
1990 – New Providence – first time
1989 – Union Catholic
1988 – Union Catholic
1987 – Union Catholic
1986 – Union Catholic
1985 – Hillside – first time
1984 – Plainfield
1983 – Plainfield
1982 – Plainfield
1981 – Plainfield
1980 – Plainfield
1979 – Plainfield – first time
1978 – Mother Seton – first time
1977 – Union Catholic – first time
1976 – Benedictine – first time
Championships:Union Catholic 8; Plainfield 6; Roselle Catholic 4;
Linden, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains 3; Gov. Livingston 2;
Benedictine, Mother Seton, Hillside, New Providence, Summit,
Union, Roselle, Cranford, Westfield 1.