Dayton boys’ basketball tops Waldwick in Group 1 semifinals to advance to Sunday’s Group 1 state championship game at Rutgers; Bulldogs will face Point Pleasant Beach

Brown nets game-high 12 points, while Cioffi and Clayton pour in seven each

For the second time in three years the Dayton boys’ basketball team is one win away from capturing the first state championship in program history.

Dayton, the North 2, Group 1 champ for the first time since 2011, defeated North 1 champion Waldwick 36-32 Thursday night in the Group 1 semifinal played at East Orange Campus.

On Sunday at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, Dayton will take on Central Jersey champ Point Pleasant Beach in the Group 1 state championship game. Both teams will be seeking to capture their first-ever state championship.

Point Pleasant Beach, which captured its first sectional championship by defeating Bound Brook 69-40 at home Tuesday, downed South Jersey champion Paulsboro 67-48 Thursday night in Toms River to improve to 27-3.

Dayton, which reached its first state championship game in program history two years ago – falling to Asbury Park 64-50 at Rutgers – won its fifth straight game Thursday to improve to 22-5.

The Bulldogs received a game-high 12 points from senior Elijah Brown in downing a Waldwick team that led 17-16 at halftime.

Fellow seniors Anthony Cioffi and Jared Clayton added seven points each. Cioffi will be playing football at Rutgers on scholarship.

Dayton was the last Union County basketball team to lose this season and also captured the Union County Conference’s Valley Division title with a 13-1 league mark.

– JR PARACHINI

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