Of the 36 basketball teams that qualified for state tournament competition in Union County – 18 boys’ and 18 girls’ squads – only three made it to Week No. 2.
They include the Roselle Catholic and Linden boys’ reaching their sectional finals and the Oak Knoll girls’ advancing to their sectional semifinals.
The Roselle Catholic boys’, winners of eight straight and 11 of 12, are back in a sectional final for the fifth time in the past six seasons. The top-seeded Lions advanced to the Non-Public, North B ftitle game where they will face second-seeded Gill St. Bernard’s on Wednesday, March 7 at Rutgers.
Roselle Catholic (25-4) won the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division perfect at 8-0 and then captured the Union County Tournament championship for the first time. The Lions have only lost to four out-of-state opponents.
Roselle Catholic captured the Non-Public, B state championship three years in a row from 2013-2015 and also the Tournament of Champions championship in 2013 and 2015.
The third-seeded and five-time defending champion Linden boys’ will play at top-seeded East Side in Monday’s (March 5) North 2, Group 4 state championship game in Newark.
Linden (22-6) has won three in a row and eight of 10 – with the only losses in that stretch coming to Roselle Catholic.
The Tigers have not lost a N2, G4 contest since falling at Hillsborough 38-36 in a quarterfinal on March 1, 2012. Since then Linden has won 23 straight N2, G4 games.
Linden is 9-4 in the North 2, Group 4 state championship game under head coach Phil Colicchio, including wins in its last six trips – the last two over Newark East Side at home the past two seasons.
The Oak Knoll girls’, seeded fifth, will play at top-seeded Immaculate Heart Monday, March 5 in a Non-Public, North A semifinal.
The Royals (15-8) won at in-town rival and fourth-seeded Kent Place 46-33 in the quarterfinals.
Oak Knoll moved up to the Union County Conference’s Mountain Division this year and won a share of the title with Summit, both finishing with 8-2 league marks and splitting against each other.
Last year, Oak Knoll captured the UCC’s Valley Division crown with an 11-1 league mark.