State championship boys’ basketball this weekend featuring Union County powers Roselle Catholic, Linden and Dayton begins Saturday night at Toms River North High School’s Pine Belt Arena in Toms River and concludes Sunday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway.
Roselle Catholic, Linden and Dayton all have 22 wins and are all also on five-game winning streaks.
In Saturday’s 7 p.m. Non-Public, B state championship game in Toms River it will be first-time Non-Public, South B champion Roselle Catholic (22-5) vs. two-time defending champ St. Anthony of Jersey City (28-1), the Non-Public, North A champion.
While St. Anthony has won just shy of a million state championships, Roselle Catholic has not won any.
The only other season Roselle Catholic played in a state championship game was 50 years ago when the Lions were defeated by Trenton Cathedral in the 1963 Parochial, Group A final.
Roselle Catholic, under sixth-year head coach Dave Boff, did well to rebound from a tough Union County Tournament quarterfinal round loss as the top seed to win Non-Public, South B as the second seed. In winning the sectional title, Roselle Catholic downed top-seeded Patrick School in the final, defeating the Elizabeth parochial school three times in three tries and handing the Celtics three of their four losses.
Roselle Catholic, sparked by the play of standout senior guard Hakim Saintil, smooth 6-6 sophomore swingman Malachi Richardson and Syracuse-bound 6-9 senior forward Tyler Roberson, also captured the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division title for the first time with a 9-1 league mark, splitting with Elizabeth. Roselle Catholic won the UCC’s first Valley Division championship in 2010 and then garnered the Mountain Division title in 2011. The Lions finished third in the Watchung standings a year ago and also reached the UCT final for the first time in 49 years.
St. Anthony was 18-0 before falling to St. Benedict’s 47-38 on Feb. 1 at the Newark National Invitational at the Prudential Center. That loss snapped a program-best 83-game winning streak.
Since then the Friars have rebounded to win 10 in a row and have now won 93 of their last 94 games dating back to March of 2010.
In Sunday’s 5 p.m. Group 4 state championship game at the RAC it will be North 2 champion Linden (22-7) vs. defending champ Atlantic City (28-1), the South Jersey champion once again.
Atlantic City will be playing in its fifth Group 4 final since 1997. In 1997 Atlantic City lost to Union, in 2005 it beat Ridgewood, in 2006 it lost to Linden and in 2012 it defeated Elizabeth.
Linden will be playing in its ninth state championship game. The Tigers are 0-3 in Group 3 finals and 3-2 in Group 4 championship games.
Under 16th-year head coach Phil Colicchio, Linden is 3-0 in Group 4 finals, including wins in 2000, 2006 and 2007, which were the program’s first state championships.
Sparked by 6-8 junior center Quadri Moore, 6-2 junior playmaker Terrell Bagley and junior long-range shooter Juwan Jones, the Tigers have also rebounded quite well from losing to the Patrick School right before the buzzer in the UCT final at Kean.
Atlantic City was 11-0 before losing to St. Anthony 45-31 on Jan. 19 in the Dan Finn Classic at the Jersey City Armory. Since then the Vikings have won 17 straight.
Linden did not play St. Anthony this year.
In Sunday’s 7 p.m. Group 1 state championship game at the RAC it will be North 2 champion Dayton (22-5) vs. Central Jersey champ Point Pleasant Beach (27-3).
Both teams are seeking their first state championships.
Point Pleasant Beach captured its first sectional championship this season, while Dayton has appeared in only one other group final, that being the Group 1 state championship game in 2011, which the Bulldogs lost to Asbury Park.
Springfield Regional fell in the 1947 Group 3 final to Englewood and then Springfield was defeated by Cliffside Park in the 1955 Group 3 championship game.
Dayton, sparked by a strong senior class of Elijah Brown, Jared Clayton, Isaiah Rogers, 6-4 Yousef Zaki and Rutgers-bound football player Anthony Cioffi, was the last Union County basketball team to lose this season and captured the UCC’s Valley Division title with a league mark of 13-1, splitting with Summit.
HERE’S A LOOK AT THE YEARS
ROSELLE CATHOLIC, LINDEN AND DAYTON
PLAYED IN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES:
1963: lost to Trenton Cathedral in Parochial, Group A
1953: lost to Hamilton Township in Group 3
1954: lost to Cliffside Park in Group 3
1958: lost to Bloomfield in Group 4
1978: lost to Camden in Group 4
1982: lost to Cinnaminson in Group 3
2000: defeated Bridgewater-Raritan in Group 4
2006: defeated Atlantic City in Group 4
2007: defeated South Brunswick in Group 4
1947: Englewood defeated Springfield Regional in Group 3
1955: Cliffside Park defeated Springfield in Group 3
2011: lost to Asbury Park in Group 1
THIS WEEKEND’S UNION COUNTY BOYS’ BASKETBALL
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE:
SATURDAY, MARCH 9
AT TOMS RIVER NORTH’S PINE BELT ARENA, TOMS RIVER
NON-PUBLIC, B: Roselle Catholic (22-5) vs. St. Anthony (28-1), 7 p.m.
SUNDAY, MARCH 10
AT RUTGERS ATHLETIC CENTER, PISCATAWAY
GROUP 4: Linden (22-7) vs. Atlantic City (28-1), 5 p.m.
GROUP 1: Dayton (22-5) vs. Point Pleasant Beach (23-7), 7 p.m.