Roselle Catholic and Westfield will clash a 3rd time in UCT girls’ basketball semifinals; Kent Place and Patrick School also advance

RC coach Skrec wins 400th game

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – The Roselle Catholic girls’ basketball team, seeking a second straight UCT championship, is sparked by the play of – from left – senior Taniya Hanner, junior Nina Worthey and senior Jenissa Encarnacion.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – Head coach Joe Skrec’s 400th win is celebrated by his Roselle Catholic players and assistant coaches.

CLARK – When Westfield and Roselle Catholic first clashed at RC back on Dec. 22 the visiting Blue Devils played such a complete game that the host Lions did not score consecutive field goals until there was just 2:08 remaining and the game pretty much decided.
Westfield won 48-39, with the final score not really indicative of the way the Blue Devils dominated for the full 32 minutes.
The Union County Conference teams then faced each other again in Watchung Division play Jan. 15 at Westfield. This time the Blue Devils held on for a 50-47 victory after RC senior center Taniya Hanner’s 3-point attempt right before the final buzzer hit the rim and missed. Earlier in that game Hanner reached 1,000 career points.
From that standpoint you know that third-seeded and defending champion Roselle Catholic (14-7) does not need any added motivation when it faces second-seeded Westfield (15-7) once more in Wednesday night’s Union County Tournament semifinals.
The other semifinal pits fifth-seeded Kent Place vs. top-seeded Patrick School. Kent Place is in the semifinals for the first time after senior 1,000-point scorer Maggie Russell led the Dragons to a 40-37 quarterfinal triumph over fourth-seeded Oak Knoll.
When the parochial schools from Summit clashed in the regular season, Oak Knoll came out on top 51-42 at home on Jan. 19.

UCT QUARTERFINALS
Friday, Feb. 15
At Johnson
Roselle Catholic 61, Cranford 37
Westfield 49, Gov. Livingston 36
At Rahway
Kent Place 40, Oak Knoll 37
Patrick School 70, Summit 32

UCT SEMIFINALS
Wednesday, Feb. 20
Site still to be determined
(Most likely Johnson or Rahway)
3-Roselle Catholic vs. 2-Westfield, 6 p.m.
5-Kent Place vs. 1-Patrick School, 7:30 p.m.

“Roselle Catholic will be out for blood,” Westfield head coach Liz McKeon said. “We expect to get their biggest punch ever.”
RC will try to prevent losing to Westfield for a third time in three tries this season.
Westfield, which lost in the UCT final in 2015 and 2017 to Patrick School, will try to prevent losing to Roselle Catholic for the second straight season in the semifinals.
In last year’s semifinals at Johnson, Roselle Catholic defeated Westfield 56-42. RC was the two seed and Westfield the three.
Wednesday’s semifinals will most likely be played at Johnson or Rahway.
“Westfield is a very good, very well-coached team that has a lot of weapons,” said RC head coach Joe Skrec, who on Friday night won his 400th game in this his 23rd season at the helm of the Lions. “I admire the way Westfield plays hard and competes. In our two games against them they forced us to make mistakes.”
Westfield senior forward Samantha Stravach paced the Blue Devils offensively with 12 points in her team’s first win over RC. Westfield held the Lions to less than eight points in each of the first three quarters and the Albany-bound Hanner to a total of just five.
Westfield junior forward Faith Dobosiewicz, who did not play in the second RC-Westfield game, scored 11 points, while freshman Chloe Kreusser produced nine.
“I think they didn’t play that well and we just didn’t let up the entire way,” Stravach said. “We need to do that. You can never let up on them.”
Senior guard Jenissa Encarnacion was RC’s leading scorer in that first meeting, her team’s only scorer in double digits with 13. Hanner and Encarnacion scored 16 points each and junior forward Nina Worthey 10 in Friday night’s 61-37 RC triumph over sixth-seeded Cranford.
“We have to just keep pushing forward,” Encarnacion said. “We have to stay composed and focus on what we have to do.”
Hanner was much more productive in the matchup at Westfield, finishing with 14 points to give her exactly 1,000 at game’s end. Freshman shooting guard Amaris Jenkins, who poured in 13 vs. Cranford Friday night, paced RC in the second Westfield game with 16 points, including four 3-pointers.
Hanner, who became the fifth RC girls’ basketball player to reach and pass 1,000 points, put in an offensive rebound early in the fourth quarter to reach the grand milestone.
Hanner scored eight points in the first quarter, including two 3-point field goals, and finished the first half with 12. She also posted 10 rebounds, four steals, three assists and one blocked shot.
“We had more energy and worked 10 times harder the second time we played them, but we took our foot off the gas for a bit,” Hanner said. “We wanted it more, but fell short.”
Worthey scored five points in the first meeting and four in the second. A bit more scoring from her could go a long way for the Lions in their bid to top Westfield Wednesday night.
“We’re getting better and progressing, but I don’t think we’ve played a full four quarters yet,” Worthey said. “We still feel that we can push a lot harder.”
NOTES: Hanner also grabbed 12 rebounds vs. Cranford Friday night for a double-double. Encarnacion added five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Worthey grabbed five boards and blocked three shots. Jenkins produced three 3-pointers. RC had four players score in double digits.
Cranford senior guard Lauren Williamson paced the Cougars with a 13-point effort.
Skrec’s record is now 400-176 (694). His first year as head coach at RC – he is a 1984 RC graduate – was the 1996-1997 season. Skrec has guided Roselle Catholic to all six of its UCT championships (2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2018).
“I’m just happy to be part of Roselle Catholic,” Skrec said. “It was great that a lot of people were able to come here tonight.
“I’ve worked with a lot of great people and most importantly have been associated with a lot of very good players.”
Roselle Catholic picked up a game at Red Bank Catholic Saturday morning, while Westfield will not play again until Wednesday night.
Kreusser made nine of 10 field goal attempts in Westfield’s 49-36 triumph over seventh-seeded Gov. Livingston. She finished with a career-high 18 points in addition to 10 rebounds and three steals.
Dobosiewicz finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
“We’re doing what we do best now and that is playing as a team, which means excelling on defense and communicating,” McKeon said.

UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT
QUARTERFINALS AT JOHNSON
6-Cranford (9-13) 10 10 07 10 – 37
3-Roselle Catholic (14-7) 14 16 17 14 – 61

6-CRANFORD COUGARS (37):
10-Lauren Williamson, senior, 4-0-5-13
20-Meghan Santarelli, senior, 1-1-0-5
33-Natalia Kruk, sophomore, 2-0-0-4
32-Kirsten Williams, sophomore, 0-0-1-1
24-Olivia Speer, senior, 1-1-0-5
11-Ellie Rokicki, senior, 1-0-0-2
13-Gianna Toretta, junior, 0-1-0-3
22-KC Pringle, senior, 2-0-0-4
55-Katy Wheatly, freshman, 0-0-0-0
1-Elizabeth McCaffery, sophomore, 0-0-0-0
Starters: Williamson, Santarelli,
Speer, Rokicki, Pringle.
Totals: 11-3-6-37.

3-ROSELLE CATHOLIC LIONS (61):
5-Janelle McNeill, junior, 1-0-0-2
23-Amaris Jenkins, freshman, 1-3-2-13
25-Taniya Hanner, senior, 8-0-0-16
14-Jenissa Encarnacion, senior, 6-0-4-16
4-Kayla Haywood, junior, 2-0-0-4
13-Nina Worthey, junior, 5-0-0-10
22-Emma Howlett, freshman, 0-0-0-0
3-Adriana Altamirano, junior, 0-0-0-0
11-LaToya Alexander, senior, 0-0-0-0
Starters: Jenkins, Hanner,
Encarnacion, Haywood, Jenkins.
Totals: 23-3-6-61

44TH ANNUAL GIRLS’ BASKETBALL
UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT
SEEDS: 1-Patrick School. 2-Westfield. 3-Roselle Catholic. 4-Oak Knoll.
5-Kent Place. 6-Cranford. 7-Gov. Livingston. 8-Summit.
9-New Providence. 10-Union Catholic. 11-Brearley. 12-Dayton.
13-Elizabeth. 14-Plainfield. 15-Johnson. 16-Union.
17-Scotch Plains. 18-Hillside. 19-Benedictine. 20-Roselle.
21-Roselle Park. 22-Linden.

PRELIMINARY ROUND:
Brearley 50, Linden 30
Dayton 62, Roselle Park 29
Elizabeth 35, Roselle 32
Plainfield 77, Benedictine 35
Johnson 63, Hillside 50
Scotch Plains 35, Union 29

FIRST ROUND:
Wednesday, Feb. 13
Patrick School 75, Scotch Plains 14
Westfield 62, Johnson 29
Roselle Catholic 61, Plainfield 36
Oak Knoll 53, Elizabeth 32
Kent Place 65, Dayton 47
Cranford 64, Brearley 58 (OT)
Gov. Livingston 38, Union Catholic 32
Summit 27, New Providence 24

QUARTERFINALS:
Friday, Feb. 15
At Johnson
Roselle Catholic 61, Cranford 37
Westfield 49, Gov. Livingston 36
At Rahway
Kent Place 40, Oak Knoll 37
Patrick School 70, Summit 32

SEMIFINALS:
Wednesday, Feb. 20
Site to be determined.
(Most likely Johnson or Rahway.)
3-Roselle Catholic vs. 2-Westfield, 6 p.m.
5-Kent Place vs. 1-Patrick School, 7:30 p.m.

FINAL:
Saturday, Feb. 23
At Kean University, 4 p.m.
Semifinal winners.

FRANK J. CICARELL UCT
GIRLS’ BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS:
2018 – Roselle Catholic
2017 – Patrick School
2016 – Cranford
2015 – Patrick School – first time
2014 – Roselle Catholic
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 6
Linden 3
Elizabeth 3
Scotch Plains 3
Gov. Livingston 2
Cranford 2
Patrick School 2
Benedictine 1
Mother Seton 1
Hillside 1
New Providence 1
Summit 1
Union 1
Roselle 1
Westfield 1

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