A preview of the girls basketball season for 2023-24

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ — Just about the only thing the New Providence High School girls basketball team did not accomplish last year was going undefeated.

However, the Pioneers came real close.

Guided by longtime mentor Cap Pazdera, New Providence produced, perhaps, its finest season ever – that from a program with two previous state championship seasons in Group 1.

The Pioneers led Union County with a 28-3 record that included another Union County Conference-Watchung Division championship. New Providence then repeated as Union County Tournament champions for the first time. The Pioneers won the crown in 2022 for only the second time – the first time since 1990.

New Providence split with Westfield High School in the Watchung Division and finished one game ahead of the Blue Devils for that crown. The Pioneers then defeated Westfield in the UCT final.

When state tournament play commenced, New Providence won four games to capture the Central Jersey, Group 2 sectional state championship for the first time. Two wins later and the Pioneers were Group 2 state champs also for the first time.

New Providence defeated Manasquan High School, 52-30, at home in the Central Jersey, Group 2 final and then at Toms River North High School downed Secaucus High School, 55-32, in the Group 2 final.

New Providence’s only other losses, also in the regular season, came to parochial schools St. John Vianney High School and Red Bank Catholic High School. After falling at home to Westfield, 61-48, on Jan. 12, New Providence closed with a 20-game winning streak.

Will New Providence be good enough to win a third straight UCT title? Will the Pioneers challenge once again for another state crown?

The answers to those questions will begin to be answered when the girls basketball season commences across the state of New Jersey on Thursday, Dec. 14.

There are 21 teams in the Union County Conference this year, seven in each of the three divisions. Koinonia Academy, located in Plainfield, is fielding a varsity team for the first time, but is not situated in the UCC. The school is guided by head coach Joe Hofmann.

Here’s the schedule for each team’s season-opener this week. Nineteen of the 21 teams situated in the Watchung Conference are scheduled to open Thursday, Dec. 14. The other two, Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child of the Watchung Division and David Brearley High School of the Valley Division, are scheduled to begin their regular seasons on Saturday, Dec. 16.

Opening Union County
Girls Basketball

Thursday, Dec. 14

• Cranford High School at Westfield High School, 4 p.m.

• Union High School at Kent Place School, 4 p.m.

• Rahway High School at Roselle Park High School, 4 p.m.

• Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School at Frank J. Cicarell Academy,
Elizabeth, 4 p.m.

• Governor Livingston High School at Jonathan Dayton High School, 4 p.m.

• Abraham Clark High School, Roselle at Linden High School, 4:30 p.m.

• Union Catholic High School at Hillside High School, 5:30 p.m.

• Plainfield High School at Summit High School, 6 p.m.

• Arthur L. Johnson High School at Koinonia Academy, 6 p.m.

• New Providence High School at Roselle Catholic High School, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 16

• David Brearley High School at Roselle Park High School, 1:30 pm.

• Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child, 10 a.m.

Union County Conference
Girls Basketball Division alignments
for the 2023-2024 season

Watchung Division

Cranford High School

Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth

New Providence High School

Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child

Roselle Catholic High School

Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School

Westfield High School

Defending champion: New Providence High School (11-1).

Mountain Division

Jonathan Dayton High School

Governor Livingston High School

Hillside High School

Arthur L. Johnson High School

Plainfield High School

Summit High School

Union Catholic High School

2022-2023 champion: Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth (11-1).Elizabeth moved up to the Watchung Division.

Valley Division

David Brearley High School

Kent Place School

Linden High School

Rahway High School

Abraham Clark High School, Roselle

Roselle Park High School

Union High School

2022-2023 co-champions: Hillside High School (9-3) and Linden High School (9-3).

Hillside moved up to the Mountain Division.