Roselle Catholic wins fourth boys basketball Tournament of Champions

ROSELLE, NJ — For the first time in four years, but for the fourth time since 2013, Roselle Catholic High School is the king of New Jersey boys basketball.

After coming back to tie the game at the end of regulation, outscoring top-seeded Group 2 state champion Camden High School in the last quarter by 6 points, the second-seeded Non-Public B state-champ Lions won overtime by 3 points to capture the 32nd and final Tournament of Champions event on Sunday, March 20, by a score of 61-58.

The TOC championship game was at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, formerly known as the Rutgers Athletic Center.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association decided a year ago to do away with the post–state championship games tourney. Also beginning in 2023, spring season will commence later than it has been, thus creating more off time between the winter and spring sports seasons.

Of the 32 boys basketball TOC champions, 28 came from nonpublic schools. The only public schools to win the TOC were Elizabeth High School in 1990, Shawnee High School in 1992, Orange High School in 1994 and Camden in 2000.

The 2000 Camden team was led by junior standout Dajuan Wagner, who also produced a 100-point game in his career there. This year’s Camden team was guided by Wagner’s son, Dajuan “DJ” Wagner Jr., a junior. DJ led Camden on Sunday, March 20, with 23 points and six steals.

Roselle Catholic, which led 19-14 after the first quarter and then by two at intermission at 30-28, found itself trailing 47-41 going into the fourth period, after being outscored 19-11 in the third.

The Lions of Roselle were led by Simeon Wilcher’s 14 points, Rich Brisco’s eight rebounds and Christian Pierre-Louis’ three steals. Jamarques Lawrence, who next year will continue to play in college at Nebraska, produced 7 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal.

Roselle Catholic head coach Dave Boff and his staff guided Roselle Catholic to its fourth TOC title in the last nine years and 10 seasons. Roselle Catholic won its first one in 2013 and then won the TOC again in 2015 and 2018.

Boff has also guided Roselle Catholic to all five of its state championships, all coming since 2013. The only year the Lions played in the TOC and did not win it was in 2014, when they were edged in the semifinals by Newark East Side, 46-45.

The St. Anthony’s High School Friars, guided by legendary head coach Bob Hurley, won a record 11 TOC titles before the school closed in 2017. St. Patrick High School/The Patrick School of Elizabeth was next, with six crowns, and Roselle Catholic third, with four.

To emphasize how good basketball is in Union County, Roselle Catholic has won more state championships, five, and more TOCs, four, than it has Union County Tournaments. The Lions won their third UCT title this year and their first since they repeated as champions in 2019. Roselle Catholic won its first UCT crown in 2018.

Roselle Catholic finished 29-2 this year and Camden 31-3. For Camden, the loss to Roselle Catholic was the only time it lost to an in-state opponent. Roselle Catholic finished with just one loss in state and one out of state.

Roselle Catholic’s only in-state loss was at Camden, 67-64, in the season opener for both on Friday, Dec. 17.

After falling to Oak Hill Academy of Virginia, 61-54, in the Metro Classic on Saturday, Feb. 5, Roselle Catholic ended its highly impressive 2021-2022 season on a 12-game winning streak.

Union County teams that won
the boys basketball
Tournament of Champions:

St. Patrick High School/The Patrick School Celtics
2017: Patrick School 69, Don Bosco Prep 55, at Trenton
2009: St. Patrick 73, Science Park 57, at East Rutherford
2007: St. Patrick 85, Bloomfield Tech 61, at East Rutherford
2006: St. Patrick 61, Linden 54, at East Rutherford
2003: St. Patrick 61, Camden Catholic 38, at East Rutherford
1998: St. Patrick 62, Seton Hall Prep 49, at East Rutherford

Roselle Catholic Lions
2022: Roselle Catholic 61, Camden 58 (OT), at Rutgers
2018: Roselle Catholic 61, Don Bosco Prep 54, at Trenton
2015: Roselle Catholic 57, Pope John 45, at Trenton
2013: Roselle Catholic 65, St. Joseph’s, Metuchen 49, at Trenton

Elizabeth Minutemen
1990: Elizabeth 65, St. Anthony 62, at Rutgers