UCT girls basketball seeds are announced

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Schools from the Union County Conference’s Valley Division, and one from the Mountain Division, got the 48th annual girls basketball Union County Tournament off to a good start with preliminary round competition that commenced on Saturday, Feb. 3.

Rahway High School, from the lower Valley Division, defeated Mountain Division foe Hillside High School for the second time this year, ousting the 19th-seeded Comets, 51-34, at home on Saturday, Feb. 3. The 15th-seeded Indians improved to 11-8. Rahway previously defeated Hillside, 41-22, on Friday, Dec. 29, in the Jay Maloney Holiday Jam Fest.

On Monday, Feb. 4, at Linden High School, the host Tigers and the Union Farmers were to clash for the third time this season in the 17-at-16 seed prelim matchup with the winner to move on and face top-seeded and two-time defending champion New Providence High School in the first round. In their Valley Division contests, Linden lost at Union High School, 35-34, on Saturday, Dec. 16, and then rebounded to best the Farmers, 39-27, at home on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Linden began the week 8-10 and Union 5-13.

The other preliminary round game, also scheduled to be played on Monday, Feb. 5, was 19th-seeded Kent Place School at 14th-seeded Abraham Clark High School in Roselle. The Rams previously swept the Lady Dragons in Valley Division play, first winning in Roselle, 54-41, on Friday, Jan. 26, and then at Summit High School, 47-36, on Thursday, Feb. 1.

Roselle began the week leading the Valley Division standings at 9-2 and stood 11-6 overall.

The eight first-round games were scheduled to be played Wednesday, Feb. 7, with the winners moving on to the quarterfinals, scheduled to be played at the higher seeds on Friday, Feb. 9.

The semi-finals are set for Wednesday, Feb. 14, at Arthur L. Johnson High School and the final for Sunday, Feb. 18, at Kean University’s Harwood Arena in Union.

After a quite rare 6-20 finish and finishing tied for last in the UCC’s Watchung Division at 1-9 in 2017-2018, New Providence has won division titles – six straight – every year since.

The Pioneers dropped down to the Mountain Division for 2018-2019 and won the division with a 9-1 record and finished 16-9 overall. New Providence repeated as Mountain Division champions in 2019-2020 with a 9-1 league record again and a 27-4 overall mark.

Back up to the Watchung Division for 2020-2021, the 13-2 Pioneers won the division at 12-0. In 2021-2022, New Providence went 28-3 and again won the Watchung at 12-0.

Last year’s 2022-2023 squad, which captured Central Jersey, Group 2 and Group 2 championships for the first time, won the Watchung at 11-1 and went 26-3 overall. This year’s team, which began the week at 19-3 with all three losses out of county, won the Watchung for the fourth straight year and for the third time at 12-0.

So the Pioneers have won division championships the past six seasons, the last four (2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024) in the Watchung Division and the two before that (2019 and 2020) in the Mountain Division. Pretty impressive and led by one of the top basketball coaches in the state in New Providence 1991 graduate Cap Pazdera.

New Providence in division play the past six seasons: 65-3 (.956).
In the UCT, New Providence will face either eighth-seeded Westfield High School or ninth-seeded Arthur L. Johnson in the quarterfinals on Friday, Feb. 9. New Providence defeated Westfield in the final the past two seasons, after Westfield won the crown in 2020 for the first time since 2008.

New Providence is attempting to become the first UCT three-peat champion since Roselle Catholic High School, led by Head Coach Joe Skrec, achieved the lofty feat in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

This is the 40th anniversary of Plainfield High School capturing the UCT crown for the sixth year in a row, winning all of the program’s six titles from 1979 to 1984. The Cardinals were the first team to three-peat and the only team to six-peat.

The next school to three-peat was Union Catholic High School, which won four straight from 1986-1989.

Union Catholic, coached by the legendary Kathy Matthews, still has won the most UCTs with eight championships, while Plainfield is second with six.

Elizabeth High School at Frank J. Cicarell Academy is the only other school to three-peat, winning three in a row from 1995-1997. Elizabeth won the UCT for the first time in 1995 and won all three crowns with the guidance of Bob Firestone.

48th Girls Basketball
Union County Tournament

Seeds: 1-New Providence. 2-Cranford. 3-Roselle Catholic. 4-Elizabeth. 5-Scotch Plains-Fanwood. 6-Plainfield. 7-Summit. 8-Westfield. 9-Arthur L. Johnson. 10-Governor Livingston. 11-Jonathan Dayton. 12-Oak Knoll. 13-Union Catholic. 14-Roselle. 15-Rahway, 16-Linden. 17-Union. 18-Hillside. 19-Kent Place.

Preliminary Round
Saturday, Feb. 3

Rahway 51, Hillside 34 – at Rahway

Monday, Feb. 5

17-Union at 16-Linden
19-Kent Place at 14-Roselle

First Round
Wednesday, Feb. 7

Top side of bracket

17-Union/16-Linden at 1-New Providence
9-Arthur L. Johnson at 8-Westfield
13-Union Catholic at 4-Elizabeth
12-Oak Knoll at 5-Scotch Plains-Fanwood

Bottom side of bracket

15-Rahway at 2-Cranford
10-Summit at 7-Governor Livingston
19-Kent Place/14-Roselle at 3-Roselle Catholic
11-Jonathan Dayton at 6-Plainfield

Friday, Feb. 9

At higher seeds

Wednesday, Feb. 14

At Arthur L. Johnson
Quarterfinal winners

Sunday, Feb. 18

At Kean University
Semifinal winners

Frank J. Cicarell UCT
Girls Basketball Champions

2023 – New Providence
2022 – New Providence
2021 – No UCT because of COVID-19 pandemic
2020 – Westfield
2019 – Patrick School
2018 – Roselle Catholic
2017 – Patrick School
2016 – Cranford
2015 – Patrick School – first time
2014 – Roselle Catholic
2013 – Governor Livingston
2012 – Governor Livingston – first time
2011 – Roselle Catholic
2010 – Roselle Catholic
2009 – Roselle Catholic
2008 – Westfield – first time
2007 – Scotch Plains-Fanwood
2006 – Cranford – first time
2005 – Scotch Plains-Fanwood
2004 – Scotch Plains-Fanwood – 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


Union Catholic 8
Plainfield 6
Roselle Catholic 6
New Providence 3
Linden 3
Elizabeth 3
Scotch Plains-Fanwood 3
Patrick School 3
Governor Livingston 2
Westfield 2
Cranford 2
Benedictine 1
Mother Seton 1
Hillside 1
Summit 1
Union 1
Roselle 1