TOMS RIVER, N.J. — The best team all year in the Garden State is heading to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final.
Senior Alanzo Frink scored a game-high 23 points, highlighted by 16 in the first half, to lead top-seeded Roselle Catholic, No. 1 in the latest NJ.com Top 20 rankings, to a 75-62 victory over fourth-seeded and No. 16 Nottingham in the second semifinal of the Tournament of Champions at RWJ Barnabas Health Arena.
Roselle Catholic (28-4), which has won 11 straight and 14 of its last 15 games, advanced to Sunday’s final for the third time since 2013 and will face second-seeded and No. 3 Don Bosco Prep (28-2) at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton with the first tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m.
LSU-bound and McDonald’s All-American Naz Reid added 20 points with nine rebounds, senior guard Ithiel Horton had 13 points with two 3-pointers and junior guard Josh Pierre-Louis chipped in with 10 points and five assists for the Lions, which led 41-29 at halftime, highlighted by a 21-11 first quarter of which they trailed 8-2 in the first 180 seconds of the game.
“Once they came out and started knocking down shots, we realized, ‘Oh, we really have to play defense tonight,'” Frink said. “We realized everybody on that team could shoot and play defense. We had to play defense, too, and basically just try to play harder.”
Senior guard Darell Johnson tallied a team-high 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds and senior Ku’jane Johnson added 14 points with nine rebounds to lead Nottingham (30-3), which saw its 13-game win streak snapped and lost for just the second time in its last 23 games to end one of its historic and most productive seasons.
Senior guard Richie Jones contributed 13 points, hitting three 3-pointers, and senior guard Cliff Joseph chipped in with 10 points for the Northstars.
“They played hard all game; they never backed down,” Frink said. “They played good defense and they made shots. And basically I think we shut down a little bit. We can’t do that Sunday. We have to come out of the gate hard. Come in rebound, play defense and make shots.”
(Highlights courtesy of Mars Reel)