Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wilkes Seals the Deal for Top-Ranked Iha

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wilkes Seals the Deal for Top-Ranked Iha

Article excerpt

HILLSDALE -- Samantha Wilkes was frustrated. And that meant the Immaculate Heart star senior had Paramus Catholic right where she wanted it.

"When I get mad, it works to my advantage," Wilkes said. "All it does is push me harder."

And Wilkes responded to that push with some outstanding play down the stretch, including a steal and four free throws in the final 23 seconds that secured a 52-47 victory for the Blue Eagles in Sunday's championship game of the Joe Poli Tournament.

The win at Pascack Valley High School was the seventh straight for the unbeaten Blue Eagles, ranked No. 1 in The Record preseason girls basketball Top 25. It was also their second in 16 days over No. 4 Paramus Catholic (4-3), a team Immaculate Heart could wind up facing three more times this season.

"We know we could play with that team," said PC coach Al Roth. "But I'm getting tired of saying that."

The lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter before the Blue Eagles were able to string together consecutive baskets. They were up by three, 48-45, with 33 seconds remaining when the Lady Paladins missed a three-point attempt.

Paramus Catholic cut the lead to 48-47 on a pair of free throws by sophomore Jasmin Wilson with 29 seconds remaining. That's when the Villanova-bound Wilkes stepped up and took charge.

First, she hit two free throws with 23 seconds remaining to push the lead back to 50-47. Then, on PC's next possession, she stole the ball with 12 seconds remaining.

Paramus Catholic fouled Wilkes again, and with six seconds remaining, Wilkes sealed the win with two more free throws.

"I just wanted to make sure we won," said Wilkes, who capped off an outstanding tournament by scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. "I wasn't going to let us lose. That wasn't going to happen."

This was a particularly physical game, and neither team was able to get into a real flow on offense. …

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