Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

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Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

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Article excerpt

Teaneck and Ridgefield Park share a border, a river and a love of hoops.

Today, Ridgefield Park has a chance to one-up its bigger neighbor, and just possibly stamp itself as the Bergen County town for basketball.

That crown undeniably belongs to Teaneck. The Highwaymen have won the last two Jamboree titles, and most feel like this year's Jamboree is just killing time until we get Teaneck-Hackensack in the final. The Highwaywomen are also the defending Bergen County tournament champions and are the fourth seed in this year's event.

It is not surprising that Teaneck has both teams alive in the quarterfinals. It may be a bit of a surprise that the only other school with both teams playing today is Ridgefield Park. And if both Scarlet squads prove victorious today, it will be the first time in school history it has both teams reach the semifinals in the same year.

"I think Ridgefield Park is a sports town," said Scarlets first- year girls coach Nicole Pucciarelli. "Whether we are good at a sport or not, we get great support. We have always been a football town, but I know when I was [playing at Ridgefield Park] girls basketball was huge, and now the boys, I don't see a bigger crowd than I see at the boys games."

There are connections between the boys programs in the two towns and likewise the girls programs, but easily the girls have more. That gives today's meeting between the girls programs some extra juice.

Start with the fact that the best girls basketball player in Ridgefield Park history, Shenee Clarke, coaches Teaneck. She and Pucciarelli were teammates for two years.

"I looked up to her; she would drive to the basket with her long- jump ability," Pucciarelli said. "She made us all better."

Also, last year en route to its title, the Teaneck girls downed the Scarlets, 62-45 -- a loss that still stings.

"We didn't have as much talent as we do now," said Ridgefield Park senior Jessica Domke. "I think it will be a much better game because we want it. I think we want to show that Ridgefield Park is building back up."

"It's a big game," said Pucciarelli, whose team is seeded 12th. "A lot of people I think looked past us last week and maybe we made a name beating Immaculate Conception, but I told the girls, 'Don't make Saturday a fluke by coming out and not performing the way we can. …

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