Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tough Day for North Jersey

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tough Day for North Jersey

Article excerpt

TOMS RIVER -- The taste of defeat was fresh for Saddle River Day, stale for Immaculate Heart Academy.

North Jersey girls basketball programs continue to falter at the group championship round of the state basketball tournament. The Blue Eagles were outmanned from the start Saturday, losing to St. John Vianney, 72-31, making the school 2-11 all time in Non-Public A finals. Saddle River Day, making its first appearance in a state final, hung on a bit longer, before the size of Rutgers Prep overwhelmed the Rebels in a 69-40 defeat in the Non-Public B final.

This should come as no surprise to fans of North Jersey basketball. This area rules in football, soccer and wrestling. IHA has the best swimming team in New Jersey and basically has for the last 20 years. The level of play in baseball and softball is fantastic. The volleyball Tournament of Champions is basically a second Bergen County tournament every year. In ice hockey, lacrosse, golf, track, cross-country and skiing -- yes, skiing -- North Jersey schools rise.

Meanwhile, the last North Jersey school to win a Group 3 state title in girls basketball? Pascack Valley in 1989. You know why that's so interesting? Because the last North Jersey school to win a Group 2 state title was ... Pascack Valley in 2008. I'm not sure Pascack Valley coach Jeff Jasper's wife, Lois, would even know that one.

"There is no doubt there was a time in the first quarter when it was like, 'Should we have won Wednesday [in the North final] and come down for this?' " IHA girls basketball coach Steve Silver said with a broad smile. "But we knew what we were getting into. And I have been doing this long enough to say -- unequivocally -- of course. It was great for us to jump up and down and win another section and represent the North. I welcome coming down here. Whoever would have won would have been in a tough situation."

St. John Vianney's press coiled around IHA like a snake and squeezed the Blue Eagles for three quarters until finally being called off. The Lancers led, 10-0, and were never in any serious danger. Silver used every trick he had, including letting talented senior Jordan Wilmoth handle the ball as much as possible and trying to slow the pace. …

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