NJSIAA Girls Basketball Playoff Breakdown
By Brian Deakyne
In Central Jersey, Group 1:
Shore Regional High School – No. 10 seed
The outlook: As expected, the Blue Devils grabbed a middle-of-the-pack seed for states. Shore will hit the road for the opening round as it travels to No. 7 South Amboy High School. It will be a tall task for Shore to reach the final, where No. 1 South River High School likely awaits.
Teams in the way: If Shore moves past South Amboy, it would face No. 2 South Hunterdon, which earned a first round bye. Other teams that Shore could face along the way would be third-seeded Middlesex High School before seeing South River.
The prediction: Shore will keep it close in the opening game against South Amboy, but falls by about five points.
In Central Jersey, Group 2:
Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School – No. 1 seed
The outlook: In arguably one of the most exciting sections across the state, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School – one of the top teams in the Shore Conference all season – earned the top seed over No. 2 Holmdel High School, although both teams will likely meet in the final. Rumson won the sectional title last year in a thrilling double-overtime game over Point Pleasant Borough High School on the road and will look to defend that this time around.
Teams in the way: Rumson will face No. 16 Robbinsville High School in the opening round, but could face tougher tests in the following two as it will play the winner of No. 9 Matawan Regional High School and No. 8 Rahway High School. If it moves past that round, Rumson will likely see A-Central foe, Manasquan High School, in the semifinal round.
The prediction: Rumson will cruise through the first two rounds, and will be able to pull through against Manasquan in the semifinal round. In the final, Rumson will battle with Holmdel, but its depth of Grace Stant and Sam Sabino will prove to be too strong and it will win its second consecutive sectional title.
Holmdel High School – No. 2 seed
The outlook: On the other side of the bracket, Holmdel earned the No. 2 seed and will look to climb its way to the final to face Rumson. The Hornets will have three home games, if they win all of them, starting with hosting Manchester Township High School in the opening round.
Teams in the way: If Holmdel gets the win over Manchester Township, it will likely face a tough second-round matchup with No. 7 Point Boro, which is always on the hunt for a sectional title. The probable semifinal round would pit the Hornets up against No. 3 Delaware Valley High School before seeing Rumson in the championship game.
The prediction: Holmdel wins its first three games with relative ease en route to reaching the final, where it falls to top-seeded Rumson in a close game.
In Central Jersey, Group 3:
Middletown High School South – No. 1 seed
The outlook: Middletown High School South, the A-North champion, is favored to take the Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional title. With home-court advantage throughout the tournament, the Eagles will host No. 16 Nottingham High School in the opening round as it seeks a quick start to a sectional title.
Teams in the way: After Nottingham, Middletown South will face the winner of No. 9 Red Bank Regional High School and No. 8 Ewing High School. In a potential semifinal round, the Eagles could see No. 4 Iselin Kennedy.
The prediction: Middletown South will win its first two games handily, but will find itself in a battle in the semifinal round. But, the Eagles will fight their way to the championship game, where it will take down No. 2 Neptune High School.
Red Bank Regional High School – No. 9 seed
The outlook: Red Bank Regional High School had a solid season and earned the No. 9 seed, just missing out on a home-state playoff game. It will face No. 8 Ewing in the first round in an attempt to face top-seeded Middletown South in the second round.
Teams in the way: If Red Bank can move past Ewing, its toughest task would be on the road against Middletown South in the second round.
The prediction: Red Bank will pull out the win on the road in Ewing, but Middletown South will prove to be too strong in the second round to end the Bucs’ run.
Middletown High School North – No. 12 seed
The outlook: Middletown High School North will face a tall challenge in the sectional tournament as the 12-seed. The Lions will hit the road for the opening round when they face No. 5 Allentown High School.
Teams in the way: If Middletown North gets the road win over Allentown it would likely see No. 4 Iselin Kennedy High School in the second round with No. 1 Middletown South as the probable opponent in the semifinal round.
The prediction: Allentown proves to be too strong in the opening round as Middletown North fails to advance.
In Central Jersey, Group 4:
Colts Neck High School – No. 3 seed
The outlook: As one of the strongest teams in A-North this winter, Colts Neck High School grabbed the No. 3 seed in the sectional tournament. With that spot, the Cougars will probably get two home games, starting with an opening-round matchup against No. 14 Montgomery High School.
Teams in the way: After Montgomery, Colts Neck could see Shore Conference foe in No. 6 Brick Memorial High School in the second round before taking on No. 2 Marlboro High School in the semifinal round.
The prediction: Colts Neck will take the first game over Montgomery, but Brick Memorial will pull the upset over the Cougars in the second round.
In Non-Public, South A:
St. John Vianney High School – No. 2 seed
The outlook: As the top team across the Shore Conference this winter, St. John Vianney High School earned the No. 2 seed in the sectional tournament and an opening round bye. It will face the winner of No. 7 Holy Cross High School and No. 10 Pingry High School in the second round as the Lancers are favored to reach the final against No. 1 Camden Catholic High School.
Teams in the way: If St. John Vianney can win its second round matchup, it sets up a big semifinal round battle with divisional opponent, Red Bank Catholic High School, the No. 3 seed.
The prediction: St. John Vianney will edge Holy Cross in the second round and will play a big part in another classic with Red Bank Catholic, this time winning before falling to Camden Catholic in the championship game.
Red Bank Catholic High School – No. 3 seed:
The outlook: It’s been another big campaign for Joe Montano and Red Bank Catholic High School as it has made its mark as one of the best teams in the Shore Conference. The Caseys, the No. 3 seed in the sectional tournament, earned an opening round bye and will face the winner of No. 6 Notre Dame High School and No. 11 Immaculata High School.
Teams in the way: If Red Bank Catholic gets the second round home win over the winner of Notre Dame and Immaculata, it will see No. 2 St. John Vianney in the second round.
The prediction: The Caseys, led by senior Grace Fallon, will beat Notre Dame handily in the second round, but will fall in a close game to St. John Vianney in the semifinal round.