HUDSON COUNTY -- For the first time in Hudson County basketball history, two local high school basketball teams won NJSIAA state sectional championships on the same night at the same location.
It happened Thursday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, where St. Peter’s Prep won the NJSIAA Non-Public A North title, defeating Seton Hall Prep, 64-54, and then St. Anthony captured the NJSIAA Non-Public B North crown, knocking off previously undefeated Paterson Catholic, 63-49, in the second half of the doubleheader.
In the process, both local teams gained revenge against the teams that eliminated them from the state playoffs a year ago.
The Marauders (25-3) outscored Seton Hall Prep, 24-10, in the final quarter to gain the decisive victory. Ronald Roberts paced a balanced scoring attack with 16 points and J.J. Hladik added 14.
But the big shots came from sophomore guard Stephon Whyatt, who nailed two key 3-pointers down the stretch. Whyatt’s first shot from long range gave the Marauders a 52-50 lead and his next trey pushed the lead to 55-50 with 3:19 remaining. The Marauders never looked back from there, capturing the school’s first state sectional basketball title since 1984.
The Friars (27-2) led from start to finish against Paterson Catholic, which entered the contest with a 28-0 record and a No. 6 ranking in the nation according to USA TODAY.
The Friars received 28 points and an amazing 14 rebounds from senior guard Elijah Carter and 14 points from Devon Collier. The Friars also played a smothering relentless defense against usually high-scoring Paterson Catholic, holding PC to just 35 percent from the floor and an astonishing 15 percent from 3-point range.
Both teams will now move on to the overall Non-Public state championship games Saturday in Toms River.
St. Anthony will face Trenton Catholic in the Non-Public B state title game at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ritacco Center, looking for the 25th overall state title in the school’s history.
St. Peter’s will face Camden Catholic Saturday at 6 p.m. in search of the school’s first overall basketball state championship since 1959. -- Jim Hague