South Jersey Group 3 Girls’ Basketball...

South Jersey Group 3 Girls’ Basketball... South Jersey Group 3 Girls’ Basketball Preview

Last season a team from the Cape Atlantic League (Ocean City) won the South Jersey Group 3 title and this year another team from that league (Mainland) will be the favorite. Here is a preview.

Defending champion: Top seeded Ocean City beat No. 2 seeded Mainland, 38-31 in the final

Tournament begins: Feb. 26

This season’s first-round matchups: (16) at (1) Mainland; (9) Deptford at (8) Delsea; (12) Highland at (5) Hammonton; (13) Timber Creek at (4) Toms River East; (14) Toms River South at (3) Ocean City; (10) Triton at (7) Woodrow Wilson; (15) Lacey at (2) Winslow Township

Favorite: Mainland

Main contenders: Winslow Township, Ocean City

Outlook: Mainland began the week 20-0 and is coming off its best win of the season, a 39-28 victory over defending South Jersey Group 2 champion Manchester Township. In 6-foot-4 sophomore Kylee Watson, Mainland has one of the top players in the state.

Against Manchester Township, she had 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Watson is a tough inside player, but can also hurt teams with her perimeter play. She is a potential first-team all-state player and will make a serious run at South Jersey player of the year.

Winslow Township is a major threat and with the addition of center Brittany Garner, a transfer from Camden Catholic, the Eagles have one of the top inside players in Group 3. Garner entered the week averaging 17.2 points.

Entering the week with a 17-2 mark, Winslow Township’s only losses were to Camden Catholic (without Garner in the lineup) and a 39-32 defeat to Haddon Township, the top seed in South Jersey Group 1.

Ocean City won’t relinquish its title easily. On Jan. 24, the Red Raiders gave visiting Mainland a competitive game before losing 42-37. Nine different players scored in the game for Ocean City, with nobody totaling more than seven points for the balanced offense.

No. 4 Toms River East is an interesting team. The Raiders have played a difficult schedule as a member of the Shore Conference, which includes teams such as Toms River North, the No. 3 seed in South Jersey Group 4 and two games against Jackson, the No. 4 SJ Group 4 seed. Even though the Raiders lost all three games, that type of competition will help them in the postseason.

So consider the Raiders a darkhorse, despite a relatively high seed. That’s because Mainland has the best player and best record in Group 3 and the Mustangs should also benefit from last year’s trip to the sectional final and now they have the capability of going at least one step further.

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