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Franklin and Ranney victorious in TOC Finals at Rutgers Athletic Center

TOC Girls Final

Franklin (65) vs. Saddle River Day (57) – Back and forth was the action in the first half between Franklin and Saddle River Day in the Tournament of Champions Girls Final at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Michelle Sidor putting on an offensive display tallying 14 points for the Rebel. Trailing 26-23 late in second quarter, Diamond Miller gave her Warriors team a major boost of confidence and fans in attendance a highlight reel moment heaving a midcourt shot that wished through the basket.

“Definitely a momentum swing, it told us we still have this,” said Diamond Miller. “At the end of the second missing a lot of shot and they were scoring but we knew it’s a tie game and anyone’s game in the second half.”

In the third quarter, both teams’ continued to battle with Franklin scoring the first five points of the quarter only to see Saddle River Day respond with a 6-1 run. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Warriors were up by a single point at 39-38. That changed in the final frame with Christina Midgette converting a three-point play on a nifty play at the five-minute mark and 27 seconds later Kennedy Schenck burying a triple extending the advantage to 50-42.

Just when it seemed the Warriors were fully in control of the contest, Sidor heated up quickly scoring seven points as Saddle River Day closed to within 56-50 with 1:22 remaining. Sidor drained a pair of free throws trimming the deficit to 59-55 with 40 seconds left. However, it was clutch free throw shooting by Keona Schenck that sealed the 65-57 victory for Franklin and capping off an undefeated season at 32-0.

Miller finished with a game high 25 points and 18 rebounds while Kennedy Schenck added 14 points, Keona Schneck contributed 11 points and Tiana Jackson had 10 points. Sidor poured in 27 points for the Rebels.

“Absolutely amazing, the word proud does not begin to describe it,” said Franklin Head Coach Audrey Taylor. “These girls fought all year long, we had adversity people couldn’t see and the fact they stayed together every game and believed in each other. Every team that stepped in front and went against them thought they were the best team in the state. I got to tell you for teenagers to have that composure and understanding this is one of the greatest teams’ I have seen and call it that.”

“I say it’s a testament to women’s basketball because they are a team and not about one individual. It’s about girls’ playing the game the right way and they did that. It’s about the team that is going out there and having the most heart and finishing the game at the end of the day. I say when you are building a program it takes time. We have players coming through Franklin and build a great foundation and change the culture. These girls’ came in and picked it right up and ran with it. A testament to them, myself and coaching staff of staying committed to certain type of basketball we want to play.”

TOC Boys Final

Ranney (67) vs. Bergen Catholic (63) – Ranney did not get off to an impressive start against Bergen Catholic in the TOC Boys Final at the Rutgers Athletic Center, down 10-2 in the first three and half minutes of play. The Panthers did mount a charge taking a 14-13 lead in the second quarter.

All the momentum would be short-lived as the Crusaders went on a 13-2 to build a double-digit field. Bergen Catholic would end up shooting 41 percent from the field to lead 30-21 at halftime. The combination of Zach Freemantle (11 points) and Doug Edert (9 points) tallied 21 points. Ranney struggled from the perimeter shooting just 25 percent and o for 5 from beyond the arc.

Scottie Lewis on the Panthers halftime deficit, “This year we have shown a lot of hear, even when we got down to teams’ and they gave us their best shot in the first half we were always prepared in the second half and say 0-0 going into the huddle at halftime. We knew the intensity of the game and what it meant to win it. Our game plan was to attack the basket, we have great outside shooters but our strong game is the fast break.”

Following the blueprint to a tee, Ranney slowly chipped away at Bergen Catholic’s advantage in the third quarter due to better outside shooting and knocking down free throws. Lewis drained a pair of free throws cutting the gap down to 42-40 with less than three minutes to go. Leading the Panthers in scoring at halftime with 11 points, Bryan Antoine tied the contest up at 44-44 burying a jumper.

Holding a 47-46 margin going into the final period, Ranney did not waste anytime expanding the lead to 57-48 with less than five minutes remaining. Held scoreless in the first half, Ahmadu Sarnor went on a tear delivering 13 points. Just when it appeared the Panthers would put the game away for good, the momentum swung back in the Crusaders favor as Phillip Wheeler and Freemantle got into tussle leading to Wheeler being assessed a technical foul.

Edert canned both free throws coupled by Freemantle hitting a jump shot sliced the deficit down to 57-52 at the four-minute mark.

Ranney Head Coach Tahj Holden on sequence of events, “In a situation and championship where emotions are high. Phil is an emotional player once he gets going and unfortunately he took it a little too far and that happens. It was about calming people down and getting everyone in the huddle and saying we’re good and have this and let’s go do what we do.”

Wheeler re-entered the contest and brought the house down with a thunderous baseline dunk with less than three minutes left to boost the lead back up to 62-54. Looking as though the Panthers had the game in the bag, Bergen Catholic stormed back with a 7-0 making it a one-point game with less than two minutes left on the clock.

The Crusaders were not done making it a thrilling finish tying the game up on a pair of free throws from Will Richardson with 44 seconds left. Milking the clock down, Sarnor drove the lane drawing the foul with 15 seconds to go but managed to make only one of the two free throws.

There was still a golden opportunity for Bergen Catholic to win its first TOC Championship in the final seconds but Richardson could not covert a lay-up. Wheeler hit one of two free throws with 4.9 seconds but the Crusaders were unable to secure the rebound as Sarnor sank a pair of free throws to complete the 67-63 win for Ranney.

Lewis delivered a game high 20 points and 11 rebounds while Wheeler netted 14 points and Antoine dropped in 17 points. Freemantle led the Crusaders with 19 points and Edert tallied 13 points.

“We stayed composed for the most part, got Phil out and calmed it down a bit and he went in and made a key play for us on the dunk and dribble penetration we were looking for all game and came out on top,” said Holden.

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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