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Hoop Group Tip-Off Day Two Provides Entertaining Games; St. Anthony’s and St. Benedict’s Remain Unbeaten in Event

St. Mary’s Elizabeth (61) vs. Hackensack (40)

Heading into the second quarter leading 13-11, St. Mary’s (Elizabeth) sophomore Jay’von Jackson caught fire. Jackons pumped in 11 of his game-high 18 points including draining a trey at the buzzer as the Toppers ended the period on a 10-0 run taking a 31-20 advantage at halftime. Meanwhile, the Comets offense went south without a bucket for almost eight minutes, not scoring until four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Holding a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, Jackson capped off a 7-0 run and MVP honors with a dazzling reverse lay-up that put the game away for good as St. Mary’s Elizabeth coasted to a 61-40 victory and first win in the Hoop Group Tip Off Showcase.

St. Anthony (54) vs. St. Joseph-Montvale (36)

St. Anthony’s defense was the catalyst in the second quarter, holding St. Joe’s to six points while applying a full court press that led to numerous transition baskets. Senior R.J. Cole dropped in 11 of his 24 points, finishing off the first half by sinking a three pointer with less than a second to go as the Friars increased their lead to 30-15.

In the second half, St. Anthony’s heated up from beyond the arc, knocking down five three-pointers, cruising to the 54-36 victory over the Green Knights while extending their undefeated streak in the Hoop Group Tip Off Showcase to 16-0.

Blair (46) vs. Linden (42)

Blair and Linden engaged in a game of runs, with Blair jumping out to a 30-18 lead in the second quarter. The Tigers answered back with a 13-0 run of their own, highlighted by back to back long range baskets from senior Khalief Crawford (15 points) giving Linden their first lead of the game with 5:41 remaining in the fourth.

Blair responded with an 8-0 run jumping back in front. The back and forth play continued as the Tigers went on a 6-0 run, trimming the margin to 43-40 with 32.6 seconds left on the clock. With the Bucs leading 44-42, senior Anthony Mack sank two free throws sealing the victory and MVP honors with 16 points.

St. Benedict’s (68) vs. Bergen Catholic (51)

St. Benedict’s started out strong, racing out to a 11-0 lead and finished strong going on a 26-0 tear for a 68-51 romp over the Crusaders. The Gray Bees defense stifled Bergen Catholic in the first quarter, not allowing a point until 3:42 left.

Ranked number 22 by ESPN and number 24 by, sophomore Precious Achiuwa lived up to the billing finishing with 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Senior Bourama Sidibe led St. Benedict’s in scoring with 20 points, six rebounds and three blocks. The Gray Bees remain perfect in the Hoop Group Tip Off Showcase at 11-0.

The Crusaders cut the deficit to 27-21 at the break and carried that momentum into the third quarter taking their first lead of the contest at 35-34 with 4:21 left. Bergen Catholic fell into a 7:38 drought not scoring a basket until 1:46 remaining in the fourth.

Union Catholic (48) vs. Hun (47)

Trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter seemed insurmountable for Union Catholic, but the Vikings climbed back thanks to a hounding defense that forced Hun into committing costly turnovers. Junior Kyle Lofton’s three-pointer with 1:03 cut the gap to 47-45.

Senior Jordan Pierce gave Union Catholic the game-winning bucket and first lead for the Vikings since 3:40 of the 1st quarter with a lay-up while getting fouled. Pierce, standing at 7′ tall, dominated the paint accounting for 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks to win MVP honors. Senior Brandon Hampton added 15 points.

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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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