After games on Sunday, March 18
Just like last year, St. Anthony and Plainfield will play in the Tournament of Champions final. But when the two meet Tuesday at the Izod Center, this time it will truly be a battle between the state's top two eligible teams. (The emphasis is on "eligible" since St. Benedict's doesn't compete in the NJSIAA.)
Last year, that matchup came in the Non-Public, North B final when St. Anthony battled St. Patrick, but with the defending champ Friars on a ridiculous 64-game win streak and Plainfield having blown out contenders like St. Joseph (Met.) and Teaneck, this the matchup we've all wanted to see.
A preview of the contest came on Feb. 7, when St. Anthony held Plainfield to a season-low in points during a 43-31 win. The Friars' defense is just as stifling as it was then, meaning the Cardinals will have to find ways to get scorers like Sekou Harris and Jahmal Lane going.
Nationally, St. Anthony remains at No. 3 in the POWERADE FAB 50 while St. Benedict's fell to No. 15 after losing to national No. 13 DeMatha (Md.) in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational in Maryland. The Gray Bees, who were without the injured Tyler Ennis, will look to rebound at the NHSI tournament next week. Finally, Plainfield enter the national list at No. 49.
Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):
1. St. Anthony (Jersey City) 31-0 (1)
Friars pushed their win streak to 64 games by blowing out Atlantic City in the Tournament of Champions semifinals. Next up: Plainfield on Tuesday in a rematch of last year's T of C final.
2. St. Benedict's 33-2 (2)
After beating John Carroll (Md.), the Gray Bees fell to eventual champ and FAB 50 No. 13 DeMatha in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational. Gray Bees move on to the NHSI tournament on March 28-31 with hopes that Tyler Ennis, who sat out the loss with injury, will be back to full strength.
3. Plainfield 30-3 (3)
Cardinals surged past St. Joseph (Met.) and into the Tournament of Champions final to face St. Anthony for the second year in a row. Plainfield fell to St. Anthony in February by the score 43-31.