EAST ORANGE, NJ - It's been quite evident this season that New Providence's Dylan Bedder has the ability to take control of a ball game.
On Thursday evening, the 6-6 senior center did it again.
Bedder scored a game-high 20 points and brought down 22 rebounds to help New Providence secure a 62-43 victory over Wood-Ridge in a NJSIAA Group 1 semifinal at East Orange Campus in East Orange.
With the win, the Pioneers will seek its first overall state title since 1999 when it meets Burlington City on Sunday at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway at a time to be announced.
Wood-Ridge, the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 1 champ, finished its season at 20-10.
"This season has definitely been a lot of fun and its going to be sick to play at a place like the RAC on Sunday," said Bedder, who is now averaging 14.5 points and 15.1 rebounds this winter.
New Providence (28-3), now winners of seven straight games and 17 of its last 18, raced to a 16-5 lead after the first quarter but Wood-Ridge rallied to climb within, 30-26, by time the horn sounded at halftime.
"The end of the first half when they went on a run was not us," said Bedder, who added three steals. "We knew we needed to make some adjustments and take advantage of the match-ups on both ends."
And Bedder, who was approximately two to three inches taller than Wood-Ridge's biggest player, was dominant in the third quarter totaling 10 points as New Providence used a 20-5 period to extend to a 50-31 lead and all but put the game away.
New Providence was also fueled by Greg Meyers (16 points, seven rebounds), Stanton Leuthner (12 points), Sean Dillon (six points, eight assists, four rebounds), Richie Wawzycki (six points) and Owen Kovacs (six points).
The Pioneers have been playing this post-season without senior guard Brian Kelly, who suffered a high ankle sprain right before the beginning of the sectional tournament.
Kelly is one of three New Providence players to score their 1,000th career point this season along with Bedder and Meyers, a senior guard.
"Everyone has stepped up in each game," said Bedder. "Richie and Stanton have filled in great and we're all playing for each other."
New Providence won its first sectional title in 20 years on Tuesday when it captured the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 championship with a 49-46 victory over American History in Newark.
The Pioneers will now gear up to play Burlington City, which defeated Clayton, 79-62, in the other Group 1 semifinal on Thursday, with a trip to the Tournament of Champions on the line.
"We'll get an extra day to rest our legs now which is good for us," said Bedder looking ahead to Sunday's game. "And its really crazy to think that this group of guys that have been playing together for so long are just a win away from joining the elite teams in the state."