PISCATAWAY, NJ - The Athletic Department at New Providence High will need to make more room in the school trophy case.
Just five days after winning its first sectional title in 20 years, the Pioneers doubled down by claiming its first state title in the same time span as it posted a 66-56 victory over Burlington City and claimed the NJSIAA Group 1 crown on Sunday night a the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway.
New Providence (29-3), which has won eight straight games and 18 of its last 19, will now advance to the Tournament of Champions for the second time in the 31-year history of the event. The Pioneers are seeded sixth for the T of C and will play third-seeded Newark East Side in a first round game on Wednesday, March 13 at the RWJ Barnabas Health Arena on the campus of Toms River North High.
Against Burlington City, New Providence's template for success was as similar as it's been for most of its victories this season - everybody does their part.
The Pioneers were led by Greg Meyers' game-high 26 points while Dylan Bedder added 13 points, 17 rebounds, two blocks and two steals and Richie Wawzycki also scored 13 points, along with five rebounds and four assists.
Sean Dillon (nine points, nine assists, five rebounds, three steals), Stanton Leuthner (three points, five rebounds, two assists, two blocks) and Brian Kelly (two points, four rebounds, three assists) also made huge contributions in the win.
Kelly, a senior guard, was making his first post-season appearance since suffering a high ankle sprain right at the end of the regular season.
Burlington City (22-9), which was looking for its first state title since 2002, got out of the gates fast, scoring the first five points of the game before Meyers hit a 3-pointer.
The Pioneers closed out the first quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 17-15 lead that they would not surrender. In the second quarter, Burlington City was held to just three points as New Providence stretched its lead to 33-18 at the half.
New Providence opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run as its lead swelled to 41-18 with 4:23 left.
Burlington City, which was led by Deonte Woodbury's 19 points, held New Providence to just seven points the remainder of the period as the South Jersey school cut its deficit to 48-32 after three quarters.
Despite being outscored, 24-18, in the fourth quarter, New Providence was able to do enough to seal the victory, including making 5-of-10 free throws, to earn its third ever state title (1965 and '99).
Seniors Bedder (14.5 ppg., 15.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks), Meyers (14.7 ppg., 2.1 steals) and Kelly (12.3 ppg., 6.2 rebounds) all surpassed the 1,000-point plateau this season and have been integral parts of the Pioneers' record-setting 29 victories that surpassed the 23 won a year ago.
While New Providence will have a huge challenge in meeting Group 4 champion Newark East Side in the T of C, the Pioneers are well prepared, having played many upper group schools including Group 4 schools Plainfield, Westfield and Union and Non-Public power Roselle Catholic.
Photo credits: Jimmy Alagna