MERCER COUNTY TOURNAMENT
Hopewell Valley (23-1) vs. Trenton Catholic (20-4)
Thursday, Feb. 23
5 p.m. at Mercer County College
All that’s separating top-seeded Hopewell Valley from a perfect mark is a 50-42 loss to North Brunswick on Jan. 28. It opened the season on a 14-game winning streak and has currently won nine in a row. Hopewell’s only other appearance in an MCT final prior to this year came in 2007 when it fell to Trenton, 59-27. It’s 19-0 against foes from the Colonial Valley Conference.
Second-seeded Trenton Catholic, No. 9 in the MSG Varsity New Jersey Top 15, has played some heavy competition both within the Burlington County Scholastic League and outside its conference. It owns an impressive 51-47 triumph over No. 6 St. John Vianney as well as a 41-35 decision over No. 10 Neptune. It also defeated defending Group 4 state champion Rancocas Valley, 59-43. Its four losses came to Life Center, Willingboro, H.D. Woodson of Washington D.C. and Mount St. Dominic.
The Champ is here…
Trenton Catholic is within reach of claiming its third straight MCT title. Last year, it scored a 55-39 victory over Trenton in the championship behind 22 points from Briyona Canty. Interesting to note, current Lady Mikes Isis Young, Robin Perkins, Marquasia Aiken, Dominique Ward and Kelechi Okapara combined for 15 points in that triumph.
It outlasted Trenton in the 2010 final, 49-48.
Hopewell Valley upset TCA in the 2007 MCT when it posted a 36-30 victory in the semifinal round.
Who to Watch
Hopewell Valley: Kelly Williams (Sr. G) has made a successful return from an ACL injury to be a major contributor on so many fronts. While she is a proven scorer (17.4 ppg.) who can make an impact along the perimeter (48 3-pointers), Williams is also an attentive distributor who does a nice job balancing the floor, distracts ballhandlers with her quick hands and isn’t afraid to venture underneath to clear rebounds.
Junior Nellie Tanguay (10.4 ppg., 25 3-pointers) is similar to Williams in a lot of regards, including how active she is defending on the ball.
Sophomore Kara Hageman (8.7 ppg.) works hard on the glass and will pose as an inviting target to feed inside.
Senior Emily Sing (9.5 ppg.) can exploit a defense inside. She will pose another threat that TCA must contain and box out around the boards.
Trenton Catholic: Robin Perkins enjoyed a breakthrough post-season run last winter to help TCA to the NJSIAA Non-Public B title and the Tournament of Champions crown. She has carried that over into her senior year. The 5-10 swing (13.6 ppg.) is adept at slashing to the rim off the wings but that threat of dribble penetration can buy her some space off a defender to stick a long jumper.
Isis Young, a 5-7 sophomore guard, is scoring at a consistent 16.7 point clip and Hopewell Valley will have its hands full trying to decide to play her tight to deny her 3-point shot or sag off to lower her chance to drive inside.
Dominique Ward does a nice job getting into seams to attack the rim and will be counted on to work the boards along with 6-3 sophomore Tyler Rasor.
Gregg Lerner covers girls basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @GreggLerner