State Titles on the Line [PODCAST]
It's all on the line for two local high school basketball teams this weekend.
The Atlantic City boys and Ocean City girls both have a date with destiny on Sunday, March 10, as they'll take the court in Piscataway and Toms River, respectively, to stake their claims at a state title. Needless to say, all eyes are on both of these matchups, and the South Jersey Sports Report turned to the best in high school sports coverage to break it all down.
Phil Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer explains how the Vikings have been able to "come back and close out" all season, and what their chances are against Linden in the state final. Find out why he says Atlantic City still has no individual basketball standouts, and where they rank among the greatest teams of all-time.
Tom Williams will also be court-side at Rutgers on Sunday to see if the Vikings can make it back-to-back state championships. He reveals why it's dangerous for A.C. to "keep playing with fire", and what the Vikings can do to earn their place in history.
While Gene Allen may be a household name in South Jersey, local basketball fans probably have never heard of the man who will be standing across him on Sunday. That's Linden High School's Phil Colicchio, who's led the Tigers to a North II, Group IV Sectional title this year. Their stunning overtime victory over Hackensack this week vaulted them into the Group IV state title game, where the Vikings (28-1) await. Coach Colicchio told us why no one expected a young Linden team to make it this far, and what preparations his team will make against the "best defense in the entire state".
While Atlantic City has only lost one game since January 2012, Ocean City's girls team has overcome even more adversity to reach their ultimate goal this season. The Press of Atlantic City's Brittany Grugan highlights which losing performance may have been the turning point in the Red Raiders season, and how seniors like Julia Duggan were able to right the ship into the postseason. Find out what their chances are of winning it all, and what's most dangerous about their state title opponent, Jefferson Township.
State titles will also be on the line at the individual level this weekend. Dozens of local athletes will hit the mat inside Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall for the State Wrestling Tournament. "Mat Pack's" Patrick Buganski from the Daily Journal provides the latest on the tournament, including who's still alive and which stories have been most impressive.
One of those local wrestlers looking to etch his name into the record books is Buena's Billy Ward, Jr. The 126-pound senior joined us on the South Jersey Sports Report, only one week after his father did. We asked one of the area's best how he prepares for every match, what he expects against unfamiliar opponents, and what song comes across his iPod before he hits the mat.
Another high school athlete isn't just one of South Jersey's best right now, but she's in the conversation of being one of the greatest ever. Atlantic City's Colleen Callahan has blown away the competition, recently earning her place as one of the best competitors to ever hit the pool. Aside from being the first swimmer to win 8 individual events, she's also now the most successful Meet of Champions participant in New Jersey high school history. We asked the outstanding swimmer about the pressure going into each event, how she's part of a growing sense of school spirit at Atlantic City, and if she has any Olympic aspirations for 2016.
And two of the best high school basketball players in South Jersey history are looking to extend their college careers with a conference tournament win in Philadelphia. Former Absegami stars Sara Mostafa and Tara Booker are on the court this weekend, as George Washington looks to take down No. 1 Dayton in the A10 Championship Game. The dynamic duo joined us just hours before tip-off to reflect on their high school careers in South Jersey, what went into their college decisions, and what's next for the two best friends.
Listen to this week's show:
Billy Ward, Jr., Buena wrestling
Sara Mostafa & Tara Booker, George Washington University basketball teammates
Phil Colicchio, Linden High School head basketball coach
Phil Anastasia, Philadelphia Inquirer sports reporter
Brittany Grugan, Press of Atlantic City sports reporter
Atlantic City boys & Ocean City girls basketball teams in studio
Patrick Buganski, The Daily Journal 'Mat Pack' wrestling reporter
Colleen Callahan, Atlantic City swimming
Tom Williams, South Jersey Hall of Fame sports reporter
We’d also like to congratulate the South Jersey Athlete of the Week:
Swimming, Atlantic City
She became the first female swimmer to win eight individual events during her career by claiming victories in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. She broke her own meet record in the 200 IM.
It’s all right here, on The South Jersey Sports Report. Listen every Saturday, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on 97.3 ESPN-FM or 973espn.com
Follow Tyler Donohue on Twitter @TDsTake