St. Rose

St. Rose clinches first state title in 45 Years after dominant win

The St. Rose Purple Roses won their first state title since 1979, ending the also historic run of the Montclair Immaculate, 73-29, in Non-Public B championship game on Friday night at Jersey Mike's Arena.

St. Rose started fast and dominated early. Matthew Hodge scored the first points, followed seconds later by a block on the other side by Gio Panzini and a three-pointer by Hodge. Early on, it looked as if Montclair Immaculate struggled to communicate.

Jaren Barnett, Kole Grandison, and TJ Robinson helped the Eagles stay in the game, as their defense resulted in some easy basket attempts for Robinson. However, the margin nearing the end of the first quarter was 19 in favor of St. Rose. The mood in Piscataway reached a point where St. Rose's student section chanted, "This is boring." The first quarter ended at 19-3 in favor of the Purple Roses.

However, Montclair Immaculate found recourse through Cortlin Siska. He scored his first three-pointer two minutes into the second quarter as the Eagles attempted to cut the deficit. Saint Rose wasn't having any of that anchoring. Evan Romano joined Hodge in dominating play in the second quarter. While Montclair Immaculate had a better quarter, the deficit grew as St. Rose's lead was 22 points at 37-15 at halftime.

Montclair Immaculate started a soft push in the third quarter with Manny Smith and Akeem Langevine attempting to get their team back in the game, often colliding with the Purple Rose defense. For St. Rose, the dominant player for the beginning of the third quarter was Bryan Ebeling, yet the team finally started spreading out work as the opponent's soft push got frantic. As an example of this coordination, at four minutes to go, Hodge sent Smith running with a pass to Romano, who scored easily as there were too few defense players to stop him. By the end, St. Rose was playing in the air while an exhausted Lions team chased until the clock struck and the game finished.

Hodge finished his high school basketball career with 14 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and three blocks in the title-clinching win. St. Rose proved that they are in the conversation as the best team in the state with other squads such as Don Bosco and Camden.