Woodrow Wilson girls take Group 3 state championship

Posted: March 18, 2014

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - The Woodrow Wilson fan section more than doubled that of West Morris Central. The fans were loud and on their feet virtually the entire game.

"People say nothing good comes out of Camden," said Wilson junior guard Ciarah Bennett. "But we had the whole city behind us. And that pushed us. It just feels so good to win this for our city, and to win it for ourselves."

The Wilson girls' basketball team clawed its way to a 70-64 win over West Morris in Sunday's state Group 3 championship at the Pine Belt Arena.

It was the program's fourth state championship and first since 2005.

Wilson moves on to the Tournament of Champions, where it is seeded sixth. The Tigers will take on third-seeded Immaculate Heart Academy Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Pine Belt Arena.

"It's an amazing feeling," said senior guard/forward Chanelle Perry. "This is what we wanted all season. I believe hard work pays off, and this shows it right here. I'm so proud of everyone on this team."

Perry collected 18 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in the victory. But team play has been Woodrow Wilson's trademark this postseason, and that didn't change on Sunday.

Bennett was the game's leading scorer with 23 points. Junior guard Tamara Sellers chipped in 19, including four three-pointers. And senior center Shanyah Allen was dominant in the paint, pairing four points with 17 rebounds.

"This was the performance we've been waiting for, where every single player did what they were supposed to do," said Woodrow Wilson coach Bernie Hynson. "We played hard, we fought, everybody hit shots. We played tough defense. It was an all-around effort."

Wilson (23-8) entered the final period with a six-point lead. The Tigers opened the game on a 9-0 run and led by as many as 10 in the third quarter. But a furious defensive effort allowed West Morris (26-3) to tie the score at 58-58 and then again at 60-60 with just under four minutes left.

Wilson tried to increase the pace of the game after that.

"All we have to do is attack the basket," said Bennett, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as her team pulled away.

Bennett is a shifty guard, standing no more than 5 feet tall. But she drove to the rim and made four layups in the final period, hitting two of four free throws.

"It feels good because we all played as a team together," Sellers said. "That's what we've wanted to do all season.

"We wanted to make history and we did it."

West Morris 13 16 16 19 - 64

Woodrow Wilson 14 17 20 19 - 70

WM: Kendall Ballotti 4, Ilissa Webb 6, Sydney Sapir 14, Brielle Kelly 27, Paige Burton 6, Sarah Singer 7.

WW: Chanelle Perry 18, Lyayshia Stevens 6, Tamara Sellers 19, Ciarah Bennett 23, Shanyah Allen 4.

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