It wasn’t a slow start that doomed the Burlington City basketball team to defeat in the Group 1 state final.
It was a sluggish second quarter.
“You can’t press when you don’t score the ball,” Burlington City coach Paul Collins said. “In the second quarter, we didn’t score the ball.”
New Providence seized command in the second quarter, then held off a sustained charge by Burlington City in the second half to take a 66-56 victory in the Group 1 state final at Rutgers University.
Junior guard D.J. Woodbury scored 19 points to lead Burlington City (22-9).
The Blue Devils were making their first appearance in the state final since 2004 and seeking their first title since 2002.
“I’m going to remember playing with D.J. Woodbury,” senior Amir Landrum said of the Blue Devils’ dynamic play-maker. “He was a great teammate.”
Woodbury said the experience of losing in the state final would motivate him to finish the job as a senior.
“It stings,” Woodbury said. “But we’re going to get right back to work and come back here next year.”
New Providence (29-3) trailed 13-8 late in the first quarter but took command with a 25-5 run to take a 33-18 lead at the break.
Greg Myers scored 26 for New Providence, which won its first state title since 1999 and third overall, and advanced to the Tournament of Champions.
Burlington City twice cut the deficit inside of 10 points, but New Providence closed out the victory from the foul line.
“It’s not in our DNA not to play hard,” Collins said of the Blue Devils’ effort in the second half. “We practice hard, we play hard. There was never any question these guys weren’t going to pack it in.”
New Providence 17 16 15 18 – 66
Burlington City 15 3 14 24 – 56
NP: Dylan Bedder 13, Sean Dillon 9, Brian Kelly 2, Stanton Leuthner 3, Greg Myers 26, Richie Wawzycki 13.
BC: Michael Green 13, D.J. Woodbury 19, Amir Landrum 11, Jahsanti Santiago-Tucker 2, Jameel Morris 8, Steven Shaffer 3.
Tuesday at Toms River North
No. 5 University vs. No. 4 St. Rose, 5:30 p.m.
No. 6 Mainland vs. No. 3 Manchester Twp., 7 p.m.
Thursday at Toms River North
Mainland/Manchester Twp. winner vs. No. 2 Saddle River Day, 5:30 p.m.
University/St. Rose winner vs. No. 1 Franklin, 7 p.m.
Sunday at Rutgers
Championship game, 2 p.m.
Wednesday at Toms River North
No. 5 Moorestown vs. No. 4 Haddonfield, 5:30 p.m.
No. 6 New Providence vs. No. 3 Newark East Side, 7 p.m.
Friday at Toms River North
New Providence/Newark East Side winner vs. No. 2 Bergen Catholic, 5:30 p.m.
Moorestown/Haddonfield winner vs. No. 1 Ranney School, 7 p.m.
Sunday at Rutgers