NJSIAA Group 3 Sectional Tournament Preview

photo by: Bryan Louzada (@shotbyblou)

The playoffs for New Jersey Group 3 are just around the corner, setting the stage for thrilling basketball action across the each sectional brakcet. As teams gear up for this critical juncture of the season, we’re here to give you a sneak peek into what lies ahead. From teams that have dominated their leagues to those looking to make a surprise run, each section has its own set of contenders ready to fight for the title. Here's a quick look at the teams to keep an eye on in the Group 3 playoffs, where every game is a step closer to glory

Central: #1 seeded Red Bank Regional transformed their program from 8-15 last season into a top seeded program that posses an impressive 18-4 record. RBR has been a top team in the Shore Conference all season, finishing 5-1 in their division. Zayier Dean has been a pivotal point in their offense this year, adding 15.8 PPG as their leading scorer. The Bucs look to continue their momentum into the post season and make a deep run as the favorites in this bracket

The #2 seeded Nottingham is coming off a successful showing last season, as they made an appearance in the Group 3 Finals. This year's team is looking to do the same, amassing a 20-6 record this season. Senior forward Dom Raymond has been a star all season, averaging 19.5 PPG, scoring 30+ 3 times. Jordan Raba is also having a good season, adding 15.2 PPG of his own. The Northstars are no stranger to postseason success, as they are looking to prove that by going all the way in this tournament. 

#3 Burlington Township shares the same record as the seed ahead of them, sitting at 20-6 respectively. BT displays a knack for spreading the ball around the court, as they have 3 players that score 9 PPG or more. Aaron Ferguson, Quade Hendyrx, and Irving Singletary spearhead this potent offense for the Falcons. Burlington Township will be looking to show they can hang with the best of them, as they strive for the CJG3 Championship.

#4 Hopewell Valley is also another team to keep in consideration when mentioning contenders. The Bulldogs sit at 19-5 and are led by an elite scorer in senior forward John Michael Vlasac, who averages 17 PPG. Hopewell Valley is familiar with some of the teams in this bracket, as they dropped a nail-biter against #2 Nottingham. The Bulldogs will be playing with a chip on their shoulder and they should not be overlooked. 


South Jersey: Leading the SJG3 bracket is #1 seeded Mainland. The Mustangs have been a top team in south jersey this season, appearing in our Top 20 rankings at one point. Mainland had their 7 game win streak snapped in the CAL Tournament semi-finals against a Top 10 program in Middle Township. Mainland has played tough all season, owning wins over previous and current Top 20 programs like Lenape and Ocean City. Senior guard Cohen Cook has been phenomenal for this Mainland squad, coming up big all season, averaging 21 PPG. Tim Travagline has also been an important piece, putting up 14.5 PPG of his own. Look for the #1 to have a strong showing in the tournament and take their game to the next level this postseason.

#2 Ocean City comes in with a 23-3 record on the season, with their only losses coming from Middle Township and #1 seed Mainland. Ocean City improved immensely from their 15-13 finish last season, Finishing 9-2 in the CAL. You can't mention Ocean City basketball without mentioning Kori Segich. The senior forward is one of the best scorers in the state, averaging just over 24 PPG in a tough South Jersey conference. The Red Raiders are no stranger to stiff competition. They will look to continue their high level of play and possibly avenge their recent loss. 

After a rocky first half of the season, #3 Camden Eastside has gotten back to what we expect from this hard nosed squad. After going 11-3 to end the season, with solid wins over Linden and Paul VI, Eastside is looking to keep the ball rolling to give themselves a chance at taking home the SJG3 Championship. Led by a trio of Jahaan Green (16.5 PPG), Will Love (12.4 PPG), and Jalen Long (11.5 PPG), the Tigers put together a solid regular season, compiling a 17-9 record. 

The SJG3 bracket is one of the deepest in the state. Outside of the Top few seeds, there are multiple teams that have a legit chance of contending for the title. #5 seed Timber Creek stands at 20-4 and won the Tri-County Tournament - Flight A. #8 seeded Delsea was a few points away from taking that championship away from Timber Creek, showing they can make deep runs in the post season. We're looking forward to see how this bracket looks at the end of it. 


North Jersey, Section 1: The #1 seed in this bracket is home to a Top 20 program in the state. The Ramapo Raiders have had an absolute gauntlet of a schedule this season, and still managed to end the season with a 19-8 record. All of their losses come by way of Top 20 programs. They also own a win over #10 Bergen Catholic, proving they can not only compete against great teams, but also come out on the winning end. Ramapo is led by Princeton commit, Peyton Seals. The senior guard averages 15 PPG on the season and is regarded as a top guard in the state. Ramapo also gets great contributions from Wyatt Eglinton Manner (12.6 PPG) and Chris Cervino (12.1 PPG). Ramapo is looking to repeat their success from last year, as they won the Group 3 Championship. 

#2 Northern Highlands is a familiar face in this tournament, as they lost a tight game against #1 Ramapo early on in the season. The Highlanders have defeated some tough opposition thus far, holding wins over Ridgewood and St. Thomas Aquinas. Northern Highlands looks to their junior guard Lucas Dipasupil for elite offensive production, as he averages 18.2 PPG. Sawyer Chapler also offers some solid scoring with 12 PPG of his own. The Highlanders can very much compete to take home the championship, as they will look to do so and potentially avenge their early season loss. 

#3 Wayne Valley struggled early on this season, going 2-4 to start the season. SInce then, they haven't looked back, going 19-1 in their last 20 games. The Passaic County Tournament Champions come into the tournament on a 12 game win streak. The Indians are led by a trio of elite talent. Anthony Apicella (14.8 PPG), Omar Ali (12.8 PPG), and Caden Flower (11.1 PPG) contribute immensely to the success of this Wayne Valley squad. As they ride the hot hand, look for Wayne Valley to raise some eyebrows in the NJS1G3 Tournament.


North Jersey, Section 2: #1 Cranford has been playing some tough ball as of late. The 19-6 Cougars had a 7 game winstreak snapped in a back and forth game that had them losing to a Top 20 Union Catholic program 68-62. Prior to that they defeated a fringe Top 20 Plainfield. Cranford is home to one of the most elite scorers in the state, Nick Amitie. The senior is averaging 23 PPG and has scored 32+ 6 times this season. Amite shines when the lights are the brightest, dropping 32 points and 14 rebounds against Plainfield in their biggest win of the season. The Cougars look to continue their success and prove why they were chosen to represent the #1 seed.

#2 South Plainfield started off the season slow, as they were 3-3 through their first 6 games. Since then, the Tigers have been playing very well, going 16-4 in their next 20 games. Senior guard Abdul Adebule, leads the charge with a smooth 15.2 PPG. Although his playtime has been limited to only 15 games, Dante Dupiche has been effective, averaging 14.8 PPG. With a solid ending to their regular season and two efficient scorers, South Plainfield is poised to make a serious run in the tournament.

#3 Colonia could be argued to be the favorite to win the section The Patriots have had the toughest schedule in the bracket and still impressively complied a record of 18-8. They defeated a tough St. Thomas Aquinas team 3x, most recently to win the GMC Tournament Championship. They have not lost a game by more than 9 points all season and multiple losses come in a close game with a Top 20 program. The leader of this squad is Sophomore guard Aiden Derkack, who is listed as a Top 100 player in the nation for the Class of 2026. Derkack averages 20 points and 7 rebounds per game. With a top player in the nation at the helm and their experience against top opposition all season, Colonia is prepared to do what they need to in order to represent North Jersey Section 2 in the Group 3 tournament.