Paul VI girls basketball coach Orlando Hidalgo said he wanted to use the South Jersey Invitational Basketball Tournament as a springboard for the state playoffs.
If the way the Eagles dominated competition at the event this past weekend is any indication, anybody in the Non-Public A playoffs had better be on high alert.
Top-seeded Paul VI had no trouble with No. 3 Moorestown in Sunday’s championship game, just a day after dismantling a Cinnaminson team that came into the semifinals sporting 17 wins. In the championship game, the Eagles — winners of 10 straight — raced out to a 22-0 lead and never looked back, cruising past the Quakers, 61-40, at Eastern Regional High.
It was the first time Paul VI had competed in the SJIBT, which has been around for 16 years, and the Eagles are making an argument to be the No. 1 team in South Jersey. Four players scored in double figures, as Brooke Stagliano led the way with 13 points while Azanah Campbell chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and two steals. Paul VI definitely spread the wealth around, as eight different players scored, and the Eagles had 11 assists on 23 made baskets. They also went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line and outrebounded Moorestown, 26-21.
Paul VI played so well that they needed just a combined 10 points from Eva Andrews and Kiyanna Blacks-Stewart — two of their best players and two of the team’s top four leading scorers — to cruise to a 21-point victory.
The Eagles took a commanding 33-13 lead into halftime, and after three quarter they led 46-23. Mae Murphy led Moorestown with 15 points while Analyse Intenzo scored five points and added nine rebounds for the Quakers.
Paul VI (18-4, 5-0 Olympic National) will get a tune-up at Bishop Eustace on Friday night before the state playoffs begin next week, while Moorestown (21-4, 10-0 Olympic Patriot) hosts Florence today at 4 p.m. in the opening round of the Burlington County Tournament.