Peyton Seals scored 20 points for Ramapo, which is heading to the Jambo final for the first time since 1992 after a 69-57 win over Bergen Catholic in Saturday's semifinal.
HACKENSACK – Evidently, enough was enough. After losing to Bergen Catholic in each of the last three semifinal rounds of the Bergen County Jamboree and also during the current regular season, Ramapo was ready to move on and a dominant third quarter changed everything.
Ryan Goldman’s conventional 3-point play 20 seconds into the second half was the first salvo in what turned into barrage as Ramapo scored 23 points in the third period to pull away and finally break the glass ceiling that had held the Green Raiders in check since 1992, the last time they reached the Jambo championship game.
No. 3 Ramapo 69, No. 2 Bergen Catholic 57 and a public school is heading to the final for the first time since Teaneck in 2015.
“We’ve had a lot of goals over the last couple of years and this is the one that we have not been able to accomplish,” said Ramapo head coach Nick Veir, who led the program to the Group 3 state championship last year. “We were motivated to get back here and get over the hump. I am really proud of the guys for sticking to the game plan and executing. Tremendous job.”
A look at the final box score shows that Ramapo’s Big 3 – Peyton Seals, Wyatt Eglinton Manner and Chris Cervino -- each scored 20 or more points and combined for 62 of the Raiders’ 69 points, but to beat a team like Bergen Catholic they needed a little something from everyone else on the floor. Players like Zach Schnorrbusch, Charlie Wingfield, Ryan Goldman and Peter Keith gave Ramapo the kind of quality depth it needed to compete with a Non-Public powerhouse.
Goldman scored 6 of Ramapo’s remaining 7 points and played solid defense while guarding multiple positions. Keith mixed it up down low against a much taller BC front line, grabbed a few rebounds and had an assist. In the fourth quarter, when Bergen Catholic was pressing full court to try to create desperately needed extra possessions for itself, Wingfield and Schnorrbusch, two future Division 1 football players, served as the pressure release valves. Both had two fourth quarter assists and both finished with 5 rebounds.
Naiim Parrish led bergen Catholic with 14 points.
“We have the three main guys that score, but we also have a lot of depth on our team. We trust each other and those three guys trust us. That leads to confidence and when we get in there we are ready to go,” said Schnorrbusch, a senior who is heading to the Boston College football program next year. “In the second half our shots started to fall, we started playing team basketball and at the end of the game it came down to defense and that is what got the job done.”
The first half was back-and-forth as Bergen Catholic led 16-15 after the first quarter and had a 28-25 lead after AJ Williams’ 3-pointer from the corner with 2:18 left in the second quarter, but the momentum was about to switch for good with a 12-2 run that started and ended on either side of halftime.
Seals got it going with a driving lay-up and an old school post up before Goldman put back a missed shot to give Ramapo a 31-28 advantage at the intermission. Twenty seconds in the second half Seals made a steal and, from the seat of his pants, found Goldman for a layup on which he was fouled and made the free throw. Just 13 seconds after BC’s Tyler McQuaid snapped the 9-0 run, Eglinton Manner completed a conventional 3-point play to make 37-30.
Ramapo went up by double digits for the first time in the midst of a 9-0 run on three straight 3s, one each by Cervino, Eglinton Manner and Seals to make it 51-36 and its largest lead of the game came when Seals made a 3 from the corner to make it 54-38 heading into the fourth. The Crusaders never got closer than eight points in the final period as Ramapo (18-7) and its three standout guards, avoided the turnovers that BC needed to get back in the game.
Ryan Goldman was a key member of the supporting cast for Ramapo, which will play top-seeded and defending champion Don Bosco Prep in the final.
Ramapo got 21 each from Cervino (2 rebounds, 2 assists) and Eglinton Manner (4 rebounds, 3 assists) and Seals added 20 points to go with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Free throw shooting, which has been an Achilles heel for the Raiders this season, was a strength on Saturday as they went 9 of 12 as a team and the Big 3 were a combined 7 for 7.
“Bergen, at the beginning, hit some tough shots and they are going to do that. They have good players, but we stuck to our game plan and we hit some shots, too,” said Seals. “We went on a run there when we hit three straight 3s and got stops after all three. That was huge.”
In the other semifinal No. 5 Northern Highlands gave top-seeded Don Bosco Prep a run. The Highlanders led by a point at halftime before succumbing in the second half of a 63-49 final. Highlands point guard Lucas Dipasupil had 26 points, almost matching Rutgers-bound McDonald’s All-American Dylan Harper (31 points), but Ramapo is the last public school left standing.
Whether or not that takes on any extra significance depends on who you ask.
“I would say 100 percent that we take pride in being a public school, all staying home and not trying to chase something bigger and succeeding at our home school,” said Seals, who will play at Princeton next season. “I am playing with my best friends and we know there are a lot of people rooting for us.”
Veir, on the other hand, a Bergen Catholic grad himself, has a different take.
“We are just worried about ourselves and I love to hear that [other people are rooting for us]. We have great kids and they are easy to root for, but we just do our thing,” said Veir. “We think we are very good. We don’t look at it as public/private, we just want to be one of the best teams. That is how we feel and we just go out and play basketball.”