Boys Basketball – SSN Army Strong Team of the Week: Mater Dei
Last season, the Mater Dei Prep boys basketball team put together a championship run that would have been unimaginable just one year earlier. Now an established Shore Conference contender, the Seraphs had the weight of expectations coming into this season and last week, they lived up to them.
Mater Dei outlasted upstart Marlboro, 54-41, in the Shore Conference Tournament final on Feb. 25 to win its second straight conference crown and earn the Week 9 Army Strong Team of the Week Award.
Marlboro led that game, 32-29, late in the third quarter, but Seraphs junior Kyle Cardaci caught fire over the final nine-plus minutes – during which he scored all 14 of his team-high scoring total.
Senior Elijah Mitchell added 12 points and took a key charge with Marlboro trying to stay in the game.
In order to reach the final, Mater Dei had to survive a battle with Toms River North on Feb. 21. The Mariners jumped out to a 10-point first quarter lead and had the ball with 20 seconds left and a chance to take the lead, but Mater Dei forced two turnovers in those last 20 seconds and sank four free throws to win. Senior Elijah Barnes led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The Seraphs caught a bad break in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public B first round when Barnes broke a bone in his right forearm in a win over Gloucester Catholic on Wednesday. The Seraphs bowed out of the tournament on Friday against Patrick School, the No. 1 team in the state.
After going 26-2 last year, Mater Dei followed that effort up with a 25-34 season against an even tougher schedule. In two years under coach Ben Gamble, Mater Dei is an impressive 51-6.
2017 Team of the Week Winners
Week 8: Marlboro
Week 7: Freehold Township
Week 6: Brick
Week 5: CBA
Week 4: Donovan Catholic
Week 3: Ranney
Week 2: Rumson-Fair Haven
Week 1: Ocean