Rarely do I know with the topic for the Hometown View will be until the morning and I never imagined that today it would be about girls high school basketball but last night provided a trio of championship game endings that can only be described as scintillating.

Let’s start with the South Jersey Group 4 final between Cherokee and Toms River North, a game that had to be moved to the old North gym because the Pine Belt Arena was hosting previously-scheduled Chef’s Night Out. The Mariners stayed close with the much taller Chiefs but trailed by five with 3 minutes left before a late rally not only tied the game but gave them a chance to win it.

But it was not to be as they lost the ball with 9 seconds left and then watched 6’1 Isabella Therien drive the length of the court and hit a game-winning layup with one second left.  Final score, Cherokee 37 Toms River North 35.

It was the end of what was an amazing season for Coach Vicki Gillen’s Mariners who won the WOBM Christmas Classic and Class A South titles and return most of the nucleus next year.  By the way the Loyola of Maryland-bound Therien is the daughter of former Philadelphia Flyer Chris Therien, who is now a broadcaster for the NHL team.

Now on to Cape May Court House where Manchester is playing top seed and favorite Middle Township in the South Jersey Group 2 title game.  The Hawks are down late and trail by two when a Panthers player misses a free throw with 15 seconds left.  Manchester grabs the rebound and hustles up court where the ball ends up in the hands of senior Dejah Adams who nails a 3-pointer with 5 seconds remaining.

Middle Township misses a desperation shot and Hawk fans who made the long trip storm the court in celebration. Final score, Manchester 34 Middle Township 33.  Coach Dave Beauchemin’s young squad now gets to play perennial power Manasquan in the Group 2 semifinals Wednesday night in Williamstown.

Speaking of Manasquan, they won their fourth straight Central Jersey Group 2 title by outlasting Rumson 67-66 on a pair of Dara Mabrey free throws with one second remaining.

How’s that for drama and how’s that for a great night of girls basketball?

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