The two teams circled each other warily in the first half of the game, which ended with Verona narrowly ahead, 25-20. But when they returned from the break, Jocelyn banged out a defiant three-pointer that made it clear that this year was not going to be a repeat of Verona’s loss to University in the semis last year. As if to make sure that University got the message, Jocelyn hammered home three three-point plays in the last minute of the third quarter.
Jocelyn also led Verona in rebounds, with 14, while Zack Zaccone had seven rebounds and five assists. His twin brother Matt and Joe Zecchino turned in six points apiece and Jack Farrell, another senior who had been in the press against University last year, had four. Javandre House was the high scorer for University with 21.
Verona now moves on to the Group 1 finals for the first time since 1981. The Hillbillies will play the south Jersey Group 1 winners, Woodbury High School, at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Sunday for the championship. In the 1981 game, Verona lost to Glassboro. Verona basketball won its only state championship in 1957 when the Hillbillies, then a Group 2 team, beat Ocean City.