BERKELEY TWP. (N.J.) - The Egg Harbor Township High School boys' basketball team continues to set a new standard by the day.
The Eagles captured their first sectional title in program history on Tuesday. Egg Harbor Township also won its first Cape-Atlantic League Tournament final less than two weeks ago.
The Eagles added to their collection of accomplishments as they punched their ticket to the school's first-ever state championship with a 56-51 victory over Trenton in the Group 4 state semifinals at Central Regional High School on Thursday night.
"It's history," Egg Harbor Township senior Jay-Nelly Reyes said. "That's it. History. We just keep making a name for EHT basketball and I'm glad that I'm one of the people leading this team."
Reyes utilized a reverse spin move to create space and drain a buzzer beater in the vicinity of the free throw line to give the Eagles a 38-36 lead over the Tornadoes after three quarters. Reyes' basket sparked a 10-2 spurt in favor of Egg Harbor Township to inaugurate the decisive fourth quarter.
The senior finished with a game-high 22 points, nine rebounds and five steals, and was responsible for three out of four lead changes in favor of the Eagles throughout the contest.
"He wanted practice on Friday, simple as that," Egg Harbor Township coach Cameron Bell said. "He wanted to make sure we had practice on Friday. He was not ready to go home."
"We invite this atmosphere," Reyes said. "We play better when it's a lot of eyes watching, there's a lot of cameras on us. We invite all the cameras. We like all that and it makes us play better."
EHT point guard D.J. Germann converted back-to-back and-ones in a two-minute span to provide a six-point swing and give the Eagles a 48-38 advantage with 2:15 left to play. Trenton cut the margin to four points with an 8-2 run, but Jamil Wilkins drained four free throws in the final 19 seconds of regulation to seal the signature victory for Egg Harbor Township.
The Tornadoes jumped out to a 7-2 lead from the opening tip before EHT responded with seven unanswered points of its own. The contest evolved into a back-and-forth affair before Trenton hit its stride.
Kabrien Goss splashed a trio of 3-pointers in the first half, the latter of which provided Trenton with a 23-15 lead with 4:16 left in the second quarter. It was the Tornadoes' largest lead of the contest.
The Eagles responded with a 6-0 run, finishing 4-for-4 from the free throw line, to cut their deficit to two points at intermission. EHT's ability to respond to the Tornadoes' offensive spurts illustrated the ultimate outcome.
Germann scored 11 of his 17 points in the first half. When the defense turned its attention to Germann, Reyes stepped up.
"I feel like we got the best backcourt in South Jersey," Reyes said. "D.J. had a great first half and I had a great second half. They can't stop both of us."
Trenton concluded its sensational campaign with a 29-2 record and its first Central Jersey Group 4 title since 2018. The Tornadoes also collected their first Mercer County Tournament title since 2008. Antwan Bridgett led the Tornadoes with a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds. Chris Wilson added 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Goss finished with 13 points.
The Eagles also held Trenton's leading scorer and Colonial Valley Conference Player of the Year frontrunner, Davontay Hutson, to six points.
Egg Harbor Township (28-5 record) will advance to play Paterson Eastside (28-2) in the Group 4 state final at Rutgers University on Saturday at 5 pm.
A new standard has been set, but the job is not finished.
"I'm a very measured guy, but I'd be lying if I didn't say my heart is full with joy right now," Bell said. "But it's tempered because we're not done.
“Before the season began, I wrote down the schedule and everybody, I said for us to win a state title, we have to go through Paterson Eastside. I knew it because they’re the only other team that has two guards quite like ours. They do. I’m excited for the opportunity for another chance to show everyone in the state of New Jersey that we have the best backcourt in New Jersey.”