EAST ORANGE, NJ – For the fifth straight season, the East Orange Campus High School girls’ varsity basketball team has reached a state tournament section championship game.
The Jaguars did it in stunning fashion. Sophomore point guard Brianna Mills hit a layup with four seconds remaining to lift the 11th-seeded Jaguars to a 43-41 thrilling win over second-seeded West Orange High School in the semifinals of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 state tournament on Friday night, March 3.
The Jaguars, under 14th-year head coach Derrick Johnson, will visit top-seeded Morristown in the championship game on Monday, March 6. EOCHS is seeking its third straight section title and third in five years. The Jaguars won Section 1 in 2015 and Section 2 last year. They also won Section 2 in 2013. EOCHS fell to Franklin in the Section 2 final in 2014.
With the Jaguars trailing by five with less than one minute remaining, freshman Brianna Turner hit two straight three-pointers to give EOCHS a one-point lead.
West Orange tied it on a free throw, though it had four attempts at the line in the final 22 seconds, before Mills delivered the game-winner.
Turner finished with 12 points; Mills finished with 11 points and three assists; junior forward Moriyah Jordan had nine points and 15 rebounds; sophomore Lakel Willis had five points and four rebounds; senior Hadiyah Hassan had four points and three rebounds and senior center Annoushka Boatswain had two points for the Jaguars, who improved to a 17-8 record.
West Orange, which finished its best season in program history and finished with a 23-4 record, was led by sophomore guard Mya Bembry’s 22 points. West Orange finished runner-up in the Essex County Tournament, losing to Newark Tech in the final on Feb. 25.
Morristown won the Morris County Tournament championship this season and brings a 25-2 record into the section final.