It was a winter to remember on the basketball court at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School.
Both its boys and girls’ basketball teams put together strong seasons to the delight of Trojan Nation at the school based in Edison.
The girls’ squad at Saint Thomas Aquinas continued its stellar play from its 2018-2019 campaign.
A core group of upperclassmen, led by seniors Emma Boslet, Kelsey Ransom and Madison Ruddy, made up this season’s Saint Thomas Aquinas squad that roared to a second straight Greater Middlesex Conference White Division title and a 19-4 regular season record.
In the GMC tournament, the Trojans rolled through its competition to make it to the final for a shot to successfully defend its championship.
The Trojans outscored their opponents, 224-114, in the first three rounds of the GMC tournament.
It marked the third time in 10 years that the Lady Trojans made it to the conference championship game.
“I’m super proud of these kids,” said Saint Thomas Aquinas girls’ basketball coach Brittney Griffin. “They all worked hard all offseason to prepare for this season. This is a testament to how hard these kids work. It’s just the start of something for us here at Saint Thomas Aquinas.”
There were high expectations surrounding the Saint Thomas Aquinas boys’ when the season began.
Led by Wake Forest University commit Quadry Adams, the Trojans were stocked with talent to make a run at the program’s first conference championship since 1992.
The Trojans rolled to a perfect record (12-0) in the GMC Blue Division for the second straight season to win back-to-back division titles and entered conference tournament play with a record of 19-4.
Roaring to double-digit victories in their first two contests of the conference tournament, the Trojans entered the semifinals against a red-hot Edison High School team that was on a seven-game winning streak and without Adams, who was out with a knee injury.
The loss of Adams and facing Edison didn’t phase the Trojans one bit to advance to their first conference final in 28 years.
A stellar 20-point performance by junior Kyree Henry, coupled with sophomore Jaquan Harris knocking in 19 points and great team defense, helped the Trojans roll to a 72-55 victory and secure a spot in the final.
“They’re very good basketball players, but are Division 1 people,” said Saint Thomas boys’ basketball coach Bob Turco. “They’re great kids. They’re great in the classroom and are leaders. You couldn’t ask for a better team.”
It was a great night to be a Trojan on Feb. 28 at Middlesex County Community College in Edison where both the boys’ and girls’ teams brought home gold to the halls of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
The girls’ team once again flexed its muscles to win back-to-back conference championships, rolling to a 64-41 victory over Monroe Township High School. Saint Thomas Aquinas ended with four players in double figures.
Being named conference finals MVP for the Trojans was Ransom, racking up a double-double in the victory with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our team,” Ransom said. “The same team from last year winning it again proves something. I couldn’t be half the player I am without my team. We help one another make the team and ourselves better.”
Boslet corralled a team-high 14 rebounds with nine points, while junior Akyia Baker and senior Megan Herka scored a team-high 14 points in the victory.
The boys’ ended the great night in Trojan land with its third conference title in program history with a 63-52 victory over South Brunswick High School.
Junior Tristian Jefferies and Adams spearheaded a 19-6 run by the Trojans in the second quarter to take a 34-17 lead into the half.
Jefferies scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the first half.
Senior Derrick Grant scored 12 points and racked up a team-high 13 rebounds in the victory, while Adams scored 17 points and was named the game’s MVP.
“This is a feeling like no other,” Adams said. “A lot of high schoolers don’t get to experience this. Coach Turco and I have been at this for two years. He told me then that my life would change and I just bought in. This is an amazing feeling.”
Going into the state sectional tournament, the girls’ squad earned the No. 6 seed in the NJSIAA South Jersey, Non-Public A Tournament, while the boys’ were awarded the No. 7 seed in its bracket.
The Lady Trojans started off the sectional tournament with a 68-41 victory over Camden Catholic High School on March 4 in Edison to advance to the state quarterfinals.
Ransom scored a game-high 22 points in the victory. The Trojans will face No. 3 seed Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in the quarterfinals, which will be played on March. 6 in Pennsauken.
The Trojans hope their stellar run the last two years will inspire more younger athletes to try to continue that tradition at Saint Thomas Aquinas.
“To be in a special place after building it up is a special feeling,” Boslet said.
The boys’ season ended in the first round of the sectional tournament on March 4, losing to Christian Brothers Academy, 55-52, finishing the season with a 23-5 record.
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports