Trenton, NJ – Malcolm X. Shabazz owns the women's basketball landscape in New Jersey once again.
Shabazz was able to defeat Rancocas Valley, 66-54, last night at the Sun National Bank Center. The win was their first in the Tournament of Champions since the 2007-08 season.
Shabazz was previously halted in the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions over the previous four years before this year's breakthrough. It is their 5th overall win in the Tournament of Champions.
"This has been so special for Naqaiyyah and she's toughed out so many things," Shabazz coach Vanessa Watson said. "My charge was for her to get a taste of it all and come out on top. You have to have leadership. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't have that leadership that everybody respects, you're not going to get this far. She just slid into that role. She's always gone hard, no matter what, since her freshman year when she was just a hard-nosed player."
Rancocas Valley dropped to 0-2 in the Tournament of Champions, as they never won this tournament after making their first appearance in 2011.
Both teams came into the game with just only one loss on the season. Shabazz improved to 33-1, while Rancocas Valley dropped to 30-2.
Shabazz's only loss came to Long Island Lutheran, 61-50, on February 10th. They defeated all the women's basketball teams that they've faced within New Jersey.
These two teams are no strangers to each other, even when they're schools are miles apart.
Last season, the two teams played each other in the regular season, where Malcolm X. Shabazz won. In that game, Shabazz beat Rancocas Valley, 57-45.
They also met each other in a scrimmage prior to this season.
The Bulldogs put the game away late, as they were called on to make clutch free throws. Zaire O'Neil, Teague, and Jones made two free throws, before Acestra Robinson scored the final basket of the game on a lay up.
In the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders got within 6 points several times. Brianna Logan made two of three free throws to make it 56-50, before Teague made a lay up to make it 58-50.
"I tell the team every time it gets close that we have to stay up," Teague said. "Sometimes we lay off when we get a lead. Every team wants to go get it against us because we're Shabazz, so we need to keep it up."
They were also within 6 points when Kristin Smith scored a two-point basket to make it 54-48, before Jones made the score 56-48. They were first within 6 points when Lauren Moses scored a two-point basket to make it 52-46.
Shabazz lead 50-39 at the end of the third quarter. Naqaiyyah Teague led all players with 8 points in the quarter.
At the end of the first half, Shabazz held a 35-25 lead. DeAshia Jones led Shabazz at the half with 13 points. Lauren Moses led Rancocas Valley with 15 points at the half.
Shabazz had the lead after the first quarter, as it was 20-9. The Bulldogs used a 7-0 run to close out the quarter.
DeAshia Jones scored five of those seven points. Teague scored the other two point basket.
"The first quarter was tough, but I'm proud of the way the girls fought for the remaining three quarters," Rancocas Valley coach Anthony Corrado said. "All season long they've never quit and there was never a doubt in my mind that we would have a chance to win and we were that close. We have to give Shabazz credit because they capitalized on our mistakes."