Who: Atlantic City (28-1) vs. Linden (22-7)
Where/when: 5 p.m. at Rutgers University in Piscataway
Tickets: $5 adults and $3 students and senior citizens. $10 parking
Radio: 97.3 FM
Online: Updates at www.HSLive.me
How they got here
Linden: Beat Franklin 49-33; Dickinson 66-27; Elizabeth 53-40; Ridge 49-46; and Hackensack 83-78.
Atlantic City: Beat Toms River South 67-43; Southern Regional 61-56; Toms River North 56-36; Lenape 51-40; and East Brunswick 51-49.
Atlantic City: Ga-briel Chandler, 6-4, Sr., F, 11.4 ppg; Dayshawn Reynolds, 6-1, Sr., G, 10.0 ppg; Jahleem Montague, 6-8, Sr., C, 8.7 ppg; Isiah Graves, 6-3, Jr., G, 9.8 ppg; Dennis White, 6-5, Jr., F, 10.2 ppg.
Linden: Quadri Moore, 6-8, Jr., C, 14.8 ppg; Josh Carter, 6-0, So., G; Terrell Bagley, 6-2, Jr., G, 11.7 ppg; Juwan Jones, 6-1, Jr., G, 11.0; Juwan Dolbrice, 5-9, So., G, 6.1 ppg; Juwan Jones, 6-1, Jr., G, 11.0 ppg.
Championship history: Atlantic City is the defending state Group IV champion. The Vikings also won the 2005 state title. This is Atlantic City’s eighth state final appearance. The Vikings are 2-5. They lost to Linden 64-39 in the 2006 title game. Atlantic City is trying to become the first team since Linden (2006, 2007) to repeat as Group IV champions. Atlantic City also is trying to become the first South Jersey team since Shawnee (1995, 1996) to repeat as state Group IV winner. In addition to the back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, Linden won the state Group IV title in 2000.
Inside Linden: Linden has played one of the state’s toughest schedules, so its seven losses are deceiving. Moore is major NCAA Division I prospect. Rutgers and Seton Hall are among the universities recruiting him. But if Linden needs a basket, the Tigers often turn to Bagley. Jones provides Linden with perimeter shooting. Linden also relies on a tenacious half-court defense. The Tigers will play both man-to-man and zone.
Inside Atlantic City: Atlantic City is ranked No. 1 in The Press Elite 11 — a spot the Vikings have held since opening night. Atlantic City is 17-1 in elimination games this season and last, including the Cape-Atlantic League and state tournaments. The Vikings 49-3 since starting last season 5-4. Their only loss this season was to national power St. Anthony of Jersey City.
The Vikings are balanced. Each of their starters has led the team in scoring in a state tournament game. Montague is averaging 13 points in the state tournament. Guards Dzja Chase, Tashad Reynolds and Lamar Thomas have come off the bench to provide ball-handling and clutch outside shooting.
But the key to the Vikings is their defense. Atlantic City has worn down teams with relentless baseline-to-baseline, man-to-man defense.
Keys to victory: Atlantic City must rely on its experience and senior leadership. The formula for the Vikings does not change. Atlantic City must force turnovers, convert them into points and mix in timely perimeter shooting.
Michael McGarry, MMcGarry@pressofac.com