Poalillo wins state championship

SUSSEX. Freshman High Point wrestler wins final over Newton/Kittatinny sophomore.

Sussex /
| 03 Mar 2024 | 05:52

Ella Poalillo of High Point Regional High School won’t soon forget her first season as a varsity wrestler.

Poalillo, a freshman, capped a 28-3 campaign by winning the 138-pound championship in dramatic fashion at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) girls state tournament at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Saturday afternoon, March 1.

With just two seconds remaining in the final, Poalillo scored a takedown to earn a 3-1 victory over Newton/Kittatinny sophomore Ava Barry.

Barry is an opponent whom Poalillo knows well as the two have wrestled six times this season. The latter holds a 4-2 edge.

Poalillo had captured the 138-pound championship at the North Region 1 Tournament with a 4:28 pin over Barry on Feb. 25. That win gave her the top seed for the state tournament and earned her a first-round bye.

She then pinned Sonia Balwus of Paramus in 3:15 in the quarterfinal round before earning a 15-0 tech fall in 4:03 over Jaden Bennett of West Deptford in the semifinal round.

Barry finished 32-4 this season, with all four of her losses to Poalillo. Paolillo won the first encounter, 2-0, in the finals of the Bloomfield Tournament on Dec. 17. Barry then earned a 5:11 fall over her nemesis in the finals of the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament on Jan. 21.

Barry also earned a pin in 5:09 in the finals of the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament on Feb. 3.

High Point’s Nick Clayton, a 132-pound junior, went 2-2 at Boardwalk Hall in the boys state tournament during the weekend.

In his preliminary-round match, he earned an 8-4 victory over Jahir Aguilar of St. Thomas Aquinas before bowing to St. John Vianney’s Patrick O’Keefe, 9-5, in the pre-quarterfinal round.

Clayton then dropped down to the wrestleback rounds, where he defeated Kieran McNeil, 11-4, before being edged, 1-0, by Giovanni Schinina of St. Peter’s Prep.

Clayton, who won the Region 1 championship on Feb. 24 in West Milford, ended his season with a 30-8 record.

Boys basketball

Kyle Morsell had 11 points and five rebounds and Brayden Franko added nine points and three rebounds, but sixth-seeded High Point fell to third-seeded Vernon, 66-44, in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group 2 tournament there Monday, Feb. 26.

The Wildcats finished with a 19-7 record this winter under head coach Jesse Strehl. They were a perfect 10-0 in winning the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Colonial Division championship.

Leading the offense were Franko (13.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds), Noah Reilly (9.9 ppg), Kyle Morsell (9.3 ppg, 4.8 rebounds), Jacob Giunta (9.1 ppg, 4.5 assists), Kyle Willis (4.8 ppg, 5.7 rebounds) and Slade Muller (4.5 ppg, 4.7 rebounds).