The Final Four is this weekend and Tim Delaney is making his second trip in three years to Hoops Heaven.
Delaney is back in Texas where Villanova won the NCAA tournament title in 2016 in Houston. The former Pitman High School star is now in San Antonio as the Wildcats face Kansas in the national semifinal Saturday night.
Delaney, who is a 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore with the Wildcats, is familiar with cutting down nets at the end of the season as he also won a Group 1 state championship at Pitman as a junior in 2014.
Delaney had surgery on his left hip in October of 2015 to repair a torn labrum. He redshirted as a freshman when he saw one of the most dramatic shots in NCAA tournament history. He was on the Wildcats’ bench at NRG Stadium when Kris Jenkins sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Villanova’s 77-74 national title win over North Carolina.
Delaney scored 1,598 points in three seasons at Pitman before he transferred for his senior year in high school to Blair Academy in North Jersey.
He has played in 20 games this season for coach Jay Wright.
Delaney, though, isn’t the lone person with South Jersey roots to enjoy a memorable winter season this year.
In fact, his Pitman teammate Darnell Foreman led Penn to an Ivy League title and a berth in the NCAA tourney when the 16th-seeded Quakers lost to top-seeded Kansas.
Foreman, a 6-1 guard, was named Honorable Mention All-Ivy as a senior and he also was selected to the All-tourney team as he scored 19 points in the first half of Penn’s epic win over Harvard at the Palestra to earn the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
He finished his career for the Quakers averaging 10.7 points and starting all 33 games for coach Steve Donahue.
Penn teammate Jake Silpe, a junior guard from Cherry Hill East, played in 21 games coming off the bench as the Quakers finished 24-9.
Meanwhile, a teammate of Delaney and Foreman at Pitman, Eric Stafford finished his senior season at Lafayette College. Matt Klinewski, a center for the Leopards from Eastern, also finished his career at Lafayette.
Stafford and Klinewski were co-captains for coach Fran O’Hanlon, who tabbed them “our South Jersey Boys.” They both started all 31 games this season as the 6-8 Klinewski averaged team-highs with 16.5 points and 5.8 rebounds while the 6-5 Stafford led the Leopards with 96 assists while averaging 5.4 points.
Klinewski was selected as a member of the All-Patriot League Second Team while Stafford was selected to the Academic All-Patriot League Team after carrying a 3.85 grade point average while a double major in Economics and Government & Law.
Lafayette’s season ended in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals with a 76-54 loss to Colgate, which is coached by former Moorestown star guard Matt Langel
Langel was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year, as he led the Raiders to a school record 19 wins and the program’s first visit to a national postseason tournament in 22 years as Colgate lost in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational to San Francisco.
Langel, who has been the head coach at the Hamilton, N.Y. school since 2011, guided Colgate to second place finish in the Patriot.
Jordan Robertson, a 6-3 guard from Wildwood Catholic, played in 32 games and averaged 5.3 points as a senior this season for Langel.
Another college Coach of the Year was Burlington Township’s Kevin Baggett at Rider in the Middle Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Baggett led the Broncs to a 22-10 record and a trip to the National Invitation Tournament where they lost to Oregon. The 22 wins were the second-most in program history behind a pair of 23-win seasons (2007-08 and 2010-11).
Baggett, who finished his sixth season in Lawrenceville, also won the MAAC Coach of the Year in 2015. He was also named this year as an All-District 1 Coach by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, sharing the honor with Vermont's John Becker.
In women’s college basketball, Gloucester Catholic’s Mary Gedeka was named the Big East Conference Sixth Woman of the Year as a sophomore forward at Villanova. She was second on the team in scoring at 11.6 as the Wildcats finished 23-9.
Gedeka is the daughter of Gloucester Catholic coach Lisa (Angelotti) Gedeka, who was a star player for Wildcats coach Harry Perretta and the Big East Player of the Year in 1988 and had her jersey retired. She helped the Wildcats reach the second round of the NCAA tournament where they lost to Notre Dame.
Gedeka was joined on the Wildcats by another South Jersey legend’s daughter – frosh Grace Lange, the daughter of former Washington Township and Temple star point guard Karen (Healey) Lange.
In women’s college swimming, Merchantville’s Molly Kowal of Ohio State placed seventh in the 1650 freestyle at NCAA’s with personal best of 15:52.80.
Kowal, a sophomore, earned her first career First Team All-America honor. Kowal’s finish at the 2018 NCAA meet is a 23-spot improvement from her freshman season. Last year in the 1650 free, she swam a 16:14.57 in the NCAAs.
Kowal, who swam in high school for Nazareth Academy in Philadelphia, is the twin sister of Grace, who swims for Virginia Tech.
Last summer, at the U.S Open Swimming Championships in East Meadow, N.Y., in the 1500 freestyle, they both set personal best times as Molly placed sixth in 16:40.05 and Grace finished 8th with a time 16:43.54.