(8 months early) NJ Girls HS ’17/’18 Pre-Season Top 20

With the high school season recently finished and the AAU season just starting
, I figured it was never too early to fire up some emotions and publish a
“very” Pre-season (8 months before opening day tip) NJ Girls Hoops top 20 for the ’17/’18 season.

At this early date, I am DEFINITELY not factoring any incoming 9th graders
nor an rumblings of transfers in or out.

I’m simply basing my rankings assuming all freshmen, sophomores and Juniors
are returning and staying at their current high school.

#1 ST JOHN VIANNEY – How the heck do you graduate 6 players to play college
hoops a year ago and have another another 5 heading off to play college
ball this fall and still deserve such a ranking. The Lancers return
legitamatly 6 young ladies that can play D1 ball and all 6 got lots of
playing time this year. These ladies can seriously play and Coach
Karpell is as good coach in the state and beyond

#2 MANASQUAN – TOC mainstay (4 years in a row) have an excellent shot to
return to the final 6 team season ending showdown. They return the NJ POY
(Dara Mabrey) 2 other excellent starters in Miss Masonius (high D-1
player) & Miss Mullaney (arguably last years 6th Man of the Year in NJ).
And their coach, “Oh my Wow”.

#3) RUTGERS PREP – has to be shaking their heads. No doubt, each of the
last 3 years their seasons ended with with emphatic loses (yes to
very very good teams but still emphatic). They have 2 legitimate 1st team
all staters in Miss Knight and Miss Correa and will be supported by 3
excellent starters in Miss Mullins, Tibbitt and Lyles.

#4) FRANKLIN – I know I’m going to take a lot of crap for putting the #1
team in the state at #4, especially when they graduate only 1 starter. If
you follow my blogs/tweets over the last several years, you will know I’m
an active Franklin Warrior/Coach Taylor supporter. However, you lose a
true big and simply don’t have another big on the roster, you are going to
have some trouble. 6’3″, 1st team all stater Diamond Miller simply is a
wing/guard. She is going to kill that role at a college and no way she is
going to play the post this year…they need her size. They will miss Mo.

#5 RED BANK CATHOLIC – they return 2 premier starters and 2 highly
important reserves who got tons of minutes (and will immediately start.
Those 4 alone can really make some noise throughout the state. Plus they
had several underclassman that really couldn’t get any varsity minutes
this year due to a very talented team but will open eyes next year. Add
in 500+ win and 2 time TOC winner Coach Montano and RBC will be a power
for sure next year

#6) NEWARK TECH – were pretty darn stealth like this year and lived in the
top 10 most of the 2nd half of the season. Had formidable battles (loses)
to top 5 ranked RBC and Manasquan this year. Next year they return all but
1 starter and 7 players that all got big, important minutes led by 6’3″
Mariah Perez who has already gotten Power 5 offers. I’m sure Coach Jefferson
knew they were gong to step up this year but I don’t think the girls did
till they played the big dogs. Still have a ways to go to become one
but this year they will be a big year for them.

#7 GILL ST. BERNARD – has had the blackest of black injury clouds over
their heads the past 2 years. Seriously never haver seen anything like it
since an RBC team like 10/12 years ago. They return the best backcourt in
the state in Miss Caldwell and Santiago. If big Miss White can blossom to
potential and the role players who got lots of minutes this year put in the
work over the summer, the Knights can really shock folk (if they stay
injury free).

#8 ST. ROSE – tough to put this team this low after living in the top 10
for a good 5/6 years. Lost 3 starters to D1 schools and return 3 hoopsters
that have already verbaled to D1 schools. Those 3 can compete with an 3
in the state. St. Rose will have a new coach this year (unannounced) and
that always makes things exciting.

#9 SADDLE RIVER DAY – is a team that finally started to grow on me this
year, their 1st year as an independent school, as they played a prime time
schedule of lots of excellent teams. Yes scoring Machine and play maker
Miss Sidor gets all the media love, but 6’2″ big Miss Jordan has the
potential to blow up and dominate. Also they got a mid season transfer
in last year who be a significant piece this year.

#10 QUEEN OF PEACE – A 1st year independent like SRD, they too played a
very serious schedule after playing endless cream puffs the year before.
Coach Fontan is the real deal and folk point guard Miss. Alexander (missed
the entire ’16/’17 year with knee injury) is a game changer and is the
missing pieceat the point. Besides her, they will return 4 players that played
last year (the Lady Griffins only carried a 7 player roster all year) and
need to find some size.

#11 RUMSON FAIR HAVEN – Point Guard Tori Hyduke is a All State offensive
and defensive player. The Bulldogs have some nice returning players but,
at the moment, just nice. Those “nice” players are really going to have to
find some real inner passion and step up big time to hold RFH’s to Bulldog
lady hoops standards of the last 2+ decades.

#12 EWING – soared in recognition and success the 2nd half of this year
once 2 transfers became eligible. Ewing graduated just a few and big/agile
and active power Miss Grimes is a match up nightmare. Miss Jackson is really
going to open some eyes and they some other nice players. Watch them and hope
they leave the confines of western NJ and start playing some primetime NJ teams.

#13 NOTRE DAME essentially returns 5 starters led by 6’3 ’19 Miss
Porter who has the tools to be most special. Again, essentially returning
5 starters is impressive and like Ewing, they need to leave the warm and
cozy nest of western NJ hoops and play some big dogs north, south and

#14 IMMACULATE CONCEPTION LODI A.K.A. Team potential for the last 5 years.
Lots of talent but generally hit a bump in the road late and stumble and
fall. Lots of returning excellent guard talent this year. Both players of
size have graduated and heading to mid major D1 schools Lack of size and
relentless chemistry issues are the obstacles A & B. After that, they are
quite good and well coached.

#15 – UNVERSITY – returns 4 starters from a formidable Group ! Final team.
Have a fun and loyal group of fiery fans (adult and student) of any school
in the state. Their work in the dark (over the summer) needs to be huge to
shock the world when they come out in the light for the regular season.

The FIANL 5 is a total toss up and most likely will be battle some mix of the
following (message to allstart playing some real competition if you
want to navigate the promised land called “States”

In No Particular Order:

PASCACK VALLY – Lots of Experience..return a ton of starters
WATCHUNG HILLS – Miss Cunningham is a 1st team all starter and already has a Big 10 offer.
MAINLAND – ’20 big Kylee Watson lived up to all the hype and team did a lot
better then I expected. Have new coach coming in and if they get 1-2 real
deal players to take the spotlight off Mis Watson, they can surprise some
MANCHESTER TWP – Had one shockingly impressive post season run and their
top 4 return. They can pull a Mississipi State with off season hard work
led by ’20 sensation Miss Reynolds.
SECAUCUS – Another off the grid group 1 school but Miss Ulrich and
FDU bound Miss Mack can play.
ALLENTOWN – the Mom/Daughter act of Coach and Miss Weise have some serious
hoops scruples and talent.
THE PATRICK SCHOOL – graduate 7 fine players and return only 3 led by 6’2″
wing Miss Dorsey. They seriously need bodies then players.
EAST ORANGE – 6’2″ Miss Jordan is a true center and scrappy Miss Mills is
a true guard.They are a heck of a duo.
PAUL VI – had a real breakout season and visited the Prown’s Poll top 20 a
few times. Lots of players return and a terrific coach.
MIDDLETOWN SOUTH – no doubt had as disappointing season with plenty of
talent as any better team last year. Return 3 key starters and decent bench.
DONOVAN CATHOLIC – return at least 4 starters. There is something in this
team. They have talent…need to find the piss and vinegar to make some
noise and play better teams.

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Uber Technology Supports Great NJ Sparks Classic

So I noticed during this past high school, the media introduced the
social media app PERISCOPE that allowed for near instant replay of a
short game sequence. It was particularly exciting to see used at critical points of the game. Really good stuff especially showing a key shot at the end of a quarter/game.

Then this dinosaur happened to be at a New Heights Showcase at South Shore
HS in NY and I’m sitting at the media table by myself. For the 2nd game, this young man comes and takes a chair at the table with only asmart phone.
Then he simply goes to Facebook Live (which I since learned is new technology) and he starts broadcasting the game live with some play by play.

I’m thinking VERY COOL. Unfortunately I forgot to ask him his name so I couldn’t check it out when I got home.

Well clearly since then I’ve seen plenty of social or news uses of Facebook Live on my own FB page from friends, others etc….pretty darn interesting.

Fast forward to today.

Raising a 6 year old doesn’t lend itself real well to going to sneaking off to AAU events.

What an awesome surprise (and folks this is the future!!!) to sit with him playing with all his toys while I got to watch a quintuple header of FACEBOOK LIVE hoops from the NJ Sparks Nike Elite Classic event today (from Paterson, NJ).

This was brought to us live on NJ Sparks Icon Keith Gilchrist’s Facebook page. I guess the Sparks hired a company called livestreamanything.com. This company is definitely onto something (broadcasting events LIVE from sports to weddings to birthdays & more) and is in its infancy (but fully expect it blossom uber rapidly)

Unlike both Periscope and the early FB Live posts, you 2 awesome extra pieces.

A) The scoreboard is live on the screen.
B) You have 1-2 announcers broadcasting and enlightening the fans who the
players are and some color.

I have watched “streamed” AAU events before but without announcers and on
screen scoreboard, to the fan who doesn’t a particular team(s)/player(s), candidly, it was boring.

However, this format was BLOODY AWESOME. Kept me engaged and no doubt the
productions will get even tighter. Personally I enjoyed that mostly the Sparks coaches were the announcers. As it was their event, made their passion even better.

Then at the end of the game, they interviewed a few players on each team. I thought was most interesting simply watch the young lady’s interpersonal skills, eye contact and body language

No doubt, commercials/sponsorship will are part of the format and will be even mores in the future but that’s okay. We need these companies make $ so they can keep bringing this too us. BUT FOLKS, this is the future and fully expect to see this format at many more AAU events and I’m sure some HS events/showcases this coming season.

Lastly, because it is on FB, you don’t have to watch it live and you don’t have to remember to tape/DVR it. It is there and you can watch when you can “live or later” – really convenient.

Thanks technology and thanks NJ Sparks for bringing it to us.

I will be in Paterson on Sunday and CAN’T WAIT to check the legendary
catered snack bar featuring legendary fish sandwiches, macaroni & cheese
and more.

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NJ Hoops Icon/Program Needs Us Now

I always play all my cards and folks that I follow girls HS hoops 99% of the time (and boys maybe 1%).

I also am a self-professed bandwagon rider of great teams, players & programs. I should really correct the word “great” and I replace it with “iconic” – historically the best of the best.

So do I loyally follow Serena Williams (YES!), UCONN Womens Hoops (YES!), the New England Patriots (YES!), Tiger/Michael and the Yankees in their day (YES!)…you get the picture

I think it is just so remarkably hard to stay on top and even more so in this current age when both the opposition and (often the media) is amped up to bring “Goliath” down.

So how lucky are we to live here in NJ, the home of St. Anthony’s boys high school basketball and their quintessential coaches of Coach Mr. Bob Hurley.

Digest this for a minute:

Head Coach for St. Anthony High School’s for 44 years. His career record stands at 1162-119. He’s captured 28 State Parochial titles, four National titles and eight undefeated seasons! That is mythical and then some. So YES, I’m absolutely on the Mr. Hurley/St. Anthony’s Hoops bandwagon.

Yes for many years, students would travel to play at this Jersey City, urban Catholic school at “the House that Hurley Built” and this kept St. Anthony’s as a school and as a program healthy

Bob Hurley Sr. has been able to do with a generally a less served population of young men and turning them into exceptional high school basketball players as well fine young men who go on to college (many the 1st in their family).

Despite being the president of the school, athletic director, the basketball head coach, Mr. Hurley takes $0 in pay. Plus he is head fundraiser including that the proceeds from all his speeches/clinics etc back to the schoo the St. Anthony’s Regrettably the Friars high school has been back on its heels here quite a number of years. And if it wasn’t the generosity, passion, and commitment of Mr. Hurley (and his entire family), St. Anthony’s would be long gone.

FYI, despite having amazing teams, maybe he’s had 1 player that signed a major/uber NBA contract (and I think there was only 1). So there is no hoops sugar daddy for the school to tap into to save the day.

SHOWTIME is doing a 6 part, mini documentary (@ about 10 minutes) on the
school, Mr. Hurley, the plight etc. to help save the school.

Here is Part 1 – http://www.sho.com/video/54517/legacy-bob-hurley—part-one
Here is Part 2 – http://www.sho.com/video/54717/legacy-bob-hurley—part-two

Check both – Short, powerful and REAL. 10/12 minutes each. Other segments can be found on line.

Mr. Hurley and St. Anthony’s have to raise $500,000 by 4/1/17 (This Saturday) to save the school. FOLKS we cannot let this iconic Coach/Mentor and his fine school disappear. His body of work will never be matched and he has the passion/energy to keep going. We need to help him.

Please watch the above, share with friends on Facebook and other social media. We cannot let this critical fabric of our NJ state (academic and hoopwise) become extinct. Consider making a donation to their Go Fund Me account:


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Season End – Prown’s Poll – ’16/’17 NJ Girls HS Hoops Final Ranking


No one same this coming and mega kudos to the Franklin Warriors who played their best hoops of the season on the biggest stage and knocked #1 in NJ and Nationally ranked Rutgers Prep & #2 in NJ and also nationally ranked Manasquan on successesive days to win the coveted state Tournament of Champions – Wow….what an exciting 30 hours!!!

I have no problem with Franklin having 7 losses and crowning them the quintessential girls HS team for this ’16/’17 season.  5 of their losses were to top 10 teams, one to finally uninjured Gill St. Bernard and one bad loss.  But its not about how you start, its about how you finish…AND BOY DID THEY FINISH.
FYI folks, they graduate only 1 senior…they will be back with avengeance next year to defend and will definitely be one of a few favorites.

#1 – FRANKLIN – They came to the big dance and and were the the only one left standing on the floor at the end. A magical run.
#2 – MANASQUAN – they beat #4 Red Bank Catholic (for the 3rd time this year) to get to the TOC final (for the 4th year in a row) to play Franklin.
#3 – RUTGERS PREP – had only 2 losses all year and both to #1 Franklin
#4 – RED BANK CATHOLIC – had one terrific year with only 3 loses to #2 Manasquan and 1 loss to #6 SJV.
#5 – ST ROSE  – only 2 in-state loses to #2 Squan and # 3 Rutgers Prep (and beat Franklin by 3 on a neutral court)
#6 – ST. JOHN VIANNEY – had a heck of a year coming off of a TOC championship year where they graduated 6 seniors that are now playing college ball. 4 in state losses all to top 5 teams and one out of state loss to a national power.
#7 – RUMSON-FAIR HAVEN – played a heck of a heavyweight schedule and their sectional final loss on last second foul shots to #2 Squan at Squan told lots on how terrific a team they had. Only lost to top 6 teams in NY & NJ.
#8 – THE PATRICK SCHOOL – only 2 in-state loses to #3 Rutgers Prep twice
#9 – NEWARK TECH – quietly had a very successful season with narrow loses to RBC and Squan. Next year will be their year as only 1 senior graduates
#10 – SADDLE RIVER DAY – dramatically increased the intensity of the schedule this year. Their 6 in-state losses were all to ranked teams (at the time of the game). They had many solid wins.
#11 – CHEROKEE – lots of folks didn’t see this South Jersey team but boy could they play led by Loyola bound Miss Therien.
#12 – BOUND BROOK – Won Group 1 to get to the TOC before being knocked out by #4 RBC. Great run led by UMBC bound Miss Summers (2000 pt/1000 reb club).
#13 – PASCACK VALLEY – Strength of schedule not so impressive but nearly ran the table losing to only Old Tappan during the season and TOC winner Franklin. At the end of the day, they won the NJ Public School Group 3.
#14 – SAYREVILLE – had a heck of a post season running which included a prime time win over Cherokee before falling to eventual champ Franklin. Lots to be proud of.
#15 – OCEAN CITY – another south jersey team that tends to stay sound and hence under the radar. Great post season run before falling to #14 P.V.
#16 – IMMACULATE CONCEPTION LODI – this independent school always plays a top shelf schedule loaded with top 20 teams. Had typical season of plenty of impressive wins and a few SMH loses to beatable teams.
#17 – QUEEN OF PEACE – an independent school like SRD that dramatically increased their strength of schedule, had some really fine wins and a few smh loses. Full season loss of high level point guard was a tough nut to overcome.
#18 – EWING – outside of one blip, had a terrific 2nd half of the season and lost to #15 OC in the Group semi’s
#19 tied – HIGH POINT AND UNIVERSITY – both made the group finals on a not nearly as competitive paths as most others.  Both played really good teams in the Group Finals (Manasquan and Bound Brook respectively) and learned quickly what the next level and beyond looks like

SNEAK PEAK AT EARLY FAVORITES FOR ’17/’18 based on returning players only out shortly

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There is a New Sheriff in Town (NJ Girls #1)

The Frankln Warriors started the season in the top 10 in NJ and early on cemented their location with a heavy duty schedule.

In December, they had an impressive OT win over then top 3 Rutgers Prep. Yes they had 2 pretty narrow loses *8 points total” to fellow top 10’ers Rumson Fair Haven and St. John Vianney.. They finished the month 4-2.

January was solid but not dazzling 9-2 with loses to Rutgers Prep by 13 and to “very unranked” Hunterdon Central by 2 back to back.

Move onto February, where they went 2-1 pre-post season featuring a clos3 loss to then #3 ranked St. Rose. February continued to be much like the regular season with ups and downs. Their semi final conference loss to under .500 Gill St. Bernard (an excellent team decimated by injuries most of the year ) by 13 was unimpressive performance and by 6 to a top 10 ranked Immaculate Conception-Lodi team also back to back.

Then came States where Franklin was a Group 4, North Public school team. They cruised solidly through the sectional with 4 straight wins all by 20+ points. They were now in the land of “One and Done” so there was no absorbing of back to back losses. On to the Group IV state bracket where they won both the semi & Finals by 2 more 20+ point margins. Clearly Franklin was on a roll

So now they are in the TOC (NJ’s 6 team Tournament of Champions as the #4 seed) and knock off Pascack Valley Team before assuming the Giant Killer Role. In the Semi’s they STUN NJ #1 (and Nationally ranked in 3 polls) Rutgers Prep “decided” by 9 and #2 Manasquan (Nationally ranked in USA Today Super 25) with a buzzer beater in the final to win the TOC for the 1st time in school history.

On paper, both Rutgers Prep and Manasquan had lots more firepower, D-1 Love and yes National Ranking visibility. Franklin Ladies simply locked in on Coach Taylor’s game plan, executed it beautifully and made plays. And remember folks, they did this within a space of 30 hours and yes over a school day.

“Folks there is a new sheriff in town” topping the NJ top 20 state ranking and that is the Franklin Warriors – OUTSTANDING! And shout-out to both there student and community fans (and I have blogged about this before) they “show up and support” their team ALL YEAR. I go to many of their games and it is simply special.

Congrats to all.

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Prown’s Picks Postmortum – Painful

I go to well over 100 girls HS games a year, mostly here in NJ. I travel all about the state in an effort to most top 20/25 teams and to see them multiple times.

Here in NJ, we have a high school basketball system (called the Tournament of Champions) where we play down to 1 sole state champion…not by school size…not by public vs. private…one definitive champion (which is pretty cool).

Yesterday we had the TOC Semi’s where the #2 team played the #3 in the state in one semi’s and #1 played #6 in the other. Each pairing represented 2 teams that played each other twice all ready during the regular season. In addition, I had seen each team play 6-8 easy. So I was pretty confident I thought I knew generally how the outcome would be.

BOY WAS I WRONG…I mean REALLY WRONG. How great is that…I mean I never played, I never coached, heck my kids barely played. Candidly I know squat about the X’s and 0’s of the game itself..but boy do I love the game of girls HS basketball. And at the end of the day, we have teenagers playing basketball.

So game one featured #2 Manasquan vs. #3 Red Bank Catholic. Squan had beat RBC twice during during the 2 abject thrillers winning one game by 4 and the other by 2. Both teams have tons of talent, very high level coaches and excellent senior leadership. I thought that game 3 would tilt to RBC because I could not see them losing to Squan for a 3rd time for assorted reasons.

HA!!! Squan was firing on all pistons from the opening tip and at both ends of the floor. It was one of the quintessential performances. RBC legendary Coach Joe Montano tried every trick in the book and his troops were engaged and calm. Still, Squan put on one of those performances for the ages. Their ball movement and their defense was just special and no doubt maybe their most devastating performance of the season.

See what I know …..

The 2nd game featured the rubber match game between #1 (and nationally ranked in 3 polls) Rutgers Prep vs. #6 Franklin. Franklin won the 1st game back on Dec. 20th by 5 in OT. Since then Prep has won 29 in a row including a solid double digit win over Franklin. Prep has had by far and away the most arduous post season path playing and beating by 12+ point 3 top 10 teams (at the time of the game) – St. Rose, The Patrick School and Queen of Peace. They have been performing at a very high level.

Yesterday, Rutgers Prep went to a box-in-one on 1st team all stater 6’1″ Soph. Diamond Miller and were throwing a rotating group of fine defenders to shut her down. Simply this heady player in concert with very fine coach Audrey Taylor, pulled herself far outside which uncluttered the middle. Then the remaining 6 players in the Franklin rotate sliced into the lane, attacked the rim and hit short jumpers and lay-ups.

Yes Franklin won on the score board by only 9 but seemed like the owned the game from early on..particularly the boards. It was absolutely their most impressive performance of the year and they deserve full kudos.

Whether fans of the winning teams, members of the media, or wanna be pundits, nobody expected the extent of these 2 most impressive performances. At the end of the day, this is kids playing basketball. So many variables going into playing, executing and winning. Both Manasquan and Franklin were so well prepared for their TOC semi final showdowns. Their performances were simply stellar and DARN IMPRESSIVE!!

You have to be “very excited” about knowing that these 2 teams, coming off their respective best complete games of the season, face off less than 30 hours after the semi final games in the TOC finals at the cavernous and NOT player or fan friendly confines of the Sun Center in Trenton.

Humbled that I was “so wrong”, Dazzled to see 2 amazing performanes; Uber Jonesing for tonight to see an unforgettable finals (like the last 2 years).

Good stuff.

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Re-Print – 3/13/17 – NJ TOC Predictions


More interesting is #2 Manasquan vs # 3 Red Bank Catholic for the 3rd time this year. Manasquan won the previous two games by a grand total of 6 points in absolute thrillers

Both teams are extremely talented and well coached. In fact Squan Coach Lisa Kukoda played high school ball for Coach Montana and was his assistant coach before coming to the Warriors. Joe has 2 TOC championships under his belt while Coach Kudoda has one (plus this is the 4th year in a row her team has made the TOC!!)

Both teams have special senior leadership; both teams are loaded with D1 players and both can play uber defense! This is a coin flip game. I hate betting against all everything Miss Mabrey and a remarkable Manasquan team. I’m sure I will get smacked in the face with this prediction, but I just don’t see coach Montana losing to,a team three times in 1 season. Red Bank Catholic by 2. (Although at all games I generally root for both teams…secretly I’m rooting here for Manasquan…And I live in Red Bank so I fully expect to be run out of town).

Rutgers Prep lost to at the Franklin HS back on the Dec 6th by 5 points in overtime and have won 29 in a row since including the last 3 games over #2, #6 & #7 in the state which unmatched by any other TOC finalist team. And they played this latest run “without” their first team All-State point guard plus her key back up. Yet the Rutgers prep Argonauts are playing easily the playing their best basketball of the season which is a real testament to Coach Klinger.

They easily beat Franklin in the regular season rematch by 13. Rutgers prep is one one of those teams loves to crush an opponent. Rutgers Prep has been waiting for this rubber match and to do it on the big stage of the TOC semi-finals has all the markings of a statement making clinic.

With that said, a Rutgers Prep/RBC final would be respectable and rather close. Simply, Prep will use both their significant size, length and athletic advantage to limit RBC. Plus the horrid shooting site lines at Trenton’s Sun Center will minimize the Casey’s significant 3 point shooting advantage and further reduce their chance to “shock the NJ Girls Hoops world”. Coach Joe Montano is a coaching whiz and has been here (TOC final) before. He will reach deep into his bag of tricks to the negate Coach Klinger’S “on a mission” Argonauts, but Rutgers Prep won’t be denied the crown

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