CHATHAM, NJ - Seasoned veteran Tess Ford made the clutch shots down the stretch but the Cougars needed a career-best effort from Lea Casano-Boris off the bench to set up Chatham's 35-31 girls basketball victory over Randolph on Tuesday night.
Without leading scorer Riley Allen, who is nursing an injury, Chatham wasn't going to outscore Randolph without someone stepping up to help Ford, who was the target of the Rams defense. Casano-Boris strode into the spotlight, hitting a 3-pointer soon after she entered the game in the first quarter.
Casano-Boris finished with 10 points and set up two Chatham baskets with her passes. She matched Ford, who also finished with 10 points.
"As I just said to these guys, she's been waiting three years for a moment like this," Chatham coach Joe Gaba said. "This is a great example of 'you never know when you're number is going to be called' and you just have to keep at it and be ready. She was huge for us tonight and I couldn't be happier for her for someone who has been in our program as a freshman to come out and have a night like she did tonight is just awesome."
Tess Ford and Lea Casano-Boris talk about the win
After playing to a 13-13 tie in the first half, Chatham led by as many as eight points and by six points on three different occasions in the second half before the Rams tied the game at 30-30 with 58 seconds showing on a three-point play by Angeleen Mulero.
Just 20 seconds later, Ford connected for the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer from the top of the key (see below) to make it 33-30 for the Cougars with 38 seconds to go. Ford then iced the game by sinking two fouls with 8.8 ticks left on the clock.
"That's what you expect from your senior captain and all-county player to put your team on her back in a game like this and when we needed a bucket she got it for us," Gaba said of Ford's late-game heroics.
Casano-Boris helped set the stage for Ford's culminating shots when she dropped in a 3-pointer from the corner (see below) and followed with a side jumper off a pass from Ford in the third quarter, staking Chatham to a 21-15 lead with 2:28 left in the period.
Ford didn't score her first points of the game until there were 27 seconds left in the third quarter, receiving an inbound pass from Casano-Boris and draining a 3-pointer (see below). Carly Frohnapfel's (5 points, 11 rebounds) two foul shots made it 26-18 with 8.8 seconds left in the third for the Cougars.
Ford sank both ends of a one-and-one with 2:48 showing in the fourth quarter to make it a 30-25 lead before she broke the 30-30 tie with her pivotal 3-pointer.
"This year has been full of challenges," Gaba said. "When you play in a division like we play in, you finally want to see a good result. Yes, we played well against Pope John, yes we played well against Montville. You want to see yourselves get over the hump and we finally got over the hump tonight."
COUGAR NOTES: Lea Casno-Boris scored a career-high 10 points and handed out two assists in her performance as a sub for Chatham. The senior guard connected on 4 of her 5 shots from the floor, including 2-for-3 in 3-pointers ... Tess Ford missed her first six shots of the game but saved her best for last, scoring seven points over the final 2:48 of the fourth quarter .... Casano-Boris and Ford each hit two 3-pointers ... Chatham sank 7 of 9 fouls, led by Ford (4-for-4) and Carly Frohnapfel (3-3) ... Randolph made 9 of 12 from the line ... the Cougars lost to Randolph, 52-27, on Feb. 4.