EAST HANOVER, NJ - The Chatham girls basketball team showed Wednesday night why they are the number one seed in the upcoming Morris County Tournament.
The Lady Cougars stormed out to an 8-0 lead at Hanover Park and would not look behind in a 47-32 victory over the Lady Hornets in a battle of Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Independence Division teams in a regular season game.
Chatham raised its record to 14-1 on the season with the lone loss coming last week at the hands of Mount St. Dominic in an independent game.
Three Chatham players scored in double figures led by leading scorer Amanda Berntsen with 22 points while Kendall Davies and Samantha Kennedy chipped in 11 and 10 points respectively.
The Lady Cougars garnered the top seed last weekend by the county coaches and received a bye in the early part of the county tournament that starts this weekend. Chatham does not play until Tuesday at home against Pequannock (7 p.m.). In the NJAC Independence standings Chatham holds a game lead on Morris Catholic for first place.
Chatham made sure that Hanover Park was not thinking about an upset this night by hitting the first three shots of the game and taking an 8-0 lead including a three-pointer from Davies and Kennedy each.
"Yeah it definitely helped and they really never cut the lead below 10," said Berntsen about the Lady Cougars keeping control of the game.
While the game was not as lopsided as the first game between the two teams, a Chatham 59-37 victory on Dec. 20 in Chatham, the Lady Cougars never saw their lead go lower than double digits in the second half.
"It's really tough facing a team the second time around in the season," said Davies about facing the Lady Hornets the second time this season.
For Davies, she knows that when the team starts in the county tournament that the opponents will be concentrating on stopping Berntsen. "We all have to support her and know that we have to take some pressure off of her," said Davies about getting some big points.
Both Davies and Kennedy were hitting from the perimeter and the three-point line against Hanover Park.
The Chatham defense was steady and tough against a Hanover Park team that dropped to 10-5 on the season.
The Lady Cougars just could not contain the Lady Hornets center Lauren Daugherty who pretty much matched Berntsen with 21 points. "She's a pretty good play and she's a real good post-up player," said Berntsen.
Despite the points from Daugherty, Chatham slowly pulled away and a Kennedy bucket gave the Lady Cougars a 15-points lead, 35-20 with a couple minutes left in the third quarter.
Hanover Park stayed just close enough to Chatham in the start of the fourth quarter to keep the starters on the floor.
But Davies' third, three-point basket of the game pretty much sealed it with a 45-29 lead with four minutes remaining in the game.
Chatham girls basketball schedule
(Games at 7 p.m. unless noted)
Jan. 31 - Pequannock
Feb. 2 - Parsippany
Feb. 7 - Mendham
Feb. 9 - Madison
Feb. 13 - at Morris Catholic
Feb. 15 - St. Elizabeth
Feb. 21 - at Mountain Lakes, 5 p.m.
Feb. 22 - at West Essex