CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham girls basketball season ended with a 61-42 loss to Passaic Valley on Tuesday night in the first round of the state tournament.
The game started off promising for Chatham (13-11), but everything good that happened over the first two quarters unraveled in the third quarter, setting the tone for a devastating second-half surge by Passaic Valley (10-12).
Cassandra Falone hit the first basket of the game and then fed Colleen Mulvaney for a basket inside. Falone, who led Chatham with 14 points, then drove the lane and dropping in a running bank shot. Emily Walczyk's baseline jumper off a pass from Shea Matta gave Chatham an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Falone, Liz Ford, Matta and Natalie Washuta each drained a 3-pointer as Chatham took a 28-24 lead into the break.
"We started off the game realy strong, but we started to lose it after the third quarter," Washuta said. "We let them come in after halftime and take the game from us."
Junior forward Alli Goldinak powered Passaic Valley in the third quarter when the Hornets scored the first 14 points to build a 38-28 lead. Goldinak, who led all scorers with 21 points, powered her way inside for 10 points in the third-quarter streak.
"We had a real difficult time with their full-court pressure," Chatham coach Joe Gaba said. "We had a lot of opportunities early to kind of blow the game open and we didn't capitalize. They came to play. They made some shots, they defended well and they certainly deserve to move on."
Senior captain Washuta noted that the rough ending didn't reflect on how the team played this season.
"We did really great and put in every ounce of effort we could this season," Washuta said. "Losing this early in the state tournament doesn't reflect on how the season went in general at all."