CLARK, NJ- The Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders girls varsity basketball team returned to their home floor, looking for a rebound win after a crushing 38-37 loss to Jonathan Dayton HS in overtime. Standing in their way was the Union High School Farmers as the two teams duked it out on the court.
It got tricky for Johnson, who was called for six fouls in the opening eight minutes, leading Johnson to have to put other players on the floor to keep the key starters away from accumulating too many fouls.
Enter freshman Angela Aromando.
She saw extended minutes on the floor with foul counts high on certain players in the first half. She scored 12 points, including two three-pointers as the Crusaders defeated the Farmers 50-36 Thursday night in Clark.
Aromando, who sees most time on the floor on the junior varsity team, wasted no time after receiving the ball during her team’s possessions. She hit a key shot early in the second quarter and drained a deep three-pointer to help her team regain momentum after Union continued to play Johnson hard in the early stages of the game.
“Personally, it’s very exciting because we have a great coach,” Aromando said. “He teaches us to go from the [junior varsity] level. I’m a freshman and he gave me a really good transition from JV to varsity. I really had fun playing out there.”
Again, in the fourth quarter, with Union trimming Johnson’s lead to as much as 39-32, Aromando gave her team a spark when it was needed the most. She scored seven straight points for her team, following a basket from freshman Domenika Kosiek.
Two baskets and a three-pointer later from Aromando, Johnson’s lead grew to 48-34 with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter.
“She was feeling it,” Johnson head coach Joe Marino said about Aromando’s offensive performance on the night. “It was leaving [the ball] in her hands and we weren’t going to stop her from shooting. She was on the money.”
As the second half went along, Johnson also received major defensive work from senior Cecilia Puentes.
Union’s attempts at passes and setting up shots were interrupted by the senior point guard, snatching the ball and immediately looking for teammates to pass to and cash in on shots.
“We’ve played so many games where we’ve gotten the key stops, we haven’t finished the game,” Puentes said. “Today, we were like, ‘We’re going to steal the ball, run down the court and finish the ball. That’s what we came out to do.”
After the loss Tuesday, Johnson made it a determination to turn it around and were able to do so, especially from the free-throw line. The Crusaders went 4-for-6 from the line as well in the win, an area of the game that was costly in the loss to Jonathan Dayton HS on Tuesday.
The teams traded shots and stops on both ends of the floor in the early stages of the game, but it was the second quarter where Johnson grabbed control of the game heading into halftime. Johnson outscored Union 12-3 and received offense from Aromando and Kosiek, along with freshman Alison Wysocki.
“We had really good ball movement and were able to move the ball around more quickly and crash the boards. I think we played like a team tonight,” Aromando said. “After the loss Tuesday, it really took a toll on us, so we wanted to step it up, come back from our loss and show what we can actually do.”
Johnson led Union 26-11 at halftime and appeared more in-sync after the first quarter, developing an offensive rhythm that allowed them to make their shots.
“We started moving the ball a lot better,” Marino said. “We managed to spread it out and hitting the gaps and getting a lot more better looks.”
Senior Bailey Rosenmeier also added 12 points on the night, while junior Lily Gull cashed in seven points in the win.
The Johnson Crusaders (6-5) head out on the road to play at Summit HS Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m.