Lady Chiefs Playoff Hopes Fade, 44-34

Hopatcong guard Kelsey Spaziani shoots a free throw in Saturday's 44-34 loss to Parsippany Hills. Credits: Will Harrigan
Par Hills shooting guard Mimi Hess pivots on the left win during Saturday's 44-34 victory over Hopatcong. Hess scored 5 points. Credits: Will Harrigan
Parsippany Hills center Mikaela Dredden prepares to drive to the basket in Saturday's 44-34 victory. Credits: Will Harrigan

HOPATCONG, NJ - For Hopatcong’s girls basketball team, Saturday’s matinee home game versus Parsippany Hills was much more than a typical independent game on the schedule. The Lady Chiefs entered the contest in 15th place in North II, Group II, in a section that only qualifies 16 teams.

But thanks to an imposing performance on the low block from the Vikings’ power forwards Dana Marxen and Mikaela Dredden, Hopatcong’s playoff prospects took a turn for the worst by way of a 44-34 setback at the Windsor Avenue gymnasium. Parsippany Hills (10-9) was playing its second game in less than twenty-four hours, being eliminated from the Morris County Tournament on Friday night by Villa Walsh.

“[Parsippany Hills] were just a better overall team than us today. We are lacking in more than a few areas right now,” lamented Hopatcong head coach Jamie Douglas, whose club now sports a 6-10 record heading into the final few weeks of the season.

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In the opening minutes, standout Hopatcong guard Heather Yaros showed why she is leading Sussex County in scoring, including a three-pointer from the corner a mere fifteen seconds into the game, en route to staking Hopatcong to an early 11-7 advantage. Parsippany Hills would close the gap at the end of the quarter, using three free throws from Marxen to cut the Lady Chiefs to 13-12 at the end of the quarter.

A right wing triple from the Vikings’ Danielle Russo early in the second proved to be pivotal, as the visitors jumped to a 16-14 lead they would never relinquish. It was this point when Marxen and Dredden’s height began to wear on the Chiefs, as each scored four points in 10-2 spurt to widen the margin to 26-16. In the process, the two forwards drew a combined five fouls on Hopatcong players, presenting the Lady Chiefs with a foul trouble issue heading into the second half.

It became evident early in the second half Hopatcong would continue to keep the pressure on the visitors, quickly turning a 27-20 halftime deficit into 29-24 via a pair of free throws from Kelsey Spaziani and a 18 foot jumper from Gina Costanza.

Yaros and Marxen traded baskets twice to bring the score to 33-28 in the quarters waning moments. Yaros scored a game-high 17 points for the home team, while Marxen led Eniola Homsberger’s Vikings with 15 tallies on the day.

Before the fourth quarter commenced, the rims on the baskets must have been sealed shut, as no points were scored for six minutes. Marred by both teams combining to miss fifteen consecutive shots from the field, the third quarter score of 35-30 remained the same until Hannah Bibeault scored on a lay-up with 2:08 remaining in the game.

A pretty floater from Yaros along the baseline with sixty-two seconds in the game drew Hopatcong to 37-34, but would draw no closer. Russo, Victoria Pallis, and Mimi Hess would combine to make seven free throws for Parsippany Hills, sealing the 44-34 victory.

Hopatcong will look to get back to winning ways on Tuesday night when they host Boonton in a NJAC crossover game. Parsippany Hills will be idle until Thursday when they travel to Morristown in a NJAC-American division game.

The box score:

Parsippany Hills (10-9): 12 15 8 9- 44

Hopatcong (6-10): 13 7 10 4- 34

Parsippany Hills: Dana Marxen 5-0-5-15, Veronica Serkowska 4-0-1-9, Mikaela Dredden 2-0-2-6, Danielle Russo 0-1-3-6, Mimi Hess 0-0-5-5, Victoria Pallis 0-0-3-3, Nicole Tagliente 0-0-0-0. Totals: 11-1-19-44

Hopatcong: Heather Yaros 5-1-4-17, Dana Bibeault 2-0-0-4, Hannah Bibeault 2-0-0-4, Kelsey Spaziani 1-0-2-4, Julie Brennan 1-0-0-2, Gina Costanza 1-0-0-2, Kiersten Atkins 0-0-1-1, Gabby Acierno 0-0-0-0, Shannon Clarke 0-0-0-0, Pam Hon 0-0-0-0, Jamie Kufta 0-0-0-0. Totals: 12-1-7-34

Halftime Score: Parsippany Hills 27-20



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