BETHLEHEM, PA - After clinching the NJCAA Region XIX Women's Basketball Championship title earlier this month, the Passaic County Community College women’s basketball squad traveled to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to participate in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Women’s Division III Basketball Championship. With one win and two losses the Lady Panthers ended the season ranked sixth in the nation.
Coaches, players, and fans alike were treated to state of the art amenities at the beautiful athletic complex of the Northampton Community College. Features included electronic shot clocks affixed to the top of both court backboards. In the lounge/vestibule fans could track statistics such as points, rebounds, and assists on a flat screen television as the game progressed.
In their first matchup against North Country Community College of Saranac, New York, PCCC Head Coach Teya Eaton opted to start sophomores Kathy Davis, Zeniya Thomas, and Olivia Moses, along with freshmen Jada Camacho and Brianna Ramos-Henkel. In the opener North Country took advantage of a torrid start to maintain a sizable lead throughout to secure the final 92-56 victory.
The Saints employed a balanced scoring attack while successfully feeding freshman center Kayla Carder at the low post to build their big first quarter lead. However, PCCC looked like a different team in the second frame as Moses stepped up under the boards and completed a three-point play. Despite a height disadvantage, the hustling guard/forward battled in the lane for the entire 40 minutes of play and eventually totaled an impressive 15 rebounds for the game.
Following a shake and bake move, drive to the bucket, and score by Thomas, Russo picked a pocket at half court and drove the length of the court for a fast break layup. The shot rolled off the rim but Moses was there for the rebound and put back. Soon thereafter, Camacho took two dribbles from the right baseline and lofted a perfect 20-foot jumper. After Camacho stole a Saints’ pass into the low post she knocked down another jumper to conclude the half.
Third quarter highlights for the Lady Panthers began with a wheel off the low block by Moses followed by a successful banker off the glass. Davis then contributed a spectacular drive and score. The PCCC full court press began to rattle North Country, forcing a Saints’ timeout which prevented a five second call. However, the frame concluded as Saints’ freshman guard Mary Parker pulled up for a buzzer beating 20-foot swish.
The final ten minutes of first half play saw the Panthers battle valiantly. Soon after play began, PCCC’s Ramos-Henkel crashed to the hardwood and lay motionless for nearly a minute. However, the hustling guard was able to hobble to the sidelines to the warm applause of fans from both sides. Luigia Russo entered the game for the Lady Panthers to take over offensive direction from the point. Moses continued to dominate on the boards and contributed a three-point play. Thomas drained a three-pointer from the left of the key, courtesy of an assist by Davis. Thomas then missed on another trey attempt but Moses was there for the rebound and put back. Following a nice running banker by Ramos-Henkel, Thomas broke the Saints’ full court press, was fouled on a layup attempt, and swished both charity stripe offerings.
Inspired by the all-around court savvy of Camacho, PCCC responded with a spectacular drive and score through heavy traffic by Davis and yet another offensive rebound and basket by Moses. A free throw by Moses spelled the final fourth quarter points for PCCC.
Moses led PCCC in scoring with 18 points while Davis added 14 tallies. Thomas and Camacho chipped in with nine and eight, respectively.
In their Friday contest against UConn Avery Point, PCCC unleashed an offensive barrage inspired by a relentless fast break to outscore their opponents, 106-96. The Lady Panthers raced to a 16-point halftime lead and withstood a furious second half Pointers’ comeback to post the win. Six consecutive free throws in the final 27 seconds by PCCC iced the victory. In addition, the Lady Panthers were able to withstand the exemplary offensive production by the Pointers’ sophomore guard Mia Brennan.
The Lady Panthers made a statement early on as Davis picked off a UConn pass and went coast-to-coast for a score. An offensive box out and rebound by Moses resulted in a successful foul shot from the free throw line. Thomas followed with a 20-foot stop and pop and then beat the shot clock with a three-pointer. Camacho added her own trey from the leftwing/baseline and added two free throws on the subsequent Passaic offensive possession. Davis then scored on what would be throughout the first half, a series of no less than three sensational drives to the bucket from the right of the key. The remarkable two-dribble plays by Davis were highlighted by WNBA-like long strides.
As the game progressed, play was characterized by brief offensive runs by both squads. However, each time the Pointers mounted a comeback, PCCC was able to regroup to rebuild their lead. Highlights of the second quarter included a defensive rebound by Moses, outlet pass to Camacho, and a successful 15-foot, right baseline jumper by the latter. Davis then fired a cross-court pass to Camacho who banked in a runner.
Led by Ramos-Henkel, the Panthers continued to control the pace as most fast break efforts which missed the mark were rebounded for put-backs. However, despite the PCCC offensive fireworks, UConn continued to battle to the very end.
The second half saw Camacho turn in a scintillating block of a Pointers’ three-point shot attempt, from the right wing, in which the ball sailed backwards into the stands. Camacho then continued her stellar play with a 15-foot jumper followed by a Moses steal and cherry-pick layup by Davis.
Back and forth action continued in the final frame with UConn’s Brennan leading a last stand for the Pointers. PCCC’s scoring opened with an offensive rebound by Davis who kicked out to Moses on the right wing for a three-point rainbow. Davis followed with a clutch 15-footer and Thomas added her own 18-foot stop and pop. However, the Pointers were briefly buoyed as their full-court pressure resulted in several quick scores cutting the lead to 98-92, advantage PCCC, with 1:04 left in regulation. Led by the dribbling prowess of Davis, Camacho, and Ramos-Henkel, the Lady Panthers were able to successfully play keep away which led to their final free throw success.
Camacho led PCCC in the scoring parade with 28 points while Davis contributed 25. Brennan paced the Pointers with 46 scores.
The final matchup of the tournament pitted the Lady Panthers against Minnesota’s Hibbing Community College. Despite Davis’ 22 points and 15 rebounds, and fine scoring performances by other Mosses (20) and Thomas (15), PCCC fell by a score of 83-71.
The Lady Panthers ended the 2018/2019 campaign with a 21-7 record.
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