WEST ORANGE, NJ - A strong 19-point performance from Gina Guccione was not enough for Montclair Kimberley Academy (MKA), as the Cougars suffered a 51-27 defeat at the hands of West Orange in the second preliminary round of the Girls Basketball Essex County Tournament at West Orange High School on Jan 28.
MKA was never able to find balanced scoring on offense as two players, Gina Guccione and Erin Nicholson, combined to score 26 of the team’s 27 points. Guccione, who has over 1,000 career points and averages 23.2 points per game, led the way on offense from behind the arc. While the Mountaineers were not able to stop Guccione, who was named the Star Ledger’s Essex County player to watch this week, they were able to neutralize her teammates. West Orange pressured the ball throughout the game and was able to force MKA to turn over the ball multiple times.
West Orange got off to a fast start in the first quarter, scoring 15 points in the first eight minutes--12 of which were scored by sophomore Sidney Gordon. Gordon was matched by her teammate Taylor Rowland, who also scored 12 points for West Orange. Rowland added 11 rebounds to her scoring, playing a complete all-around game.
West Orange ended the first quarter with a six-point lead and built upon it to take a 25-14 lead into the halftime locker room. MKA attempted a comeback, as the Cougars came out of the halftime locker room, and with improved ball movement went on a 5-0 run. However, after a timeout called by West Orange Coach Caniece Montague, the Mountaineers regrouped and stopped all momentum gained by MKA.
West Orange ended the third quarter with a 13-point lead and blew the game open in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Cougars 17-6. The Mountaineers had the lead the entire game and will move on to play in the next round of the tournament.
Following the Mountaineer’s win over Newark VoTech on Saturday, Coach Montague said, “I’m confident the girls can progress through the next few rounds of competition.”
The Mountaineers will play Trenton Catholic on February 1.
The Cougars will play at home against Newark Academy on January 29 at 4 p.m., as the team’s lone senior Guccione and Coach Jessica Bishop will try to help the team bounce back.