GLEN RIDGE, NJ-- What a year!
So says Glen Ridge girls basketball coach Joe Mazzarella, who saw his young team regroup in the second half of the season and go on to the North 2, Group 1 championship game.
The Ridgers finished 14-14 and had an excellent run in the state sectionals, winning three home games before a close loss at top-seeded New Providence, in the title game.
"What a year," reiterated Mazzarella. "Without question the most fun I've had coaching.
"Was it stressful? Yes.
"Was it worth it? Absolutely. To think where this team was in early January to where we ended up is storybook."
Versus New Providence, on March 10, Glen Ridge trailed by as many as 14 point in the forth quarter, before a big-time rally by the Ridgers, which outscored the hosts, 18-7. New Providence held on for a 51-48 victory.
"We never quit," said Mazzarella. "We cut the lead to two points, and then ultimately being down three, with the ball, and a chance to tie the game with seven seconds left is incredible for our 14-14 team, on the road, against an extremely talented 27-3 New Providence team. I believe playing in the Super Essex Conference's (SEC) Liberty Division and scheduling hard out-of-conference games really prepared us for the moment."
Michaila Dowd and Elettra Giantomenico scored 16 points each to pace Glen Ridge while Sarah Cullnan had six, Haleigh Pine and Amayah Melbourne finished with four each and Jillian Goffe scored two points.
Mazzarella had felt all year long that this team has the capability of play its best in the states.
"All year long, the girls fought and played hard and continued to push and never quit," the coach said. "But what's most important is that they believed. They believed in our coaching staff, they believed in each other, and they believed in themselves. And that belief started with the incredible leadership by our three senior captains; Haleigh Pine, Sarah Cullinan and Michaila Dowd.
"Their toughness, coupled with our sophomores Elettra Giantomenco and Amayah Melbourne's ability and skill really was the perfect recipe. It took a little while for us to finally hit our stride, but we played the right kind of basketball at exactly the right time, when it mattered most."
Mazzarella noted all the team's seniors will be missed, including Macy Weber and Kaylie Koenig, each of whom played three seasons, Ava Rollo, a two-year varsity player and Angelie Roy, who played one year on the varsity.
"I'm just so proud of our girls and our program.," said Mazzarella. "Having just finished year three as a head coach here, I'm very pleased with what our program has been able to accomplish in this short time, and I will continue to believe that the sky's the limit for Glen Ridge girls basketball."
The SEC coaches also noted the talented Ridgers in 2019-2020. Giantomenico was named second team while Pine and Cullinan were tabbed Honorable Mention.