BAYONNE, NJ – Coming off of an upset of #7-seeded Elizabeth in the opening round of the 2020 North 2 Group 4 playoffs, the #10-seeded Lady Panthers travelled to #2 Bayonne with a lot of confidence, and Bridgewater-Raritan gave it all they had on March 5.
But the season ultimately came to an end for Bridgewater-Raritan (10-19) despite a good fight by the Lady Panthers in a low-scoring affair, as Eniya Scott scored 8 of her game-high 19 points for Bayonne in the 4th quarter to help the Lady Bees pull away for a 43-30 victory.
Neither team scored for the first 1:25 of regulation, but a blocked three-point attempt by Bayonne’s Makoye Diawara eventually led to a triple at the other end by Logine Moustafa to open the game’s scoring. Scott’s first two points then came on a short floater to put the Lady Bees up 5-0 with 4:58 left in the opening quarter.
But this was familiar territory for the Lady Panthers, who also took over three minutes to score in their upset over Elizabeth two days prior.
Bridgewater-Raritan got on the board with 4:44 left in the first quarter on a pair of free throws by Corinne Nickel, who drew a foul on a layup attempt. But an intercepted pass led to a fastbreak layup by Diawara, who added nine points for the Lady Bees, to put Bayonne up by five a minute later. Nickel, who scored eight points for Bridgewater-Raritan, then found Madison Bray under the rim for the Lady Panthers’ first field goal with 3:10 left in the period.
Trailing 7-4 at this point, Bridgewater-Raritan forced three straight turnovers by Bayonne, but could not connect on three straight layup attempts despite good looks under the rim and the size advantage by the Lady Bees. While the Lady Panthers were held scoreless the rest of the period as a result, they only allowed one Bayonne field goal: another floater by Scott with just over a minute left in the opening period, and only trailed 9-4 at the end of the first quarter.
But Bridgewater-Raritan locked down on defense early in the second quarter, as the Lady Panthers held Bayonne scoreless for nearly five minutes. A bucket from down low by Bridgewater-Raritan’s Brianna Soto to open the frame and a banked three-pointer by Danielle Orecchio with 4:50 left in the half eventually tied the game at 9-9. But Scott got the Lady Bees on the board in the second quarter with another tough jumper in the paint a minute and a half later, and Bayonne led for good from there. This began a burst of six unanswered points by the Lady Bees in just over a minute to put Bayonne up 15-9 with 2:15 left in the second quarter.
A split pair of free throws by Bray and one more basket from down low by Soto made it a one-possession game in the closing seconds of the half before Scott drew a foul for Bayonne with 7.1 seconds to go in the half. She hit a pair of free throws to reach double figures to close out the half and give Bayonne a 17-12 lead heading into the locker room, ultimately evening the period at 8 points for each team despite a slow start to the second quarter by Bayonne.
The Lady Bees had possession to open the third quarter and held the ball for over a minute before Orecchio secured a strip from behind to give Bridgewater-Raritan the ball. The Lady Panthers continued to find paths to the rim and try to put Bayonne in foul trouble like they did in the first half. Jackie Salvatore eventually helped open up the second-half scoring by drawing a foul on a layup attempt and hitting a pair of free throws to cut Bayonne’s lead to 17-14 just under two minutes into in the third quarter. But a three-pointer by Jalyssa Moody extended Bayonne’s lead to six and began a 12-2 run by the Lady Bees, who held the Lady Panthers to a single field goal in just under six minutes. Trailing 29-17 with 1:20 left in the third quarter, Bridgewater-Raritan continued to fight, as Salvatore connected from downtown and Nickel herself hit what ended up being a long two-point field goal. The Lady Panthers even had a three-point attempt rim out at the buzzer, but they managed to cut the lead to 29-22 going into the final period after scoring the last five points of the third quarter.
Unfortunately, the Lady Panthers got no closer than that as Bayonne got timely stops on defense along with key points at the other end. The Lady Bees only outscored Bridgewater-Raritan 14-8 in the fourth quarter, but nonetheless maintained a double-digit lead for most of the final five minutes of regulation. Scott ended up scoring two of Bayonne’s four fourth-quarter field goals and helped the Lady Bees close it out at the free throw line late, eventually sending Bayonne to the North 2 Group 4 semifinals with a 43-30 victory over the Lady Panthers.
Salvatore had nine points to lead Bridgewater-Raritan, who only attempted eight free throws in the contest. Half of the Lady Panthers’ 30 points came from five field goals from behind the arc two days after hitting nine triples in their upset over Elizabeth.
Bayonne won the field goal margin 14-10 and went 13-for-22 (59%) at the free throw line; all but two of the Lady Bees’ free-throw attempts came in the second half.
#10 Bridgewater-Raritan 30, #2 Bayonne 43
Bayonne: Q1- 9; Q2- 8; Q3- 12; Q4- 14; TOTAL- 43
- Eniya Scott - 19 points
- Makoye Diawara - 9 points
- Tomia Phillips - 4 points
- Mary Lavin - 3 points
- Jalyssa Moody - 3 points
- Logine Moustafa - 3 points
- Jada Phillips - 2 points
Bridgewater-Raritan: Q1- 4; Q2- 8; Q3- 10; Q4- 8; TOTAL- 30
- Jackie Salvatore - 9 points
- Corinne Nickel - 8 points
- Madison Bray - 6 points
- Brianna Soto - 4 points
- Danielle Orecchio - 3 points
#10 Bridgewater-Raritan concluded the 2019-20 season with a 10-19 record with their loss to Bayonne in the North 2 Group 4 quarterfinals. However, they will certainly look to build on their success on defense after only allowing an average of 38.7 points per game on the year.
The Lady Panthers played a tough schedule, particularly in their division, and three of the four North 2 Group 4 sectional semifinalists ended up being division rivals of Bridgewater-Raritan, including both finalists.
After their win over the Lady Panthers, #2 Bayonne advanced to face #3 Franklin on the same court two days later. Franklin, who swept its regular-season series with 47-35 and 44-31 wins over Bridgewater-Raritan, ultimately routed the Lady Bees on March 7th and advanced to the sectional finals with a 69-42 win over Bayonne (25-4).
#3 Franklin (22-5) will face #4 Ridge (22-7) in the North 2 Group 4 finals at home today (March 9th). Ridge stunned top-seeded Watchung Hills (23-6) on the road in the sectional semifinals with a 43-36 victory on March 7th.
For detailed Bridgewater-Raritan Panthers Athletics schedules and game locations, please see https://bridgewaterraritanhighschool.bigteams.com/.
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