ELIZABETH, NJ – On March 3, the Lady Panthers did not make a single two-point field goal in the first half of the opening round of the 2020 North 2 Group 4 playoffs at Elizabeth, but Bridgewater-Raritan certainly did not seem to mind.

Their success from behind the arc, where #10 Bridgewater-Raritan (10-18) hit seven of their nine three-point field goals in the first half alone, and stifling defense propelled the Lady Panthers to the second round of the 2020 State Tournament thanks to a 48-40 upset victory at #7 Elizabeth (15-9).

It took 3:30 for the Lady Panthers to get on the board, but the Lady Minutemen only managed a pair of field goals in this span themselves by Natalie Chappotin, who led Elizabeth with 14 points. With the Lady Minutemen up 4-0, Jackie Salvatore, who led Bridgewater-Raritan with 17 points, drew a foul and split a pair of free throws to finally get the visitors on the board. But Danielle Orecchio, who added 11 points for Bridgewater-Raritan, then hit the first of her three first-quarter triples to tie the game at 4-4 just over halfway into the opening period.

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Another pair of free throws from Salvatore and a three-pointer from Corinne Nickel capped off a 9-0 Lady Panthers run in a span of 1:39 and extended the visitors’ lead to 9-4.

The Lady Panthers never trailed again the rest of the way even despite Elizabeth’s success on the glass at the other end.

Three offensive rebounds on the next Lady Minutemen possession led to another bucket from down low by Chappotin, who had all six points for Elizabeth with just over a minute left in the opening quarter. But back-to-back shots from downtown by Orecchio quickly gave the Lady Panthers some breathing room, and Bridgewater-Raritan led 15-8 the end of the first quarter with all four of the Lady Panthers’ field goals coming from long range.

Elizabeth opened the second quarter with another pair of offensive rebounds and a score by Jalynn Clark, and Bridgewater-Raritan was held without a field goal in the first three minutes of the period. A long jumper from just inside the arc from Amyan Adair-Mars got the Lady Minutemen to within 16-12 with 5:55 left in the half before Salvatore eventually hit the first of her two second-period triples just under a minute later.

Leading 19-13 at this point and very confident on defense, Bridgewater-Raritan continued to slow the game down at the other end of the court. The Lady Panthers’ patience paid off on their next possession, as Salvatore eventually drilled her second three-pointer to put the visitors up 22-13 with 3:16 left in the period.

But while Elizabeth managed a quick pair of field goals in the final minute of the half, a three-pointer by Madison Bray to close out the second quarter was the icing on the cake in a dominating first half for Bridgewater-Raritan. After what ended up being the Lady Panthers’ seventh made shot from downtown in the first 16 minutes of regulation, Bridgewater-Raritan took a 25-17 lead into the locker room.

While the Lady Minutemen held Bridgewater-Raritan to one field goal: Bray’s three-pointer, in a span of seven minutes extending in the second and third quarters, Elizabeth was also held without a field goal in the first 4:35 of the second half. But even despite the Lady Panthers’ scoring drought, back-to-back three-pointers from Salvatore and Nickel extended Bridgewater-Raritan’s lead to 31-19 just over halfway into the third quarter to force a timeout by Elizabeth.

The Lady Panthers did not hit another three-pointer following that timeout with 3:37 left in the period, and a layup plus a foul drawn by Elizabeth’s Ashante Harold appeared to give the Lady Minutemen some momentum a short time later. This along with an intercepted pass and fastbreak layup by Kezia Feaster began a 9-2 run by Elizabeth over the next two and a half minutes to cut Bridgewater-Raritan’s lead to 33-28.

With the Lady Minutemen beginning to storm back at home and forcing another immediate turnover under their basket, Salvatore then intercepted a pass on Elizabeth’s next possession. She then ran 75 percent of the length of the court for an uncontested layup in the final minute of the period, extending Bridgewater-Raritan’s lead to 35-28 heading into the final frame.

Even though the Lady Panthers were held without a field goal in the fourth quarter, foul trouble for Elizabeth ended up being costly for the home team in the game’s last eight minutes.

Bridgewater-Raritan went 13-for-20 at the free-throw line in a fourth quarter in which the Lady Panthers led by as many as 13 points, and time eventually ran out for Elizabeth. Despite an 8-4 second-half field goal margin favoring the Lady Minutemen, including 4-0 in the final frame, the Lady

Panthers closed out a 48-40 road victory to advance to the second round of the 2020 North 2 Group 4 playoffs as a result.

Elizabeth went 7-for-14 (50%) from the charity stripe in the contest.

#10 Bridgewater-Raritan 48, #7 Elizabeth 40
Elizabeth: Q1- 8; Q2- 9; Q3- 11; Q4- 12; TOTAL- 40

  • Natalie Chappotin - 14 points
  • Ashante Harold - 8 points
  • Jalynn Clark - 6 points
  • Kezia Feaster - 5 points
  • Fancy Janvier - 3 points
  • Amyan Adair-Mars - 2 points
  • Camilie Fleming - 2 points

Bridgewater-Raritan: Q1- 15; Q2- 10; Q3- 10; Q4- 13; TOTAL- 48

  • Jackie Salvatore- 17 points
  • Danielle Orecchio- 11 points
  • Madison Bray- 6 points
  • Corinne Nickel- 6 points
  • Maggie Ousouljoglou- 3 points
  • Lauren Sullivan- 3 points
  • Brianna Soto- 2 points

The season continues for #10 Bridgewater-Raritan (10-18), but the Lady Panthers will face a big road test in the second round of the 2020 North 2 Group 4 playoffs.

They will travel to Hudson County Tournament Champion and #2 Bayonne (24-3) on Thursday March 5th with tip time TBD. The Lady Bees will be coming off of a 65-19 win over #15 Plainfield in their North 2 Group 4 opener.

Both teams have each played Gill St. Bernard’s and Ridge in the regular-season, with the Lady Panthers going 0-3 these teams and the Lady Bees going 2-0 against them. Bayonne defeated Ridge 38-33 on December 30th and Gill St. Bernard’s 43-38 on January 4th. Bridgewater Raritan lost a pair of contests to Gill St. Bernard’s by scores of 43-30 (on January 14th) and 46-34 (on January 30th) and their lone matchup vs. Ridge on Feb. 6 by a score of 63-21.

But with Bridgewater-Raritan coming off of a strong defensive performance and particularly a successful evening from behind the arc at Elizabeth, they will look to have this momentum carry over into Bayonne on Thursday afternoon.

In the 10 games they have won, Bridgewater-Raritan has allowed an average of only 29.7 points per game; the 40 points they allowed to Elizabeth is the most the Lady Panthers have allowed in a victory this season. But even in the 18 games they have lost in the 2019-20 season, the Lady Panthers have allowed an average of only 43.4 points per game in these defeats.

For detailed Bridgewater-Raritan Panthers Athletics schedules and game locations, please see https://bridgewaterraritanhighschool.bigteams.com/.

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