CHATHAM, NJ - Any lingering effects from the three-game losing streak this month by the Chatham girls basketball team was wiped out with a second straight dominating performance from the Lady Cougars against Ridge on Saturday.
Chatham rode a big first quarter on the way to 54-30 win over Ridge, led by 15 points from Veronica Kelly and 14 points from Chloe Blanc.
Chatham (10-6) had lost three in a row to Millburn, Pope John and Montville by a combined total of 10 points before breaking the streak with a easy win over Randolph. Then came the matchup with Ridge.
"We lost three games in a row and after that and we were pretty mad," Kelly said. "I can't remember the last time we lost three in a row in our program, ever. So that kind of fueled our fire."
The Lady Cougars had outscored Randolph, 16-0, in the opening quarter and against Ridge they bolted to an 18-7 advantage in the first period.
Kelly, a 6-1 junior, converted passes from Camryn Davies and Blanc to open the scoring. She hit her first five shots from the floor in the game and ended by connecting on six of nine shots overall.
Chatham was breaking the press by Ridge (7-10) and that led to a more fast-paced offense by the Lady Cougars, who put together a 9-0 run that was ignited by Kelly's drive of the lane for a scoop shot with 4:11 to go. Liz Ford made a steal that she turned into two free throws and Blanc dropped in a 3-pointer off a feed from Davies. Michaela Ford then capped the run with a drive for two points and a 15-5 lead.
Blanc capped the big first quarter by converting a three-point play with 36 seconds showing.
"I think we've weathered the storm of where we were a couple weeks ago and kind of got the ship right, " Chatham coach Joe Gaba said. "We're going in the right direction. Our team is based on teamwork. If Veronica gets the attention on the inside, then our guards go to work. If they're concentrating on our guards, then Veronica gets single coverage on the inside. We're kind of getting back to where we were at the beginning of the season."
Ridge continued to press in an attempt to get back in the game, but Chatham widened its lead with a six-point burst. Kelly sank two foul shots, Davies nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Blanc sank a foul shot to make it 28-13.
"The fact that we start four guards, we're a hard team to press," Gaba said. "We don't mind it. It certainly gets our guards into the open floor and attacking the rim."
Chatham next plays at home against Morristown, 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Veronica Kelly scores two of her game-high 15 points for Chatham off pass from Chloe Blanc
Michaela Ford goes coast-to-coast to drop in this layup for Chatham