DENVILLE, NJ - It's safe to say that Chatham looked like a different team during the second half of its girls basketball game against Montville on Saturday.
"We said to them at half to do whatever it takes to win the game, whether's it's loose balls or offensive rebounds. Whatever it takes," Chatham coach Joe Gaba said. "In the second half I think we just decided to take over the game and get some separation."
Two players heeding Gaba's instructions right away were guard Chloe Blanc and forward Veronica Kelly, who each scored eight points over the final two quarters of No. 5 seed Chatham's 45-33 victory over No. 4 Montville in the quarterfinals of the Morris County Tournament at Morris Knolls High.
Blanc, who finished with 10 points, set the tone when she opened the second half with a steal that she took in for a layup. The junior followed with a leap to snare an offensive rebound and banked it home. She then ran baseline and scored off a nice pass from Camryn Davies, staking the Lady Cougars (13-8) to a 24-15 lead.
"We were just determined to win it," Blanc said. "Every time we got an offensive rebound, even on foul shots, was more time that we kept the ball in their end. They kind of extended out on us in the second half and that left the pick-and-rolls wide open."
Kelly, who led all scorers with 14 points, scored on a pick-and-roll pass from Davies early in the fourth quarter and the rest of the Lady Cougars got into the act. Michaela Ford made a steal and finished a coast-to-coast dash with a layup. Liz Ford hit her second 3-pointer of the game and Kelly converted a pick-and-roll pass from Blanc into a three-point play.
"We remembered that they beat us the first time we played," said Kelly of the 39-36 loss. "I had to get more involved and we tried to do a lot more pick-and-rolls. Chloe had a great game and she was finishing like crazy and she did a great job finding me. The whole team went hard for the offensive rebounds."
Davies and Blanc revived their old double-play combination from their softball days together when shortstop Davies threw a long in-bound pass that Blanc caught on the run and finished for a 39-29 lead with 2:59 showing on the clock.
In the final two minutes, Chatham went to the line four times and on its two misses, Blanc and Kelly managed to get the rebounds and maintain ball possession.
"The ironic thing is that Montville is a very good offensive rebounding team and they attack the glass hard," Gaba said. "We kind of did the same thing to them today."
Chloe Blanc and Veronica Kelly talk about Chatham's big second half against Montville
Chloe Blanc scores inside off a sharp pass from Camryn Davies for Chatham
Veronica Kelly scores off a pass from Chloe Blanc in second half vs. Montville
Chatham will meet top-seeded Morristown (17-2) in the MCT semifinals on Friday at the County College of Morris. Morristown owns two wins over the Lady Cougars this season.