MONTVILLE, NJ - The Chatham girls basketball team had to work overtime in its attempt to get past a key last-season injury on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for the Lady Cougars, there is still more work to do after a 50-43 setback to Montvile tagged them with their third straight defeat, the second since junior starter Chloe Blanc was lost to a season-ending injury.
Montville avenged its Feb. 11 loss to Chatham in the quarterfinal round of the Morris County Tournament with the help of Emma Wax's 3-pointer that put the Mustangs in front to stay in the extra session.
Chatham (13-11), however, isn't looking back. The goal is to right the ship before its state tournament opener against Rahway on Tuesday. Chatham plays host to Morristown-Beard on Friday in its last regular-season game before the NJSIAA tournament.
“Chloe is irreplaceable,” Chatham coach Joe Gaba said. “She give us such a dynamic boost on offense. To replace her is impossible.”
Junior forward Veronica Kelly, who led Chatham with 14 points, hit two free throws to give Chatham a 43-41 edge in the overtime. But Wax hit her 3-pointer and the Mustangs sank six straight free throws in the final minute to ice the game.
“I thought we showed some fight in the second half,” Gaba said. “In overtime and at the end of regulation we had a lot of really good looks, but we just weren’t able to convert them.”
Kelly sank all 10 of her free throws in the game and Michaela Ford finished with 10 points for the Lady Cougars.
Montville had taken a 23-18 lead into the break before Chatham rallied over the final two quarters and overtime.
“In the first half, it seemed like we were in a different place,” Gaba said. “We weren’t communicating, we weren’t switching, and we weren’t fighting on screens.”
The 6-1 Kelly was the focus of the Montville defense, which resulted in her numerous trips to the foul line.
“Any time she touches the ball, they always double or triple down on her,” Gaba said. “It’s just her recognizing the kick-out pass, which she did a couple times tonight.”