CHATHAM, NJ - No one expected the Chatham girls basketball team to make it all the way to the Group 3 state final last season. And the current Cougars might be an afterthought when it comes to state rankings because of their defense-first philosophy.
But a few eyes had to be opened on Saturday afternoon when Chatham won its seventh in a row, a convincing 54-44 victory over Manasquan, ranked No. 11 in the state by NJ.com.
Senior guard Maddie Hartnett drained five 3-pointers on her way to a career-high 24 points; sophomore forward Carly Frohnapfel scored a career-high 15 points and junior guard Tess Ford handed out eight assists for Chatham (13-2), which also won road games at Morristown-Beard and Morris Catholic earlier in the week.
"We've had quite a week," Chatham coach Joe Gaba said. "We took out Mo-Beard, Morris Catholic and then these guys. It's been an amazing week for us. These kids deserve it. We have the same kind of family mojo that we had last year and you just want good things to happen to good kids."
Maddie Hartnett and Carly Frohnapfelt talk about the week and the win
The Cougars made good things happen by the way they played from the opening tip, moving to a 19-3 lead in the first quarter.
Chatham set the tone early by scoring the first nine points. Hartnett sank two free throws and Carly Frohnapfel hit a 3-pointer (see below) from the left corner off a pass from Shannon Donohoe.
Hartnett then drove the lane and hit a running shot that rolled the rim before dropping through (see below).
Carly Frohnapfel hit two foul shots to make it 9-0 before Mary Donnelly broke the drought for Manasquan (11-6) with 2:20 left in the period, converting a three-point play. But Chatham just kept coming, with freshman Meja Jaegerskog scoring on a strong move to the rim (see below).
Hartnett followed by sinking consecutive 3-pointers just 19 seconds apart, the first a drop-step shot (see below).
Ford drove for a running shot (see below) with 30 seconds left in the first quarter and then opened the second period with a drive to the basket that made it a 21-3 game.
The Cougars continued to dominate in the second quarter, taking a 33-18 lead into the break. Emma Frohnapfel provided one of the highlights of the second quarter with a 3-pointer (see below) that made the score 31-12, off a pass from Carly Frohnapfel.
In the third quarter, Harnett hit two straight 3-pointers and Carly Frohnapfel hit the offensive boards to score twice on putbacks, staking the Cougars to a 43-24 lead.
Chatham took a 19-point lead into the fourth quarter before Manasquan scored 20 points over the final eight minutes to make the game look closer than it was."(Manasquan's) a great program," Gaba said. "They're a very young, talented team. They're a storied Shore Conference program. We thought we could defend them and we did. We thought we could get to the basket on them as well and (Carly) got things going for us. We felt pretty confident going in that it would be a competitive game."
COUGAR NOTES: Maddie Hartnett made five 3-pointers in the game, but she also was fouled while taking a 3-pointer and made all three foul shots ... It was one Froh to another when Emma Frohnapfel fed little sister Carly for a basket that gave her 15 points ... Chatham tries for its eighth straight when it travels to meet West Morris, 7 p.m. Monday.