DENVILLE, NJ - Joe Gaba wasn't about to take anything for granted in the Morris County Tournament. So when the Chatham girls basketball coach watched the tape of his team's win over Morris Knolls on Thursday, he wanted them to focus on their "help" defense for the third meeting of the season against the Golden Eagles.
The "help" was there from the start as No. 2 seed Chatham clamped down tight on the defensive end to hold No. 10-seeded Morris Knolls to just six points in the first half of its convincing 51-25 MCT quarterfinal win on Morris Knolls' home court.
"You never take anything for granted, especially when you get into the tournament," Gaba said. "We won on Thursday, but there was enough on film that we weren't happy with that we wanted to fix in terms of our help defense. Our help was much, much better today. There was enough on film to grab our attention. It told us that we didn't play that well defensively and we can get better."
After struggling on the offensive end in the first period, Chatham (17-4) took control of the game in the second quarter, using its defense to spark its transition game. The Cougars closed out the second period with a 15-0 run that handed them a 23-6 lead at the break.
Cougar freshman Meja Jaegerskog hit a jumper to start the second-quarter run and then fed Shannon Donohoe (see below) for a basket inside.
Donohoe followed with a bounce pass to Carly Frohnapfel for a layup (see below) before Maddie Hartnett passed to Donohoe, who finished with a quick move to the rim.
Hartnett then scored in transition (see below) with a shot that rolled the rim before dropping to make it 18-6.
Tess Ford hit the 3-pointer to keep the streak going (see below) and then fed Carly Frohnapfel for a fast-break layup that made it a 17-point halftime lead.
Chatham will meet No. 3 seed Randolph (18-2) in the MCT semifinal round, 6:30 p.m. Friday at the County College of Morris.
"Anytime you get to the semis, you've had a good year to get to CCM," Gaba said. "This is our fourth year in a row that we've made the semis. I'm proud of our program, the kids in there and what we've accomplished. A lot of teams don't get a chance to enjoy something like this. We're really, really spoiled. I never want them to forget that this is not easy."
COUGAR NOTES: Senior guard Maddie Hartnett was quiet on the offensive end for the first three quarters, but hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter when she scored eight of her game-high 12 points. She also finished with 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds ... Shannon Donohoe came up two rebounds shy of her third straight double-double by ending with 11 points and eight rebounds. She led Chatham with nine points in the first half ... senior guard Emma Frohnapfel had eight points and seven rebounds for the Cougars ... sophomore Ella Surmeli scored her first varsity points with a 3-pointer that gave Chatham its final points of the game ... Randolph defeated St. Elizabeth in its quarterfinal, 43-37, led by junior guard Angeleen Mulero with 20 points. Caitlin Barry, a senior from Chatham, led St. Elizabeth's with 12 points, five rebounds and three steals ... Randolph and Chatham have a common opponent in West Morris. The Rams beat West Morris twice and the Cougars split two games with West Morris.