CLARK, NJ- With state tournaments beginning next week, the Johnson Crusaders and the Cranford Cougars girls took it to the court in one last regular season game Friday afternoon in Clark. Johnson edged Cranford by a score of, 58-55.
The two teams played a close game in the first quarter, with Johnson leading, 19-16, after the first eight minutes of action. The Cougars would keep it a close game and with two quarters played, the teams were tied at 28.
Cranford head coach Jackie Dyer talked before the game of what the message was for the team with the state tournaments starting next week.
“We talk about how within one basketball season, there’s three seasons,” Dyer said. “So, whatever happens in the last season, we kind of just have to move on and focus on the next season. It’s kind of like a fresh start, we had a slow start to our season. But you know, Cranford girls’ basketball always rallies when it comes to the state tournament.”
Both teams managed to set up great scoring opportunities, although turnovers were being committed by both teams.
As the second half got underway, the Cougars and Crusaders continued to keep it close, taking advantage of turnovers and connecting on key baskets throughout. Ties and lead changes highlighted the third quarter.
With 5:14 left, and the game tied at 45, Johnson senior Lauren Beck and junior Molly Panetta hit back-to-back three pointers to make it, 51-45. The Crusaders, led by as much as seven points in the fourth quarter.
For Cranford, junior Lyndsay Pace led all scorers with 31 points, while Cerys MacLelland, also a junior, added nine points in the loss.
Next up, the Cranford Cougars (6-17) will play at Voorhees High School in the NJSIAA North 2, Group 3 first round Tuesday night, while the Johnson Crusaders (13-10) will play at Spotswood High School Monday night at 5:30 p.m. in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 first round.