UNION, NJ – The storybook season for Bloomfield Girls Varsity Basketball came to a close on Thursday night as the Lady Bengals fell to top-ranked Franklin of Somerset 66-22 in the NJSIAA Group 4 Semifinal played at neutral-site Union High School.
Just two days after Bloomfield defeated Morristown 43-38 to capture their first North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 Championship in 19 years, the Lady Bengals faced an impossible task against the high-powered, undefeated Franklin Warriors.
Franklin, sporting several college-bound stars, advanced to the Group 4 Semifinals after defeating Bayonne 70-38 to claim the North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 title on Tuesday in Somerset.
In the loss for Bloomfield, senior Sarah Edmond scored 8 points, junior Samantha Columna and freshman Chiara Hilario had 6 points apiece, and sophomore Asiyah Edmond had 2.
“There’s nothing more I can say about these girls – I can’t put into words how great they are,” an emotional Bengals Head Coach Zac Dearwater told TAP. “People don’t see this – it hits me in my heart, and I’m so proud of them.”
Franklin senior Diamond Miller led the Warriors with a game-high 19 points, while senior Tiana Jackson had 6.
With the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, Dearwater pulled his three key starters, Edmond, Columna and senior Camrynn Referente out of the game with 2:30 remaining.
“It was very important to pull our three starters out to get all of our fans and everyone in our student section a chance to recognize them,” said Dearwater. “They’re one hell of a group and we’re fortunate to get one of them (Columna) back next year and hopefully we can perform the same way and do some good things with her in charge as the senior leader next year.”
Bloomfield closes out the 2018-19 season with a 19-8 overall record for first-year coach Dearwater.
Franklin continues to the Group 4 Final with a 31-0 record. They face Lenape on Monday.
Although disappointed with the Group 4 Semifinal result on Thursday, Dearwater is pleased with the Sectional Championship, as well as the experience his underclassmen gained in this postseason tournaments.
“This postseason run gives our underclassmen a little taste of the action,” Dearwater explained. “Everyone got in the game and that’s a good thing. A freshman, Aliyah Sanchez, got in the game earlier than expected and she gave everything she had and that’s all we can ask for. And Asiyah, who is still a sophomore, needs to get work and play as much as she can to keep improving and do the things she’s been doing. I’m very proud of the way she plays on a regular basis. Now, we want to come back here next year and see what we can do.”
On the road to the Sectional title, Bloomfield rallied to advance past East Orange 33-30 in the Semifinals on March 1. Bloomfield mounted a late rally to pull off an upset over Livingston 46-42 in the Quarterfinal on February 27. The Bengals defeated Kearny 50-36 in the first-round on February 25.
Moving forward, the Lady Bengal seniors and their leadership will be missed, both on and off the court.
“For our seniors, I wish nothing but the best for them in the future,” Dearwater said. “They’re amazing kids.”