UNION, NJ – The Group 4 semifinals basketball matchup started just like any other game featuring the Morristown girls’ varsity basketball team, except this time it was the Colonials on the wrong end of defensive dominance in their 61-37 loss to the Franklin Warriors on Wednesday evening at Union Senior High School.
The Warriors, led by their top scorer Diamond Miller, jumped out to an early lead and had Morristown on their heels for much of the first quarter. Averaging 73 points a game in the North 2, Group 4 Sectional Tournament, Franklin started the game on a 7-0 run and had a 13-point lead after the first quarter.
“We made some mistakes that we just haven’t made during the first 25 games of the year,” said Morristown head coach Jimmy Pisciotto, who praised Franklin’s defense for causing those turnovers. “We’ve played some fast aggressive teams, and I really don’t have an answer. I tip my hat. They’re obviously a very good team.”
A full-court press and various defensive trap schemes stymied Morristown early and often, causing turnovers that led to quick scores.
Franklin went on a 14-0 run to start the second quarter and led by as many as 27 points in the first half before they were met with some resistance from the Colonials, who closed out the quarter on a 5-2 run.
Morristown built off their brief success at the end of the first half by opening the third quarter on a 9-2 run to trim the lead to 17 points. However, the Warriors countered that with a scoring streak of their own and built a 32-point lead into the early stages of the fourth quarter.
Shortly after, Morristown center Kayla Bush, a senior and offensive weapon, fouled out of the game. At that point, it was clear the Colonials would be on the losing end, but they finished the game with pride. The Colonials ended the game by outscoring Franklin 12-4 in the final minutes.
The Colonials were led in the scoring department by Kimberley Calloway (12) and Elizabeth Strambi (9).
“I’ve been coaching for a while, but this is a group of girls that take pride in being together,” suggested Pisciotto, reflecting on this season. “The tears that you saw after the game were not tears because they lost, its tears because they’re not going to be with each other. The amount of support that we’ve had from the school is just awesome.”
The Morristown girls’ certainly have a lot to be proud of this season.
“Winning a state championship and having some of the players come to me and say ‘Coach, I’ll never forget this’ almost brought me to tears,” added Pisciotto.
This summer, Morristown will lose six graduating seniors, but will see the return of six others, including Strambi, their star point guard. Other returning players include Tara O’Neill, Kate Kolb, Nicole Ferrara, and Jessica Willette.