MORRISTOWN, NJ – When the Morristown High School girls basketball team comes out flying on all cylinders and are playing their “A” game, it is bad news for whoever is on the court with them.
In the case of Monday night’s state tournament opener, that unlucky team was Bloomfield.
The top-seeded Colonials rolled over the overmatched Bengals from get-go in this NJSIAA Section 1, Group 4 first round game, taking a 69-36 victory to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Morristown – in reaching the twenty-win milestone against three losses – will face ninth-seeded West Orange at the county seat in two days.
Establishing a torrid pace right away, the Colonials drained 10 three pointers in the opening half to put the game away in roughly 25 minutes of real time. As usual, it was senior point guard Elizabeth Strambi leading the way with a game-high 27 points on the season.
“We really were gunning it up and down the court tonight. I think having a few days off really helped us after the county final against Chatham. Bloomfield really isn’t a bad team. They play in the top division in Essex County and have been competitive with teams that played us close. We played very well tonight,” said Morristown coach Jimmy Pisciotto after the game.
The initial surge of Morristown’s tidal wave from beyond the arc led to a quick 11-0 lead for the winners. Nicole Ferrara, Strambi, and Tara O’Neill all swished home three-balls in succession to help the Colonials swell their early lead.
While Bloomfield – which finished 8-15 on their season – stopped the bleeding with a 17-footer from Aicha Naouai at the 3:56 mark of the first, Morristown would again use three triples to go on a second 11-0 spurt to run the score up to 22-2, essentially deciding the outcome of the game before some fans even arrived.
In that second outburst, Strambi hit from behind the arc on each wing, and stole a Bloomfield pass for a lay-up to score 13 points in a dominant opening quarter.
The relentless shooting led to another pair of three’s from O’Neill – who nearly beat a career high with 20 points in this one – to extend the margin to 21-10.
But following a Jayda Lee put back to crawl Bloomfield within 31-12, Morristown struck for another 9-0 run to close out the half. In that stretch, a pair of O’Neill layups were compounded with a left corner three-ball from Strambi.
Two Ferrara deep balls and a three lay-in’s by Strambi allowed the winners to put in their reserves after three, as the Colonials held a 56-27 lead at that point following a Rachel Parnell lay-up with seven seconds left for Morristown.
In that final period, sophomore Morgan O’Neill got on the board with a banked in three, while senior Jehassana Davies also got on the board with a pair of put back lay-ups.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Colonials, who will now face a very talented team in West Orange that is likely under seeded after a brutal Essex County schedule.
“(West Orange) is way closer to being the ninth best team in the state than the ninth-seed in our section!” said Pisciotto after the game. “It’s going to be a tough and good game on Thursday.”
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