NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The No. 1 seed Lady Pioneers held the No. 16 Spotswood Chargers to 18 points in the first half, dominating on defense en route to a 54-37 victory in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Group 2 Tournament at home.
"Our three practices we had prior to tonight's game, we were focused, worked extremely hard, and we were ready to bounce back after the tough loss in the county semis," said Pioneer junior Hannah Caminiti.
After losing the defensive battle against Cranford in the County Tournament, Coach Cap Pazdera was determined to take early command of the court with pressure in the NJSIAA Tournament.
"We said it was going to start on the defensive end for us," said Pazdera. "We didn't get the job done defensively the first half but the second half we did a much better job."
With New Providence double and tripling up on defense, Spotswood's offense capitalized on open looks under the basket. "Throughout the first half we did not box out enough giving Spotswood second opportunities to score," said Caminiti.
The Pioneers quickly found their groove and put a halt to the Charger's offensive momentum. Junior Katie Kinum, with 23 game points, was first to sink a three, while Caminiti drained the second to tie the game 10-10 to end the quarter in a tie.
"I worked on my shot and they were giving me open looks beyond the arc so I was able to convert," said Caminiti, who hit four three pointers, scoring 22 game points.
She opened the second quarter by hitting her second three and the Lady Pioneers went on to an 18-8 second quarter run, leading by 10 at half.
"Overall, the more pressure we put on their guards transferred into turnovers and fast break opportunities for us, which we benefited from greatly," said Caminiti.
Brielle Carleen opened the third quarter with a three and the lead continued to grow.
The Lady Pioneers continued their tight pressure onslaught and held the Chargers to three field goals with the remaining 13 second half points earned on the line.
Pazdera gave Spotswood credit for running "their stuff well," adding, "we have to do a little better defensively and on the boards in order to keep moving on, and hopefully some more of those shots fall down."
"Our plan is one game at a time and Holmdel is next," said Caminiti. "We need to be focused at our practice tomorrow and get mentally prepared for a tough game Thursday. I am ready and looking forward for our team to compete and have a strong performance."
New Providence advances to face No. 8 seed Holmdel at home on Thursday with a 7 p.m. tip off in the quarterfinal round.