NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - New Providence’s hopes of a repeat title came to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon as powerhouse Rumson-Fair Haven, ranked 4th in the state, topped the Lady Pioneers, 71-41, behind a balanced offensive attack.
An early 8-0 burst by Rumson-Fair Haven put the Lady Pioneer faithful on edge, however a strong response to end the quarter saw New Providence only trail by 3. However, an offensive explosion by the visitors put the game out of reach by halftime, as a 27-5 advantage in the second quarter all but ended the Lady Pioneers season.
“We knew that it would be a matter of everybody doing their job on defense,” head coach Cap Pazdera said. “It’s tough though when all of their players on the court can score and eventually they were too much for us to handle.”
“I was proud of the way we fought but once they put on their true offensive display in the second quarter and knocked down a lot of threes they proved why they were one of the top teams in the state.”
Despite the loss, Pazdera couldn’t have been more proud of his team. Many people doubted the squad after the departure of all time leading scorer Sydney Morang, but this group proved them wrong as they thrived all season, picking up 21 wins in the meantime and clinching the top spot in a stacked section.
“I’m super proud of these girls,” Pazdera said. “If somebody told me we’d win 21 games and have the top seed heading into the state tournament and make it to the semifinals in both the county and state tournament, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
“I can’t say enough about how hard these girls worked; the effort they put in and how hard they worked all season really says a lot about this team.”
While the loss was certainly not the way New Providence wanted the season to end, next year’s potential is certainly bright as they bring back their entire starting five for the 20-16, 2017 season, with hopes of once again making noise come playoff time.
“At the beginning of the season after losing Syd (Morang), we thought we’d use this year as a stepping stone to next year,” Pazdera said. “The fact that we accomplished what we did makes me believe we can achieve so much more next year.”
The Lady Pioneers have plenty to be proud of this season, as a 21-7 record, a berth in the county and sectional semifinals, and finishing near the top of a very strong conference prove that next year has great things in store.
Hannah Caminiti led New Providence with 12 points and Katie Kinum chipped in a double double, scoring 11 points and collecting 11 rebounds.