CLARK, NJ - In their most important game to date this season, the New Providence girls' basketball team, ranked No. 4 in the 2013 Union County Tournament, were upset by Plainfield, 57-51, in the tournament's first round on Monday at Arthur Johnson High School.
"Awesome. We won. That was good," Plainfield head coach Mauri Horton said. "I know we're a good team. I know our record doesn't do us any justice, but I know we're a good team."
New Providence dug themselves into a 14-point deficit in the second half, after allowing Plainfield to open the third quarter on an 11-2 run.
Plainfield's Breana Spencer and Drew Winter scored every point of the run to give the Cardinals a 40-26 lead with 3:50 to play in the third.
It took New Providence seven minutes, but the Pioneers managed to pull within one possession after Cassandra Squeri converted on an old-fashioned 3-point play, a layup plus a free-throw, with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
However, despite several opportunities to tie the game in the final minutes, New Providence managed only one more basket, while the Cardinals were able to convert on six free-throw attempts to ice the win.
"We had a shot," Pioneer head coach Cap Pazdera said. "We had our chances. I give the girls a lot of credit. They could have packed it in and lost by 25 or 30, so to their credit they fought back and showed that we were at least going to try and fight for it a little bit. It just wasn't our day."
New Providence freshman Sydney Morang led all scorers with 21 points, while Spencer led the Cardinals with 20.
This was the second time the two teams played each other in the past week, with the Pioneers winning the previous game during Plainfield's senior night.
"They wanted it more," Pazdera said. "It was clear from the first half. We just didn't want it as badly as they did. They came here to play and we didn't. We payed for it, we got ourselves to far in a hole and couldn't come back."
Plainfield will now face Linden in the tournament's second round, while New Providence is not scheduled to play again until they host Middletown South on Feb. 21. They are also scheduled to host a state playoff game against Newark Vocational on Feb. 26.