SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The New Providence girls basketball team has maintained a perfect record three weeks into the season on the strength of its passing, pressing, quickness and teamwork.
Lacking great height, the Pioneers won't strike an imposing profile for any opponent who sees them for the first time in the layup line--until the game starts, and that same opponent has to deal with New Providence's full-court pressure.
That press, along with some exceptional passing and a world-class performance by freshman guard Meghan Lamanna, propelled the Pioneers to a prolific second quarter en route to a 63-34 victory over Scotch Plains-Fanwood Thursday afternoon.
Lamanna scored a career-high 28 points --including 15 in the second quarter--and New Providence (9-0) broke the game open with a 14-2 run in the second quarter on its way to a 20-point halftime lead.
"Meghan is a difference-maker," said New Providence head coach Cap Pazdera. "Defensively, we usually match her against the other team's best ball-handler. She's like the point of our spear in the press. And she has some great offensive skills."
Lindsay Kinum scored 14 points and handed out six assists, Grace Kelly had eight points and three assists, and Kaitlyn Cumiskey handed out five assists and was another integral element in the Pioneers' withering press, which led to an abundance of SPF turnovers in turning a 17-12 game after one quarter into a 39-19 game by halftime.
With the scored 22-15, Kelly sank a layup off a feed from Amy Maurer on a crisp diagonal pass to ignite a 9-0 run. Maurer sank a free throw, Lamanna scored off a steal, Alexis Boyle hit a jumper off another Maurer pass and Lamanna converted a pass from Kinum into a layup for a 31-15 lead.
"The full-court press is our game," Pazdera said. "We don't have a lot of size, so we try to pressure a team into making mistakes and get quick turnovers that can turn into easy layups for us."
Scotch Plains-Fanwood (2-4) made a mini-run to close to within 47-34 early in the fourth quarter, but New Providence then closed out the game by scoring the final 16 points--eight of them by Kinum. Even as they were pulling away, the Pioneers shared the ball and made the extra pass.
"Our speed is tough for other teams to cover," Pazdera said. "If they have to play us man-to-man, we make it tough because of our speed. If teams go zone against us, we have shooters, so that makes this team tough to defend."
And tough to beat, which no one has done yet.