NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ --The New Providence girls basketball team continued its drive for a championship with an overwhelming defensive effort Wednesday evening.
New Providence held Whippany Park scoreless in the opening quarter and did an effective job on the glass in a 46-21 victory in the quarterfinal round of the Section 2, Group 1 state tournament.
The Pioneers will host either Dunellen or Belvidere in the sectional semifinals Friday evening, tentatively at 5:30 p.m.
Coming on the heels of its 46-5 first-round victory over Palisades Park on Monday, New Providence outscored Whippany Park, 17-0, in the first quarter Wednesday, meaning the Pioneers had a five-quarter stretch in which they outscored their opponents, 63-5.
"That's really been our M.O. all season, applying defensive pressure and causing chaos," New Providence head coach Cap Pazdera said. "I think when we're doing things right, our press gets to be overwhelming for some teams."
While the Pioneer press didn't cause the bushel over turnovers by Whippany Park that it does against some teams, it did elicit the "chaos" Pazdera described, and that manifest itself in some hurried, low-percentage shots by Whippany Park and a significant rebounding edge for New Providence.
Lindsay Kinum scored six points, Meghan Lamanna five points and Juliana DeGeorge four points in the opening quarter. Lamanna finished with a team-high 14 points and three assists, and Kinum totaled eight points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists.
Whippany Park missed all nine shots its attempted in the first quarter, and retrieved only one of those errant misses for an offensive rebound, as Kinum, Kaitlyn Cumiskey and Grace Kelly were the catalysts on the defensive glass for the Pioneers.
Kelly did not start the game, but still finished with a team-high eight rebounds to go with four points and a blocked shot. Like most of her teammates, Kelly doesn't tower over many opponents--New Providence employs its superior quickness and athleticism against teams like Whippany Park as a matter of necessity because Pazdera's team is smaller than most.
"Every time a shot goes up, I follow the ball and do my best to try to box out," Kelly said. "Our team doesn't have much height, but if we all box out like we're taught we can still have an advantage."
All eight of Kelly's rebounds came on the defensive boards, as she kept Whippany Park from achieving second chances off missed shots.
"Grace really has a knack for getting the ball," Pazdera said. "Both on the offensive and the defensive glass, she always goes hard after the ball and usually comes up with it."
In addition to its rebounding and defensive efforts, New Providence hit 57.6 percent (19 of 33) of its shots, with Lamanna knocking down six of her eight attempts. Amy Maurer contributed seven points and three assists and Cumiskey also passed for three assists.
As the Pioneers face the prospect of tougher opponents as the tournament progresses, one area they'll need to clean up a bit is foul shooting--in an otherwise almost perfect performance Wednesday, they made just five of 16 from the foul line.