MOUNTAIN LAKES – Despite being without the services of two starters and not getting untracked  offensively until late in the game, the Parsippany girls basketball team still managed to find a way to stay close.

The Red Hawks were able to overcome a slow start, but their late push wasn’t enough as Mountain Lakes prevailed with a  28-21 decision. The loss was the fifth in the last six games for Parsippany, which dropped to 5-10 for the season.  

Junior guard Madison Miller paced the Red Hawks with eight points and Tia Ayton, a senior forward, delivered all of her seven points in the fourth quarter when Parsippany clawed its way back from a 23-9 deficit.  Ayton hit the one of two free throws with 3:56 to play and drove the baseline to score with 2:45 remaining to get Parsippany, which played without starters Luisa Barone, a senior point guard, and freshman center Emily Feola, to within 25-17.

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“Being two starters down, we’re inexperienced out there.” Parsippany second-year coach Bryan DiMaulo said. “But we’ve got to find a way to figure it out.  We fought back a little bit, but it was too last. We just couldn’t handle their pressure tonight.”

Despite its 1-11 record entering the game. Mountain Lakes, which was led by nine points from senior Jessica Torch, has been a solid defensive team all season and the effort against Parsippany was no exception.  The Lakers limited Parsippany to just nine points through three quarters.

But the Red Hawks were able to show signs of life late in the contest.  After falling behind 23-9 on a layup from Rachel Curran to open the fourth quarter for Mountain Lakes, a 3-pointer from Miller ignited a 12-5 run for Parsippany with seven contributed by Ayton.

The Red Hawks did have opportunities to close the deficit even more, but were unable to find the basket in several crucial situations during the closing moments.

“Late in the game, if we could make a three and then get a stop,  I think maybe then we’d have had a chance,” DiMaulo said. “The pressure got in our way and we turned the ball over and gave them too many chances. When you to that you lose, that’s how it goes.”

Dominique Oberg and Jenna Devens each scored two points and Michelle Edel and Olivia Bucciarelli had one point apiece for Parsippany.

“It’s good that we made it a little bit of a game, but we’ve got to figure out a way,” DiMaulo said. “If the offense doesn’t work, then we’ve got to figure it out on defense.”

The Red Hawks, the 21st-seed in the Morris County Tournament, will be in action on January 27 at 3 p.m. when they're on the road to take on 12th-seeded Randolph in a preliminary round matchup.