RANDOLPH, NJ- The NJSIAA North 1 Group 4 girls basketball finals started as a low scoring defensive struggle, but ended in a wild, back and forth affair. Randolph senior captain Ellie Sciancalepore played the role of hero when she hit a buzzer beating layup for the final points in the Lady Rams 32-30 win over Hackensack.
Our Coach, Peter Torres, talked about how proud he was of us after the game,” said Sciancalepore. “This has been a long time coming, and after the hours and hours that he puts into our practice plans and scouting reports, he was insanely proud of us for getting the job done.”
But before Sciancalepore’s heroics, Randolph’s leading scorer Angeleen Mulero put the Rams on her back and led a second half comeback, scoring all 13 of her points in the final two quarters.
Hackensack had completely locked down the Rams in the first half of the game, holding them to a season low of 7 points. But at the same time, Randolph held their own on the defensive end as well, only allowing 13 points to the Commets.
“We told the girls at the half that they needed to keep getting to the rim, as we had many open opportunities that just didn’t fall in the first half,” said Torres. “Hackensack only had 13 points and we told them that we needed to get to 30 as I didn’t think Hackensack would get to that number. Our kids knew that we had 16 minutes to get it done and they went after it.”
The Rams came charging out of the second half locker room with a full court press and a renewed energy, ripping off 8-0 run to take the lead.
After an Olivia Turner bucket inside, Mulero converted a rare 4-point play when she was fouled while making a three, and then converted the free throw to tie the game. Then a steal on defense by Alyssa Alfieri and a perfect pass to Mulero resulted in a fast break layup and the first lead of the game for the Rams at 15-13.
From there the teams traded the lead for a bit, until Randolph found themselves trailing 23-19. But an 11-1 run, sparked by more defensive pressure that included a few steals and blocked shots from Sara Bona and Turner, gave Randolph a 30-24 lead with just under two minutes left.
Hackensack would not go lightly however, hitting three free throws and a three pointer with 40 seconds left to tie the game at 30-30.
With 5.5 seconds on the clock, the Rams were inbounding the ball at half court, and the play resulted in the dramatic finish at the rim.
“I used our last time out to set up a play with Angeline Mulero as a decoy,” said Torres. “Sarah was to pass it to Ellie and follow the pass. Normally we have Sarah get the ball back, but I told Ellie to fake it to Sarah, spin back and go down the lane. Thankfully, they went for the fake and the rest is history. A great move and finish by Ellie.”
The play went off just as described by Torres, and what made the finish even more impressive is that while Sciancalepore is a righty, she had to go left and convert the shot with her off hand.
“My mind was blank, I just knew I had to take it strong,” said Sciancalepore. “I took it on my right and knew they might call a foul if I went that way, so I quickly crossed over to the left and just let it fly. I truly couldn’t be prouder of my girls on this team, this is what every practice is for, moments like this.”