CLARK, NJ- The Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders girls varsity basketball team played shorthanded this week with players missing games due to the flu. On Saturday afternoon, they got back on track winning against the Roselle Park High School Panthers by a final score of 56-25 in the first round of the 2018 Union County Tournament.
“They played together as a team,” Johnson head coach Joe Marino said. “We have about three girls down with the flu and we’re playing shorthanded.”
In the first quarter, Johnson opened the game on a 9-0 scoring run and didn’t allow their first basket until the final minute of the opening quarter, leading 11-2 after the first eight minutes of play. Johnson had four different players score in the quarter, with seniors Amy Wysocki and Shelby Lynes, along with juniors Victoria Zatko contributing points.
“[The girls] shared the wealth today,” Marino said. “There were a lot of people scoring today, which was outstanding and we’ve been missing that.”
Roselle Park put a few shots together to trim the Johnson lead to 13-6 with 6:42 left in the second quarter, but the Crusaders withstood their temporary momentum with a series of shots of their own.
Johnson used a string of offense from different players, building their lead to 23-8 with 3:47 left in the second quarter, with senior Kellie Bonaccorso seeing a piece of the team’s swing on offense.
Wysocki scored ten points in a two-minute span in the second quarter, powering the Crusaders to a bigger lead. Johnson led Roselle Park 33-13 at halftime, with Zatko coming up in a big way for the Crusaders on offense, tallying eight points in the first 16 minutes of action, including two long three-point shots that connected.
“Having my team by my side, telling me that I could do it was probably the best thing and was the reason I played the way I did on offense today,” Zatko said.
In the third quarter, Johnson scored the first few points, coming from Wysocki and Zatko increasing the lead to 37-13 with 5:10 left in the third quarter. Another quick spurt on offense had Johnson ahead of Roselle Park by a score of 44-21 after the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Crusaders shuffled in players who continued to keep scoring points and seal the deal. Zatko opened the quarter with her third three-point shot and scored two free throws, as Johnson led 52-23 with 4:47 left.
Wysocki finished the afternoon with 16 points in the win, describing it as a big win, with the players they’ve been missing in recent games.
“We’ve been shorthanded because we’ve had a lot of players sick with the flu and everything,” Wysocki said. “To get this win today means a lot.”
Bailey Rosenmeier supplied great plays for the Crusaders on both the offense and defense, including the tough rebounding and second-chance shots that would turn into points. She finished with 12 points in the win for Johnson.
“We really pulled together because we were short and knew it was do-or-die in the county tournament,” Rosenmeier said following the win. “As a result, we played some really good basketball today.”
Senior Danielle Hartzler added two three-point shots for the Crusaders in the second half.
The Crusaders snapped a three-game losing streak with the win, which pleased everybody from players to coaches with the total number of scorers for the Crusaders. Johnson remains confident with their play in the win to help them moving forward for the rest of the season.
“We’re going to use this motivation towards our hard work and keep moving forward in the counties and then use this to play well in the states,” Wysocki added, while looking ahead.
“The nice thing is how they played together for each other,” Marino said.
The Johnson Crusaders (7-13) advance to the Union County Tournament Second Round. They will face off at fourth-seeded Oak Knoll HS Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.
The Roselle Park Panthers (9-10) return to action Monday afternoon in a home game against Kent Place HS at 5:30 p.m.
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