SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ — Despite Abbe-Gayle Burton’s strong play in the paint and a pair of powerful runs, Scotch Plains-Fanwood girls’ basketball didn’t have enough answers to overcome a strong-shooting Montgomery team Saturday afternoon.
Montgomery came out executing a full-court trap defense that wreaked havoc on the Raiders’ inbounds plays, and the Cougars’ took advantage of their many caused turnovers to open up on a 22-1 run. While Burton helped the Raiders get back on their feet after the rough start by scoring 15 points, and the team produced a pair of commanding runs, Montgomery went on to claim a 62-42 victory in a Union-Somerset County crossover matchup.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s record dropped to 7-3, but the Raiders have a chance to improve that mark in a huge three-game week beginning on Tuesday.
“We were indecisive, and we didn’t come out with any effort or energy,” Scotch Plains-Fanwood head coach Ryan McKenna said of his team during Montgomery’s 22-1 run, which ended up being the game’s difference maker. “That’s how you lose the ball on the press and get down, 22-1.”
With one minute, 59 seconds left in the opening quarter, McKenna called a timeout. Whatever was said during the break had to have had some large impact, because the Raiders went on a 9-0 run with Burton scoring seven of her 15 points following the 60-second timeout. Nya Downing got the run started on a put-back layup, and Burton gave it serious life with a three-point “and one” play with seven-tenths of a second remaining.
Burton, whose 15 points were a shared game-high, would go on to record eight more in the second half. The senior now has the most points (85) and field goals (35) on the team, and averages 8.7 points-per-game.
“It’s always important to have a scorer,” coach McKenna said, “but if we come out with that little energy, then we’re not going to play well.”
The Raiders recovered from a mere 12-point first half and more than doubled that total with a 30-point second.
Stopping a Montgomery team that could knock down shots from downtown, hit midrange jumpers, and make plays in the paint was not an easy task for Scotch Plains-Fanwood. However, the Raiders switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense about halfway through the first half, and the strategy temporarily stymied the Cougars’ potent offense.
However, as Montgomery soon displayed, the easiest way to break a 1-3-1 zone is by moving the ball to the lane corners and taking shots from beyond the arc, where there are less defenders. The Cougars executed this theory to a tee and popped a collective six three-pointers when facing the Raiders’ zone.
Andrea Katramados accounted for half of those three balls, as her sharpshooting capabilities helped her land a Montgomery-best 15 points, seven of which came in the Cougars’ 23-point third quarter. Carolyn Prevost added 12 additional points while knocking down five field goals.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood used its second true run of success to cut into the deficit during the fourth quarter, in which it outscored Montgomery, 14-4.
Looking to return to their winning ways, the Raiders will take the court next on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. They will host Gov. Livingston, whom they defeated by 20 points on opening night, in a big Union County Conference Mountain Division matchup.