SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- The South Plainfield girls basketball team defeated Woodbridge, 45-32, in a Greater Middlesex Conference - White Division clash on the hardwood on Saturday morning.
With the victory, the Tigers (5-4, 3-2 GMC White) have now won three in a row.
“The girls played really hard and when they are playing smart and together, they are capable of doing really great things,” South Plainfield coach Geoffrey Corisdeo said.
The game was tight throughout until South Plainfield until Delaney Born drained two 3-pointers from the right wing and Sara McNelly scored a layup in transition for an 8-0 at the end of the third quarter to provide the green and white with a 35-27 lead. Alexx White added a layup to begin the fourth.
“It was huge,” Corisdeo said. “We were struggling to make baskets, so to have Delaney come in and make a couple shots it kind of opened up the game for us. We finished strong.”
Both teams struggled to make baskets in the opening half. Woodbridge (2-6, 1-5) held a one point, 15-14 lead after the first quarter and it was tied at 21-21 at the break.
The Barrons implemented a zone which forced more outside shots for South Plainfield.
“We see a lot of defense like that. Everyone does it a little differently,” Corisdeo said. “It takes some time to adjust to it, but we did a good job.”
But that late third quarter surge was the difference. The Tigers led by as many as 17 in the fourth.
“It always takes a while,” McNelly said. “We’re like a train and we have to build up. The second half, we just got into it and exploded.”
McNelly, a freshman, netted a game-high 12 points -- 10 of which came in the second half.
“It’s pretty cool since I’m a freshman starting on varsity. I just try and give it my all,” she said. “I thought about not shooting because I kept missing, but I kept putting my heart into it, I didn’t give up, and I didn’t stop. Missing actually motivated me and I wanted to show people I can score.”
McNelly has now scored 12 points twice in the last three games after never scoring more than eight. Coming from middle school all the way up to the varsity was an adjustment for her, she said, but she’s getting the hang of it.
“Definitely. In middle school, it was kind of like rec,” McNelly said. “There were some hard teams, but once I got here and in the first game, I was like ‘woah’.”
“She’s somebody from day one that just works really, really hard. If there’s a loose ball she’ll give up her body for the team,” Corisdeo said of the rookie. “The girls have gravitated for her and she helps set the tone.”
Born finished with 11 points, Brianna Harris scored seven, Tori Euston notched eight, and Mackenzie O’Brien had five points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. McNelly also grabbed eight boards and recorded five steals.
Six players scored for Woodbridge, which had three players score six points each while two had five apiece, and one had four.
South Plainfield tallied 37 rebounds, 14 steals, 13 assists, and two blocks. Of those 37 rebounds, a bevy came on the offensive end.
“That was really big, actually, McNelly said. “We started getting better with offensive rebounds lately. We can kick the ball out and score again or pass it around and find open shots.”
South Plainfield next plays on Tuesday at home against North Brunswick at 5:30 p.m. before it plays again at home next Thursday against Iselin Kennedy at the same time.
“We’re still learning,” Corisdeo said, “but as long as they play hard, smart, and together, the results will come.”
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.