SPARTA, NJ - With only three seniors departing, the Lady Spartans are a very young team. They are also a very talented team that will only get better.
Seniors Beth Laing, Jackie Dowd, and Emily Lake let the underclassmen take center stage on their night, topping the Lyons, 42-39, in a nail biter. They will gladly take the win over their crosstown rivals, Pope John, though.
The seniors combined for 11 points with Laing getting 11 while Lake and Dowd each got two. They all started with sophomore Brianna Falco and junior Erin Walsh, who stole the show on this night, finishing with 15 points and five rebounds.
Walsh often found herself on the free throw line towards the end of the game, hitting important free throws to keep Pope John from tying the game.
Sophomore Emily Dilger was relentless Tuesday. She won every 50/50 ball while throwing her body around the court for loose balls and rebounds. She would go after every rebound and if she did not win it, which was not often in this game, she was the first one back in the defensive paint. Dilger often outworked her opponents. She has a motor that you cannot teach. She finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
Falco has the poise of a senior with her ball handling and tight defense. She is the glue that holds this team together. She finished with four points and five rebounds but her value to this team doesn't show up on the scoresheet.
Pope John's Caitlyn Fitzmorris had eight points and three rebounds while Kristyn Spetz had nine points, all of which came in the first half.
This game was special for the Lady Spartans; with cheers for the seniors who gave it their all for four years but excitement for what the future brings with all of these underclassmen. The experience they are receiving this year is invaluable to their growth and success will follow.
The Lady Spartans host a New Jersey State tournament game next Tuesday at 5 p.m. as part of a doubleheader with the boys basketball team. It is the first time the Lady Spartans have hosted a state game in 12 years. The boys will be playing at 7 p.m. that night.