SPRINGFIELD, NJ — The Dayton girls basketball team used their momentum from earlier in the week to get a much-deserved win on Saturday.
Senior Michelle Bellino scored a career-high 28 points with 11 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks to lead 16th-seeded Dayton to a 55-36 victory over 17th-seeded Linden in the preliminary round of the Union County Tournament in Springfield.
Senior Casey Janker added eight points with two 3-pointers and sophomore Mya Sims-Taylor chipped in with seven as the Bulldogs used a 15-9 third quarter to take control, after leading 22-17 at halftime.
Senior Haeley Santos registered five points with seven rebounds and two assists in the win.
“We are coming together more and more as a team as the season progresses. We talk a lot about how every season has its highs and lows and we just have to accept the challenge of battling through the difficult times. We’ve got to take that mentality into every game as well because every game has its highs and lows,” said Dayton head coach David Rennie. “I feel we’ve gotten better at putting bad plays behind us during games and moving on to the next play. Today we played with a lot of energy. We got solid performances from everyone who stepped on the floor, but none more impressive than Michelle (Bellino).”
Dayton (7-13) has won two straight games and advanced to Tuesday’s first round and will face top-seeded Westfield (16-5) on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 4:00 p.m.
Westfield is on a 12-game win streak.
“We have a very tough opponent on Tuesday when go up against Westfield. We have to keep that same mentality of playing through the difficult moments so one bad play doesn’t turn into three or four bad plays in a row,” said Rennie. “The main thing I want to see from our team is to play focused, play hard and play together.”
Senior Faith Reddick scored a team-high nine points and junior Kamila Torres added seven for Linden (5-15), which has lost five straight games.
State Tournament Seed announced: Dayton is the 14th seed in the upcoming NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 Sectional Tournament and will visit third-seeded Glen Ridge in first round action on Monday, March 2 at 5:00 p.m.
The winner advances to Wednesday’s quarterfinals and will play the winner between 11th-seeded Ridgefield and sixth-seeded Shabazz.