SPRINGFIELD, NJ — The Dayton girls’ basketball team bounced back in a big way Saturday.

Sophomore Mya Sims-Taylor scored a team-high 12 points, hitting three 3-pointers and senior forward Michelle Bellino added 11 points, six rebounds, six assists, six steals and one block to lead Dayton to a 52-33 victory over Freehold Borough in the first round of the 16th annual Joe Pepe Memorial Holiday Tournament in Springfield.

Freshman Samantha Casey added nine points and nine rebounds and senior Haeley Santos chipped in with seven points with two 3-pointers and three assists for Dayton, which was coming off a 51-19 season-opening setback to neighbor Oak Knoll on Dec. 20.

Sign Up for Springfield Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

“Offensively, we moved the ball well and got everyone involved. We got the ball inside, which not only gave us scoring opportunities in the paint, but opened up shots on the perimeter when the defense tried to double down in the post,” said Dayton head coach David Rennie. “Defensively, we caused a few deflections and turnovers, which disrupted Freehold’s offense. We also protected the lane well and forced perimeter shots. We received positive contributions from everyone who stepped on the floor. I hope to get this kind of consistent performance from beginning to end each game.”

The Bulldogs (1-1) will host Morristown-Beard (3-1) in today’s championship at 4:00 p.m.
Freehold Borough (1-2) will face Linden (1-2) in today’s consolation game at 1:00 p.m.

“They (Mo-Beard) will be a tough opponent. They play excellent defense, trying to create turnovers with their press and double teams. They are an excellent rebounding team as well, so we’ll need to make our shots because we may not get many second chance opportunities,” said Rennie. “They have quite a few players who can knock down the outside shot and they also like to drive to the basket. We’ll have to be able to close out on the perimeter without giving up driving lanes.”

Erin Martin scored 17 points with two 3-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds and Addisyn Ibrahim posted a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 steals to power Morristown-Beard to a 58-30 victory over Linden in Saturday’s first round.

About Joe Pepe: Joe Pepe III was an All-Conference basketball player for three consecutive years at Dayton from 1972-74. He was the first to score 1,000 points in school history. Joe excelled as the quarterback of the Bulldogs football team and earned a scholarship to Liberty