CEDAR GROVE,NJ - The Cedar Grove Girls Basketball Team utilized their defensive prowess en route to a 40-28 victory over Newark Academy to break their four game losing spell at home on Saturday.

“They played well, at stretches it was as well as we’ve played all year so I’m very pleased with the effort,” said Cedar Grove Head Coach Bill Scanlon.

The Lady Panthers took over in the third quarter utilizing a full court trap to stifle the Newark Academy offense. Karen Raum, Ava Fernandez, Gianna Bocchino, and Jessica Sinisi combined to send Cedar Grove on a 12-2 run that gave the squad a comfortable lead of 32-18 at the end of the quarter.

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“I really think we all worked together today, everyone’s shots were on, everyone was driving, we were all communicating well,” said Sinisi.

Sinisi was instrumental for the Cedar Grove team in two key scoring runs in both the third and second quarter respectively. The senior finished with a team-high 11 points, seven of which came during the second or third quarter.

“I think we really had it in our hearts that we really needed a win and we all [executed] all the little stuff, the blocking out, the stepping into our shots…I think we all incorporated that into our game today because we had it in our hearts that we really wanted to win today,” said Sinisi.

While Sinisi and others helped the Lady Panthers onto victory, the first half was dominated by defense with each team struggling for baskets. Cedar Grove utilized a five-guard lineup to maximize their matchups on defense resulting in key contributions from their bench and Bocchino.   Bocchino notched six of her eight points in the first half to help Cedar Grove to a 20-16 halftime lead.

“Bocchino played really well for us today and that’s what she’s capable of doing…she gives us something, she is able to create with the ball in her hands better than anybody on our team,” said Scanlon.

Newark Academy worked to try and mount a comeback midway through the fourth quarter but a 20-point deficit was simply too much to overcome. Cedar Grove’s Ava Mandala worked the full court trap to perfection creating multiple turnovers and extra possessions for the Lady Panthers to milk the clock.

“[Mandala] anticipates, it’s rare when she has someone about the same size as her playing against her and she did…Ava was able to anticipate passes and take it,” said Scanlon.

Cedar Grove’s victory improves the team to 4-8 on the season as they’ve now broken a four game losing streak. The team hopes this will be the turn of a winning run that can propel them forward with States upcoming.

“I like the way we’re playing…I think we’re ok going into next week” said Scanlon.

All photos by Nick Teodoro.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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