VERONA, NJ - After shaking off early postseason jitters the Verona Girls Basketball Team walloped Palisades Park in route to a 53-24 victory in the opening round of the North 1 Group 1 State Playoffs.
“It was a good win, I’m happy for the seniors, I’m not sure if it’s their first State Playoff win, but I’m happy for them,” said Verona Head Coach Jessica DelVecchio.
Verona was down by one midway through the first in what was a packed gym at Verona High School. After a Palisades Park timeout the Lady Hillbillies proceeded to go on a 14-1 scoring run to take control of the game. CC Courter sparked the run netting five of the 14 points along with some help from Brianna Horton.
“I think that we just calmed down a little bit, it was the first State games so there was a bit of nerves…I think once we started to calm down, run through our offense [and] see what we have…once that happened we really started to make a run for it,” said Courter.
Courter continued her excellent play into the second quarter adding an additional four points to give her nine for the evening. While her solid effort undoubtedly contributed to the team victory Courter made a little personal history of her own by collecting her 100th career assist in the process.
“I’m really excited that I reached 100 assists today, that was really big for me and I could not have done it without my teammates,” Courter said.
Having a solid 12-point lead would be more than enough for the three seeded Lady Hillbillies. Defensively Verona shut down the Palisades offense holding them to a mere seven points in the first half and 12 for the first three quarters. Exceptional play from the guard position including Brianna Horton, Kylee Gallagher, and tenacious hustle from Amber Reed limited Palisades Park’s possessions to a one and done.
“Our help defense was great, I turned to our assistant coach and told her this was the best I’ve seen them play in a long time [by] sliding and rotating,” said DelVecchio.
Verona opted to slow things down in the second half preferring to score from inside the paint. Kylee Gallagher notched eight of her team-high 11 points in the third quarter as Verona pulled away.
“It’s really nice to get her going and have her do what she does best,” said DelVecchio.
Verona’s victory improves the team to 18-7 on the season while advancing them into the next round of the North 1 Group 1 State Tournament. Verona will take on Saddle Brook on Thursday looking to continue their run at a State Title.
“Saddle Brook is tough. They’re very good, more experienced, older, they’ve been here before. This is our first year, but we believe that we have the personnel to do it we just have to believe in ourselves, work hard tomorrow and see what happens on Thursday,” said DelVecchio.