CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The Cedar Grove girls basketball team is moving on in the North One Group One State Playoffs thanks to a superb defensive effort that resulted in a 34-24 victory over Hasbrouck Heights at home on Monday.
“There was some rust, but the one thing we always do is we defend, and they defended tonight,” said Cedar Grove Head Coach Bill Scanlon.
The Panthers were able to pounce upon the Hasbrouck Heights offense from the onset to stifle any chance at easy baskets. Cedar Grove produced an unofficial 32 turnovers on the evening.
“We really wanted it. We play for each other every single game, and we don’t want our season over yet, we love each other and we don’t want it to end yet,” said Molly Bauer.
Cedar Grove took their initial lead in the second quarter where the momentum began to go in their favor. A quarter where they notched 12 turnovers helped for additional possessions in what was an offensive struggle for the Panthers.
“The ball wasn’t falling, but the defense didn’t take a play off which is great,” said Scanlon.
The Panthers led by Lexi Scivetti implemented a 1-3-1 zone. Scivetti, Bauer and others swarmed a Hasbrouck Heights offense that could not find an open shot.
“We went to a 1-3-1 zone. We work so hard in practice on it, and we don’t play it a lot, but when we do we play it hard,” said Bauer.
The additional possessions ultimately lead to a key six to zero scoring run to end the first half with a Panther 19-17 lead. Sophomore Mia Nardiello was also a key contributor in the run with a basket and four points in the quarter from off the bench.
“[Nardiello] has been a big contributor off the bench this year, she has done a really nice job for us,” said Scanlon.
Eventually the game would come down to the fourth quarter where Cedar Grove would need one more key scoring run to come away with a victory. Ryan Cannataro got the Panthers started with a three pointer to kick off what ended up being a 15-point quarter. Battling foul trouble Cannataro finished strong with eight fourth quarter points en route to a team high 10 on the night,
“[Cannataro] got back in the game, and she hit a big three and that seemed to get us going,” said Scanlon.
Cedar Grove eventually pulled away using calculated and long scoring possessions coupled with timely free-throws.
“We work every day in practice with our scout team in one-point situations, and we are confident and have faith in each other that nobody will let each other down in those situations,” said Bauer.
Cedar Grove’s victory improves the team to 17-7 on the year as they will now enter into the quarterfinals of the State Tournament. The No. 3 Panthers will host No. 11 Pompton Lakes on Wednesday hoping to get back to the Section Semifinals for the first time in several years.
“The fact is we’re playing on Wednesday…I expect us to play really well on Wednesday…overall I’m happy we’re moving along and that’s what we want,” said Scanlon.
The Panthers will have their work cut out for them hosting the Cardinals who have given them thrilling games over the last few years.
“Last year it went into overtime and I expect it to be a two point game…we don’t get to the Section Semifinals much as a school so it would be quite an accomplishment for us,” said Scanlon.
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