VERONA, NJ - The Verona girls basketball team is beginning to turn the corner on their season and feel as though they are ready to break through for a successful stretch run.

    “I could not have asked for anything more than what we got from our girls…we didn’t get the win today, but it feels like a win because of how well we played. I’m happy,” said Batista. 

    The Hillbillies took a lot of positives from what ended up being a 54-41 loss to West Orange on Saturday. Ultimately 32 points from the Mountaineers point guard Kiley Capstraw was the difference in the contest. 

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    “[Kiley Capstraw] is a phenomenal, phenomenal athlete,” said Batista.

    The final score didn’t tell the whole story of a game that was infinitely closer than it looked. After being down by double digits Verona went on a 13 point scoring run aided by Emily Baumguard, Melanie Naeris, and Maddie Leonard to take a one point lead. 

    “I think the fact that we were able to compete with them and come back from a deficit being down a couple of points, is a testament to these girls and their heart,” said Batista.

    Baumguard was a star that came alive in the game. After scoring just two first half points Baumguard finished with a team-high 17 for the afternoon that included 13 in the third quarter.

    “[Baumguard] wasn’t hitting for a little while, then she was driving and little floaters were getting in and it gave her momentum back,” said Batista.

    The success that Baumguard produced is a direct reflection of the growth of the team and their abilities to adjust to potential mismatches. 

    “The good part is everyone is starting to make connections and step up to the plate.  We’re making adjustments on the fly and it’s good,” said Batista.

    The Hillbillies offense seems to be coming together after a slow start to their season. The group has scored more than 40 points in each of their last four games.

    “Yes we’re losing, but we’re adding more pieces to the game.  The boxing out has been there, following shots, the movement on the ball--they’ve really seen what they are capable of,” said Batista.

    The now 3-10 Verona squad will look to build on what they have developed these last few weeks to parlay that into a victory. The Hillbillies will look to break their four game losing streak when they take on West Essex on Tuesday.

    “With every game we’re taking a little bit more and adding it to the pie,” said Batista.

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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