WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The Caldwell girls basketball team broke a two-game losing streak in dominant fashion with a 57-35 victory over Livingston on Tuesday evening.
“I’m happy that these girls came out fired up tonight,” said head coach Mike Moussab. “We come off the weekend, we go into Nutley with a tough fourth quarter, and these girls bounced back. You couldn’t tell that we lost two games in a row.”
Caldwell was in control from the start of the contest with an impressive full-court effort.
The Lady Chiefs generated seven first-quarter turnovers that helped them go on a 23-7 scoring run. Taylor Stafford had the hot hand in the frame and the contest for Caldwell, generating 15 first-quarter points en route to 22 for the contest.
“We definitely worked as a team, everyone was communicating well,” said Stafford. “Everyone was in the spot they needed to be and we played together.”
Livingston rebounded with a solid second quarter, outscoring the Caldwell squad 7-5 for the frame. AJ Dansky had the hot hand for the quarter with four points for the Lancers that closed the gap to 28-14 at the end of the first half.
Realizing the game still hung in the balance, the Caldwell squad adjusted in the third quarter, grinding out a defensive approach that yielded four more Livingston turnovers.
Maggie Betros, Hope Casale and Brielle Guarente all were instrumental in clogging up the paint for Caldwell. The Caldwell defense finished with an impressive 22 turnovers forced on the evening.
“Our defense has been one of the strongest components of our game,” said Stafford. “We get a lot of points on our fast breaks, when we get our steals is when we win the game.”
As the defense flourished, the offense began to come back alive for Caldwell. Brielle Guarente played above her years in generating four of the squad’s 15 third-quarter points to help Caldwell pull away at 43-26 by the end of the third.
“The freshman steps up when we needed her to,” said Moussab. “She had a good game against Cedar Grove and I think that got the ball rolling for her going forward. For a freshman to go up against these seniors in the middle, that’s a lot on her and she answers so we’re happy.”
Having the game firmly in balance, Moussab elected to play some if his younger players for the remainder of the contest. Caldwell finished out the game on a 14-9 run to seal up the victory.
Livingston’s loss is particularly hard, as it came on Senior Night and drops the squad to 7-14 on the year. The Lancers will look to break a three-game losing streak as they take on Roselle Park on Feb. 19.
Caldwell’s win brings the Chiefs’ record to 11-11 on the year whilst breaking their own two-game losing streak. The Chiefs will look to parlay this victory into several wins with tough upcoming matchups against Pequannock and Lakeland.