The Records: The Scotch Plains-Fanwood girls’ basketball team finished their 2010-2011 season with a winning mark of 15-12. The Raiders went 9-5 in the Union County Conference’s Watchung Division and also managed to win one county and one state tournament game. Chatham improved to 26-2.
The Final Score: Chatham 61-36. The host Cougars jumped out to a commanding 13-0 lead with 3:30 to go in the first quarter of Thursday night’s North 2, Group 3 quarterfinal and never looked back.
The Story: Immediately after junior Samantha Kennedy opened the game’s scoring with a layup off an assist from Kelsey Hart, the Cougars went to their vaunted full court press, which frustrated visiting Scotch Plains-Fanwood. Chatham took advantage of Scotch Plains-Fanwood's many turnovers and scored quickly in transition – one basket after another it seemed. Soon, the Cougars were up 13-0 before Scotch Plains-Fanwood senior Evie Klotz hit a jumper from the left side with 3:06 to go in the first.
“We needed to play well from the start,” Chatham head coach Joe Gaba said. “In our last game we still had a post county tournament hangover. It was just them, the kids. They set the tone. They forced the play with our full court defense and were quick in transition.”
Scotch Plains-Fanwood pulled to within 28-16 late in the third quarter when senior forward Aysia Peterson grabbed an offensive rebound and scored inside. After being down 13-0, Scotch Plains-Fanwood outscored Chatham 16-15 up until that point. However, Peterson picked up third and fourth fouls, and Chatham scored four of the second quarter’s final six points for a 30-17 halftime lead.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood kept hanging in there, managing to pull within the single digits at 36-27 with 2:52 to go in the third. A basket by Peterson pulled the Raiders to within nine. Sadly, it was the final basket of her high school career; she fouled out with 2:46 to go in the third.
Chatham took advantage by ending the period on an 8-0 run for a 45-27 lead heading into the final eight minutes. Junior and leading scorer Amanda Berntsen, sophomore Grace Conroy, Hart and Davies each scored one basket in the surge. Berntsen, who averages 19.5 points, led all scorers with a fine 24-point performance. She made 15-of-16 free throw attempts, 10 of which she took in the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Taylor Sebolao paced Scotch Plains-Fanwood with a 15-point effort, while Klotz scored 13 in her final high school game.
“I was disappointed with the way we came out, but we showed a lot of heart by getting it to nine,” Scotch Plains-Fanwood head coach Jennifer Ryan said. “I said in the beginning of the season that we had to stay healthy and be lucky, and we just weren’t lucky tonight. Give Chatham credit for the way they played.”
The Hero: Chatham junior Amanda Berntsen scored 15 of her game-high 24 points in the second half and was almost perfect at the free throw line, making 15-of-16 attempts and missing only her third shot.
The Quotes: Even though Scotch Plains-Fanwood returns key sophomores in Taylor Sebolao, Renee Oliver and Tara Sweeney, the seniors will be missed, especially captains Evie Klotz and Aysia Peterson.
“Evie grew as a player and a point guard on the floor and had to takeover a team in a difficult situation,” Coach Ryan said. “She had wrist surgery from an injury during soccer season and really matured on the court. Aysia didn’t play much last year (because of a knee injury), so having her this year was great. They will both be missed and are special kids that will have to be replaced.”
NORTH 2, GROUP 3 GIRLS’ BASKETBALL
QUARTERFINAL AT CHATHAM
9-SCOTCH PLAINS (15-12) 6 11 10 9 - 36
1-CHATHAM (26-2) 19 11 15 16 - 61
SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD RAIDERS
23-Taylor Sebolao 2-2-5-15
22-Evie Klotz 2-2-3-13
24-Aysia Peterson 3-0-0-6
20-Tara Sweeney 0-0-1-1
30-Katie Harper 0-0-1-1
21-Rebecca Kreyer 0-0-0-0
25-Renee Oliver 0-0-0-0.
Starters: Sebolao, Klotz, Peterson, Sweeney, Kreyer.
14-Amanda Berntsen 3-1-15-24
3-Kelsey Hart 6-0-4-16
12-Kelsey Davies 2-1-1-8
13-Samantha Kennedy 1-0-2-4
32-Lauren Winschuh 3-0-1-7
22-Grace Conroy 1-0-0-2
Starters: Davies, Berntsen, Hart, Winschuh, Kennedy.