Rivals New Providence and Oak Knoll clashed in Summit Tuesday afternoon for a key conference basketball game, and the Lady Pioneers came out on top with a 37-33 win.
New Providence improved to 10-0 in the conference and a 12-2 overall record. Sydney Morang, #22, led all scorers with 18 points, followed by #12 Cassandra Squeri with 10 points, who also reached her late in the third quarter. Kerri Moran, #20, led the Royals with 12 points, while #10 Kelly McAloon netted 10 points for the team, which now stands at 8-2 in the conference and 12-2 overall.
“We did a great job. The first half, we weren’t playing so great,” New Providence Head Coach Cap Pazdera told Patch after the game. “We went into halftime and made some adjustments, and came out and held Oak Knoll to two points in the third quarter, which was really our spark. We were able to put some balls in the basket, including Cassandra’s 1,000th point, which definitely sparked the team and got us some momentum that we needed.”
Pazdera said the offense was getting a little crazy with the ball in the remaining minute of the game and he shared some words of wisdom with his players during the last timeout.
“We had a three-point lead so I was just kind of saying to relax and that we have timeouts if we need them and to not make silly passes or turnovers,” Pazdera explained. “I was just kind of getting them focused and making sure that if we couldn’t get a good shot, at least we weren’t turning the ball over and we were trying to use as much of the clock as possible.”
Oak Knoll Head Coach John Bertollo said a fun rivalry has grown between the Royals and the Lady Pioneers in recent years.
“I think we played extremely hard,” Bertollo told Patch after the game. “It’s kind of turned into a rivalry with New Providence because last year, we took two from them and this year, they took two from us. So it’s been very evenly matched. Every game has been this close for the most part over the last two years. It’s been a fun rivalry. Obviously, we’d rather be on the winning end today.”
This was a huge conference victory for the Lady Pioneers, Pazdera said. The next four games are also against conference rivals and it’s important for the team to win two out of the four games.
New Providence will face Union Catholic on Thursday, followed by A.L. Johnson on Friday, Pazdera said. Next Tuesday, the team will face Dayton, followed by Roselle on Thursday.
“To be honest, all games are going to be tough at this point. It’s a tough conference,” Pazdera said. “Union Catholic is a good team. Johnson is a scrappy, hard-nosed defensive team so playing there is not easy. And whenever you play on Dayton’s floor, you’re always going to get a good basketball game so I expect them all to be good.”
As for the Royals, Bertollo said the team now stands in second place in the conference and he is looking forward to the Union County Tournament and State Tournament.
The Royals will host Roselle today at 4 p.m. and Elizabeth on Friday at 7 p.m. But the next big game for the team is on Tuesday at Westfield.
“[Westfield] played us pretty tough here last time,” Bertollo said. “They have a couple of pretty good players so that will be a battle.”
1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter Final New Providence 8 9 13 7 37 Oak Knoll 15 10 2 6 33