Villa Walsh varsity basketball coach Van Johnson didn’t fret when his team fell behind 6-0 to Hanover Park in the first quarter.
Johnson said he was confident that the Lady Vikings would right the ship. Behind Karin Brett’s 11 points, eight assists, five rebounds, and four steals, the Vikings backed up their coach’s confidence with a solid 40-31 comeback victory against the Lady Hornets (8-9) Tuesday night at home.
“Not really,” Johnson said when asked if he was worried about his team’s comeback ability. “My girls are pretty resilient. We’ve had times where we’ve been down this year, and always have been pretty good about coming back.”
Kate Gehringer helped Villa Walsh battle back into the fray with two straight three-pointers, cutting the lead to 8-6 early in the second period.
However, Hanover Park pulled ahead, 12-6, before Jambrina banged home a trey to make it 12-9.
But pesky Lady Hornets senior point guard Brielle Junda connected on a bucket to give her team another six-point advantage late in the first half.
Baskets by junior Michelle Zychowski and Brett closed out the half with the Lady Vikings down by just two points.
The third quarter is where the tide turned for Villa Walsh, as Brett sank two free throws to knot the contest at 17-17 with 5:13 to go.
Pint-size elusive guard Grace McKenna drained one from behind the arc to thrill the home crowd and put the Lady Vikings ahead, 20-17, with 4:52 remaining in the period.
Baskets by Daniella Jambrina and McKenna extended Villa Walsh’s lead to 24-17 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
But Lady Hornets kept the tilt close, as the third period ended with them trailing by only four points (26-22).
Much to the Lady Vikings’ chagrin, Junda sliced the deficit to 26-24 early in the final quarter.
Fortunately for Villa Walsh, Mckenna slithered open and drilled a three to give her squad some breathing room at 29-24, before Hanover Park scored and closed the gap at 29-26 with a little more than six minutes to go in the game.
But Brett nailed a three-point dagger of own and Jambrina poured in four straight points to put the game out of the Lady Hornets’ reach with 1:40 left in the affair.
Jambrina scored 11 points and McKenna chipped in with 10 for Villa Walsh (13-3).
Hanover Park’s Junda dropped in a game-high 15 points as well as grabbing seven boards in the defeat.
The Lady Vikings host Morris Catholic Thursday at 7:00 p.m., while the Lady Hornets face Morristown-Beard Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
— Jerry Del Priore