Chatham Girls’ Basketball lacked a bit of fire and intensity in the first half of its game versus Kinnelon on Saturday.
But the fifth-ranked Cougars managed to turn up the heat in the second half en route to a 52-31 victory over the No. 12 Colts in the first round of the Girls’ Morris County Tournament (MCT).
“I think the big thing we’re focusing on is playing with a little sense of urgency,” Head Coach Joe Gaba explained. “We’re so young that we’re missing that vocal rah, rah leader kind of thing out there, just someone to challenge us while we play. It has to come from within, it can’t come from me. I think in the second half they were pushing each other to play with a little more sense of urgency.”
Chatham (11-6) missed a few good look shots at the basket in the first quarter, but still held a 14-12 advantage at the period’s end. The Cougars increased its lead to 26-20, with freshman Ella Kreuzer scoring a basket just before the first half ended.
But the third quarter proved to be the difference, as Chatham’s persistent defense held Kinnelon to just five points, as it built a 44-25 advantage heading in the final period.
The Colts could only muster up six points in the fourth quarter, as the Cougars, playing with their backups, won going away.
Freshman guard Mia Semioli drained a team-best 15 points while Kreuzer contributed 14 in the victory. Senior Carly Frohnapfel, the unsung hero of the team, Gaba noted, dropped in 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and junior guard Riley Allen added nine.
Kristyn Carroll led Kinnelon (13-5) with 15 points.
Chatham travels to Montville (9-7) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and then a road game against Jefferson (14-3) in the second round of the MCT.
— Jerry Del Priore
(Photo of Ella Kreuzer)