Chatham girls’ basketball team scored its first 15 points on five three-pointers, as senior Grace Tortorella, junior Ava Smith, and junior Riley Allen (three) all connected from behind the arc to set the tone for the top-seeded Cougars, who led 16-seeded Newark Collegiate, 15-4, late in the first quarter.
Chatham (16-11) rode that momentum to a 62-26 lopsided victory over the Panthers (9-13) in the first round of the playoff NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 Tournament.
Head Coach Joe Gaba said the Cougars, a young squad, has markedly improved and matured from the start of the season to now, which, he noted, should bode well for them in the playoffs.
“Oh my God, this is a totally different team from day one,” Gaba said. “This is a team that’s seasoned, it’s battled-tested. We’ve been playing really well over the last couple of weeks. Even though the Sparta score is not indictive of how we played, that was an eight-point game from the second quarter on. The Morris Catholic game, from the second quarter on, we actually won the game. So, we’re playing well against really good competition. I am very confident in where we are (now) and how we’re playing.”
Chatham was never in jeopardy of losing the contest. It led 34-9 at the half, and 50-13 at the end of the third period.
Therefore, Gaba inserted his backups who saw valuable action, including 6-foot-1 freshman Maeve Bogue, who scored six points.
Allen poured in a game-high 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Tortorella drained three three-pointers en route to scoring 11 points. Freshman guard Mia Semioli contributed nine points in the win while senior Caryl Frohnapfel added seven and pulled a bunch of rebounds.
Aneyah McLamb dropped in a team-best for Newark Collegiate.
The Cougars will host eighth-seeded Warren Hills in the quarterfinal on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
— Jerry Del Priore
Photo: Jerry Del Priore — Mia Semioli defends Newark Collegiate player.