The River Dell Golden Hawks Varsity Girls Basketball Team(4-3) squared off against the Cresskill Cougars(4-2) in the third-place game of the Joe Poli Holiday Tournament at Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, New Jersey.
River Dell battled gave Old Tappan, one of the best teams in Bergen County/North Jersey, fits for all four quarters, but ultimately the Golden Knights prevailed 37-27.
The Golden Hawks got off to a solid start in the first quarter, with senior Lily Crowder scoring the first five points for the team and a 5-2 advantage.
With River Dell leading 8-7 at the four-minute mark, Cresskill erupted for an 11-0 over the next three minutes of action. By the time the period ended, the Cougars had led 20-11.
“They(Cresskill) really attacked our defense and put us on the back of our heels a little bit,” River Dell Head Coach Lindsay Steffner explained. “They went after our post players and the first time a team has really gone inside and score inside and outside on us and gave us a run for our money from the opening tip.” No team has put up 20 points on us that I can remember.
In the second quarter, the Cougars extended their lead to double digits. However, the Golden Hawks answered back in the last minute of the period with a 6-0 spurt.
Junior Sofia Sanchez dropped four points, including a jump shot in the paint with two seconds remaining, as River Dell trimmed the deficit to 29-23.
“I told the team we got to keep fighting, play harder and more physical,” Head Coach Lindsay Steffner described. “Cresskill had the momentum, and we had to change that around now because they weren’t intimidated and scared. We played weak inside, getting our shots blocked, hanging our heads slightly, and looking somewhat stunned.
“That was a really good run we needed going into halftime and I could make adjustments.” “It’s hard going into halftime down by double digits versus six and felt more manageable.” I challenged them at halftime to step up and play harder.
River Dell heard the message loud and clear as they came out aggressive on the offensive end in the third quarter. The Golden Hawks pounded the ball inside, leading to trips to the foul line and knocking down shots to draw within three points on several occasions. Senior Lizzy Puentes sizzled from the charity stripe line sinking four shots.
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