The River Dell Golden Hawks Varsity Girls Basketball Team (20-6) squared off against the Northern Valley Old Tappan Golden Knights (22-5) in the North 1, Group 3 Tournament Quarterfinals at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan in Old Tappan, New Jersey.
River Dell was coming off a 54-33 win over Wayne Hills in the first round at River Dell High School. Nine Golden Hawks players tallied a point, with Sophia Sanchez leading the pack with a game-high 17 points.
Even an early 4 p.m. tip-off did not affect River Dell as they jumped out to an 11-2 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Golden Hawks employed a stifling defense that held Old Tappan without a point for the first four and a half minutes. Lily Crowder and Lizzy Puentes each netted four points apiece.
“We came out strong and made Old Tappan into some unforced turnovers which they don’t normally do, and they do a great job of taking care of the basketball, River Dell Head Coach Lindsay Steffner explained. We made some good baskets, held them to two points and doesn’t get any better than that.”
Lizzy Puentes commented on the first quarter, “We went into the game a little nervous, especially the seniors but once we got that energy it made us stronger. It gave us er the confidence as we were walking off the court.”
In the second quarter, Old Tappan found their groove on the offensive end, erupting for a 14-0 run to take the lead. The Golden Hawk’s offense struggled as they finally scored their first point of the quarter at the three-minute mark.
The Golden Knights continued flourishing in the offensive zone as they bumped their advantage to 25-13 at halftime. Melissa Brennan(9 points) and Natalie Carril(6 points) combined to score 15 points.
“We knew that Old Tappan was going to storm back and make a run and that wasn’t a typical first quarter for them, River Dell Head Coach Lindsay Steffner described. We had gotten ourselves into a little bit of foul trouble there and I had to make a couple of substitutes and adjustments.”
Once the third quarter finished, Old Tappan widened their lead to 36-23. However, the Golden Hawks ignited a rebuttal towards the end of the period with a 5-0 spurt capped by a three-point play by Morgan Sconza to close the gap. Lily Crowder and Lizzy Puentes provided a spark with offensive production, each supplying six points apiece.
“Me and Lizzy have been banged up all season long, but this is our senior season and we decided nothing is going to stop us, Lily Crowder noted. I have been proud of Lizzy all season and she has given it her all in every single game she has played in and proven herself. We were able to hit them inside because they have two strong post players.”