The River Dell Golden Hawks Varsity Girls Basketball Team(20-5) faced off against the Wayne Hills Patriots(20-6) in the North Jersey Section 1, Group 3 First Round at River Dell High School in Oradell, New Jersey. Both teams’ parents and fans showed up in great numbers, with the bleachers packed to maximum capacity.
River Dell Head Coach Lindsay Steffner on the home crowd support, “It was nice and that’s something I made sure the girls recognize because of their effort and promoting them in the community. We ran a clinic for eighth graders during the day and welcomes all back and a nice way to get a lot of community presence for the program which was awesome for the girls to see.”
River Dell got off to a solid start with a 17-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter. Sofia Sanchez buried two trifectas to lead the charge with Isabella Gilmour, Lizzy Puentes, Ari Rodriguez, and Lily Crowder, providing scoring also from the perimeter and in the paint.
“The game plan going in and preparing in practice was going at them and putting the pedal to the metal, Sofia Sanchez explained. We wanted to set the tone and Coach(Lindsay Steffner) told us it’s a different type of energy with the states. We’re not here to mess around and especially with so many seniors and with a one and done we’re not going down without a fight.”
“We knew going in they were going to do a 1-3-1 and 2-3 with their two best players being out that led us to rebound and distributing and sharing the ball. Since the beginning of the season, we have improved moving the ball tremendously and looking for each other and if we have the open an open to take it but making those extra passes.”
Wayne Hills managed to cut into the deficit in the second quarter, but heading into halftime, the Golden Hawks led 27-17. Sofia Sanchez drained her third triple in the period.
“We had an inside presence that I was hoping for, and we were capitalizing and got a lot of offensive rebounds, Head Coach Lindsay Steffner described. It was a matter of us playing a little bit better defense and our help side wasn’t as strong. Number one on their team (Charah Sysounthone) came through with a couple of floaters and banked in those tough shots. She got into our defense a little bit further before she felt pressured to take those shots before we corrected them in the second half.”
Once the third quarter got underway, River Dell caught fire from behind the arc, with Ari Rodriguez burying two triples and Sofia Sanchez unleashing her fourth pearl of the game. Sanchez totaled eight points in the period. The Golden Hawks offense erupted, outscoring the Patriots 20-5 to take a commanding 47-22 advantage.