Kelly leads West Morris to victory over Nutley

Kelly leads West Morris to victory over Nutley

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Kelly leads West Morris to victory over Nutley

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LONG VALLEY

Brielle Kelly continued her strong run through the playoffs with 27 points to lead West Morris to a 63-60 victory over Nutley in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group III final.

The sectional title was the second in four years for West Morris, which received 11 points from Paige Burton, 10 from Ilissa Webb and a superb job of running the point by Sydney Sapir, who finished with eight points. This was the third game in the state tournament that Kelly, a senior, has struck for over 20 points and she’s averaged 21.7 points over the four games.

Kelly, who had 14 points in the first half to help West Morris to a 33-20 lead, scored nine points in the fourth quarter and helped West Morris (25-2) fend off a relentless squad from Nutley (23-4).

Sapir’s steal and layup opened the fourth quarter scoring and provided West Morris with a 47-42 lead. But a 2-pointer from Blair Watson (31 points) and Julia Seremba’s layup with 5:53 to play enabled Nutley to pull even at 47-47. That’s when Kelly took over.

Kelly scored the game’s next six points with a jumper, a layup off of a rebound and a pair of free throws that gave West Morris a lead it would never relinquish at 53-47.

“Our defense got a little sloppy in the fourth quarter and we let them get back in the game,” Kelly said. “And I guess me scoring six straight points were beneficial.

“We were expecting Nutley to run and we knew that we had to play strong defense and keep attacking the basket so that we could get to the line. On offense, we pushed the ball. Sydney did a great job of controlling the tempo and handling the ball. She was great under pressure.”

A free throw from Watson with 3:17 to play allowed Nutley to close to within 53-48. A running one-hander from Kendall Ballotti (six points) and Sapir’s free throw, with 2:32 left, increased the West Morris lead to 56-48. Kelly hit a layup with 1:05 remaining and a free throw 10 seconds later for a 61-52 West Morris lead.

“This is great,” Kelly said. “This is our last home game here on this floor and it was great to win. We won this in my freshman year and to win in my senior year is just great.”

Kelly finished with 10 points in the first half to help West Morris open a 20-12 advantage.

Nutley opened the second quarter scoring with a 3-pointer from Grace Montgomery to pull to within 20-15 with 5:00 remaining. With 4:28 to play, the game was delayed for 35 minutes when medical attention was provided to a spectator who passed out and fell from the bleachers. When play resumed, Nutley pulled to within 20-17 on Seremba’s baseline jumper. That’s when Burton brought a spark to West Morris with a layup followed by a 3-pointer and then she drove the baseline for a layup 2:44 before the half to give her team a 27-17 edge.

Ballotti drove the baseline for a layup with 2:06 to play that gave West Morris a 12-point lead. Megan Montgomery’s 3-pointer for Nutley closed the gap to 27-20, but Kelly closed out the half with two free throws with :45 seconds left and a layup with :25 seconds to play that send West Morris into the locker room with a 33-20 edge.

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