Another year, another trip to the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament final for the Piscataway High School girls basketball team.
Sophomore Kendrea Williams netted 27 points, including five 3-pointers, while senior Kiki Bynes added 23 points to go with three 3s Monday, and the second-seeded and defending champion Chiefs returned to the final for the ninth time in the past 10 seasons with a 62-48 victory over third-seeded Monroe in the semifinals at South Brunswick High School.
“We always say in Piscataway that the RAC is our second home, but we’ve got to work for what we deserve, and I think we do work hard,” said Bynes, whose team will vie for its seventh title in the past decade at 6 p.m. Thursday against 12th-seeded Bishop Ahr at the Louis Brown Athletic Center at Rutgers University. “In the GMC, it could be anybody’s night. This game could have gone either way and the next game could go either way. So every night we’ve got to come out hard. We say (that) before every game because you never know what opponent you’re going to get.”
The opponent Piscataway drew Monday was a feisty Monroe squad that was able to match the Chiefs’ pace during the first half. Piscataway led by just one point after one quarter and by three at halftime, thanks to a big 3 pointer from Falcons sophomore Ashlyn Petersen with 1:11 in the period, and a layup with one second left by Demi Rousseau after she stole the ball as the Chiefs attempted to set up a final play before intermission.
Junior Cindy Foresta, who finished with a team-high 15 points for Monroe, led the Falcons with 12 first-half points, while Erica Junquet finished with 13 points.
But despite it looking as if Monroe had re-taken the momentum in the final minutes of the second quarter, it was all Piscataway after halftime, as the Chiefs found a way to stifle the Falcons’ offense, while Bynes and Williams continued to wreak havoc from the field.
“They had two kids who didn’t miss, so what are you going to do?” said Monroe coach Leigh Vogtman, whose GMC White Division co-championship team had its 10-game winning streak snapped Monday, as Piscataway built a 50-34 lead after three quarters and never looked back. “We tried to slow down their transition with the zone, which I think we did (in the first half). I can’t complain about the way we played defense, and we made mistakes here and there on offense, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. But when you’re playing a team that capitalizes on your mistakes every single time, that’s going to hurt you in the long run.”
“Monroe is a good team. They’ve got some good players, they’ve got some good shooters, and they’re a well-coached ball team,” Piscataway coach Corey Floyd said. “They slip out pretty well and get the open layups, and we had to adjust to it. We couldn’t leave the backcourt empty, and in the second half we adjusted to that pretty well.
“They matched us pretty well in the first, but in second half we could see they started running out of gas. Our press, our 2-2-1, worked great. We got the traps that we wanted and got our hands on the ball, and we got some extra points on some run outs, and that was key. It frustrated their guard a little bit where they turned it over. It wore them down.”