With 6.4 seconds remaining in overtime, sophomore guard Ilissa Webb scored the game-winning basket to give the second-seeded West Morris girls basketball team a 66-65 victory over No. 3 Randolph in the Morris County Tournament semifinals Friday at Fairleigh-Dickinson University.
“It definitely felt good having the winning basket but without my teammates getting me the ball none of that would have happened,” Webb said. “That was probably one of the most exciting moments of my life just because going to the championship is an honor with the competition that we have in our county.”
West Morris will face either top-seeded Morris Catholic or No. 4 Chatham in the MCT final next Friday night at FDU-Florham.
Randolph senior forward Aliyah Huland El sent the game to overtime when she tied it at 54-54 with 4.6 seconds left in regulation. From there, both teams traded points until a three-point play from Huland El gave the Rams a 59-58 lead with 2:48 left.
“It’s so challenging covering Aliyah, she’s a great player, she can pretty much do it all, she can drive, she can shoot, but even if she does score on you you have to keep your head up,” Webb said. “It was a heart-breaker obviously when they hit the buzzer-beater, but we knew going into overtime that we were going to have to come back just as strong and keep our heats up so we could win the game.”
Another basket from Huland El stretched the Rams’ lead to 61-58, but two free throws from senior guard Sydney Sapir pulled West Morris within 61-60 with 1:38 left. Randolph junior guard Cynthia Meringer then hit a free throw to give the Rams a two-point lead, but a basket by senior forward Brielle Kelly tied the game at 62 with 54.6 seconds remaining.
Two more free throws from Huland El gave Randolph back the lead, 64-62, but another basket from Kelly tied it again at 64. Meringer then hit a free throw to give the Rams a 65-64 lead with 26.1 seconds left, setting up Webb’s game-winner. Huland El missed a basket at the buzzer to hand the Wolfpack the victory.
“Coming into Randolph we knew that they were going to be a competitive team,” Webb said. “We played them twice already in season so the third time we kind of knew going into the game what they’re like, what they’re players are like, but we knew they were going to be a hard game.”
Randolph had to come back in the fourth quarter, as West Morris led by as much as 46-40 with 5:52 remaining. The Rams went on an 8-0 run to take the lead 48-46 with 3:44 left.
Kelly then scored and Sapir followed with a key three-point play with 2:54 remaining to give West Morris a 51-48 lead. Another basket from senior guard Paige Burton stretched the lead to 53-48, but back-to-back baskets from freshman forward Jennie LaMancuso and Huland El pulled Randolph back within 53-52 with 18 seconds left.
Webb then sank a free throw to stretch West Morris’ lead to two, but Huland El struck again to tie the game and send it to OT.
Huland El was responsible for all of Randolph’s first-quarter points as the Rams led 12-11 after one. The teams traded baskets in the second quarter and West Morris took its first lead of the game, 20-18, on a basket by Webb with 2:51 left in the half.
Sophomore guard Kiera Cesareo tied the game at 20, but West Morris went on a 7-0 run to end the half with a 27-22 lead.
Huland El led all scorers with 51 points while Meringer chipped in six points.
“Aliyah played great, but also her team was able to get her the ball and get her wide open so without her teammates she wouldn’t have been what she was,” Webb said.
Webb led West Morris with 18 points while Sapir scored 14. Kelly scored 13 points, Burton scored nine and junior forward Sarah Singer chipped in six points.
“I think overall everyone stepped up,” Sapir said. “I think that when it gets so close like that at the end it’s really just family and team, and we worked together as a family which is something we’ve been working on all season and it really came together tonight.”