West Morris falls just short of state girls basketball title, loses 70-64 to Woodrow Wilson

West Morris falls just short of state girls basketball title, loses 70-64 to Woodrow Wilson

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West Morris falls just short of state girls basketball title, loses 70-64 to Woodrow Wilson

By

TOMS RIVER

The West Morris girls basketball team made history by advancing to its first Group III final, but fell just short of its first state title.

The Wolfpack (26-3) fell to Woodrow Wilson of Camden 70-64 on Sunday night at Pine Belt Arena.

“Honestly, I know we lost and I’m disappointed because I wanted to win, but I’m just so proud of how far we’ve gotten and the history we made for our school to get this far,” West Morris senior forward Brielle Kelly said. “No one’s ever done this before, and the family that I shared this with to get this far, I’m disappointed but I’m proud to get this far.”

West Morris battled back from deficits of nine points twice during the game and it was close in the final minutes. Camden Wilson led 51-45 to open the fourth quarter, but the Wolfpack kept attacking and with 5 minutes, 51 seconds left a 3-pointer from senior guard Paige Burton brought West Morris within one, 55-54.

The teams traded baskets in the next minute and with 4:52 left Kelly converted on a three-point play to tie the game 58-58. Two free throws put the Tigers (23-8) back up 60-58, but senior forward Kendall Ballotti tied it back up 60-60 with 3:56 left.

Ciarah Bennett converted a three-point play for Camden Wilson for a 63-60 advantage and from there West Morris couldn’t get closer than one. Kelly scored again with 2:58 left to get within 63-62, but the Tigers went on a 5-0 run to take a 68-62 lead with 50.5 seconds remaining.

Kelly scored again with 28.5 seconds left but Camden Wilson went to the line three times in the last 33.9 seconds and sank two of six free throws for the 70-64 final.

“The girls are very resilient. They always analogize sports to battle and I think it’s a bad analogy, but in this one I’d go to war with any of these girls,” West Morris coach Fran Gavin said. “They are very resilient, I think the depth of their character showed during the game, they played for each other, they showed poise throughout, they never let the other team fluster them.”

The Tigers opened the game on a 9-0 run, but West Morris battled back and trailed 14-13 after the first quarter. In the second quarter the lead changed four times as Camden Wilson took a 31-29 lead at the half.

Camden Wilson outscored the Wolfpack 12-5 to open the third quarter and led 43-34 with 4:06 left. A 3 from Burton pulled West Morris to within 43-37 with 3:56 left, and both teams scored eight points down the stretch as the Tigers led 51-45 after three.

“They’re definitely a tough team, they attacked and they made their shots as well,” Kelly said of Camden Wilson. “We tried to keep the pressure on them and mostly on offense our layups didn’t fall, which was very disappointing, but what are you going to do. We wanted to keep attacking because that’s our motto, keep attacking, run them off the court, keep running, and we did that and came back at one point, but I guess we just lost it in the end.”

Kelly finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, while senior guard Sydney Sapir finished with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Ballotti had four points, seven rebounds and three assists.

West Morris finishes the season as Morris County Tournament finalists and National Division champions.

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