TOMS RIVER – It was only going to be a matter of time until the athleticism, length, and depth of St. John Vianney, the Non-Public A champions, caught up with the New Providence High School girls basketball team in the Tournament of Champions quarterfinals on Tuesday night at Pine Belt Arena.
The Pioneers, the No. 6 seed and Group I champion, hung with the third-seeded Lancers in the game’s opening minutes but couldn’t keep up for much longer as St. John Vianney knocked down its first four attempts from 3 and surged away with a 17-0 run over the final 4:45 of the first quarter and into the second as they pulled away for a 63-39 win.
“We didn’t expect much. I told the girls to go out there, play hard,” New Providence coach Cap Pazdera said. “They’re a fantastic team, very well coached, a historic program. We just wanted to compete – at times we did today, so I’m happy with that.”
St John Vianney’s Kellyt Campbell drives into New Providence’s Katie Kinum as she heads for the basket. St John Vianney vs New Providence in TOC First Round play on March 17, 2015 in Toms River. Peter Ackerman/Staff Photographer
Kimi Evans led St. John Vianney (26-4) with a game-high 15 points, Kelly Campbell netted all 12 of her points in the second half, and Kellie Crouch added nine on three 3s as the Lancers will face second-seeded St. Rose in the T of C semifinals on Thursday.
New Providence (22-10) went scoreless for over a five minute stretch in the first half as they went from leading 9-7 to being down 24-9 following the Lancers’ 17-0 run.
“They’re a good team, they obviously showed that,” said New Providence junior forward Sydney Morang, who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. “We wanted to come out and just play hard and try our best. We hung in for a little bit, but they’re good shooters. It was hard a matchup.”
The Pioneers though buckled down from that point in the second quarter, holding St. John Vianney to just three more points as they closed to within seven points at one time and trailed 27-17 at the half as they did their best to limit the hot shooting and inside height advantage the Lancers’ possessed.
“We just tried to confuse them a little bit by switching defenses, but they have a lot of bigs and quick, fast shooters so we just tried to match up as well as possible,” Morang said.
Katie Kinum led the Pioneers with 14 points while Sarah Zeto added seven points and six rebounds and Emily Molstad recorded five points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
St. John Vianney then went on another big run in the third quarter, going on a 14-0 spurt, as the Pioneers quickly were down by over 20 points and never cut it to closer than 17 the rest of the way.
It was a big state tournament run nonetheless for New Providence, which won a very tough North 2 Group I section in which they had to beat an undefeated Secaucus team and state power Shazbazz, both on the road, just to win a sectional title before putting two more wins together to claim stake to a Group I title and T of C berth.
“We had a tough section. Secaucus and Shabazz are really good teams so it was a great season,” Morang said. “I’m really proud of the team. Coach did a really good job helping us to adjust to the defenses that teams threw at us all year and I’m just proud of how far we got.”
Staff writer Mike Becker: firstname.lastname@example.org