Cresskill runs past rival Emerson
The sequence lasted for all of about a minute and a half but it had to feel like an eternity to Emerson. Not a bucket was scored but a point was emphatically made.
Twice, Cresskill went to the foul line for the front of ends of one-and-ones with a chance to salt away arguably its biggest win of the season. On both occasions, the free throw was missed only to be retrieved off the glass by Emma Campbell. The rebounds by the senior forward not only extended Cresskill’s possession but were shining examples of the type of hustle the Cougars utilized throughout to hand Emerson its first setback of the season, 46-32, on Tuesday in Cresskill.
“If there is one thing we can control, it’s hustling,” Campbel said. “The whole team does it. We know that good things are going to come out of it.”
With such an undersized lineup, no one is exempt from doing her part on the boards. And, that includes 5-1 guards Dani Peluso and Nikki Cerone. The duo pulled down three apiece with Peluso reaping her trio on the offensive end.
“Dani got offensive rebounds in the second half that were unbelievable,” Cresskill coach Mike McCourt said. “She had no business getting those. That’s determination and heart.”
Cresskill may be short on size but compensates with plenty of the aforementioned traits McCourt noted. Against a mighty Emerson squad that held a marginal height advantage, the Cougars worked the glass nonstop. That concerted effort allowed it to register a notable 22-18 edge on the boards with nine pulled down on the offensive end.
“I’m short but I want to be just as aggressive (as the taller players inside),” said Peluso. “Boxing out is definitely a big thing.”
Noting that kind of attention to fundamentals is music to McCourt’s ears
“Coming into this year, I didn’t schedule anyone big because I knew how small we were,” McCourt said of avoiding opponents with glaring size. “I knew boxing out was going to play a big part for us. We work on it everyday in practice and incorporate it into our shooting drills.”
Just as imperative for Cresskill (14-1) was the meticulous way it ran halfcourt sets. Time and again, McCourt yelled “Patience” as the Cougars ran through their offense to find the best available shot. And, what compounded matters for Emerson (16-1) was trying to account for the balance it was up against.
Cresskill received scoring contributions from six difference sources, paced by Cerone, who buried a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter when the Cougars rallied from a 7-0 deficit to assume a 13-11 lead. The senior guard finished with 13 points while junior swing Ava Skinner scored 11 and Campbell added nine to go with five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
A pull-up jumper from senior guard Jackie Azelby sent Cresskill into halftime with a 21-19 lead. The Cougars took control in the third, holding Emerson scoreless for the final 4:20 of the period. Their efficiency was captured midway through the period when Skinner rejected a shot, Lindsey Barretta collected the ball and fed ahead for Campbell to finish in transition to extend the lead to 27-21. Two free throws from Cerone and a layup by Azelby sent Cresskill into the fourth up, 31-23.
A baseline jumper by Barretta and a pull-up in the lane from Cerone boosted the margin to 35-24 before Emerson answered with a three-point play from Deanna Eyerkuss but that was as close as it would get.
“We were apprehensive because they were 16-0 and they are an amazing team,” Cerone said. “But, we came into the game saying don’t be nervous and let have fun.”
Eyerkuss netted a game-high 16 points for Emerson, including 10 in the first half, to go with six rebounds.
“We were outhustled to rebounds and we missed box outs,” Emerson coach Jenny Jurjevic said. “They came out and hunted us down. The target was big and they deserved it. They played awesome. They are fundamentally sound and shared the ball well. This will hopefully humble us.”
Secaucus 49, Saddle Brook 17: Freshman guard Julia McClure collected 12 points, 14 rebounds and six steals for Secaucus and classmate Kendall Caruso supplied 10 points off the bench.
Shabazz 64, West Essex 27: Zaire O”Neil converted 9 of 10 from the field en route to 21 points and De’Ashia Jones dropped in 16 points and cleared eight boards for No. 1 Shabazz (14-1).
Edison 53, Perth Amboy 45: Blazing senior guard Tierra Johnson poured in 27 points to power Edison (14-2).
Immaculate Heart Academy 36, Holy Angels 30: Raquel Scott paced an even-handed offense with 10 points for IHA (14-2). Holy Angels (10-8), which got eight points from Amanda Fields, rallied from a 13-point deficit to draw to within three but Tiffany Weisbecker scored all five of her points in the fourth quarter to help secure the win.
University 64, Mount St. Dominic 54: Senior guard Brittney Sykes erupted for 30 points and 14 rebounds as University (8-7) avenged a 74-32 loss to No. 10 Mount St. Dominic (11-6), which had its seven-game winning streak snapped. N’Kayah Kersey added 12 points and four assists to the victory. Mallory Shickora topped the Mount with 21 points.
St. John Vianney 68, Rumson 38: Lyndsay Rowe went 5 for 6 from the floor, including two 3-pointers, to finish with 16 points for St. John Vianney (12-5). Kat Egan chipped in with 12 points. Jess Harvey scored nine for Rumson (12-7).
Glen Rock 67, Pompton Lakes 57: Margi Rivera poured in 39 points to go with 12 rebounds while Sophie Lederer had 15 points and six assists to fuel Glen Rock (13-3). Pompton Lakes got 21 points from Bailey Ott.
Gregg Lerner covers girls basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner