Old Bridge builds big lead, holds on to beat J.P. Stevens

EDISON — After jumping out to a 20-point lead at halftime, the Old Bridge High School girls basketball team seemed to relax a little too much for head coach Dan DiMino’s liking.

“We were just too relaxed in the second half and fourth quarter,” DiMino said. “The first half is what set the tone for us for the rest of the game, but the girls got too comfortable at the end.”

Despite scoring just one point in the fourth quarter, Old Bridge (4-7) hung on for a 38-30 victory over J.P. Stevens Saturday afternoon.

Taylor Torre knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 16 points and freshman Amanda Carney scored 12 points to lead the Knights.

Old Bridge held a 29-9 lead at intermission, but J.P. Stevens found life in the third quarter, going on a 6-0 run to cut into the lead and as time expired in the stanza, Kathleen Tong knocked down a 3-pointer to cut it to 37-21.

In the fourth, J.P. Stevens (1-8) scored the first nine points, as Laya Paladugu hit a 3-pointer and raced down the court for a layup and Molly Yelencsics made a pair of free throws and a coast-to-coast layup.

But Torre knocked down a free throw with 28.2 seconds remaining for the lone Knights point of the quarter to end any hopes of a dramatic comeback victory for the Hawks.

“They really came back strong and that’s all you can ask,” J.P. Stevens head coach Amy Bonk said. “I’m trying to get them to put a whole game together, four quarters, not just two, but this was a nice comeback for us.”

Yelencsics finished with nine points, eight of which came in the second half, to lead J.P. Stevens and Laya Paladugu chipped in seven points. Rebecca DiSerio and Tong each had five points and seven rebounds for the Hawks.

“J.P. Stevens is a good team, even though their record doesn’t show it,” DiMino said. “You play against anybody, they’re going to play to the end and I think it’s good to have a close game in the end, where we had to bring the starters back in and get some stops on defense.”

J.P. Stevens made 6 of 24 shots in the second half after shooting just 4 of 17 in the first half. But the Hawks got themselves back into it by limiting their turnovers. In the opening 16 minutes, the turned the ball over 19 times; after intermission, they had just six more.

“We’re young and made up of underclassmen, so this gives us some positive confidence,” Bonk said. “We’re right there, so we know we can come back and we’re growing and getting better. We just need to get over that hump.”

The Hawks out-rebounded Old Bridge 35-19, but Carney and Torre were ultimately too much to handle.

“Amanda’s freshman year that she’s having is unbelievable. We’re not even halfway through the season, so I can’t wait to see what else she can do for us,” DiMino said. “And Taylor is a one of our senior captains; She’s a leader on the court and she’s a great asset for us.”


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