As the game clock ticked away Tuesday night, Sayreville High School girls basketball star Jackie Rodriguez took over.
Trailing for the first time all night, Rodriguez calmly knocked down a game-tying 3-pointer and then made 3-4 free throws inside in the final minute, helping Sayreville edge Colonia 44-40.
The rescuing act has become standard for Rodriguez this season, as the senior point guard has averaged 22.6 points per game, helping the Bombers to a 10-3 record.
“We haven’t had a point guard like her in a long time,” Sayreville head coach Tara Currie said. “To have a player like her a huge for our team; she handles the ball so well and it helps us be successful. She’s grown a lot for us this year, dishing to teammates and learning not to do everything by herself. But I’m sure glad to have her on the team.”
Rodriguez, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark against J.P. Stevens last week, and Sayreville have made the Greater Middlesex Conference’s White Division a four-team race with six games to play, as South Plainfield, Sayreville, Monroe and Bishop Ahr are all mathematically alive to win the division.
For Sayreville, with games left against all three of its division foes, Currie believes that her squad controls its own destiny.
“I’m cautiously optimistic; you just can’t underestimate anybody in this division,” she said. “We have to take care of ourselves and make every possession count. We’re starting to realize how to play an entire game and I think that the girls are understanding that we can’t look too far down the road.”
Starting with a Thursday matchup against South Plainfield, currently the leader of the bunch at 8-1 in the White, Sayreville plays four of its last six regular season games on the road. But having gone away from home and beating Blue Division leader J.F. Kennedy (11-1) on Jan. 18 will help the psyche of the Bombers.
“We didn’t talk about J.F. Kennedy at all before that game,” Currie said. “I scouted them early in the year and they dominated. But I didn’t tell the girls they were unbeaten or anything like that until after the game. That win was a real turning point for our season.”
Franklin, The Home News Tribune’s No. 1 team, bounced back nicely from its second loss of the season, handing Hillsborough a 60-39 defeat Tuesday night. The Warriors were beaten by state-powerhouse Gill St. Bernard’s last week, 65-56. Led by Adreana Miller, who averages 16.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, Franklin has already beaten three out-of-state powers – Caravel Academy (Del.), Damascus (Md.), Staten Island Academy (NY) – this year.
The Warriors will play local rival Rutgers Prep at 5:30 Friday, as the Argonauts look to add a statement win to their resume. Rutgers Prep (5-5), No. 10 in The Home News Tribune’s Top 10, has played much better lately, winning four of its last six games. Even with just one player averaging double-digits in points – Allison Girardi (10.2) – Rutgers Prep has already made more 3-pointers in 10 games this season than they did in all of the 2012-13 campaign. The Argos have hit the glass hard this year, averaging 26.8 rebounds as a squad.