FHS Sports: Lady Warriors Earn TOC Semi-Final Berth With 70-50 Win
TOMS RIVER – Diamond Miller went into the second half of the March 16 Tournament of Champions game against Pascack Valley with one thought in mind: Stop No. 42, Kelly Petro, from scoring.
The Indians had erased a 10-point Franklin lead during the second quarter, mainly though the 3-point shooting of Petro and her teammates Brianna Smith and Cerina Dunkel, to tie the game at 29 with little more than a minute left. Franklin broke the tie with a 6-point run, ending the half up 35-29.
Petro, who had made two of the five 3-pointers that helped the Indians tie the game in the second quarter, wasted no time in trying to repeat that feat, and shot from outside the arc about 22 seconds into the half. Miller stretched her 6-foot frame and blocked the shot, a move that sparked her teammates.
“That was pretty good,” Miller said of the block.
The Lady Warriors went on to win the game, 70-50, with Miller coming out as top scorer with 30 points.
The win sets the stage for the semi-finals, in which the Lady Warriors face Rutgers Prep. Franklin stands as the only team this season to beat the Argonauts. More on that later.
The lady Warriors allowed Pascack Valley to hold a lead for only about 2 minutes during teh game, and that occurred in the first quarter, when Brianna Wong sank two free throws.
A layup by Monique Davis-Campbell – who finished the night with 12 points – followed by another by Keona Schenck on a fast break put the Lady Warriors up, where they stayed for the rest of the game.
Another layup after a fast break by Diamond Miller gave the Warriors their first double-digit lead, 20-10. with just over a minute left in the quarter.
The Warriors ended the quarter up 22-12.
Petro started the scoring about a minute-and-a-half into the second quarter with her first 3-pointer.
The Lady Warriors dropped 48 percent of their field goals in the first half, compared to 38 percent for the Indians. The Warriors fared slightly better in the 3-point shots as well, hitting about 40 percent of theirs, compared to 39 percent for the Indians.
The Indians were perfect in shooting from the foul line in the first half, while the Lady Warriors shot 75 percent from the line.
The third quarter was the Lady Warriors’ statement quarter. After seeing their lead cut to six points, Franklin went on a 9-0 run – including a 3-pointer by Miller – to build their lead to 18, 49-31, with about five minutes left in the quarter.
The Warriors ended the quarter up 54-41.
The fourth quarter was all Franklin, with the Lady Warriors outscoring the Indians 16-9. Miller and Camille Gray each sank a shot from downtown during the frame.
Franklin’s scoring was topped off by yet another fast break off a defensive rebound, with Lauren Vladyka finishing with a layup.
The Lady Warriors dominated the second half shooting, dropping 50 percent of their field goal attempts, 57 percent of their 3-point shots and they were perfect from the foul line. In contrast, Pascack Valley scored with 21 percent of their field goals, 17 percent of their 3-point attempts and 78 percent of their free throws.
Overall, Franklin hit 49 percent of their field goals, 50 percent of their 3-point attempts and 86 percent from the foul line. Pascack Valley hit 30 percent of their field goals, 29 percent of their 3-pointers and 82 percent of their free throws.
Coach Audrey Taylor said her girls were a little shaky starting out, but “I think they settled once the shots started dropping.”
Miller had trouble placing her 3-point shot in the Lady Warriors’ March 12 win against Sayreville. She gained it back this night, hitting 3 for 7 from outside the arc.
“It was just going down today,” she said. “I just felt like it was open, and I will take those shots if they’re open.”
Miller said she knew that to hold o to the game Franklin was going to have to shut down Pascack Valley’s 3-point game.
“Stop the three, it’s just that simple,” she said. “They were knocking them down and we had to stop it, and that’s what we did.”
Miller focused her effort on Petro, starting with the block of her 3-point attempt.
“She’s an excellent player, but I needed her to stop shooting and if I had to block it from the three, that’s what I had to do,” she said.
Miller’s block “boosted the team’s confidence, too,” Davis-Campbell said. “Anytime Diamond does anything, the team gets all riled up,” she said. “We’re always talking about how long she is, so it just proves our point.”
Camille Gray finished the game with 8 points, Keona Schenck scored 7 points, Tiana Jackson scored 6 points, Kennady Schenck scored 5 points and Vladyka finished with 2 points.
Standing in the way of the Lady Warriors’ first-ever trip to the Tournament of Champions finals is in-town rival – and top TOC seed – Rutgers Prep.
Franklin is the only team this season to beat Rutgers Prep, besting them on Dec. 20, 2016, 56-51. The Argonauts exacted their revenge on their own home court on Jan. 17, 69-56.
Rutgers Prep has not lost a game since that December contest.
“Having that win on them helps” going into the semi-finals, Taylor said. “It makes them beatable.”
“A lot of teams go in thinking that they’re not beatable, and any given night, any team is beatable,” she said. “We also know that was the beginning of the season, we were working things out, they were working things out, they’re a stronger team, we’re a stronger team. I think it’s going to be an awesome match-up.”
Miller and Davis-Campbell said they’re looking forward to what will be the rubber match of the season.
“We’re ready for them,” Miller said. “We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
“Everybody’s going to be excited,” Taylor said. “We just have to go out and fight.”
2017 TOC quarter-finals vs Pascack Valley
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