FHS Sports: Stifling Defense Propels Lady Warriors Into NJSIAA Group IV Finals

Sophomore standout Diamond Miller led all scorers March 8 in the Lady Warriors dominating performance over the Morristown Colonials.

UNION – Strong defense sets the stage for winning basketball games, according to the gospel of Lady Warriors head coach Audrey Taylor.

Her team preached from that gospel March 8, when they employed a sometimes stifling defense to dominate the Morristown Colonials en route to a 61-37 win in the NJSIAA Group IV semi-finals at Union High School.

The team spent March 7 working on defense, after an uneven display in their March 6 win against Bridgewater-Raritan High School. That work paid off against the Colonials, with the Lady Warriors forcing a number of turnovers that transitioned to baskets on their end of the court.

The intensity of the Lady Warriors’ defense was most evident in the second quarter, when they scored 22 unanswered points, keeping the Colonials from sinking a basket for 6 and a half minutes of the 8-minute frame. That’s also how long it took for the Colonials to break into double-digits.

The Lady Warriors jumped off to a fast start, running to a 15-6 lead with about three minutes to go in the first quarter. They ended the frame up 22-9.

The second quarter was all Franklin, with the Lady Warriors entering halftime holding a 38-14 lead.

The Colonials opened the second half with nine unanswered points, but Franklin roared right back. With about two minutes left in the third quarter, the Lady Warriors held a commanding 49-25 lead. They ended the frame leading by 28 points, 53-25.

The Colonials actually outscored Franklin in the fourth quarter 12-8, but it was to little, too late.

Sophomore Diamond Miller led all players with 19 points, although she only hit one from the three-point zone. Her baseline attack was near flawless, however, and she scored most of her points by powering through defenders for layups.

Camille Gray pitched in 12 points, Keona Schenck registered 11 points, Monique Davis-Campbell and Kennedy Schenck each contributed 7 points, Kiersten McCloud scored 3 points and Kiana Jackson scored 2 points.

Taylor was effusive about the Lady Warriors’ defensive effort.

“We played it today,” she said. “They were on point, they communicated a lot today. We knew what we were coming into as far as number 43 (Elizabeth Strambi), she’s a very good player, from watching the film and everything we knew we had to key in on her, so they were on point with switching, calling the screens.”

The Lady Warriors held Strambi to 9 points in the game, her second-lowest total this year. Strambi has been averaging 16.4 points per game.

Taylor said the win “was a great team effort.”

“Diamond played well, Camille played well, I thought Mo did well,” she said. ” I thought everybody really came in and did well. The defensive side, to me really was the biggest thing.”

Of her sophomore standout, Taylor said “Diamond was really on her toes today. She made great moves to the basket. Her shot wasn’t as fluid as she was before, but, she’s a star. Diamond’s a star, she’s gonna give you something every game.”

For Miller, extra work after practices pays off, she said.

“I do a lot of behind-the-scenes work, working after practice, just to get those extra shots in,” she said.

She said the extra defensive work the team did on the off day helped in the win.

“We knew they had two bigger girls who were bigger than us, and we just had to bigger than them, if you know what I mean,” she said. “We were just working all day yesterday to fix our defense and make it perfect.”

“We had a lot of turnovers, but that’s going to happen in a fast-paced game,” she said. “But overall I’m happy.”

The Lady Warriors face off on Sunday in the Group IV finals against Sayreville High School in Pine Belt Arena in Toms River. Game time has yet to be announced.

2017 FHS Lady Warriors vs Morristown CJ IV semi-finals


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