CALDWELL – The Mount Saint Dominic Academy basketball team finished with a record of 8-17 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Non-Public, North A Tournament.
The Lions, the 11th seed, defeated sixth-seeded Mother Seton, 71-49, in the first round of the state tournament.
“We played very well against Mother Seton,” said head coach Dave Mead. “It was the highest point total of our season. The second quarter proved the difference as we outscored them, 18-7. We forced 28 turnovers in our press and shot 43 percent from the field.”
Junior Megan Robinson scored 18 points and had four assists and three steals. Senior Abby Garaban had 15 points, six rebounds and five steals. Freshman Alexa Murphy had six points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Sophomore Bianca Coltenback had six points and eight rebounds. Freshman Jade Larkin had six points and four rebounds, while senior Elena Matarazzo scored six points on two 3-pointers.
“Every player scored six or more points,” Mead said. “We made 30 shots on 14 assists – incredible teamwork.”
The Lions fell to third-seeded Paramus Catholic in the quarterfinals, 65-53. “Unfortunately, our season ended for the second year in a row to Paramus Catholic,” Mead said. “After being down 20-9 after the first quarter, we clawed our way back with a 18-12 second quarter to cut the lead to five. Unfortunately, the Paladins shot 40 percent from the field and put us away with a 18-6 third quarter.”
Robinson and Garaban both finished with 20 points.
Mead said many young players saw playing time this season. “We actually had a very young team as we relied on five freshmen, Alexa Murphy, Jade Larkin, Juliet Howell, Amanda Micciche and Stephanie Peters, to give us important minutes throughout the season,” Mead said. “It was our goal to get them as much playing time as possible to get them ready for the next three seasons.
“They responded very well, but with young players, the coaches had to be patient with the ups and downs that occur with a young team. They are all very hard-working and very close off the court, which will help us in the future.
“I thought the upperclassmen, Elena, Abby, senior Kayla Amelung and Megan Robinson, helped to make the young players as comfortable as possible.”
Mead added that the team had significant injuries this season.
“Abby Garaban was out for several games with a severe ankle sprain, Kayla Amelung had a season-ending concussion, and Stephanie Peters tore her ACL toward the end of the season,” he said.
Among the season highlights were the victory over Mother Seton and a victory over Glen Ridge, when Garaban scored a game-winning layup in overtime, Mead said.
“We had a wonderful start to the season, beating the legendary Shabazz team at their school 51-17,” he said. “Despite a 67-28 loss to Rutgers Prep in our Christmas Tournament, it was a big accomplishment to be winning after the first quarter, 15-11, to one of the top teams in the state. We also had an awesome 61-49 win against Irvington.”
Garaban scored 13 points per game and more than 20 points three times. Robinson scored nine ppg and more than 20 points twice.
“Freshmen Jade Larkin did an exceptional job this season as our starting center, and freshman Alexa Murphy is a tough-minded point guard that has a very bright future,” said Mead, adding that Larkin recorded more than 10 rebounds in two games, while Murphy recorded more than 10 rebounds in one game.
“Murphy is even more of a surprise because she is a point guard but a very tough competitor. Also, in Murphy’s very first varsity game, she scored 10 points.”
Other newcomers were freshmen Howell and Micciche.
“Juliet Howell was a regular in our rotation this season. She got a great knack for driving to the basket. She scored 10 points versus Irvington and 15 points versus Cedar Grove,” Mead said. “Amanda Micciche also saw significant minutes. She will develop into a very good shooter, as she has solid offensive instincts. What surprised us was her tough defense.”
Mead said next season looks promising.
“All of next year’s players have been under the current coaching staff from the beginning so everyone understands the system we have in place,” Mead said. “We will still be young and have to replace Abby’s scoring average, but these kids are extremely hard-working and love to compete.”