Sophomore Bella Mazur scored a game-high 17 points, including 11 in the third quarter, to lead Mainland, No. 15 in NJ.com’s Top 20, to a one-sided victory at home against the second seed. Timber Creek, 53-24, during the championship round of the South Jersey Tournament, Group 3 at Linwood.
Holding a six-point halftime advantage, Mainland came out of the locker room on fire to start the second half, with Mazur leading the team on a 15-0 run to start the third quarter as the Mustangs opened the game.
“Bella made some amazing plays to start the third,” Mainland head coach Scott Betson said of his second-year offensive explosion.
Mainland’s defense was solid throughout the game, holding senior Timber Creek star Amaya Burch, who is averaging 23 points per game this season, to just 13 points, including six in the fourth quarter when the game was on. already out of reach.
“I felt good with us defensively, even in the first half,” coach Betson said of his team’s solid defence. “We just missed shots. We had a bunch of good looks open… We hit a couple, but it was really about defense, as it has been all year. We defended, we came out on the break, and that’s what really opened the door.
Although the Mustangs’ defense was strong throughout, it took until the third quarter for the offense to take hold. Tall senior Kaitlyn Boggs had a significant height advantage over any defender Timber Creek could put down and got the majority of the defensive attention right off the jump.
Mainland were able to use Boggs’ gravity to their advantage, with the team slasher making opportunistic weakside cuts to receive a quick entry pass from point guard Camryn Dirkes or a secondary pass from Boggs, leading to a number of easy passes. seems, something the devious Mazur knew how to exploit.
“We knew Kait was going to be a big factor,” Mazur said of how Boggs affected the game. “We knew there was a big advantage, but in the first quarter they were keeping it good. So we knew we had to find our other options. We had easy lay-ups and that really started our run.
Boggs finished with 10 points on the night while Dirkes added nine for Mainland, who will face Central Jersey, Group 3 champion Ewing, No. 13 in the NJ.com Top 20 and coming off a one-sided win over Colonia , in the group. 3 semi-final at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Deptford High School.
“A big thank you to Kait and Camryn,” Mazur said of how she felt after picking up the win as well as the sectional trophy. “I am so happy for my two seniors. We worked all season for this, and I’m so happy that we were able to do this for them.
The trio of Mazur, Dirkes and Boggs were responsible for all of the team’s 35 points in the first three quarters, with Mazur’s twin Ava scoring five points in the fourth quarter, often resulting from the same high-energy off-ball movement displayed by his sister. .
“They’re aggressive, man,” Betson said of his sophomore duo. “That’s how they play, and when they play like that, it carries you. They are so effective offensively, especially when they get to the edge. Everyone thinks of them as shooters, but they so physically attack the rim and they finish.
The mainland starters came off the ground with 2:09 remaining in the game and the team held a 46-17 lead, giving some of the bench and role players a chance at some buckets, with McKenna Pontari hitting a dagger final 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds to send the already excited home crowd into a frenzy.
After last season’s knockout tournament was canceled due to coronavirus concerns, fans across the continent packed the gymnasium to the gills as they did in 2020, taking advantage of the first day in which face masks were not needed to support their Mustangs in full force.
“Some of that will never be recouped for some kids,” Betson said of last year’s canceled playoffs. “For these girls to be able to have an atmosphere like that is something they will remember forever.”
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