Monday, February 11,
NJS.com Staff Writer
RUTHERFORD – The look on the face of Aubrey Larezza was
a puzzled one. Her teammates went crazy, the crowd gave her a
standing ovation, and the game was stopped. She had just done
something that she had done numerous times during her illustrious
four-year career. She hit a three-pointer and it marked her crossing
the 1,000-point plateau.
While inside there
was a sense of relief, she knew there was a bigger obstacle left
to climb and that was helping her team get past Teaneck, the most
athletic team in the county.
While everyone in the
Becton Regional High School gymnasium was applauding her efforts,
the senior stood almost in shock. That was because she was more
concerned with doing something that she has not accomplished in
her four years of varsity basketball. Larezza was focused on making
the semifinal round of the Bergen County Tournament.
Larezza did everything
that was asked of her and then some. She had 22 points and six
rebounds, including shooting 4 of 5 from three-point range, as
seventh-seeded Pascack Hills pulled the only upset of the day,
a 51-43 win over Teaneck, the No. 2 seed.
I score my 1,000th point, but I’m much more happy that we
won the game,” said Larezza, also cross-country star for
Pascack Hills. “This is a huge win. To beat the number two
seed and one of the favorites to win the whole tournament is pretty
After playing Teaneck
close in a loss to during the Indian Hills Holiday Tournament
this past December, the Cowgirls knew they were not totally outclassed
by the Highwaywomen. Larezza got hot and stayed that way throughout
the first half.
However, it was 3-2
match-up zone defense of Pascack Hills that gave Teaneck fits
all game long. It forced them to primarily shoot three-pointers
from the corners and they were often off the mark. The Cowgirls
did a good job of keeping the athletic Highwaywomen off the glass
by boxing out. A late three-pointer by Larezza helped them take
a 19-16 halftime lead.
Teaneck made a 7-0
run to start the third quarter until Larezza’s three-pointer
from the corner not only trimmed the lead back down to a point,
but also gave her 1,002 points for her career.
“I knew I was
somewhere around there, I didn’t know how close I was though,”
said Larezza. “I didn’t understand why my teammates
were going nuts over me hitting a shot. I’m really glad
I got to do it in front of my family and friends, but I was much
more focused on us trying to win the game.”
Pascack Hills regained
the lead and held a three-point advantage going into the fourth
quarter when Teaneck tried to trap Larezza, leaving Teresa Kirkpatrick
open. Tiffany Fischer found her twice with nice passes and the
sophomore delivered. Kirkpatrick hit a baseline jumper and a lay-up
on the Cowgirls first two possessions of the final stanza to open
up a seven-point lead.
nervous or anything, I knew I was going to be open,” said
Kirkpatrick. “I think if I thought about it, I might have
been nervous. But I was just in the moment and I was playing with
confidence like we all were.”
Teaneck cut it back
down to three points midway through the period before the Cowgirls
executed their offense to perfection at the most crucial juncture
of the game. They ran over a minute off the clock before Michelle
Feldman nailed an 18-foot baseline jumper to bump the lead back
up to five, 39-34.
only field goal of the game, a three-pointer form the corner,
cut the lead down to three once again with 57 seconds left. But
the Cowgirls were money down the stretch from the charity stripe.
Tiffany Fischer, Lindsay Jachens, and Feldman all hit clutch foul
shots in the final minute as Pascack Hills held on for one of
the school’s all-time biggest wins.
“To win this
game the way we won it speaks volumes of how well we played throughout,”
said Pascack Hills head coach Debbie Brand. “We set a goal
for ourselves before the season began of getting to the ‘Final
Four’ in the county and we achieved it. Everyone boxed out
and we rebounded well against a very strong rebounding team. We
also took good care of the ball, which helped them from getting
out in transition like they do so well. I think today showed that
we deserve to be mentioned up there with the elite teams in the
county and we’re very proud to be there.”
Larezza was 8 of 14
from the field to finish with her game-high 22 points for Pascack
Hills (17-3). Kirkpatrick and Feldman each reached double-figures
with 10 points apiece.
Bianca Harris was a
bright spot for Teaneck (19-3). The junior center led the Highwaywomen
with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Tiffany Conner added nine points,
seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks.
Pascack Hills will
look to continue its run in next Sunday’s semifinal round
when they will face perennial power IHA, the No. 3 seed. While
the Cowgirls have dreams of being county champs, they are appreciative
of how far they have come and what they have accomplished.
“To be considered
among the top four teams in the county is a goal we’ve been
working towards for a long time,” added Larezza. “We
like being the underdog because we can play loose. We have nothing
to lose, so we’re just going to go out and play hard.”
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