January 29, 2012
By Rich Barton
NJS.com Staff Writer
Catherine Rodgers scored a game-high 15 points for Pascack Valley, which knocked Rutherford out of the county tournament,
34-22, on Saturday afternoon.
HILLSDALE – All one has to do is walk into the Pascack Valley Gymnasium and look directly above the door to see how many 1,000-point scorers there have been in the storied history of the girls’ basketball program. While the Indians have been successful moving through the system of the state’s all-time wins leader, Jeff Jasper, scoring has not been the only calling card of the program’s success.
The other side of that has become more evident this season without the benefit of size, athleticism, or much varsity experience in the PV lineup. It comes back to the most basic of principles, forcing the opponent to take tough shots, boxing out, and getting defensive stops. In the first round of Bergen County Tournament on Saturday, defense was what the Indians needed after upstart Rutherford grabbed its first lead of the game early in the second half.
One defensive stop led to another and before the Indians knew it, it was a contagious as no one Pascack Valley player wanted to be the one who allowed a basket. The Indians buckled down and held Rutherford scoreless for over 10 minutes and allowed just three points over the final 13-and-a-half minutes of the game with 11th seeded Pascack Valley pulling away and moving into the second round with a 34-22 win over Rutherford, the No. 22 seed, in Hillsdale.
|Elizabeth Seroczynski had 10 points and seven rebounds to lead Rutherford, which fell to 10-6 on the season.
It looked like it could be Pascack Valley’s day early on as Else DiGiacopo and Catherine Rodgers hit back-to-back mid-range jumpers for a 6-0 lead. During that span, Rutherford missed its first five shots, including four layups, to fall behind quickly before Val Considine’s three-pointer cut the lead to 11-7 at the end of the quarter.
“Overall we missed too many layups, especially in the first two minutes of the game,” said Rutherford head coach Nick DeBari. “We needed to get off to a good start and because we didn’t, we never really got going.”
PV maintained the lead throughout the first half and held a 17-13 advantage before the Bulldogs quickly wrestled away from them momentarily. Ally Paskas hit a three-pointer from the top of the key, Veronica Nardiello scored inside, and Elizabeth Seroczynski hit a free throw to put Rutherford in front, 19-17. The Indians are not a team that can score in bunches, so it was imperative for them to crank up their defensive effort in order to keep the game get away.
“Our halftime talk was about making every possession count and put an extra emphasis on boxing out,” said Jasper. “We’re a gravity-challenged team and the only way to overcome that on the defensive end is through technique and positioning. I thought we did an excellent job in the second half boxing out and Amelia Della Pesca was especially strong on the boards. It allowed us to control the tempo, which is key for a team like ours.”
|Dara Liebeskind scored 7 points for PV, which will play Ridgewood in the Round of 16.
A Rodgers layup gave the Indians the lead midway through the quarter and they never relinquished it in closing out the game on a 17-3 run.
“You can’t score three points in the final 13 minutes of a game and overall score (22) points and expect to beat any team, let alone a team like Pascack Valley on their home court,” added DeBari. “Defensively, I thought it was as well as we have played all year. But you have to get it done on both ends and we just couldn’t get shots to fall.”
Rodgers led all players with 15 points for Pascack Valley (13-4). Dara Liebeskind finished with seven points, hitting all four of her free throws in the fourth quarter. Elizabeth Seroczynski had 10 points and seven rebounds to lead Rutherford (10-6).
Pascack Valley moves into the Round of 16 where it will face sixth-seeded Ridgewood. Although the matchup will be tough, the challenge of facing one of the better teams in the county is what Jasper considers a measuring stick for his players moving forward.
“We are a team that loves to take on a challenge and playing Ridgewood will definitely be a big challenge for us,” said Jasper. “I thought our defensive effort was outstanding today and that carried us in the second half. Our entire season has been peaks and valleys. All we can worry about is being a better team tomorrow than we were today. If we can keep doing that, we have a shot of advancing; and at the very least, we are moving in the right direction.”
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