Essex basketball tournaments: Montclair, Montclair Kimberley squads all bounced
The Montclair High School girls basketball team and both Montclair Kimberley basketball squads saw their Essex County Tournament hopes burst last week.
The 19th-seeded Mounties girls team (11-5) fell behind early, crept up to 14th-seeded Nutley, but could never come all the way back in the 45-33 defeat at Nutley.
The 24th-seeded Montclair Kimberley girls (4-10) lost at ninth-seeded Glen Ridge, 44-30.
And the 27th-seeded Montclair Kimberley boys (11-5) saw their county run end at 11th-seeded Newark Tech with a 68-56 defeat.
All three games were on Thursday, Jan. 26.
The Montclair High School boys team was knocked out of the tournament by Nutley, 59-45, on Monday, Jan. 23.
The Montclair girls put themselves in a hole in the first half, when they were down by 15 at one point, 19-4, as their offense struggled.
Head coach Ed Connell said that the team did not do anything differently offensively after the Mounties chipped the Nutley lead to seven, 23-16, halfway through the third quarter, after Eva Brennan hit one of two free throws.
"We did the exact same thing," Connell said about the second half. The team only scored 10 points in the first half. "We were just executing."
The coach said that his team was slow out of the gate. "I thought we came out a little flat," he said. "We just took too long to get there."
Defensively, Connell thought his team did very well against the Raiders, especially against their three-point shooters. Nutley only hit three, three-point buckets for the night.
"They have some good three-point shooters, and I thought we did a good job against them," he said.
Though the Mounties were ousted from the ECT, they still are looking to grab at least a share of the Super Essex Conference Independence Division title, as they were tied with Irvington for the division lead at the beginning of this week.
Montclair’s two top scorers supplied the offense: Sophomore Savannah Seawell and senior Elsa Taylor-Lillquist scored 10 and 8 points, respectively.
The Montclair Kimberley boys team also came out flat in its game at Newark Tech and could never keep up.
"They were probably the fastest and most athletic team we faced all year," head coach Tony Jones said. "We had to adjust to their athleticism."
For the Cougars it did not help at all to have their top player, senior Marty Stewart, collect three fouls in the first two minutes of the contest.
At one point in the second half MKA sliced the Newark Tech lead to single digits but could never get over the top.
"I'm proud of how we played," Jones said about the comeback.
Despite the foul trouble, Stewart, the Cougars’ top scorer, finished with 15 points. Junior Ben Otner had a team-high 18 points, while senior Isaac Wise added 15.
Like the boys, the Cougars girls also fell behind early and could never catch up, trailing 17-6 after the first quarter. Juniors Aeryn Curren and Salange Bell led the Cougars with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
In the end the MKA defense could not contain Glen Ridge's Riley O'Sullivan, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Despite the defeat, MKA girls head coach Isabella Mendez thought her team has improved since the start of the season, especially on the boards.
"Going into the game we knew that we were going to have to fight for defensive rebounds since Glen Ridge does a good job of capitalizing on second-chance opportunities," Mendez said. "I was proud of the effort our girls displayed against them."