Basketball: Mounties kick Holiday Tournament off with 36-31 win over Bayonne
by Andrew Garda
CALDWELL — The perimeter was the gift that kept on giving for the Montclair Mounties girls basketball team during its 36-31 win over Bayonne during the first game of the the Tenth Annual Mount Saint Dominic Holiday Basketball Festival.
All 15 points the Mounties scored in the first quarter came on three-point shots, and the team would total nine by the end of the game.
"I guess we had a good shooting day," Mounties coach Emily Hall remarked after the win. " The fact that we had 15 of our 20 [points] in the first half off threes? I was shocked. If we could only shoot like that all the time, especially against teams like University. That would be clutch."
Those types of runs will come with time, as the team gets more cohesive and confident. Hall is helping that along and mentioned working with senior guard Lea Antoine on the side to help the player get more sure about her perimeter shots. Antoine led the team in points with 11, almost all of which came on shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Along with the sudden rain of three-point baskets, the Mounties got a spark from a new addition to the lineup.
Junior Aalia Carlson joined the team late, and only had her sixth practice just before the Christmas break. While it was her first action on the court, Carlson absolutely looked at home with the rest of the starting five. Her six points were key in helping to keep MHS ahead of a relentless Bayonne squad, particularly back to back baskets late in the game to kill a surging Bees attack.
First, Carlson stole the ball in the Bees' end, returning it for a quick layup. She then had the ball passed to her after a Bayonne missed shot and scored again to make it 34-26.
There were still some issues for the Mounties, in part because Carlson and the other starters had yet to really sync up. That caused mistakes and turnovers.
"Simple things like her driving, then dishing behind someone’s back," Hall said as an example of a miscue. "And our big didn’t know that was happening. So they just need to get more chemistry on the floor."
The Mounties won't get any more practice time until Thursday, as they take on Mount St. Dominic Wednesday night at 6:15. Even when they get back to practice, they only have one day off before they take on Piscataway on Friday at 4:30.
For Hall though, this was a significant step forward though, as Bayonne had been playing well and was 3-1 overall heading into Tuesday's game.
More than anything, Hall wants to see more consistency, and more belief in the process from her players. They have to continue to buy in, she said, even when a play or design fails once or twice. They also have to keep having the confidence to take shots the way they did against the Bees.
"If we could only shoot like that all the time, especially against teams like University?" — a team which pounded Montclair in the season opener — "That would be clutch."