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Basketball

Crusaders gain share of NJAC-Liberty

DENVILLE _ Morris Catholic's Nicole Strumolo thrives from outside the arc. However, as a junior, Strumolo didn't have much opportunity to connect from outside 19 feet, 9 inches or from anywhere on the court. A broken ankle sustained against Riverdale Baptist of Maryland kept her sidelined for the last 23 games of the 2019-20 season. There's pain and then there's agony. Strumolo, of course, was frustrated by having to watch and has been making up for lost time. On Sunday, Feb. 28, the senior guard, continued to demonstrate her accuracy from long range, netting four 3-pointers, to help the Crusaders…

Sturgeon notches 300th victory

MORRISTOWN _ Mike Sturgeon "stepped back" to reflect but didn't dare begin delving deeply into his memories until he was alone in his car driving home. Sturgeon, Morristown-Beard's girls basketball coach, was most concerned about his team's 41-23 victory over Villa Walsh on Thursday, Feb. 25, a win which would guarantee a share of the NJAC-Liberty Division title. His personal milestone - his 300th victory - was secondary yet, when it struck him, his mind immediately went in reverse. "I was thinking of the great kids I've coached, the great players," Sturgeon said. "I thought of the start of it…

Chemistry, balance key Madison

MADISON _ As Madison's point guard, Julia Olesen is accustomed to doing the bulk of the team's passing. Passing is so commonplace to Olesen that she doesn't even think about it, she just does it.  On Feb. 16, nine games into the season and 76 games into her career, Olesen experienced something special during Madison's 51-26 victory over Hanover Park. "We passed the ball beautifully," Olesen said with excitement and satisfaction in her voice. "We worked together. There was so much chemistry. I'm usually the only passer. Today, everyone was involved. It made it so much easier to play." Olesen,…

Crusaders making up for lost time

DENVILLE _ Morris Catholic went into its opener with St. Elizabeth with a singular objective: To make up for lost time. That's how Tyonna Bailey and her teammates felt after the Denville school was shut down for two weeks due to cases of COVID-19. The Crusaders certainly were behind, at least in terms of games played, when they took to the court for their opener on Saturday, Feb. 6. Other teams had already played four or five games. Now, it's simply time to not only catch up but put up. Bailey, intent on getting Morris Catholic off to an impressive…

Late surge powers Sparta

MONTVILLE _ A three-sport athlete, Sparta's Alexa Acker is adept at time management. Last summer, Acker was constantly on the go, practicing on Wednesdays in preparation for softball tournaments on the weekend, playing in a basketball league, working with a personal trainer and making frequent trips to the weight room. Although Acker is best known for her prowess in the pitching circle, she's become a major force inside for the Spartans, toiling to get rebounds. On Thursday, Jan. 28, Acker, a 6-foot-1 junior forward, took down 12 rebounds and scored seven points when Sparta defeated Montville 55-43 in a NJAC-American…

MC's Watson commits to San Jose State

DENVILLE _ When Morris Catholic's Jadyn Watson put her pen to the paperwork, sealing her decision to play basketball at San Jose State University, her grandmother, Alice, queued up the Spartans' fight song on her cellphone, bringing a regal feel to the already memorable moment. No doubt, Watson, a 6-foot-1 small forward, felt good about her choice of college and was all smiles, whether posing for photos with family and teammates or eating individually wrapped cake, a reminder of the pandemic. "I'm extremely excited," said Watson after the outdoor ceremony in front of the Morris Catholic gym on Wednesday, Nov.…

Randolph fades late, is ousted

UNION _ Randolph kept scratching, clawing and fighting for every loose ball and rebound until the end. Ultimately, the persistent Rams were undone by a shooting drought at the worst time and also by a postseason tournament-savvy Franklin Township team that caused problems inside with it size and also with its ultra quickness on the perimeter. The never-say-die Rams had a small lead as late as early in the fourth quarter but they were eventually worn down by Franklin Township, 41-29, in a North Jersey Group IV semifinal on Wednesday, March 11 at Union High School. The Rams, who completed…

Sparta strikes zero from Montville's record

MONTVILLE _ According to Montville coach Derek Lynn, the thought was in his mind and the minds of his players since mid-January. Deep down, the Mustangs didn't want to consider the possibility of a loss - an end to their perfection - so, for the most part, they kept their thoughts to themselves and enjoyed the ride. And, Montville went an astounding 27 games without a setback until Sparta, powered by four fearless freshmen, put the one-and-only blemish on their record with a 62-47 victory in a North Jersey Section 1, Group III semifinal on Friday, March 6 before an…

Mo-Beard gains revenge, moves on

MORRISTOWN _ There's anticipation and excitement and an equal dose of dread that come into play for seniors at state tournament time. Of course, they don't want it to end so there's typically an extra push. As Morristown-Beard's Addisyn Ibrahim said "You're out or you move on. It's for all the marbles." Ibrahim and the fifth-seeded Crimson, bolstered by high-level energy, will continue their postseason journey after attaining a 45-31 victory over fourth-seeded St. Elizabeth in a North Jersey Non-Public B quarterfinal on Thursday, March 5. It was the third meeting between the teams this winter and the only game…

Third title for Mustangs' banner

RANDOLPH _ There was no other option for Montville's Emma Wax. She had to, as she said, "keep my hands straight up." That was a challenge for Wax, who prefers to be aggressive. However, after being whistled for her fourth foul with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter of the Morris County Tournament final, Wax the Mustangs' standout senior guard, had to be extra cautious. "I had to be very disciplined and avoid that fifth foul," Wax said. "I had to play smarter." Wax, not often in foul trouble, was able to refrain and, as might be expected, played a…