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Madison triumphs on road in opener

Madison's Devon Johnson, right, tries to maintain control of the ball as Chloe Vasquez of Pequannock closes in. Photos by Sandy Seegers Madison's Devon Johnson, right, tries to maintain control of the ball as Chloe Vasquez of Pequannock closes in.
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PEQUANNOCK _ Eight minutes into the season, Madison was up by 13 and seemingy on track for a blowout win over Pequannock.

Instead, that impressive start, which was marked by superb passing and incessant communication, especially on defense, dwindled and, ultimately, disappeared late in the third quarter. The Dodgers went from dominant early on to highly concerned as the Golden Panthers closed in and tied the score.

Madison, however, endured what its coach, Lisa DiTuro, referred to as an "experience" and triumphed 52-39 over Pequannock in a NJAC-Liberty Divison opening-day game on Thursday, Dec. 14.

"I'm proud for this experience and how we fought through it," DiTuro said. "We doubled back and closed out the game. In the beginning, the small details, like crisp passing and talking on defense, got us the lead. We came out strong then became lax.

"We got sloppy in the second quarter and even moreso in the third. We weren't taking care of the ball and were casual with our passes."

Pequannock, which pulled even, 29-29, on Abigail Goll's 12-foot jumper with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter, had a role in closing the gap by changing from zone to man-to-man defense.

"We were slow to get started but were more comfortable in the new defense," Golden Panthers coach Jen Baggot said. "Madison had a 13-point headstart and it was tough to recover."

Beau Braverman, a senior, and juniors Charlotte Tuhy and Gabby Mariani, a trio of three-year starters, made sure Madison regained control.

Braverman, who had 12 of her 14 points in the first half, including 10 in the opening period, was guarded heavily throughout. Her lone field goal of the second half was 3:33 into the fourth and put Madison up, 44-35.

"We got too comfortable which made us sloppy," Braverman said. "We needed to buckle down and get back to where we were."

Tuhy, 25 points shy of 1,000 for her career, came up with nine of her team-high 17 points in the closing quarter. She snapped the 29-29 deadlock with a free throw with 1:42 left in the third. Tuhy missed the second foul shot but Johnson (11 points) grabbed the rebound, got the putback and was fouled. She completed the three-point play for 33-29.

The Golden Panthers, buoyed by Chloe Vasquez's 21 points, stayed close. The turning point was when Madison outscored Pequannock 12-5 to assume a 48-38 lead with 2:50 remaining. Mariani had a pair of field goals during that stretch.

"We picked up the energy and knew we needed to flip the switch," Tuhy said. "Our passes were sharper and we were more connected. We stayed composed."

Pequannock, which graduated six seniors from a 19-7 team, impressed its coach by persevering and rallying. The three returning starters - the Iona-bound Vasquez, Goll and Addison VanLenten - are expected to make significant contributions.

"It felt like February again," Baggot said. "They jumped right back in. It'll take a bit for our new players to get going but I'm pleased. This was a warmup for us. A really close game. We have a lot of experience and inexperience. We've got to mix it together and do it quickly."

***PHOTO GALLERY BELOW***

Last modified onMonday, 29 January 2024 14:02
Sandy Seegers

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