Below article featured in The Trentonian here.
The Lawrenceville School girls basketball players knew they needed an immediate response.
After a back-and-forth first half, the second-seeded Big Red saw third-seeded Hill School come out of the locker room and put together a 10-point burst which gave the Blues a nine-point lead midway through the third quarter.
If the L’ville players were going to continue pursuing their dream of playing for the Mid-Atlantic Prep League Tournament title, they were going to need to find a way to answer.
“We needed our defense to step up,” Big Red 5-foot-6 junior guard Heaven Figueroa said. “We weren’t getting out to their shooters. We weren’t applying enough pressure on them.”
All Lawrenceville did was shut down Hill for the next six minutes, while scoring 12 unanswered points to recapture the lead.
Head coach Grey Simpson’s charges were never able to get the margin higher than seven points, which, in this semifinal battle of contrasting styles, always kept the game a couple shots from turning before L’ville held on for a 55-52 win at the Erik B. Hanson Field House in the Ian H. Graham Athletic Center on the campus of the Peddie School.
The victory sends the Big Red (11-9) on to Sunday’s noon MAPL championship game against top-seeded Blair Academy (14-7), which defeated fourth-seeded Mercersburg Academy, 67-26.
“I’m really proud of the girls in the answering run they made,” Simpson said. “That’s something we hadn’t always shown this season. But they fought back and put themselves in a good position by the end of the third quarter.”
With Lawrenceville leading, 23-22, at the break, Hill opened the third quarter with a 14-4 run as Ewing resident Qiana Vigo scored eight of her 20 points and Olivia Matto scored six of her 20. Matto hit five 3-point field goals in the game. Vigo hit four and Tess Gray hit two more to give the Blues 11 treys in the contest. The Big Red did not hit one from long range.
Instead, they relied on the increased tempo their defense supplied and plenty of scrappy play from all seven players who took the floor.
The road back started with two putbacks from 5-8 junior forward Victoria Dugan. Then it became the Heaven Figueroa show.
First she came up with a steal and scored with 50 seconds left in the third quarter to pull L’ville within, 36-33. Then Figueroa made a shot off the glass, grabbed a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup before hitting a fall-away jump shot with 6:17 left in the fourth quarter to give the Big Red a 39-36 lead.
Figueroa did not stop there as she went on to score 15 of her game-high 29 points in the final eight minutes as Lawrenceville increased its lead to 49-42.
Figueroa’s teammates added some big contributions as Dugan chipped in three more of her 11 points in that quarter, while sophomore guard Paige Gillen and junior reserve Jeree Murray each hit a pair of free throws to stymie the Blues as they tried to get back in the contest.
Hill (14-10) had one last chance at tying the game after a pair of missed foul shots with 2.3 seconds left. But Dugan tied up the rebound long enough to help the Big Red hang on and make the most of their immediate response.
Gray 2-0-6, Matto 5-5-20, Vigo 6-4-20, Sniffin 0-0-0, Farrell 0-0-0, Giacche 1-0-2, CWilliams 2-0-4.
Totals -- 16-9-52.
Figueroa 10-9-29, Dugan 5-1-11, Molgat 0-3-3, Murray 0-2-2, Gillen 1-4-6, Bunnell 0-0-0, Hemenes 2-0-4.
Totals -- 18-19-55.
Hill (14-10) 9 13 14 16 — 52
L’ville(11-9) 13 10 10 22 — 55
3-point goals: Gray 2, Matto 5, Vigo 4 (H).
PEDDIE 58, HUN 50
HIGHTSTOWN — The Falcons won their first game of the season by opening a 28-18 halftime lead, then holding off the Raiders in the second half.
Katie Rodriguez led four Peddie players in double figures with 15 points, and Ekene Owunna followed with 14. Sarah DiLuzio added 11 points, and Julia Gorajek had 10.
Hun’s Jada Jones and Kennedy Jardine topped the game’s scoring with 24 and 20 points, respectively.
KRodriguez 5-4-15, DiLuzio 3-4-11, KHall 0-3-3, Guest-Hicks 1-2-5, Gorajek 4-0-10, Owunna 5-2-14, Loughran 0-0-0.
Totals -- 18-15-58.
JaJones 8-7-24, Sutphen 1-2-4, Angelini 0-0-0, Jardine 8-1-20, Hahn 0-2-2, OWhite 0-0-0.
Totals -- 17-12-50.
Peddie(1-20) 16 12 12 18 — 58
Hun (9-13) 11 7 17 15 — 50
3-point goals: KRodriguez, DiLuzio, Guest-Hicks, Gorajek 2, Owunna 2 (P), JaJones, Jardine 3 (H).