DEPTFORD--- Mainland’s supporting cast was dared to make shots on Wednesday night.
The Mustangs stepped up with Westampton Tech smothering Kylee Watson in the paint and earned a trip to the Group 3 final by way of a 49-33 victory at Deptford High School.
“They did some things to try and force other kids to make plays other than Kylee and pretty much everybody did. It was a really well-rounded team scoring effort,” Mainland head coach Scott Betson said.
Claudia Mairone made the biggest contribution for the Mustangs in the third quarter, as she knocked down three three-pointers, two of which were on back-to-back shots to end Westampton Tech’s 5-0 run to start the second half.
“It brought so much energy,” Mairone said. “We knew we had to win this game. We were so excited and so pumped up. We didn’t want to have a let down. We played tough, got through it and the outcome is great.”
Mairone and the Mainland guards took advantage of space around the three-point line as Watson was doubled by a pair of Westampton Tech defenders for most of the game.
“They were doubling down on Kylee, which left spaces in the zone open,” Mairone said. “I was moving around and getting open looks.”
Mainland expected a test out of Westampton Tech, and the Panthers pushed the Mustangs for the entire first half and the start of the third quarter.
“We knew they were going to be good,” Mairone said. “They’re obviously very big and matchups were a little bit of an issue in the first half, but we fixed it and rebounded better and played really hard defense. Their offense was taking us out of it a little bit and then we got that together and in the second half we brought it.”
Now, the Mustangs head to the Group 3 final on Sunday at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River
"It’s really cool,” Betson said. “I don’t think I’m processing that it is a state final. I know it’s a coaching cliche. We’re just going to prepare for it like it’s the next game on the schedule and just kind of do our thing.”
Bound Brook 34, Haddon Township 31
Haddon Township put together an impressive effort with Madison Bradley and Lindsey Getzinger in foul trouble, but Bound Brook took over in the fourth quarter behind Cameron Ward.
“There was the potential today for us to walk in and be out of it in the first quarter,” Haddon Twp head coach Tom Mulligan said. “It helped that they missed a few close shots. I was proud of the girls when Maddie got in foul trouble there.”
The Hawks had an opportunity to send the game to overtime in the final seconds, but they weren’t able to get off a three-pointer.
“What was cool was the maturity of a lot of our younger kids being able to handle the ball with composure,” Mulligan said. “That was the key. If we played this game seven weeks ago, we would not have been able to start an offense. I said to them at the end that it was a total compliment that they had a shot to win at the end and most people two hours ago wouldn’t expect you to be in the game.”