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IHA, Saddle River Day advance to set up Championship Rematch in Bergen County Girls Basketball Tournament

IHA (83) vs. Teaneck (42) – Coming off an 18-point performance against Fair Lawn in the quarterfinals, IHA senior forward Anna Morris did not cool off in the semifinals against Teaneck on Sunday at Pascack Valley High School. Not only a big factor down low but from the perimeter Morris dropped in 15 of her game high 28 points in the first half while grabbing a team high 10 rebounds.

Leading 18-11 after the first quarter, the Blue Eagles caught fire from beyond the arc in the second quarter knocking down four three-pointers. Teaneck had no answer for senior forward Emma Matesic who tallied eight points of her 10 points and utilized her height on put back shots as IHA held a commanding 41-24 at halftime.

“Very impressed with our shot selection, we were talking about the last few weeks about making sure we want to take and pass up good shots for great shots,” said Head Coach Steve Silver. “We moved the ball very nicely today and we consistently found an open girl for a good shots.”

“We’re a product of our depth and we do wear teams out and we get production from many spots. We played very good defense and they have some very good three-point shooters and concern in the first half. We discussed at halftime let’s have a hand up in their face and understand they are going to make shots but I felt our higher percentage shots took their toll.”

Anna Morris on the first half play, “I think we do really good job of moving the ball around and finding the best option so it ended up being me and finding good shots. Emma (Matesic) did a good job of getting offensive rebounds advantage we had to put the ball in the basket.”

In the third quarter, junior guard A’Nyah Barker provided a huge burst of energy netting seven of her 19 points on the day that helped propel the lead to 59-30 and IHA eventually coasted to the 83-42 victory. Sophomore guard Gina Gaccione contributed 12 points.

“A’Nyah has been is finally healthy after a year,” Silver said. “She takes the highest percentage of shots and transition lay-ups. When she hit that corner jay likes she did a couple of times today and first time she just beams with confidence and when she is playing like that we are definitely at our best.”

The Blue Eagles return to the championship game for a second consecutive year at the Bradley Center (Ramapo College of New Jersey). Last year IHA lost a close game to Saddle River Day 55-49 and are attempting to win their fourth Bergen County Girls Basketball Tournament Title and first since 2015.

“It’s very exciting to be playing the final and up at the college,” said Silver. “We’re looking forward to it and know we’re going to have great effort and energy.”

Anna Morris on returning to the final, “What has been different is the core of our group together for four years. We have been through it all together, the high’s and lows and knowing this is our last season to get this win.”

“Coach (Silver) has a done a great keeping us focused and not worried who is on the other side and what we have the potential to do. He has really brought that out of us this season and made it clear we can do this and have all the components of a championship team and it’s up to us to do it.”

Saddle River Day (59) vs. Ramapo (43) – Searching for not only a fifth straight trip to the Bergen County Girls Basketball Tournament Final but a fight championship in a row the Saddle River Day Rebels faced a tough task in the semifinals against a quality opponent in Ramapo sporting an 18-2 record. A close game early in the first quarter, the Rebels hit back-to-back three’s that led to a 19-8 advantage after the first quarter.

The sophomore duo of Saniah Caldwell and Dakota Corey sparked Saddle River Day in the first half by combining for 16 points as the Rebels led the Raiders at halftime 32-16.

Crashing the offensive glass and second chance opportunities pushed the margin to 47-30 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. Heading into the fourth, Saddle River Day held a comfortable 50-35 lead. However, the Rebels went ice cold without a point for the first four minutes enabling Ramapo to draw a little bit closer. Saddle River Day answered back with a 9-2 run to close out a 59-43 win and 19th straight county tournament victory. Caldwell finished with a game high 14 points while Cierra Pearson contributed 12 points on 4 of 4 shooting from the three-point line and Corey delivered 11 points.

Rebels Head Coach Danny Brown on the win, “They have been doing it all year and very in synch with each other. Great communication and it’s amazing with one senior, four sophomores and four freshman and that’s our chemistry. Jordan (Janowski) is an incredible leader and floor general and runs things. Since Kris (Kristina Mathurian) joined us after transferring and adds a lot on the rebounding end and (Alanis) Diaz is such a big body and looks to attack the boards. We’re all looking to them to give us second and third efforts.”

On the re-match against IHA in the championship game, “It’s going to be a great game, obviously they are all seniors and they have been playing together for a long time. I think that we have a little bit more speed but they have the experience. Seven out of our 10 kids have not been there and should be a very interesting match-up.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Sunil is the Rockland Boulders Beat Writer for DoubleGSports.com and also covers North Jersey High School Sports
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