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Panthers crush Hornets, 80-39

February 18, 2011

Many locals considered the Holmdel girls basketball team to be a sleeper team at the number 12 seed in the Shore Conference tournament.

However, the Point Boro Panthers hit the snooze button on Holmdel’s alarm clock to demolish the Hornets, 80-39, at Point Pleasant Borough High School Thursday evening.

In a total team effort, the Panthers had four players in double figures with Kelly Hughes finishing with 24 points, Kelsey Haycook with 18, Lauren Hughes with 16 and Kerry Malleck finishing with 13. Jess Macchi finished with just four points, but filled out the statistics sheet with six rebounds, five steals and three assists.

Panthers head coach David Drew was pleased to see production throughout the starting five with scoring threats from every angle on the court.

“We almost had five girls in double figures and that is amazing,” said coach Drew. “That proves we have weapons one through five with a couple girls off the bench. It was a total team effort tonight and I am very proud of the girls.”

In the first quarter, Point Boro had complete control. The Panthers pressed the Hornets on the inbound and the Hornets were unable to adapt. Holmdel was unable to get past half court and constantly turned the ball over. Haycook led the Panthers’ press with seven steals throughout the game, and the Panthers pulled ahead, 14-0, early on.

Ally Mnich plugged Holmdel’s scoring drought when she hit one of two foul shots with 5:09 left in the first to make the game 14-1.

After, the Panthers scored 15 straight points for the 29-1 lead, until Mnich was fouled attacking the basket with 17 seconds before the end of the first. Mnich hit both foul shots to make the game 29-3.

Coach Drew was surprised the Panthers gained such a significant lead against the Holmdel Hornets — a team that went down to the wire with one of the Shore Conference top teams, St. John Vianney, earlier in the season, falling just short at 65-56.

“I was very surprised that we had that advantage in the first quarter. We did not take them lightly at all,” said coach Drew. “[Holmdel] did not have one bad loss on their schedule. This was a team that we knew could play basketball.”

In the second quarter, it looked like another team came off the bench as the Hornets rallied together, breaking through Point Boro’s pressure defense.

Holmdel started the second with a 13-1 run. Shannon Nelson scored four points, Mnich scored four, Tara Inman had three and Priscilla Wong had a bucket to start the comeback. Holmdel cut the lead to 30-16, and Point Boro was in a state of shock when coach Drew called timeout with 2:51 left in the second quarter to halt Holmdel’s second-quarter surge.

Inman and Mnich were the two most significant threats to the Panthers, averaging 14.4 and 11.2 points per game, respectively, this season. Coach Drew wanted to concentrate on the two on defense, and force the rest of the Hornets to make shots.

“We were looking to take them away from the get go. We wanted anyone else to beat us but them,” said coach Drew.

When the two teams resumed play, neither was able to make a run and the score stood at 35-18 at the end of the half. Point Boro looked disappointed after giving up the substantial lead, but regrouped in the locker room.

“We told them [at halftime] that this is Holmdel. This is a team with a very good record and is not going to quit,” said coach Drew. “We had to stick to the game plan that obviously worked the first half. If we had to make an adjustment in the second we would have, but we just stuck to the game plan.”

The two teams exchanged baskets throughout the start of the third, but the Panthers were able to put away the tiring Hornets. The Panthers ended on a 24-3 run, finishing the third with a 63-28 Panther lead. In the fourth, the Panthers were able to comfortably hold on, 80-39, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament.

The Panthers will play Red Bank Catholic [RBC] on Saturday at Brookdale Community College’s Recreation and Events Center in Lincroft. The Panthers will be the minor underdogs, with RBC holding the fourth seed in the Shore Conference tournament while the Panthers have the fifth seed.

“If we can beat RBC, that will be more of a statement game. RBC is a very good team and it will be a tough game for us,” said Drew. “We are going to do what we do and not try to change our game plan but may make adjustments while we are playing.”


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