Monday, January 17, 2005
By Susan Hall
It was a girl's basketball tournament that gave teams an opportunity to compete against an opponent that they normally wouldn't have played. Gloucester defeating Riverside in overtime, Sacred Heart losing to Morris Catholic, Rancocas Valley falling to Trenton Central, and then there was the battle of the undefeated. Both Camden Catholic and Willingboro had played perfect team basketball but in this game, one team had to lose. After a very close first half battle, Camden Catholics would pull away in the third quarter outscoring the Chimeras by twelve points. Rashidat Junaid was the difference in this game scoring her 1000th career point leading the Irish to a 68-56 victory over Willingboro.
When this game started, it had all the makings of a classic battle between two teams who have demonstrated how to put a game away. Willingboro was leading the Burlington County Liberty Division winning their first seven games of the season. Camden Catholic had also found success winning eight of their first nine games and just a game behind Woodrow Wilson in the Olympic Conference National Division. The two teams see-saw their way to an 18-17 advantage for Camden Catholic at the end of the first quarter. The Irish briefly looked to control the tempo early on, but Willingboro rallied and trailed by one.
The second quarter was highlighted by the historical event of Junaid scoring her 1000th point as a junior. The game was held up for a moment acknowledging her accomplishments by presenting her with balloons, flowers and a 1000th point cookie. When the game resumed, the closely matched tournament game finished the half with the Irish still holding on to a three point lead. That halftime speech by coach Chris Palladino must have been encouraging for the Irish.
Junaid continued to be a dominating force during the second half as Willingboro had trouble trying to slow down the success she was having on the boards. Camden Catholic outscored Willingboro in the third quarter by a 21-9 margin and expanded their lead to double digits. Willingboro did outscore the Irish in the final quarter, but the lead was too great to overcome. Rashidat Junaid led all scorers with 31 points, Christine Matera added 16 and Allison Lane finished with 11 points for Camden Catholic. Willingboro received 20 points from Tammy Meyers and 10 from Aisha Alleyne.