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High School Girls Basketball:
Toms River North Ends Highland's Successful Season

Friday, March 2, 2001

By Crystal Parker
SJSports Staff Writer

Highland's sensational season came to a halt Friday night when the Mariners from Toms River North held off a late rally to advance to the Group 4 finals. Coming into this game, the Lady Tartans knew they had a team that could compete with the defending state champs. Highland just could not overcome a key injury and a determined Toms River team. The Mariners won the game 63-55 and advanced to the finals against Brick Township.

This highly talented young Highland (23-2) team has been silencing critics all season with only one loss going into this South Jersey Group 4 semi-final match. Starting freshman Lisa Steele and Danielle Hemerka have been contributing to the Tartans undefeated home record. With the experienced senior players of Patrice Cofer, Kelli Gallagher and Megan Ellison, Highland had put together a season high 17-game winning streak.

Toms River traveled to Highland and went right to work behind Stephanie Huhn, who was very successful against the swarming Tartan defense. Huhn led her squad to an 18-12 first quarter lead which continued into the second. Highland kept the game close but suffered what seemed to be a devastating blow when Hemerka went down with a sprained ankle in the second quarter. Toms River expanded a 6-point first quarter lead to a 10-point half time lead with that injury.

To the delight of the home crowd, Hemerka came out from the locker room with her badly sprained ankle ready to play. Steele began to pick up her game and Highland had closed the gap to 39-36. But the Mariners scored the last seven point and ended the quarter behind the scoring of Kim Peto and Kelly Burger. Highland did gain the moment in this quarter which carried over into the fourth quarter.

Toms River built a lead in the final quarter that Highland could not overcome. The closer the Lady Tartans got, their opponent would be able to expand the lead at the free throw line. Stephanie Huhn had a team high 20-point, Kim Peto added 19 and Kelly Burger dropped in 17-points for Toms River. For Highland, Lisa Steele had a game high 25-point, Danielle Hemerka contributed 13 and Alysa Hinson added 12-points.

Photos by Forrest Robleto

©2001 South Jersey Sports Online