By Art Redd
SJSports Staff Writer
Playing an unfamiliar team always presents new challenges for both the coaching staff and the players. That was the situation with the girl’s basketball team from Wildwood competing against the Lady Tartans from Highland for the Tri-County Conference Title. The Warriors’ Lana Harshaw is the leading scorer for Wildwood as her ability to take control of a game inside the paint has been established during their 19 game winning streak. Highland, behind the two juniors Lisa Steele and Danielle Hemerka, have cause havoc for opposing defenses all season long. When the two teams met Saturday afternoon at Williamstown, Highland (21-3) dominated the game from the start as Lisa Steele’s game high 32-points highlighted their 19 point victory.
It was a scene that the Warrior’s fans were not used to seeing this season. Wildwood had loss a game by the score of 61-42. The Warriors had trouble scoring and were trying to play catch up the entire game. Looking for their star player to pick the team up, Harshaw struggled from the field making only one field goal in the first half. Her first basket came at the 3:14 mark in the second quarter. Most of Harshaw lack of ability to score was due to the defense by Hemerka through out the game. Highland did an excellent job of making it as hard as possible preventing an interior pass to Harshaw.
Highland and Gloucester Catholic finished the regular season tie for first place in the Royal Division but won the tiebreaker in order to participate in today’s game. Highland started this contest out quickly as Steele, after missing her first shot of the game, nailed her next four shots scoring 10 points in the first quarter. Steele was 5 for 6 from behind the three points for the game connecting on 3 of 4 during the first half. Hemerka and Steele control the second quarter as the pair dropped in 10 points apiece to open up a double digit lead before the half.
When the ball was inbound to start the second half, Kait Anzelone tried to ignite the Warriors with her 6 points third quarter performance. Right back to their original game plan, the team yet again looked for their center to score. Harshaw, only scoring a total of 10 points, continued to struggle from the floor. Highland would not as Steele scored 12 second half points and finished with 32 points for the game. Hemerka added 8 points during the second half and ended with 22 points.
Both of these teams will walk away from this game with some valuable experience. Highland did exactly what head coach Dan McGettigan instructed his Lady Tartans to do, and that was to play hard and not take any team lightly. That was quite evident during the first minutes of this game. Meanwhile, the teams from the upcoming Group 1 bracket will be facing a determined Wildwood squad and they had better bring their best game on the court.