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Girls basketball: Eagles soar past Bristol in OTR


They won’t all be this easy for Gene Schaedel.

The first-year South Hunterdon girls coach saw his Eagles go on a 25-0 first-half run against Bristol (3-3) in the first round of the Over the River Holiday Tournament on Friday. Host South Hunterdon built a 40-8 halftime lead on its way to a 66-37 victory.

The Eagles tallied double-digit points in all four quarters. Nine different South Hunterdon players scored, with Rebecca Phillips leading the team with 14.

“It’s definitely good to get the whole team a lot of minutes,” Schaedel explained, “We haven’t had too much practice in the last week so it was good to get everybody moving.”

“It’s a really good feeling: that everyone on the court can contribute in some way and to be able to rely on your teammates like that,” Phillips added.

Mayce Fleming set the tone by hitting a three when the game was 20 seconds old. “This is the first game I’ve started and I don’t take that many threes either,” Fleming admitted. “But it was good!”

Phillips ignited the big run with a driving layup and two threes to extend South Hunterdon’s lead to 13-3. Alana Catanzareti and Eve Durkee-Neumann both added layups off of steals, and Catanzareti bombed a three to make the margin 20-3 late in the first quarter.

Turnovers and steals were problematic for Bristol. South Hunterdon had 11 steals in the first half.

“We were able to stop them defensively and get those turnovers, which pushed our offense,” Phillips shared. “It got our momentum going.”

“We all played together and helped each other out really well,” Fleming added. “When one person gets beat, another one is there to help.”

South Hunterdon opened the second half with five nonstarters. An 11-0 Bristol run forced Schaedel to put Catanzareti and later Fleming back in the game. The third quarter stabilized with the Eagles up 51-28.

South Hunterdon blew out Warren Tech in its opener before falling to North Warren on Dec. 23. Phillips scored in double-figures in both games. Friday’s “W” went a long way in erasing the North Warren memory.

“It feels pretty good,” said Phillips, an All-Skyland Conference pick last year. “We know we can pick it back up. We’re not getting down and we’re getting right back to where we were. We’re not letting that loss get to us.”

South Hunterdon went 11-13 last season, a seven-game turnaround from 2017-2018. “What carried over from last season is that they share the ball very well,” Schaedel observed, “and they play as a team. They’re all pushing each other and there are no team chemistry issues. We’re all on the same page.”

“We’ve all played together for a while,” Fleming stated, “and that helps.”

Tia Fleming scored 10 for the Eagles. Mayce Fleming tallied seven while Kylee Conner and Avery Schaefer added eight. Catanzareti dished out five assists while Tia Fleming had four steals. Schaffer grabbed five rebounds.

“The offensive focus has been taking the right kind of shots. We’re trying to have a more modern shot profile with shots in the paint and open threes,” Schaedel explained. “Defensively, we have some size and some pretty good athletes on the perimeter, so we try and force turnovers and apply pressure to the other team to get easy baskets in transition.”

South Hunterdon entered press time at 3-1 (2-0 Skyland) after defeating Delaware Valley (3-1) 36-35 in Saturday’s OTR championship game.