SCOTCH PLAINS – In a circumstance where many players struggle to reach an individual goal, Cranford senior guard Jessica McCoy couldn’t miss.
McCoy was a perfect 4-for-4 Friday night when going for the 10 points she needed to reach 1,000 for her career.
McCoy’s game-high 21 points put her career total at 1,011 and it more importantly sparked Cranford to a more-than-convincing 59-39 Union County Conference-Watchung Division victory over Scotch Plains.
A four-year starter who will continue playing in college next year at Division 3 Case Western Reserve, McCoy made all four of her shots in the first quarter to exactly get to 1,000. With seven points already produced on her first three shots, McCoy’s second 3-pointer – from the top of the key right before the first quarter buzzer – sealed the deal.
“When she hit that shot she said, ‘that was it?’ Before the game started we talked about how excited we were for her,” Cranford sixth-year head coach Jackie Dyer said.
McCoy was the second player under Dyer’s tutelage to reach and pass 1,000 career points. Present Lafayatte College freshman player Morgan Miller was the first. Miller did so last year in a 61-44 conference-crossover home win over Scotch Plains, scoring a tied for team-high 15 points to exactly reach 1,000. Miller scored points 999 and 1,000 on a late third quarter drive through the lane.
Friday night against Scotch Plains, Cranford jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, with senior guard Jenna Goeller scoring the game’s first five points right before McCoy scored inside.
Scotch Plains, behind four points from junior guard Madison Maisel and three from senior guard Taylor Sebolao, came back to tie the game at 9-9.
In Thursday night’s 60-50 Watchung Division home setback to Linden, Sebolao – also a four-year starter – reached and passed 1,000 career points after pouring in 19 to give her 1,003. Against Cranford, Sebolao paced Scotch Plains with 15 points, 11 of those coming in the second half.
McCoy’s second shot was a 3-pointer from the top of the key that give Cranford its second lead at 12-9.
Maisel then hit her second 3-pointer to tie the game again at 12-12.
With 30 seconds left in the first quarter, McCoy gave the Cougars the lead for good at 14-12 when her third shot – a one-hander in the lane – swished through the net.
Cranford got the ball back and McCoy stepped up right in front of the 3-point line once more. She let go of her fourth shot and – again – didn’t miss, giving the Cougars a 17-12 lead going into the second quarter.
McCoy had 15 points at the half – making 6-of-7 first half shots that included three 2-pointers and three 3s – as Cranford led 32-20 at intermission.
“We didn’t force anything and just did what we were supposed to do,” Dyer said. “Jess didn’t let it (going for 1,000 points) get her nervous and she played her game.”
In the game’s first minute alone – when Cranford produced its opening 7-0 lead to prompt a Scotch Plains timeout – McCoy already had two points, one assist, one steal and two rebounds, one on both offense and defense.
McCoy came to play and didn’t let going for 1,000 points become a distraction at all to her or her team’s performance.
McCoy, who is not only Cranford’s leading scorer with a 14-point average, but also – again – leads the team in rebounds with an average of eight, had seven rebounds and one blocked shot in the first half.
“Jess has always been a big scorer, but a silent scorer,” Dyer said. “This year when she gets into the rhythm of scoring, when she scores her first basket, she gets going and usually gets everyone else going.
“She’s also been our leading rebounder since she was a freshman.”
Cranford improved to 8-3 overall with its second straight win and is now 5-2 in the Watchung Division. The Cougars bounced back from a rare three-game losing streak by defeating Union 49-38 at home in Watchung Division play Thursday. Union entered the game 7-3 and on a three-game winning streak that included a 51-39 division home win over Governor Livingston.
“We kind of hit a little bump in the road,” said Dyer, with Cranford going from 6-0 to 6-3 after division road losses to Roselle Catholic and Linden and a non-conference home setback to North Hunterdon in between. “I’m very proud that the girls didn’t let it get the best of them.”
Bouncing back to beat a red-hot Union team and limiting the Farmers to under 40 points was a solid way to snap the losing streak.
“Against Union our defense was phenomenal and it carried over against Scotch Plains,” Dyer said.
Scotch Plains lost for the third straight time to slip to 5-5 overall and 2-5 in the Watchung Division. The teams are scheduled to play their second division game against each other on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. at Cranford’s Martin Gymnasium.
NOTES: Cranford played without junior forward Carly Maucione, who was out with a leg injury, while Scotch Plains was without starter Katie Harper, a junior guard who had to sit out a suspension after being ejected from Thursday’s game against Linden.
UNION COUNTY CONFERENCE-WATCHUNG DIVISION GAME
CRANFORD (8-3, 5-2) 17 15 11 16 – 59
SCOTCH PLAINS (5-5, 2-5) 12 8 8 11 – 39
CRANFORD COUGARS (59):
24-Kaitlin McGovern, senior, 5-0-1-11
4-Jenna Goeller, senior, 2-3-3-16
20-Jess McCoy, senior, 4-3-4-21
31-Anastasia Caulfield, junior, 1-0-0-2
21-Hannah Ross, freshman, 1-0-0-2
13-Mairead McKeary, junior, 0-0-1-1
32-Kerry Wischusen, junior, 0-0-0-0
23-Megan Pringle, junior, 0-0-0-0
11-Sarah Ross, freshman, 3-0-0-6
Starters: Goeller, McCoy,
McKeary, Wischusen, McGovern
SCOTCH PLAINS RAIDERS (39):
22-Paige Heiden, sophomore, 1-0-0-2
2-Alexsis Venable, junior, 1-0-0-2
25-Thabitha Dwunfour, sophomore, 3-0-2-8
3-Madison Maisel, junior, 0-3-1-10
30-Amani Williams, freshman, 1-0-0-2
23-Taylor Sebolao, senior, 3-1-6-15
24-Megan Fernandez, senior, 0-0-0-0
20-Tara Sweeney, senior, 0-0-0-0
Starters: Sebolao, Dwunfour,
Maisel, Williams, Fernandez