KENILWORTH – When junior center Christine Grispart is fed the ball inside, there’s practically no stopping the Brearley Bears.
However, with basketball being the team sport that it is, teams need more than just one player to step up their games if they are to be successful.
A combination of Grispart scoring in the paint and teammates Danielle Zielinski and Erin O’Boyle filling the hoop in the second half allowed Brearley to hold off a valiant comeback effort by Rahway Thursday en route to a convincing 51-38 Union County Conference-Valley Division home victory.
Brearley won its third straight to improve to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Union County Conference’s Valley Division. Rahway lost for the fifth time in six games and dropped to 3-6 overall and 3-4 in the Valley.
BREARLEY BEARS (7-2 overall, 5-1 in UCC’s Valley Division)
Dec. 14: (A) Brearley 54, Rahway 36 – Valley Division
Dec. 18: (A) Brearley 39, Roselle Park 17 – Valley Division
Dec. 27: (A) Brearley 36, McNair 33 – at McNair
Dec. 29: (A) Brearley 58, Dickinson 30 – at McNair
Bears capture Hudson River Tournament in Jersey City.
Jan. 7: (A) Manville 50, Brearley 34
Jan. 8: (A) Hillside 57, Brearley 31 – Valley Division
Jan. 10: (H) Brearley 52, St. Mary’s, Elizabeth 34 – Valley Division
Jan. 15: (H) Brearley 53, Benedictine 37 – Valley Division
Jan. 17: (H) Brearley 51, Rahway 38 – Valley Division
Jan. 18 Roselle Park, 7 p.m. – Valley Division
Jan. 22 Kent Place, 4 p.m. – Valley Division
Jan. 25 Hillside, 5:30 p.m. – Valley Division
Grispart led all scorers with 19 points – netting 13 of them in the first half – while Zielinski, a sophomore, scored 13 of her 16 and O’Boyle, a freshman, poured in nine of her 12 in the final 16 minutes.
Of Grispart’s 13 first half points, 12 came inside and one from the free throw line after she completed a conventional 3-point play.
“After we were getting the ball to our big girl (Grispart), Rahway started to double team her,” said Brearley first-year head coach Vin Gulbin. “We then had to reverse the ball.
“We still wanted to get it to No. 42 (Grispart) and then kick it out, that was our emphasis. Christine’s low post moves have improved. She’s developing a successful inside game.”
Zielinski, who is Brearley’s leading scorer with a 16-point average, played much of the second half with four fouls.
“Danielle is one of our great ball-handlers and when she was in foul trouble, Erin really came through,” said Grispart, who averages 12-14 points and 15 rebounds and against Rahway Thursday grabbed 15 boards and blocked one shot.
“Our younger players really stepped up and kept their composure,” Grispart said.
So did Brearley’s seniors. Although they did not score, Brearley received solid rebounding from starter Jessica Levy and Jessica Pace, both upperclassmen.
A 12-0 run bridging the first and second quarters gave Brearley its biggest lead of 12 at 18-6. Sparked by an 8-0 run of its own, Rahway battled back to tie the game for the third and final time at 26-26 late in the third quarter.
“In the second half, Rahway was fronting me and using a double team on me,” Grispart said. “That left some of my teammates open.”
A basket by sophomore Leanne Bastos with 30 seconds left in the third quarter gave Brearley its third lead and the advantage for good at 30-28. The Bears then began the fourth quarter quickly, with Grispart, Zielinski and then O’Boyle netting baskets in just over a minute to give Brearley an 8-0 run and a 34-26 lead.
“We were getting rebounds and getting back on defense,” Grispart said. “We wanted it badly.”
Rahway – guided by head coach Danielle Brown – got as close as 38-36 with over three minutes to play after junior reserve Megan Michel hit a shot in the lane. Michel, off the bench, paced Rahway with a solid 18-point performance.
“She scored 14 points against us the first time we played Rahway,” said Gulbin, with Brearley opening with a 54-36 division win at Rahway back on Dec. 14. “That’s why we went to a 3-2 zone, to get out on their shooters.”
Brearley answered when Zielinski grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. That basket began a game-ending 13-2 Brearley run, which included Zielinski scoring the game’s final six points, all from the free throw line.
Although Brearley made 18 free throws to none for Rahway, it was the Bears that missed eight of their first nine shots from the foul line at the start of the third quarter.
O’Boyle halted that streak by making four consecutive free throws. She finished with six points from the foul line.
“From the 2-spot Erin came in and provided a great role,” Gulbin said.
Rahway also received eight points from sophomore Ashley Sparks.
Brearley, which began the season with six consecutive road games, played its third straight home contest and has three more big home games upcoming. The Bears are scheduled to host division foes Roselle Park Friday night at 7, Kent Place Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Hillside Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m.
Brearley defeated Roselle Park the first time around in division play, has yet to play Kent Place and its only division loss so far was at defending champion Hillside.
NOTES: In Brearley’s first division game against Rahway, Zielinski scored a game-high 23 points and Grispart added 18 and 10 rebounds.
The Patrick School in Elizabeth does not have a team this year, so the other seven teams in the Valley Division will play 12 division games instead of 14.
UNION COUNTY CONFERENCE-VALLEY DIVISION
RAHWAY (3-6, 3-4) 6 8 12 12 – 38
BREARLEY (7-2, 5-1) 11 10 7 23 – 51
RAHWAY INDIANS (38):
2-Megan Michel, junior, 9-0-0-18
1-Ashley Sparks, sophomore, 4-0-0-8
3-Teonayan Hicks, senior, 2-0-0-4
15-Jasmin Whitted, senior, 2-0-0-4
4-Chyna McCall, sophomore, 1-0-0-2
21-Mia Smith, junior, 1-0-0-2
Starters: Hicks, McCall,
Smith, Sparks, Whitted
BREARLEY BEARS (51):
23-Danielle Zielinski, sophomore, 3-1-6-15
42-Christine Grispart, junior, 7-0-5-19
3-Erin O’Boyle, freshman, 3-0-6-12
14-Tara Moran, junior, 0-0-1-1
10-Leanne Bastos, sophomore, 2-0-0-4
32-Jessica Levy, senior, 0-0-0-0
44-Jessica Pace, senior, 0-0-0-0
Starters: Bastos, Zielinski,
Moran, Levy, Grispart