SPRINGFIELD – Dayton senior Amanda Lau drained a 3-point field goal from the left side with 3:33 left in the first quarter to put her over the 1,000 point total for her career, giving her 1,001 with a shot that hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
However, it was a hoop she made running through the lane early in the fourth quarter – her second consecutive basket of that variety – that gave the Bulldogs the lead for good after they had squandered an 11-point advantage they built early in the third.
Lau, who paced all scorers with a superb 26-point performance, also scored the game’s final point with 6.7 seconds to go to clinch her team’s fifth victory.
Dayton came back in the fourth quarter, with Lau scoring five of the team’s 12 points in those critical eight minutes, to edge Morristown-Beard 52-49 in Friday’s 14th annual Joe Pepe Holiday Tournament championship game at Dayton High School.
The battle of 4-0 squads put Dayton at 5-0 entering January and Morristown-Beard at 4-1.
Lau needed just four points to reach 1,000 and began with a steal and a layup for her first two points to pull the Bulldogs to within 3-2.
Scoring the first three points of the game was Crimson high scorer Bridget Monaghan, who scored inside, was fouled and then completed the conventional three-point play by making the ensuing free throw.
A junior, Monaghan needed 30 points to reach 1,000. She finished with 24 and will most likely reach the coveted milestone in her team’s next game. Monaghan made three 2s, three 3s and was 9-for-11 from the free throw line.
Monaghan made her first nine free throw attempts. She did not score in the game’s final 4:30 and missed her final two free throw attempts when Dayton was ahead 51-49 with 1:36 remaining.
Lau made a game-high five 2s and a game-high four 3s, scoring 13 points in each half.
“Every team is tough and it took a total team effort for us to win this game,” Lau said.
A steal and a layup by Dayton junior Sayre Brandstatter gave the Bulldogs a 34-23 lead one-minute into the third quarter.
However, Morristown-Beard ended the period on a 9-0 run – sparked by scoring from three different players – to take a one-point lead of 41-40 entering the fourth.
“We just had to slow things down a bit and continue to make plays,” Brandstatter said.
“We had to increase our energy on defense,” Lau said.
A layup by Monaghan to start the fourth increased the Crimson’s game-high 11-0 run and gave MB a 43-40 lead before Lau answered with two straight layups to put Dayton out in front for the fourth time and for good.
Dayton senior Melanie Schickler followed with her only 3-pointer, fading from the left side, to give Dayton a 47-43 advantage as the home team fans roared in approval.
“We had to stick together,” said Schickler, who finished with nine points. “We found our composure and were able to hit some baskets in tough times.”
Monaghan’s final points came on a 3-pointer that pulled Morristown-Beard to 47-46 with 4:30 left, prompting Dayton to call a timeout.
Dayton head coach Dave Rennie wanted to be sure that Monaghan was not going to get any more easy looks.
“This was the kind of game where every possession counted,” Rennie said.
Brandstatter countered with a huge 3-pointer from the left side and then Morristown-Beard junior Christina DeMatthis made her second 3 to pull the Crimson back to being down by just one again at 50-49.
Dayton missed a layup on its next possession before the Crimson came up short at the free throw line to tie the game.
After getting fouled going to the basket, Dayton sophomore Michelle Bellino made the second of her two free throw attempts to make it 51-49 with just under two minutes to go.
Morristown-Beard missed a layup with less than a minute to go and then Caitlynn McTernan came up with a steal for the Bulldogs with 37 seconds left. However, Dayton turned the ball back over to Morristown-Beard with 29 seconds to go.
The Crimson had two chances inside, but both shots fell short. Bellino was fouled again, but missed the first free throw. Fortunately for Dayton, the Bulldogs were able to retain possession. Lau was then fouled with 6.7 seconds left.
She made the first free throw and missed the second. Lau made four of six free throw attempts.
A last-second 3-point attempt from the right side by DeMatthies was blocked with contact, but no foul was called.
“This took a total team effort,” Rennie said.
“To be 5-0 is a great start,” Lau said.
Lau said she was more concerned with winning the championship and hoisting a team trophy than balloons that were going to be bestowed upon her for reaching 1,000 points.
“It was not really in the back of my mind,” Lau said of becoming the 16th Dayton player to reach 1,000 points. “My main focus was on us winning the game.”
14TH ANNUAL JOE PEPE HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT – GIRLS’ FINAL
Morristown-Beard (4-1) 07 16 18 08 – 49
Dayton (5-0) 10 19 11 12 – 52
MORRISTOWN-BEARD CRIMSON (49):
24-Bridget Monaghan, junior, 3-3-9-24
25-Christina DeMatthies, junior, 1-2-0-8
23-Sabrina Fagan, sophomore, 2-0-0-4
12-Addisyn Ibrahim, sophomore, 3-0-4-10
2-Emma Kenny, sophomore, 0-0-1-1
14-Sarah Bregna, senior, 0-0-0-0
11-Gianna Rella, junior, 0-0-0-0
3-Erin Martin, 0-0-2-2
Starters: Monaghan, Ibrahim,
Bregna, Rella, Martin.
DAYTON BULLDOGS (52):
22-Amanda Lau, senior, 5-4-4-26
32-Michelle Bellino, sophomore, 0-0-4-4
30-Sayre Brandstatter, junior, 3-1-1-10
14-Melanie Schickler, senior, 3-1-0-9
15-Caitlynn McTernan, junior, 0-0-1-1
33-Nicolette Angelo, senior, 1-0-0-2
Starters: Lau, Brandstatter,
Schickler, McTernan, Angelo.
JOE PEPE TOURNAMENT:
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 27
Morristown-Beard 46, Linden 23
Dayton 43, Freehold Borough 25
FRIDAY, DEC. 29
Freehold Borough 44, Linden 37
Dayton 52, Morristown-Beard 49
Amanda Lau, senior, Dayton
Lexis Rodriguez, senior, Linden
Sydney Przygoda, senior, Freehold Borough
Melanie Schickler, senior, Dayton
Bridget Monaghan, junior, Morristown-Beard
Addisyn Ibrahim, sophomore, Morristown-Beard