UNION – At halftime it appeared that Union might be on its way to solving Roselle Catholic, with the Farmers pulling to within three points despite the Lions making most of their shots.
However, Roselle Catholic didn’t see it that way and came out with a vengeance in the third quarter, immediately setting the tone when junior shooting guard Allieyah Cubbage connected on a 3-pointer from the left side for the first points of the second half.
Union fouled Roselle Catholic senior forward Tori Pozsonyi when she went to the basket in the first half, but also held her to zero field goals for the first 16 minutes.
However, Pozsonyi decided that if Roselle Catholic was going to win another county championship, she had to step up. In the third quarter she took the ball all the way to the hoop to produce three field goals and eight of her game-high 15 points. Pozsonyi also – for the game – made seven-of-eight attempts from the free throw line.
With five different players scoring in the third quarter Roselle Catholic took control of a close game and turned it into one that ended up not that close.
For the third time in three tries this season Roselle Catholic defeated Union by double digits, this time by the score of 54-37 in Friday night’s 39th annual Frank J. Cicarell girls’ basketball Union County Tournament championship game played at KeanUniversity’s Harwood Arena.
Top-seeded Roselle Catholic began the third quarter on a game-turning 13-0 run and won the decisive eight minutes by a dominating 18-2 margin.
Union began to unravel with 3:46 left in the third quarter after making its fourth turnover of the period at that time.
Roselle Catholic scored inside with Pozsonyi and outside with Cubbage and senior point guard Kate Tobie, who nailed her third of three key 3-pointers from the top of the key.
Roselle Catholic won its 14th straight to improve to 23-1 and captured its fifth UCT championship. The Lions are now 5-0 in the UCT final and they also finished February perfect at 9-0.
Third-seeded Union had a five-game winning streak snapped and slipped to 21-5. Three of the Farmers’ five losses are to Roselle Catholic. Union was seeking its second UCT title and first since 2000.
Pozsonyi, one of five players in Union County to reach 1,000 career points this season, realized that Roselle Catholic had to come out strong and play much better in the second half if the Lions were to be victorious once again over Union.
“Union was in a 2-3 zone and my teammates started to make outside shots,” Pozsonyi said. “It was our mentality. We had to come out tenacious and emphasize winning the rebound battle.”
Union dominated on the boards in the second quarter, led by eight rebounds corralled by junior Adora Moneme, who is first in that department in UnionCounty and fifth in the state.
An inside basket by Salena King, who led Union with 10 points off the bench, made the score 26-23 RC at intermission.
“Once we got the momentum in the third quarter we started playing like ourselves again,” Pozsonyi said.
“Our defense was shaky in the first half,” Tobie said. “We wanted it more in the second half.
“In the first half we were shooting a lot from the perimeter and Tori was not getting a lot of opportunities. She got more in the second half.”
Cubbage made her first three shots in the first half and finished with 12 points.
“Allieyah always seems to make big shots for us,” Tobie said.
Union did not score in the third quarter until there was only one minute left in the period. Junior starter Kya Riddick scored inside to make the score 39-25.
“We felt pretty good at the half to be down only three points after Roselle Catholic shot the lights out in the first half,” Union head coach Justin Meyer said.
It was a 21-0 run in the second half that propelled Roselle Catholic to its first league win over Union earlier this season.
“We missed a couple of good looks and then Roselle Catholic came down and scored,” Meyer said. “Then they went on one of their patented runs.
“Tobie opened things up by hitting the 3s she did. She took advantage.”
Roselle Catholic won its fourth UCT crown in the past six seasons. The first titles won came in 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Union will next seek to make some noise in the North 2, Group 4 playoffs.
“To get here was a nice accomplishment, but we’re all disappointed about tonight’s outcome,” Meyer said. “Fortunately, we have so much more to play for.”
NOTES:UnionCounty 1,000 career point scorers honored before the game included Pozsonyi, juniors Lillian Scott and Jacqueline Knapp of Westfield, Brearley senior Christine Grispart and Hillside junior Yasmine Robinson-Becota.
UNION COUNTY TOURNAMENT FINAL AT KEAN
3-UNION (21-5) 14 9 2 12 – 37
1-ROSELLE CATHOLIC (23-1) 19 7 18 10 – 54
UNION FARMERS (37):
10-Tajla Honorat, junior, 1-0-0-2
24-Wendy Berry, senior, 1-0-0-2
15-Adora Moneme, junior, 3-0-1-7
13-Kya Riddick, junior, 2-0-0-4
35-Salena King, senior, 5-0-0-10
12-Nneka Moneme, freshman, 3-0-0-6
21-Jasmine Bonaparte, sophomore, 1-1-1-6
Starters:Berry, A. Moneme,
Riddick, N. Moneme, Bonaparte.
ROSELLE CATHOLIC LIONS (54):
23-Jennifer Mc Clave, freshman, 0-0-1-1
12-Allieyah Cubbage, junior, 4-1-1-12
32-Tori Pozsonyi, senior, 4-0-7-15
4-Dolapo Balogun, junior, 2-0-2-6
10-Tiffany McQueen, junior, 1-1-0-5
21-Ashley Skrec, junior, 3-0-0-6
14-Kate Tobie, senior, 0-3-0-9
3-Bridgette Badalis, senior, 0-0-0-0
42-Danielle Vellucci, senior, 0-0-0-0
Starters: Cubbage, Pozsonyi,
Balogun, Skrec, Tobie.