After a successful three-game stint in HudsonCounty over the holidays, the Union girls’ basketball team will look to take that momentum with it when Union County Conference-Watchung Division play continues for the Farmers this weekend.
In a battle of two of the top teams in UnionCounty and in the UCC’s Watchung Division, Union (4-1) will host Summit (4-0) Saturday at 1 p.m. at UnionHigh School’s Louis J. Rettino Gymnasium.
Both teams are coming off holiday tournament championships, with Summit downing St. Anthony and Livingston to win its own tournament.
Sparked by returning players Cassidy O’Malley, Anna Baumeister, Jenny Martino, Maddie Gramigna, Katie Chase, Catlin Osmulski, Liv Kelly, Kyla Houston, Marissa Tarashuk, Elizabeth Kulpan, Marisa Murray and Hannah Feeney, the Hilltoppers opened with division wins against Scotch Plains and Cranford and are on their way to soon eclipsing last year’s 7-18 learning experience.
Union defeated Plainfield and was then soundly defeated at home by Roselle Catholic in division play before besting Clifton, Marist and Passaic Tech at Union City.
Union, coming off a 17-10 season, fell to three-time defending Watchung Division champion Roselle Catholic 57-31 in a game it led 12-10 after the first quarter.
“We were very anxious to play Roselle Catholic and we thought we were prepared to play them,” Union head coach Justin Meyer said. “However, we weren’t and they showed us how much more we have to do to become a good team.
“Hopefully, when we play them again there will be something on the line.”
In downing Passaic Tech 41-32 on Dec. 30 to capture the Soaring Eagles Coaching vs. Cancer Holiday Tournament the Farmers received strong performances from seniors Wendy Berry and first-year varsity starter Tessa Dolce.
Berry finished with 13 points after netting seven in a fourth quarter Union won by a 21-8 margin. Union was also clutch from the free throw line in the final eight minutes, making nine of 11 free throw attempts.
Dolce, also a cheerleader during the fall and now in her second season on the varsity, scored 11 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots to earn tournament MVP honors.
“Against Marist and Passaic Tech we missed a bunch of shots and kept the other teams around,” Meyer said. “Against Marist (a 44-32 triumph) we pulled away in the third quarter and against Passaic Tech we came back in the fourth.”
Berry is one of the top returning guard-forwards in UnionCounty, a player who can score inside and hit a jumper, in addition to providing important rebounding. She poured in 20 points in the victory over Marist.
Dolce has no problem with taking one for the team when a player comes her way driving to the hoop.
“Dolce took four charges in our last two games,” Meyer said. “She also did a great job of rebounding.”
O’Malley led Summit in scoring last year with an 8.1 average, while Baumeister, Gramigna and Martino averaged five. So far this season O’Malley and Baumeister are averaging 12 points and Martino eight.
NOTES:Summit’s home game against division foe Governor Livingston that was snowed out Friday night was re-scheduled for Feb. 13.
JR’S UNION COUNTY TOP 10
FOR SATURDAY, JAN. 4:
1-Roselle Catholic (4-0)
5-New Providence (2-2)
6-Gov. Livingston (3-2)
1-Roselle Catholic (2-0)
Gov. Livingston (2-0)
Scotch Plains (0-2)
3-Union Catholic (1-1)
6-New Providence (0-0)
8-Oak Knoll (0-2)
The PatrickSchool (2-0)
5-Kent Place (0-0)
St. Mary’s, Elizabeth (0-2)
* Kent Place was scheduled to host Roselle Dec. 21.
SATURDAY, JAN. 4 games
(according to schedules on www.unioncountyconferencenj.org🙂
Summit at Union, 1 p.m.
Linden at Gov. Livingston, 1 p.m.
Scotch Plains at Plainfield, 1 p.m.
Union Catholic at New Providence, 1 p.m.
Westfield at Johnson, 1 p.m.
Rahway at Roselle, 4 p.m.
SUMMIT HILLTOPPERS (4-0):
Dec. 20: (A) Summit 54, Scotch Plains 40
Dec. 21: (H) Summit 57, Cranford 45
Dec. 26: (H) Summit 59, St. Anthony 16
Dec. 28: (H) Summit 44, Livingston 36
UNION FARMERS (4-1):
Dec. 20: (H) Union 41, Plainfield 25
Dec. 21: (H) Roselle Catholic 57, Union 31
Dec. 27: (A) Union 50, Clifton 41 – at Union City
Dec. 28: (A) Union 44, Marist 32 – at Union City
Dec. 30: (A) Union 41, Passaic Tech 32 – at Union City