Editor's Note: Follow @CranfordWBB on Twitter for up-to-date game coverage and analysis by Michael McCoy.
On Thursday night at 7pm, the Roselle Catholic Lions travel to Cranford to take on the Cougars for the second meeting of the season between these two teams.
The game between RC at 14-2 and Cranford at 11-3 could determine the eventual Watchung Conference champion and the number one seed in the Union County tournament.
Tonight’s game has the potential to be one of the best games in Union County this year. Both teams focus on strong defense as their means to win games. Ironically, both the Cougars and the Lions have allowed exactly the same amount of points per game so far this year at 37.4ppg.
The Lions score an average of 46 points per game, while the Cougars post 45.1ppg offensively.
Roselle Catholic came away from that first meeting, in which both teams were undefeated, with a convincing 51-41 victory over the Cougars. RC relied on a smothering full court press to disrupt Cranford’s offense and jump out to a 10-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game.
The Cougars, who were without the services of standout Senior forward Kaitlin McGovern, who was sidelined with an ankle injury, struggled early offensively until Junior guard Mairead McKeary knocked down a three-pointer at with 3:40 to go in the opening quarter.
Cranford was able to fight back into the game, and were within four points with two minutes to go, but were unable to pull ahead.
The Lions got solid performances from Senior Renee Oliver who tallied 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Junior Tori Pozsonyi who amassed 17 points. Allieyah Cubbage hit for 11 and Niavanni Grant added 8 for Roselle Catholic. Junior Kate Tobie was all over the court for the Lions and did an outstanding job defensively against Cranford Senior Jess McCoy who was held to a season low 7 points in the contest.
The Cougars relied on scoring from Senior guard Jenna Goeller who led the team with 12 points, and Juniors Carly Maucione and Mairead McKeary who both posted season-high with 11 and 7 points respectively. Junior Kerry Wischusen clicked for four points as well.
In the rematch, Roselle Catholic should look to disrupt the Cranford offense again with their press. The Lions also play an aggressive man-to-man defense that makes getting open looks at the basket difficult for any opposing offense.
Renee Oliver (8.9ppg) and Tori Pozsonyi (11ppg) may be the most dominant duo in the paint in Union County and both do an excellent job of clearing the boards, getting putbacks and getting to the foul line for the Lions. Allieyah Cubbage, Niavanni Grant and Kate Tobie are all fast and aggressive defenders who can pressure the ball and disrupt passing lanes. All three are offensive threats for the Lions as well, and Cubbage has averaged 12ppg over the last four games for RC.
The Cougars will focus on doing a better job of protecting the ball and running their offense. Cranford will look to get its outside game going and get the ball into the hands of Senior Jenna Goeller (12.3ppg, 35 3FGs) who is deadly from long range, and inside to Kaitlin McGovern (9.2ppg) and Carly Maucione(4.6ppg). Guards Kerry Wischusen, Mairead McKeary and Jess McCoy (16.1ppg) will need to control the Cougars offensive tempo and find seams in the Lions defense.
Cranford will also need to be aggressive on the boards, limiting RC’s second chances while maximizing their own opportunities.
--By Michael McCoy