Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cardinals Soar

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cardinals Soar

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP - It goes against all common basketball sense, but the farther from the basket Westwood sophomore guard Olivia Cassidy shoots, the more accurate she seems to be.

"We've been practicing, after practice, [shots] from the volleyball line and half-court, so apparently they're working," Cardinals guard Samantha McClutchy said. "We shoot at the end and we're like, 'Liv, let's see how far you can make it.' "

On a night when seemingly no close shots went in, Cassidy drilled a trio of threes in the second half, each one a step back from the previous one. They helped spur Westwood to a 31-22 victory over Ramsey on Tuesday night and give the Cardinals the North 1, Group 2 title - Westwood's first sectional crown for the program since 1988.

"I wasn't hitting anything," the 6-foot Cassidy said. "But this half [of the court in front of her bench] is the half I always practice on, and I always make shots here. I knew I had to step up. I knew it was a close game and I knew we needed to pull away."

The schools were meeting for the third time this winter. Westwood had won the two previous meetings by 16 and 18 points.

Whether it was nerves or just the familiarity of playing each other again, both teams had their issues. Ramsey opened a 5-1 lead, but turnovers doomed the Rams. Westwood was able to get open looks, but nothing was dropping.

By halftime, the teams had combined to score 20 points on just eight baskets. Westwood led, 11-9.

"I really think tonight was nerves and being unable to settle in," Westwood coach Charles Collis said. "We probably played some of our worst basketball, and you know, we've been shooting extremely well in the state tournament. In the back of my head, I thought, oh man, we might be due for an off day, and this was it."

Ramsey kept fighting and hanging around, and when Lina Hyman made a three for the Rams at the start of the fourth quarter, the Westwood lead was one and the crowd was quiet.

But the Cardinals came alive in the next two minutes. …

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