GLEN ROCK—It wasn’t nearly as simple as Kate Brock made it sound. Yet in the final analysis, her post-game summary was as spot-on as her scoring touch.
Brock had just poured in 30 points to lead River Dell (No. 5) to a North I, Group 2 state sectional semi-final 52-51 overtime win against top-seeded Glen Rock Saturday afternoon. It all unfolded just like she envisioned—except in her version there was probably less spectacular drama.
“I knew that if the girls got the ball to me underneath we were going to win this game,” she said. “If I got the ball in the block I knew that either I’d get the lay-ups or draw the fouls to get to the line. That was our plan coming in, and that’s how we won the game.”
It was, as Brock also put it, “a rollercoaster”—at least from the late stages of the first half on. Now River Dell (21-8) awaits a sectional final match-up on the road to the third seeded Lady Panthers of Pequannock on Monday, 4pm.
“I told the girls before the game that everyone who plays will have to make the best plays they ever have,” said coach Lou Wejnert. “The game was a lot like our entire season—we kept fighting until we found a way. We went from starting 2-4 to becoming league champs and today winning a state sectional semifinal. I simply couldn’t be more proud of all these girls.”
River Dell might have been looking ahead when they led by nine points with 3:15 to go. A pair of three-pointers by Glen Rock’s Margi Rivara in less than 30 seconds quickly cut the lead to three. Rivara struck for a team-high 19 points after already becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer this year.
On the strength of Brock’s flawless free-throw shooting—she was eight-for-eight from the line in the fourth quarter and 14-for-16 in the game—River Dell stayed ahead. Katelyn Lee (eight points) seemed to have sealed the win from underneath when she scored to give the Hawks a 46-43 lead.
Glen Rock had other ideas. The Panthers inbounded the ball with 8.5 seconds left, and instead of going to Rivara, they found Samantha Alba (10 points), who drilled home a three-pointer as time expired, and in doing so swung the momentum back to the home team.
Glen Rock led 50-48 with 36 seconds left in the OT when Brock found herself on the line to shoot two. For the first time all day, Brock missed (she was “exhausted,” according to Wejnert)—and then missed again. Four seconds of playing time later, the senior desperate to keep her last varsity season alive made no mistake from underneath when she put in the winning basket.
“We’re moving on mostly because Kate refused to let us lose—that’s what seniors do and that’s what stars do,” said Wejnert. “We looked at our bracket and determined there were some winnable games waiting for us, and now we’re on a nice roll.”
The roll might have been derailed without Kayla McGovern’s three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half. With her only points of the game, McGovern knotted the game at 21-21 just a minute after Glen Rock had taken its first lead at 19-18.
“We’d played in six overtime games this year,” said McGovern, “and we drew from that experience. They were the higher seed, but we never lost confidence we could beat them if we did all the things that brought us success this year.”