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May 02, 2017

Rutgers Wins Bill Grier League Championship in Lincroft

By Les Pierce

Front row, left to right: Mia Rosso, Ava Delaney, Jessica Fay, Jillian Fay. Back row, left to right: Coach Gary Krall, Kylie Williamson, Sara Wiessel, Julia Krall, Skylar Ponik, Hailey Gray, Sophia McCarthy, Coach Anthony Rosso.

During the month of March, the dominant sports venue across the country is college basketball, when teams compete for the national title in a tournament referred to as “March Madness.” In Lincroft, the Bill Grier League provides similar excitement on a somewhat smaller scale, with three weeks of bracketed playoffs resulting in a final weekend of gender/age-based divisional championship games. This season, Rutgers took the sixth through eighth grade girls’ championship, with a 30-27 victory over UConn in a game that saw seven lead changes. The Scarlet Knights trailed at the half, but pulled it out in the closing moments.

Skylar Ponik of Rutgers knotted the tally at 10 points each when she sank a pair of foul shots to tie the score for the fifth time in the first half. However, UConn’s Brielle Trinchera and Chloe Van Berkel countered with a field goal each, to provide the Huskies with a 14-10 advantage at halftime.

Early in the first half, UConn’s Sara Valente got all net from three-point land to create a five-point gap at 17-12. Moments later, Ava Delaney drilled a three-pointer to bring the Knights even at 19.

UConn held a seemingly comfortable four-point lead at 27-23 with just 1:14 remaining. However, Rutgers picked this final minute to run off seven unanswered points. The rally began when Julia Krall snatched an offensive rebound, pivoted right, and put up a field goal with 54 seconds remaining. At 41 seconds left, Ava Delaney went to the line on a one and one and drained the net both times to tie it up at 27. Sixteen seconds later, Delaney was back at the line for another one and one, with the same result for a 29-27 advantage.

A UConn guard was driving the lane when Krall flicked the ball out for the steal, then dribbled down court, where she was fouled in the paint. She put up a point on her trip to the line for a three-point lead. The Huskies made one last desperate shot, but missed, with Krall grabbing the rebound with six seconds left to clinch the win.

Ava Delaney of Rutgers led all scorers with 16 points, including a three-pointer and seven points from the foul line.  Scoring for the Knights were Sophia McCarthy (5), Hailey Gray (3), Julia Krall (3), Skylar Ponik (2), and Kylie Williamson (1).  Sara Valente paced UConn with 14, including a trio of three-pointers. Brielle Trinchera (5), Chloe Van Berkel (4), Daniella Murray (2), and Allison Panick (2) put up points for the Huskies.