It was a result that junior point guard Alaisha Mumford was not going to allow to happen again this year.
“I think it was just heart and focus,” Mumford said after throwing in 22 points to lead Lincoln to a 49-39 victory over Secaucus, giving the Lady Lions their first county title since 2014. “Last year, we got to the fourth quarter and we sort of panicked. This year we just wanted it more.”
The Lady Lions trailed 32-31 with 7:10 remaining, then went on an 11-0 run that sealed the deal. Mumford scored four in that run and ended up with 11 points in the fourth quarter, including nine free throws.
Jakira Coar started the run with a jumper that gave Lincoln the lead for good at 33-32 with 6:42 remaining. Then Daniya Darby, who was double teamed for most of the evening, drove to the basket and was fouled to push the lead to 36-32 with 5:51 left. Mumford then added a driving layup that gave the Lady Lions a six-point advantage at 38-32 with 4:50 left.
At the same time, the usually high scoring Patriots went ice cold, misfiring on attempt after attempt from the floor.
“Our number one motto is to play with a lot of heart,” Mumford said. “That’s what we did.”
Veteran Lincoln head coach Tom Best, who played his college basketball on the very same floor at Yanitelli Center at St. Peter’s University, called this year’s championship the best he had ever achieved among his four county titles.
“Mumford is an animal,” Best said. “She wanted it bad. I get on her a lot and she responds and makes things happen. A lot of what we do comes through her.
Added Best, “This is the fourth one, but this one’s the best. These girls aren’t the most talented group, but they work as hard as they can. It’s a great thing. I wanted it for them.”
In contrast, the players apparently wanted the title for their coach.
“We had to get our coach a championship,” Mumford said. “We made a promise to him before the season that we would get him a championship and we did. No matter what this time, we were not going to break down in the fourth quarter and we didn’t. That made us win.”
Darby, the team’s best player, was held to just seven points. If anyone would have told Best before the game that Secaucus would hold Darby to seven, he would have said that there was no way his team could win.
“We knew that they were going to sag on her and double and triple her,” Best said. “I told her that she just had to get rebounds and she did that.”
Darby ended the game with 12 rebounds.
Amanda Ulrich paced the Patriots with 15 points. Payton Intindola added seven points in defeat.
Lincoln then won its first game in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 tournament Tuesday, a resounding 75-24 victory over Roselle. Mumford continued her final play with 17 points and eight assists and Darby had 15 points and 17 rebounds.
Secaucus also recovered well and defeated Newark Collegiate, 84-59, in the opening round of the North Jersey Section 2, Group I playoffs. The Patriots got a career-high 35 points from senior Lindsey Mack, 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and six steals from Ulrich and 11 points, 12 assists and six steals from sophomore guard Damaris Rodriguez.
The Patriots faced Hoboken in the second round. Hoboken advanced by defeating Dunellen, 48-32 with 15 points from Nyasia Mixson and 12 points from Zoe Mattessich…
METS Charter won its first-ever state playoff game by defeating Ridgefield in North Jersey Section 1, Group I, 64-43. Briana Lee, last week’s Athlete of the Week, continued her brilliant play with 23 points and 18 rebounds. Kamrin Gibbs added 18 points and Jocelyn Williams added 15. The Mustangs now move on to face top-seeded University of Newark, one of the top teams in the state, which manhandled People’s Prep in the first round 83-5. That’s no misprint. University should be embarrassed for making that score so lopsided…
On the boys’ side, Secaucus won its first NJSIAA playoff game in 11 years by defeating Hoboken, 62-58 in North 2, Group I. Aaron Kashian and Jamling Lama had 22 points each and Kerry Mitchell added 17 points and nine rebounds. Since they last won a state tournament game, they had lost 10 straight…
North Bergen has a good chance to win in NJSIAA North 1, Group IV and proved that with a 77-60 win over Passaic. Noel Karameros had 24 and Abdullah El-Saleh had 21. The Bruins were set to host Bergen Tech in the next round…
Another team that could do its share of damage in the state tournament is Lincoln, which defeated Matawan, 46-27, in Central Jersey Group II. Matawan is coached by former Marist and Monmouth point guard John Giraldo, a native of Guttenberg. D.J. Henderson had 13 points, Donte Darby added 10 and La’Quiem Walker had 13 rebounds. Watch the Lions. They’re dangerous in that section…
Other than this week’s Athlete of the Week Justin Cantor, several other local wrestlers earned the right to advance to the state championships this weekend in Atlantic City.
Cantor’s teammate heavyweight Nicholas Huntt earned the right to go to AC. Ironically, he will face Kevin Cerruti of Long Branch. Cerruti has roots in Jersey City. His late father was born here and he’s the nephew of former Academy of St. Aloysius and Seton Hall basketball star Pam Cerruti and renowned former referee and retired Jersey City teacher Keith Cerruti…
Five St. Peter’s Prep wrestlers also made travel plans to AC, namely 106-pounder Patrick Adams and 113-pounder Sean Rendeiro (both of whom are freshmen), 126-pounder Mike Kelly (who is the third seed in his bracket), 170-pounder James Cruz and 182-pounder Niccolo Colucci…
In closing, we’d like to pay tribute to three great people who passed away this week.
John Goasewski was better known in Hudson County sports circles as “Baby John,” a custodian in the Bayonne Board of Education, but was better known for his endless support of local athletes, especially those from Bayonne. He really was everywhere in Hudson County sports and knew his stuff…
Catherine O’Donnell was a wonderful lady, a great wife and mother, who cared so much for kids. I was fortunate to coach her son Rob for three years in basketball. Rob moved on to become a great science teacher at P.S. 28 and was named national Teacher of the Year a couple years ago. Cathy was so helpful to me when I was coaching and I can never forget, nor repay her loyalty.
Finally, the Jersey City public school family took a major hit when former Lincoln High School principal Dr. Michael Winds passed away. Dr. Winds was first a teacher and a coach, but when he became the principal, he almost singlehandedly saved the Lincoln athletic program. It’s more than ironic that this feature started with Lincoln’s girls winning the county tournament. Dr. Winds had a lot to do with that and more. God bless all three great people….
Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Hudson Catholic (22-4). 2. St. Peter’s Prep (20-5). 3. North Bergen (19-7). 4. Lincoln (19-7). 5. Union City (20-7)…
Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Lincoln (21-2). 2. Secaucus (22-2). 3. Hudson Catholic (20-3). 4. Hoboken (15-9). 5. Marist (13-10)…-- Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.