Firecrackers at USJN Day 2
After a difficult and emotional win against powerhouse Cy Fair on Day one, the Firecrackers got back to work today with an afternoon game against DNK Global. Julz Colby got the party started with a banked-in runner and then Paige Cote converted from Amanda Kabantu for a quick 4-2 lead. Consecutive threes by Camille Clement and Maggie Whitmore stretched the lead to 10-4 before Genima Motema checked into the game and promptly floated through the air and banked in a layup and came up with a steal and assist to Clement on the baseline. DNK made consecutive threes to close the gap to 22-12 before the Firecrackers went on an alacritous run courtesy of a Whitmore pull up, Colby floater, and another Clement triple. The half ended with a crafty drive by Colby leading to a cutting Blethen, who kicked the ball to an open Caroline Smith in the corner, who promptly drained the tres bien at the buzzer to the delight of the Firecracker Crowd, with particular pleasure coming from Maine Basketball legends Dick Whitmore and Bruce Bowers. At halftime, the score was 36-14.
The second half was much less stressful than game one thanks to a quick steal and layup from Amanda Kabantu and threes from both Colby and Clement. When Glory Blethen hit a nice mid range jumper in front of the Firecracker bench the lead got to 25 and the clock switched to running turn with the final Maine 53 and DNK 22. Clement led the scoring with 16, Colby 11, Cote 8, and Whitmore 7. The defensive effort and discipline was solid with the Firecrackers only giving up 8 second half points.
This game pitted the orange against Cal Bombers from Bakersfield and it wasn’t a great matchup. To make matters worse the Firecrackers shot the ball well early with Maggie Whitmore, Paige Cote, and Camille Clement each hitting their first two shots while Colby nailed a three and the Bombers were forcred to call a time out with the deficit 18-6. In spite of going 4 minutes without scoring, the Firecrackers ended up 35-12 at halftime.
In the second half Kaleisha Towle and the Congo Kids (Motema and Kabantu) caught fire and led the scoring surge with three baskets each but this one was a bit of a yawner for the 27 (mostly D1) college coaches in attendance. The game had very balanced scoring with Whitmore netting 12, Kabantu 9, Clement and Cote 8 each, Colby and Towle 7 each, while Caroline Smith (4 assists) and Glory Blethen (5 rebounds) each added a basket.
Among the 35 coaches watching games today were Northeastern, Marist, Bentley, Stonehill, Holy Cross, Bucknell, UNH, Maine, Fordham, Bowdoin, Gordon, UNH, Quinipiac, Navy, NYIT, NJIT, St Anselms, Davidson, Colgate, UMass, Providence, Roberts Wesleyan, UNE, St. Joe’s, and Vermont.
Tomorrow evening the Firecrackers wrap up pool play with two difficult opponents- PA Lady Running Rebels and a huge team from Ontario sponsored by UConn star Kia Nurse. Though the a Firecrackers sit at 3-0, it will still be a challenge to be one of the 2 teams out of six to advance to the playoffs given the strength of the remaining opponents.