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Morristown-Beard's Marist College-bound standout senior forward Morgan Bartner (22) is the 2014-2015 Sideline Chatter Morris County Girls Hoops Player of the Year. (Photo by Doug Allen)
Morristown's Jim Pisciotto had an astute eye on the Colonials while earning SC Morris County Girls Hoops Coach of the Year honors. (Photo by Vinny Carchietta/MCT Photography & Video)
There are few more together girls basketball programs than the Morris Catholic Crusaders, who are once again the No. 1 team in Morris County this past winter season. (Photo by Todd Mundt)
There were few more clutch moments than when Pequannock's Carly Hausleben (above) made free throw after time expired to edge Jefferson, 52-51, in N1G2 states. (Photo by Sean Reilly)
Mo-Beard’s Bartner & Mo-Town Coach
Player of the year: Morgan Bartner found herself in new role this year at Morristown-Beard
The 6-2 senior figured to go into the season as the main player in a deep lineup. But things changed during the fall when two teammates opted not to play this year after committing to NCAA Div. 1 soccer programs and a third, Meg Damstrom, tore an ACL during the soccer campaign.
While Bartner averaged a team-high 12 points on last year's 18-8 team, those other three accounted for 40 percent of points scored by the 2014 Crimson.
Bartner had to score and defend more. And she also had to lead.
``It was a big role, but it turned out to be a good one,'' said Bartner, who'll play next year at Marist. ``It's something that will also help me beyond basketball.''
The roster changes affected Morristown-Beard for the first part of the season. The Crimson's record was 5-6 after a 49-20 loss to West Essex on Jan. 17. But it won 14 of its next 15 games including victories in its only two rematch games opposite sides it had lost to earlier.
Coach Mike Sturgeon's team also beat Doane Academy, Montclair Kimberley Academy and Pennington to capture the state prep B tournament championship. It advanced one round in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Non-Public B tournament before a loss to Saddle River Day resulted in a 19-9 finish.
Bartner scored in double figures in all 28 games, and finished with 22 double-doubles (and totaled nine rebounds in three other games). She also had three triple-doubles. She scored 25 points or more in 10 games, including three where she surpassed 30 points.
Bartner averaged 20.9 points and 13 rebounds, rejected 101 shots and shot 86 percent from the foul line. She'll graduate as the school's all-time leader with 1,500 points, 1,170 rebounds and 254 blocks.
Her season was highlighted by a stretch in late February in which she sank the winning 3-pointer in the last 20 seconds to beat Pennington in the prep final, which was followed three days later by a 49-46 win over Montville, in which she hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime and then scored five of her team's six points in the extra period. She finished the night with 30 points and 14 rebounds.
``She showed herself this year to be the type of leader that she is,'' Sturgeon said.
Coach of the year: Morristown continued its ascent back into relevance this season under second-year coach Jim Pisciotto.
The Colonials were 4-19 in 2012-13, and were 5-17 last year in his first season. But this winter, Morristown opened with nine straight victories and eventually finished 19-6.
The Colonials outlasted Chatham, Montville and Mendham on the final day of the conference season to emerge champion of the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference-United Division, reached the semifinals of the Morris County Tournament and won a game in the the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 tournament.
Morristown was seeded 24th out of 25 teams last year in the county tournament and lost by 25 points in its preliminary game. This year it was seeded second, which represented one of the best one-year seed improvements by any team in any MCT sport.
``It's been amazing,'' junior forward Abby Schubiger said. ``He's energized the whole program. I think it's all him.''
Team of the year: Morris Catholic went 23-3 and won the Morris County Tournament for the third straight season and 11th time overall. The team also went 12-0 in the NJAC Independence Division and extended its winning streak against Morris teams to 59 since falling to Chatham in the 2012 MCT semis.
The Crusaders, under the direction of head coach Rich Fachet and trusty assistant Bob Caprio, featured a starting five comprised of seniors Kate Feeney and Clare Johnson and juniors Rachel Mills, Stella Johnson and Julia Rossetto. The team was balanced on offense, and played an intense brand of defense that resulted in opponents scoring an average of 28 points per game.
O'Reilly sparked Montville: No player was the focus of more opposing defenses than Montville junior Kelly O'Reilly. It didn't seem to matter, as she wound up averaging 24.2 points for the Mustangs, who ended 13-13.
The highlight of Montville's season came on March 4, when it won at Mahwah, 74-53, in the first round of the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 tournament. It was the first state tournament win for Montville since the 1980s. O'Reilly scored 37 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. She was 15 of 20 from the field and made all 12 of her free throw attempts in the game.
O'Reilly has already surpassd her sister, Katie, who graduated in 2014, as Montville's all-time leading scorer, and she'll take a total of 1,268 points into her senior campaign.
Hausleben's spectactular moment: No one enjoyed a more clutch sequence on the floor this season than Pequannock senior Carly Hausleben.
The guard had a hot hand all night during her team's game against Jefferson in the first round of the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 2 tournament on March 2. Pequannock was down by two points when Jefferson missed a free throw with just under five seconds left. Pequannock got the rebound and quickly threw an outlet to Hausleben on the left wing just inside the frontcourt. She streaked toward the basket and banked in a 15-foot runner as time expired. She was also fouled on the play, which sent her to the line all by herself with a chance to win the game. She calmly swished the attempt, which gave the Golden Panthers a 52-51 win.
``It was the greatest experience of my life,'' she said after the game in which she finished with 25 points, which was one point shy of her career high.
Gehrin stepped up for Mendham: Ashley Gehrin averaged just under six points last season for a Mendham team that finished 13-12. It was a good season, but she was committed to do more this winter as a junior for the Minutemen.
``I knew I had to work hard during the off-season,'' she said.
The results paid off. She raised her scoring average to 14 points per game, and it helped Mendham go 18-8 and reach the final of the Morris County Tournament for the first time since 2001.
Around Morris: Sarah Wells had quite the career at Mount Olive, which this year won the NJAC-American Division title. The senior guard, who scored more than 1,250 points, will graduate as the school's all-time leader in points, rebounds and steals. She's also the top-ranked student in her class. ...Junior center Julia Murawinski of Jefferson averaged 16.8 points, and will take a career total of 988 points into her final season. ... Abby Schubiger, the junior post threat at Morristown, averaged 17 points and eight rebounds. More impressive, however, is her 4.3 grade point average. ... Alyssa Sebesto, who was a four-year starter for Mountain Lakes, had averages of 11.9 points, 4.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds this winter for her 20-6 team. She is headed to Old Dominion, where she'll play lacrosse. ... Veronica Serkowska of Pardippany Hills closed out her senior season by averaging 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. She'll play hoops next year at Montclair State. ...Junior Kiera Cesareo averaged a team-high 14 points for Randolph. She was the team leader in scoring, assists and steals and was second in rebounding even though she played point guard. ... Sarah Singer posted averages of 10.2 points and 8.2 rebounds for West Morris. ... Boonton had just five 1,000 point scorers in its long history prior to this year, but seniors Cyndia Green and Sihana Asani both surpassed the milestone this winter for the Bombers.
MORRIS COUNTY FINAL TOP 10
1-Morris Catholic 23-3
4-West Morris 14-10
7-Mount Olive 15-10
10-Hanover Park 17-8
2015 MORRIS COUNTY TOURNAMENT:
HOW THE TEAMS FARED
Seed-Team.................... How they fared
1-Morris Catholic.............DEFEATED MENDHAM, 41-21, IN CHAMPIONSHIP
2-Morristown.................... Lost to Mendham, 42-35, in semifinal round
3-Mendham.......................Lost to Morris Catholic, 41-21, in championship
4-Chatham........................Lost to West Morris, 48-45 (OT), in quarterfinal round
5-West Morris...................Lost to Morris Catholic, 57-43, in semifinal round
6-Mount Olive....................Lost to Jefferson, 57-47, in first round
7-Morris Knolls..................Lost to Morristown, 39-26, in quarterfinal round
8-Mountain Lakes..............Lost to Morris Hills, 29-21, in first round
9-Morris Hills.....................Lost to Morris Catholic, 58-14, in quarterfinal round
10-Hanover Park................Lost to Morris Knolls, 46-44, in first round
11-Jefferson.......................Lost to Mendham, 51-38, in quarterfinal round
12-Randolph..................... Lost to Villa Walsh, 43-39 (OT), in preliminary round
13-Parsippany Hills........... Lost to Chatham, 50-40, in first round
14-Morristown-Beard..........Lost to Mendham, 42-36, in first round
15-Kinnelon.......................Lost to Montville, 46-42, in preliminary round
16-Pequannock..................Lost to Morris Catholic, 47-23, in first round
17-Boonton........................Lost to Pequannock, 46-32, in preliminary round
18-Montville.......................Lost to Morristown, 47-31, in first round
19-Madison.......................Lost to Morristown-Beard, 41-28, in preliminary round
20-Roxbury........................Lost to Parsippany Hills, 52-45, in preliminary round
21-Villa Walsh...................Lost to West Morris, 47-30, in first round
22-Butler...........................Lost to Jefferson, 69-29, in preliminary round
23-Whippany Park.............Lost to Hanover Park, 37-31, in preliminary round
24-Saint Elizabeth.............Lost to Morris Hills, 55-27, in preliminary round
25-Parsippany...................Lost to Mountain Lakes, 69-33, in preliminary round
26-Dover...........................Lost to Morris Knolls, 49-10, in preliminary round
NORTHWEST JERSEY ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
West Morris 7-1
Parsippany Hills 3-5
Morris Knolls 3-5
Mount Olive 7-1
Pope John 5-3
Morris Hills 3-5
Morris Catholic 12-0
Whippany Park 4-8
Saint Elizabeth 0-12
Hanover Park 11-1
Mountain Lakes 9-3
Villa Walsh 4-8
SIDELINE CHATTER ALL-MORRIS COUNTY TEAM
Morgan Bartner, Morristown-Beard
The 6-2 senior, headed to Marist, was a double-double machine after finishing with 22 in 28 games for the Crimson (19-9). She averaged 20.9 blocks and 13 rebounds this season and ended her career with school-record totals of 1,500 points, 1,170 rebounds and 254 blocks.
Cassandra Falone, Chatham
The guard scored at a 16.5 per-game clip for the Cougars (16-12). She sank 61 baskets from 3-point range and shot 44.6 percent from the field. She was also a 77 percent free-throw shooter. Falone was only the second junior to be named a team captain during Joe Gaba's 18 years as head coach.
Kate Feeney, Morris Catholic
The senior forward has steadily evolved from a defensive specialist into an offensive threat during her career at the Denvillle school, as shown by her scoring 392 of her 709 total points this season. She wound up averaging 15.1 points and 5.9 rebounds this year for her 23-3 team. Her season numbers also included 52 steals and 37 assists for a team that prides itself on defense and transition offense.
Rachel Mills, Morris Catholic
The junior point guard ran the offense with efficiency and was a prime defender for a team whose calling card was its defense. She averaged 5.1 points for a Crudaders' group that allowed an average of 28 points. She also had 47 steals and 46 assists for the Morris County Tournament champion and North Jersey, Non-Public B finalist.
Kelly O'Reilly, Montville
The most prolific scorer in the county, the junior got her points in a variety of ways despite being almost the entire focus of opposing game plans. She averaged 24.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.5 steals and is already Montville's all-time leading scorer with 1,268 points. She scored 30 or more in four different games and 68 baskets from 3-point range for her 13-13 team.
Ashley Gehrin, Mendham
Stella Johnson, Morris Catholic
Julia Murawinski, Jefferson
Abby Schubiger, Morristown
Alyssa Sebesto, Mountain Lakes
Kiera Cesareo, Randolph
Veronica Serkowska, Parsippany Hills
Sarah Singer, West Morris
Michelle Stanton, Mendham
Sarah Wells, Mount Olive
Follow Sean Reilly on Twitter @SeanReillyHS
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