Sophomore Gabriella Mittelman scored a game-high 22 points for Demarest, which topped Dumont, 72-50, on Friday.
DEMAREST - Norsewomen sophomore Gabriella Mittleman and junior Angie Tirado combined for 43 points to propel Demarest past Dumont, 72-50, on Friday afternoon.
“Tirado is a beast,” said Dumont coach Christie Prepis. “Clearly our focus was on her. And Mittleman, especially as a sophomore [is great]. What they’re going to be for the next two years is …”
Dumont played hard and the final score was somewhat deceiving. There were times during the game when the Dumont offense played great.
“Dumont’s always tough because they just play,” Demarest coach Jenny Jurjevic said. “They play like they’re in the backyard - they play tough, hard-nosed basketball. It’s hard for me to prepare and scout them. We scrimmage against boys every once in a while to try to measure up for that aggressiveness.”
Demarest took the lead for good, 6-5, on a 3-pointer by senior Taylor Miller two minutes into the game. The Norsewomen connected on three more treys and also moved the ball around smartly to score 24 points in the first quarter alone.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get the kids to buy into it (ball movement),” Jurjevic said. “I’ve always been a ‘think pass first’ coach. Now I have kids that are well oiled. I don’t have to run set plays. They just share the ball and trust one another. They put the work in before the season - they came in polished. In the old days you had to work on the fundamentals - catching and passing. We’re doing things a little more differently. It’s exciting that they try to play a little bit faster.”
The Norsewomen increased the lead to double digits in the second quarter despite efforts of Dumont senior Sophia Mandalakis, who hit a couple of shots, and junior Gabriella Bartelucci, who drained her third three-pointer of the game in the second quarter. Each player finished with 16 points.
Junior Gabby Bartelucci scored 16 points for Dumont.
“When Gabby Bartelucci is shooting the ball well she’s hard to guard,” Prepis said. “She gets to the rim as well. My sophomore, Scarlett Santana, was huge for us today. Once everyone knew to get her the ball we were able to roll a little bit. Everyone who comes to the gym and watches our point guard (junior Lucia Giagregorio) play is impressed with the effort, knowledge - her IQ is through the roof.”
The Norsewomen rotated players in and out and got scoring and other contributions from several players to pad their lead.
“They’re selfless,” Jurjevic said of her team. “We have a comfortable 7-man rotation. It’s because I have kids that can play so it doesn’t bother me. They like it because it gives them a break and sets up a different dynamic with different kids coming in.
We know it takes three parties to win in our strength of schedule. And we know that third person could be anyone of those five other players on a given night. We have two studs and we’re just trying to develop everybody else to contribute. Today you saw a piece of that.”
The Norsewomen took charge early in the second quarter using their speed to dish the ball inside to open teammates.
“That’s our strength - playing with speed,” said Mittleman. “When we see we are not scoring as much, we play at a faster pace - going to the basket and all that. We have so much potential and I can’t wait to see it really come out. It’s only 10 or 11 games in - we have plenty more to go.”
Freshman Ella Peck made ac ouple of field goals for Demarest, which improved to 8-3 on the season.
“We put in this transition this year where we hunt for those assists,” added Jurjevic. Today we had 17 assists. We hunt for a greater assist over turnover ratio. So today we only had 7 turnovers and they’re usually in a full court run and gun kind of deal.”
As a result of great team play Demarest took a 47-29 lead into halftime.
“Our seniors bring great leadership to us and that’s why we love them,” said Mittleman. “They bought in and mentor the younger girls. And we have our younger girls that contribute in so many different ways. One of them (freshman Deana Finkelstein) starts! We have shooters, they play defense and we get contributions from everyone.”
But Dumont was unfazed by the large deficit thanks to a halftime talk by the head coach.
“I never want to be down 18 at halftime,” Prepis said, “but I told my kids the way we played - we put up a good number against a great team, we handled their pressure well. We saw we would be able to get the ball inside and we got the ball inside. We got contributions all over the place. That effort beats a lot of teams. A week ago we scored 5 points in the first half against Waldwick.”
Demarest improved to 8-3, while Dumont fell to 4-5.
“I’m thrilled with the effort,” said Prepis. “I’ve been waiting on this a little bit. I don’t think Demarest missed an open shot. You work and you work and you work and the second you let up they’re going to hit it. They’re so talented. As a younger team you take your lumps, you take the lessons and you move forward.”
“That’s the best I’ve seen Dumont play,” added Jurjevic. “If Dumont played like that against some of their losses Dumont wins some of them for sure. She’s (Prepis) doing a good job - she’s getting them better.”