Lady Mustangs win another thriller

Delesky shines under pressure

By: John E. Powers
   Dana Delesky says she plays and shoots better under pressure.
   The Manville High School girls’ basketball team can be grateful that there was plenty of pressure last Thursday night against Bound Brook. And Delesky came up very big – a few times in the last minute.
   Manville rallied from a nine-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Crusaders 39-35 in the second nail-biter within two weeks between the two Mountain Valley Conference Sky Division schools. Manville also beat Newark Technology 34-28 last week before losing to New Providence 50-40 Friday night. Manville finished the week at 7-5.
   The Bound Brook game turned out to be the highlight, however. Delesky hit two critical 3-pointers in the last three minutes, then knocked down a big free throw after she rebounded teammate Sarah Ortman’s miss with two seconds left.
   "I told her to be patient, when she shot that first three I didn’t know what she was thinking – she’s done that before to me, but as long as she makes them she’ll make me very happy," Manville coach Kyle Rehrig said afterward. "She has a shooter’s mentality. She’ll keep shooting. She won’t let it affect her. It’ll affect her right away, but she’ll forget about it. It’s a good trait to have."
   Delesky, who scored a season-high 21 points Friday night in the loss to New Providence, scored a three with 2:54 left to break a 30-30 tie against Bound Brook. Then, with 22 seconds left, she hit another three to give her team a 36-33 cushion.
   Bound Brook, which shot a miserable 3-for-15 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, did close to 36-35 when Mandy Stewart hit two free throws with six seconds left. But two free throws by Delesky and another by Ortman put the game away.
   "I think I do better under pressure," said Delesky, a junior point guard. "I got some good looks and I got a good look the last time. I just tried to do better by not rushing myself."
   The game nearly got away from Manville. The teams struggled through an offense-challenged first quarter before Bound Brook built a 20-13 lead at the half. The Crusaders led by as much as nine at 24-15 with 5:03 left in the third quarter when junior guard Monica Iturralde fed Stewart for two.
   But Manville responded with eight straight points. Stefanie Bocchino and Ortman scored on layups and junior Amy Walinchus hit two short shots. Junior Ashley Davey tied the game at 24 before the end of the third quarter.
   "At halftime we were down seven and I told them we weren’t playing up to our potential and they were playing pretty well," Rehrig said. "It wasn’t that we were playing horribly, it was just little lapses and our shots weren’t falling. If we get a couple of those shots it’s a much different situation.
   "It’s really about getting them more confidence in themselves. Being the rivalry and being down they were a little shell-shocked, a little down on themselves. It was just trying to get them to believe and in the third quarter they really stepped it up a lot. I don’t know if it was what I was said or whether it was about them having that desire."
   One of the keys, according to Rehrig, was the defensive play of senior guard Alicia Weaver on Iturralde. Iturralde scored 18 points in the team’s last game, but had just three this time.
   Manville finally forged a lead at 28-26 when senior forward Amy Cutler hit a running shot with 4:07 left in the fourth quarter. Weaver hit two free throws to make it 30-26 with five minutes left. Kehn and Stewart hit back-to-back shots and it was tied at 30 before Delesky hit the first of her two threes.
   "We’ve had so many close games," Delesky said. "Our coach told us to pick our heads up and play as a team."
   Delesky finished with 10 points and also had five assists. Ortman had eight and junior Amy Walinchus led the team with a double-double, scoring 11 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Twin sister Katy had six points and eight rebounds.
   Tuesday, Bocchino scored 12 points and Amy Walinchus had eight points and 10 rebounds as the Mustangs rallied once again from a five-point fourth-quarter hole to beat Technology. Manville closed the game with a 14-6 flurry.