It’s hard to pinpoint one exact moment in a basketball game that was the pivotal play. But in this past Friday’s New Jersey Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Championship, in a tight back and forth game between the Redhawks and the Rowan University Profs, Rachael Kraus hit a three pointer with 30 seconds left to take back the lead for good. It was the type of play that as it developed everyone in the Panzer Athletic Center could feel the magic, as she caught the ball in transition and delivered her patented, catch and shoot, left corner three. It brought a flashback to the NJAC Championship two seasons ago, when Janitza Aquino hit a game winning three pointer against William Patterson in that same corner. At that moment there was so much energy in the crowd that it carried the Redhawks to their fourth straight NJAC Championship.
Anyone who follows this team would have told you at the beginning of the season that the Redhawks were going to have a hard time repeating what they did last season, with the graduations of Melissa Tobie and Janitza Aquino. And then when Senior guard Kayla Ceballos tore her ACL, those people wrote of the Redhawks for the season. However, they refused to go out with out a fight, and Coach Karin Harvey rallied her troops, and went on to win their final 8 games of the regular season, get the number one seed in the NJAC Playoffs and win their conference. Every member of this team helped bring them to where they are today, and have come together in a way very few teams have.
Looking ahead to Friday’s home game, against the SUNY Polytechnic Wildcats, the Redhawks are in for yet another war at Panzer. The Wildcats team is built around a “big three” consisting of Geena Gallo, Lauren Knowles, and Stevie Ray. Each player averages double digits in scoring. All of them are also very effective on the boards and at creating turnovers. In addition, the Wildcats have a great assist to turnover ratio.
As the NCAA Division III tournament begins this Friday night at 7pm, it is the highest level of competition. The Redhawks are now not only playing in the NJAC (Rowan and Stockton made the tournament with an at large bid) but are playing the best of the best from around the country. Be sure to come out to Panzer and support your Redhawks. If you can’t make it, listen live on wmscradio.com or on the iHeart Radio App to WMSC.
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