River Dell Varsity Girls Basketball Team extends winning streak to five with a 55-27 victory over Indian Hills


The River Dell Golden Hawks Varsity Girls Basketball Team (8-3, 3-0 Big North Patriot) squared off against Indian Hills Braves(3-7, 1-2 Big North Patriot) at River Dell High School in Oradell, New Jersey.

River Dell was coming off an impressive 54-42 victory over Jefferson, extending their winning streak to four games. Junior Sofia Sanchez totaled a game-high 22 points.

The Golden Hawks led early in the first quarter in a low-scoring contest 6-4, but then the defense hit another gear with a stifling full-court trap defense that caused Indian Hills to commit turnovers leading to fast-break and transition lay-ups and led to a 10-0 spurt over two minutes.

River Dell spread the wealth on offense with four players scoring, led by Sofia Sanchez tallying six points of her game-high ten points. By the time the period ended, the Golden Hawks had led 16-6.

In the first quarter, Golden Hawks Head Coach Lindsay Steffner said, "We have been working on that trap defense against a lot of opponents, and the girls executed it well and got some good fast-break lay-ups and finished them."

Several River Dell bench players got quality playing time in the second quarter on the court. Led by senior Gabby DeGroat dropping in six of her game-high ten points as the Golden Hawks widened their advantage to 20 points.

"Being able to use my size is one of my biggest advantages," Gabby DeGroat explained. "I'm taller than a lot of people and can post up and get to the basket a lot easier." Every time I go out on the court, I want to be able to help my team.

"Coach Steffner is an amazing coach, and she knows all of our strengths and weaknesses." "She makes sure that we produce and get points when we do get playing time." She's a great leader and likes to get to know us, not our basketball skills and what's going on with our lives, and friendly to have a coach like that.

River Dell capped off an outstanding first half with textbook teamwork. Senior Erin Nader lofted an over-the-top pass to senior Mary Palazzo as she converted a lay-up off the glass before the buzzer sounded. The Golden Hawks were up by a commanding margin of 38-17 at the break.

Head Coach Lindsay Steffner on Gabby DeGroat, "Gabby's come along very well, and she's working hard for a bigger role." "She's a solid kid and an excellent athlete, and you can see that on the softball field." She's mighty when she wants to be, and I keep telling you got to be able to be a presence down low, got a soft touch around the rim, and got outstanding qualities she puts on display.

"I was able to get everyone playing time, and all of them came in and played aggressively and kept the lead going, which as a coach, I'm delighted to see," "Every night, someone else has a chance to shine, and they're a very talented and unselfish group. You see that in the passing game. Everyone that came in played an important role and only sometimes showed up in the box score, whether for two, five, or 32 minutes.

"I have 13 seniors and it's a unique situation and a joy to be at practice and you're having fun and that translates to the game."

"It's a puzzle I must figure out and who to put in what situations and that we're going to be successful. Each day, a different person rises and impresses me more and more, and that's a great situation.

"It's the hustle plays and not necessarily the points and little things that this team does a great job at and the extra high fives and camaraderie outside the locker room." "When kids come off the bench and do the kind of stuff that doesn't appear in the box score, their teammates cheer for them." Those are the plays I like to highlight. It's a particular group of kids coming on after last year's group of kids that graduated, and what makes coaching a lot of fun.

Once the third quarter got underway, River Dell expanded the lead even further, which allowed additional players off the bench to see action on the court. The Golden Hawks' tenacious defense never let up as they limited the Braves to ten points in the second half.

River Dell went on to cruise to the 55-27 victory and extended their winning streak to five games. Altogether 14 players ended up in the scorebook, with ten players notching a point.

The Golden Hawks have a quick turnaround as they face off against Pascack Hills (1-8, 0-3 Big North Patriot) on Thursday, January 12th, at River Dell High School, with tip-off set for 7 p.m.

Gabby DeGroat on the home games, "As seniors we only have so many home games left at River Dell and definitely like to say before every game to protect our home court and fight our hardest and make sure we come out with a win." "The last two weeks we have been playing a lot of league games that we have to win."

Head Coach Lindsay Steffner on the upcoming match-up against Pascack Hills and league schedule, "They're going to be similar to what we saw against Indian Hills and playing a two-three zone." "Our game plan again on offense is focus on the outside shooting and put some pressure on their guards and force those turnovers as we have done in the past and looking forward to another home game." "I keep telling the team the hardest part of our schedule is still coming up." It's great that many kids are getting reps and a chance to play right now and see what we can do on the court.

"It's a good spot right now, and I tell the kids to enjoy it because sooner or later, it's going to get a lot more hectic with better competition and teams." "High stake games with the county tournament coming up in two weeks and going back around a second time with the league." We must win games on the road if we want to win this league.

"The cool thing about River Dell is the athletic program is top-notch, and everyone's rooting for each other and the kind of storylines you love." "The ice hockey and winter track teams are successful." To follow all these athletes, we've seen all grow up ad, by the time they get to the varsity level and realize how much work goes into that. I'm proud of all the coaches in the program for what they're doing with these kids. It's fun for the community to come out and support.

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