River Dell Varsity Girls Basketball Team unleashes relentless defense in regular-season finale win over Indian Hills


The River Dell Golden Hawks Varsity Girls Basketball Team(16-7, 8-2 Big North Patriot) squared off against the Indian Hills Braves(13-13, 2-8 Big North Patriot) in the 2023-24 regular-season finale at Indian Hills High School in Oakland, New Jersey. River Dell was coming off a 50-37 win over South Plainfield.

The Golden Hawks wasted no time establishing a lead by jumping out to a 7-0 advantage. River Dell employed a stifling full-court defense that resulted in Indian Hills committing numerous turnovers, thus leading to transition points.

River Dell knocked down shots outside while driving to the basket for layups. On the offensive glass, the Golden Hawks grabbed rebounds, leading to second-chance opportunities. Five players got into the scoring column, led by Dalia Interiano's five points, as River Dell widened the margin to 18-2 at the end of the period.

On the first quarter performance, Head Coach Lindsay Steffner said, "The players were sharing the ball and looking for each other in transition, and nice to see them playing together." "With a couple of our losses early on and when we look back at the film, I challenged the players if we had three or four more possessions, and that's a different game."

"You got to make your shots, make your layups, get the offensive rebounds, and give yourself second chances." "We need to get to the offensive glass and put people on their heels." "We're so athletics, fast and strong." "We focus on defense, and I drill in defense, and I don't want teams running on us, and they don't necessarily do so, which is a good thing."

In the second quarter, the Golden Hawks continued to expand the lead. Meanwhile, Indian Hills was stuck on two points for a long time. Head Coach Lindsay Steffner was able to go deep into the bench, with Olivia Palladino contributing five points.

Six players tallied a point, including Sofia Sanchez, burying two impressive triples. By the time halftime rolled around River Dell, it was led by a significant edge, 38-10.

"The first time we played Indian Hills, it was a back-and-forth game for a while," said Head Coach Lindsay Steffner." "This time, I wanted to ensure we shut down their leading scorer and focused on offensive rebounds."

Once the second half got underway, the scoring output ground practically to a screeching half as both teams combined for 27 points. 7 Golden Hawks players off the bench seeing quality playing time on the court.

"It's nice to see when the bench is cheering, and those are big moments and don't take that for granted," Head Coach Lindsay Steffner described. "We talk a lot about what it means, and everyone's got a role and jobs to do." "The cohesiveness and bonding together and more done off the court."

"We ran a clinic the other day and went out to eat after as a time, and it's those moments, and there were a lot of laughs, storytelling, and memories." "That transfers onto to the court, and there are learning moments such as after a tough loss and builds character, and they're going to remember when they're older and just not about the wins and losses but about the lessons along the way."

Eventually, River Dell cruised to the 52-25 victory and third win in the last four games. 11 Golden Hawks players recorded a point, with Dalia Interiano notching a game-high 14 points while Sofia Sanchez netted 10 points.

"The growth between summer time to now and us getting to know each other better on and off the court," Head Coach Lindsay Steffner noted. "It's the growth of the relationships and going through the ups and downs of losses, hard games, and sickness and having each other's back."

"We graduated 13 last year, and this is a brand-new team altogether, so I had to get to know their personalities, what buttons to push, and who I can trust in certain situations, and it was some trial and error.

"Playing the first game of the season against Pascack Valley to the Indian Hills game today, these are big strides we made throughout the season, and sometimes you don't see until it's over." "I feel every game we took a bigger step whether, it was learning from a mistake to senior night and Riley(Scagliotti) checking in on her last play and big moments I will remember for this team because they're great kids and role models and they each had a time to shine this season and deserve it."

River Dell flips the page to hosting a North Jersey Section 1, Group 3 State Tournament home game at River Dell High School vs. the Montville Mustangs(10-13, 3-7 NJAC American) on Thursday, February 22nd, with tip-off set for 7 p.m.

"I have a couple of films on them already and they're pretty good," Head Coach Lindsay Steffner stated. "This is probably the best 13th seed I've ever seen." "I'm feeling good about our players, and as long as we take care of business the right way, but we have to lock Montville down a little bit because they're fast, aggressive, tough, and played a difficult schedule."

"Their record doesn't show it, but they played an outstanding game against Ramapo and came up only two possessions short of a different outcome."

"We have worked hard to get the higher seed to host and nothing better in your hometown and hoping we draw a big crowd with a doubleheader with the boys."

"I don't want to add too much pressure and the players know what's on the line and a matter of taking every possession and following the game plan." "We got to shut down their two players(Juliana O'Dowd and Jackie Cinella) and were in control." "You can control your effort and communication and things we work on every single day and what's going to give you success at the end of the day."

"Playing in front of your hometown, there's nothing better than that, and memories are so vivid, and that's why I came back to River Dell." "The community support I remember as 17- and 18-year-old and playing in front of a home crowd." "We communicate as a community and build together, which makes this place special.

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