Pent-up emotion, aggression, and energy overflowed for two quarters. Seneca jumped out to a 22-point, first-half lead and hung on for a 57-45 victory at Delsea on Tuesday night in the South Jersey Group 3 championship game.
The sectional title was the team's first.
"I wasn't going to leave this floor until we won," said Metzger, a forward who scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. "That was it. It's all we've been thinking about. We wanted it so bad."
That feeling was palpable as the Golden Eagles built their early lead.
Third-seeded Seneca (25-4), known for its high-energy style, built a maddening pace in the game's early minutes. Though it resulted in 15 first-half turnovers, the Golden Eagles made up for it with a physicality that an undersized Delsea couldn't match.
Taylor Watson scored eight of her 12 points in the first quarter. And Brittany Snow, who sat with two fouls for much of the second quarter, led the team with 14 points and 14 rebounds, including 13 in the second half.
"I've been proud of our girls all season," Seneca coach Sean Kennevan said. "We've figured out a way to come out ahead in tough games against tough teams. All of our girls played well tonight."
Delsea senior guard Meeko Hassinger symbolized the fight her team showed in the second half. Hassinger (12 points) stands little more than 5-foot. But she spent four quarters driving at a Seneca frontcourt filled with players almost a foot taller.
Hassinger led an effort that brought No. 1 seed Delsea (22-6) to within 11 points in the fourth quarter before a 5-0 Seneca run put the game out of reach.
"These seniors gave us back-to-back Tri-County championships for the first time in school history," Delsea coach Rob Briles said. "Brittney Carney, Tori Levari, and Meeko Hassinger have done so much for this program. Four years ago, we could barely get 10 people in the gym. Tonight, it was almost sold out.
"They've really brought our program back, and they fought all game. They don't quit."
The five Seneca seniors - Metzger, Snow, Watson, Katie Ford, and Emily Auwarter - said that as freshmen, they set it as their goal to win a sectional title.
The team has come close in the past, but Tuesday's celebration, which included a sizable Seneca student section, proved that the title was worth the wait.
"It just feels so great," Watson said. "I'm proud to have this experience with this team."
Seneca 19 13 15 10 – 57
Delsea 8 7 16 14 – 45
S: Emily Auwarter 1, Katie Ford 1, Johanna Metzger 13, Brittany Snow 14, Taylor Watson 12, Molly Garthwait 6, Kim Richer 2, Erica Snow 8.
D: Taylor Christina 11, Tori Levari 6, Nicole Carney 10, Falyn Kirby 1, Meeko Hassinger 12, Sarah Stuart 5.
Contact Chris Melchiorre at firstname.lastname@example.org.