Shawnee girls fall in state final

Shawnee's Taylor Ryan is fouled while going to the basket. The Renegades ended the season 26-5.
Shawnee's Taylor Ryan is fouled while going to the basket. The Renegades ended the season 26-5. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff)
Posted: March 18, 2014

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - There were tears, yes, but not as many as one might expect after a 19-point loss in a state championship game.

"Nobody even expected us to be here; we know that getting to this point was special," Shawnee senior Olivia Askin said after her team's 60-41 loss to Paterson Eastside in the Group 4 girls' basketball state championship game Sunday at the Pine Belt Arena.

Shawnee's ride to the championship game included knocking off archrival Lenape and defending state Group 4 champion Rancocas Valley.

The Renegades (26-5) did so despite being a relatively young team with a first-year head coach, and after starting the season with two losses in their first six games.

"This game doesn't define our season whatsoever," Shawnee coach Christina McGovern said. "They did some things this year that impressed me completely.

"We did have a tough road. And that gave us confidence throughout the tournament. . . . We just didn't have the start that we needed today."

Shawnee looked sluggish through most of the first half, and having several shots spin in and out of the net didn't help as Paterson Eastside (27-3) built a first-half lead that stretched as high as 22 points.

"They took us out of our comfort zone right away," McGovern said. "We were playing catch-up the entire game. That's a team you really can't play full-court defense against, but we had to.

"I think it would have been a different game if some of those shots would have fell in the beginning. But I give [Paterson Eastside] credit, they're a great basketball team."

The Renegades looked stronger in the second half, particularly junior forward Nikola Williams, who scored 15 of her 17 points after halftime.

Askin, the team's only senior starter, looked strong throughout her final high school game. She netted 17 points, including hitting four three-pointers.

But Paterson Eastside's size and speed proved too much.

Eastside junior forward Taylor Brown was dominant, generating 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

"In the first half, our defense and offense wasn't as good as anyone thought it should have been," Williams said. "But you couldn't ask for more in the second half. . . . This was a great year. . . . It's definitely the most fun I've ever had in a season."

Shawnee 9 4 16 12 - 41

Paterson Eastside 15 19 12 14 - 60

S - Nikola Williams 17, Olivia Askin 17, Jenn Byrne 3, Amanda Morello 2, Jenna Hoffner 2.

PE - Nia Adams 10, Kayla Diaz 9, Juliet James 9, Taylor Brown 26, Precious Featherson 4, Emonnie Flood 2.

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