WEST ORANGE, NJ – The West Orange High School girls varsity basketball team concluded a memorable season.
After winning their first-ever Essex County Tournament championship, the top-seeded Mountaineers had their sights on repeating as NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 state tournament champions.
But their bid for a second straight sectional title was denied after falling to ninth-seeded East Orange Campus, 55-45, in the quarterfinals Feb. 27 at home.
In the final game of her illustrious career, senior guard Mya Bembry scored a game-high 21 points. Bembry will continue her career at Penn State University.
Freshman Kiley Capstraw, sophomore guard Mackenzie Dover and senior guard Ebony Odom Barnes each had eight points for the Mountaineers, who finished the season with a stellar 21-4 record. WOHS had its eight-game winning streak end.
East Orange led 22-21 at halftime and maintained control in the second half, outscoring West Orange, 17-14, in the third quarter and 16-10 in the fourth quarter to improve to 14-10.
It was the fourth meeting between the teams, with West Orange winning the other three.
In the season opener, EOCHS lost to WOHS, 41-30, at EOCHS, Dec. 14 in a Super Essex Conference-American Division game. EOCHS lost to WOHS, 52-35, Jan. 22 at West Orange in the second divisional meeting.
In the ECT quarterfinals, the sixth-seeded Jaguars nearly upset third-seeded West Orange, which squeaked past EOCHS, 46-44, Feb. 16 at WOHS. West Orange then upset second-seeded University, 41-29, in the semifinals and defeated fifth-seeded Immaculate Conception of Montclair, 36-25, in the final at Essex County College, Feb. 23.
WOHS finished third in the SEC-American standings with a 9-3 record. University was first at 12-1 in the division and Newark Tech was second at 10-2.
The Mountaineers started the season 8-0. They were 13-2 through the first 15 games.
Bembry finished her terrific career with 1,718 points, 1,068 rebounds, 414 steals and 283 assists.
Head coach Caniece Williams was elated for her team’s season.
“The season was simply amazing and I am very proud of what my team accomplished this season,” said Williams, who completed her sixth year at the helm. “We were challenged many times this season, and every single time it brought out the best in us as a team. We ended 21-4 with three of the four losses coming from two top 20 teams who will most likely go on to win their section in the state championship. Our league is very competitive and I think we did a great job competing at the highest level. The county title was a great accomplishment because we had lost to the 1 and 2 seed (Newark Tech and University) prior to coming into the tournament. Honestly I think our county tournament is extremely harder to win than the state because we have some very competitive teams in our league. I am just proud of the hard work and effort my team put in, day in and day out. Every player played a special role in what we accomplished this year.: