It was two years ago when the Montgomery High School girls’ basketball team got to be the host to Hunterdon Central Regional High School in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 tournament title game.
The end result was not what the Cougars wanted with Hunterdon Central defeating them on their home floor for the state sectional title, 32-26.
Two years later, the No. 4 seed, Montgomery, was back in the same exact position, playing seventh-seeded Hillsborough High School in front of their hometown crowd at Montgomery High School on March 9 for the Central Jersey, Group 4 championship.
Montgomery made sure this time around that the game ended with themselves coming out as sectional champions, rolling to a 71-58 victory over neighboring rival Hillsborough to win its second state sectional title in program history.
“It feels amazing,” said Montgomery coach Matt Margon. “I’m so proud of our girls. They worked so hard for this. Our seniors lost in the sectional championship as sophomores and found a way to win this one. What a way to go out.”
Stellar senior play was key to Montgomery bringing home its first sectional title since 1998.
Senior Kate Heidt anchored a huge 15-3 rally in the final four minutes of the first half, when she connected on a huge three-pointer from the left wing to help put Montgomery up 24-21 with 2:01 to play in the second quarter.
Heidt scored nine points in the period. Junior Andrea Katramados hit back-to-back three-pointers to help Montgomery grab a 32-24 lead going into halftime.
The fourth period was where Heidt shined the biggest.
With her team only up 44-40 entering the final eight minutes of play, Heidt scored back-to-back buckets to help Montgomery get on a 6-0 run to begin the quarter and get out to a 50-40 lead.
Heidt went on to score 10 points in the period and finish with a game-high 19 points in the victory.
“We’ve wanted this for so long,” Heidt said. “I knew going into the fourth quarter that it was going to be a tough battle. We had to open up the gap and that’s exactly what we did. We knew what he to do and we got it down. I’m ecstatic. It’s everything I wanted.”
A terrific second half performance by Kristin Lucht was important to the Montgomery sectional title victory.
Lucht scored all 18 of her points in the second half, including going a perfect eight-for-eight at the free-throw line to help the Cougars bring home their second sectional title.
“From winning just four games freshman year, to losing in the finals sophomore year and to now win a sectional title senior year, feels amazing,” Lucht said. “I’m so happy and so proud of my team. I love these guys.”
Senior Carolyn Prevost knocked in 10 of her 12 points in the first half for Montgomery. Prevost is averaging a team-high 11.4 points a game this winter and scored 59 total points during the sectional tournament for the Cougars.
“I couldn’t have done this without my team,” Prevost said. “We all played together growing up and for us to win a sectional title, just feels amazing.”
Katramados scored 13 points in the victory. Senior Bria Johnson knocked in eight points for the Cougars.
The ride to a second sectional title for Montgomery was even sweeter with upsetting the No. 1 overall seed, Marlboro High School, in the sectional semifinals on March 7, avenging last year’s 80-45 loss to the Mustangs in the semifinals.
Prevost scored a game-high 17 points for Montgomery in the victory over Marlboro
Soaking it all in as he watched his team celebrate in joy after winning the sectional title, Margon couldn’t have been happier for his seniors to finally reach the top of the mountain and proud of where the Montgomery girls’ basketball program is currently at.
“It’s just incredible,” Margon said. “These seniors came in and changed Montgomery girls’ basketball for the better.”
Montgomery’s season came to a close in the NJSIAA Group 4 semifinals on March 11 at Central Regional High School in Bayville, losing to Cherokee High School, 43-27.
Heidt scored a team-high 11 points.
Montgomery finished the season with a record of 19-11.
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports