ABSECON (N.J.) - The Mainland Regional High School girls basketball team has struggled with depth and injuries in recent outings.
The short-handed Mustangs lost to Middle Township four days ago and survived an upset scare against Gloucester Catholic with a 50-49 victory on Thursday.
The Mustangs, ranked fifth in the latest South Jersey Sports Zone Top 15 rankings, showed no signs of disfunction as they needed only six players to chart minutes to upend No. 3 Camden Catholic, 52-34, in the Seagull Classic at Holy Spirit High School on Saturday morning.
"We've been really struggling with depth in terms of injuries all year," Mainland coach Scott Betson said. "Just trying to get into a personnel flow. We haven't really been able to settle into rotations because we've had kids coming and going out of the lineup. To come out and perform that way, especially with the fouls; I was really happy about that."
Kasey Bretones led Mainland with a game-high 21 points, eight rebounds and three steals. The junior scored eight unanswered points of her own in the first quarter and tallied 13 out of the Mustangs' first 17 points of the contest.
Bretones benefitted from a triangle-and-two defense deployed by Camden Catholic designed to slow down sisters Ava and Bella Mazur.
"They were doing a triangle-and-two on Ava and Bella so I knew I had to step up," Bretones said. "I was feeling it. Just wanted to get everyone involved still."
Bella Mazur tallied nine points and four rebounds in the first half despite playing with three personal fouls.
She picked up her fourth foul with 5:22 left in the third quarter and was forced to sit for extended periods of time for the remainder of the contest.
"It was definitely frustrating," Mazur said. "I knew my other point guard out there and my twin sister had it under control. We were just rotating in. Shoutout to freshman Alexa Levy. She came in and showed how tough (she was) just replacing me on defense so I didn't catch my fifth foul."
Mainland didn't miss a beat. The Mustangs defended the perimeter effectively and constantly jumped passing lanes in the first half to initiate transition offense.
The Irish finished 2-for-14 from behind the three-point line and shot 31.3 % from the field. The Mustangs forced 12 turnovers.
Aaryn Battle powered Camden Catholic with a team-high 20 points and three steals. Quinnipiac commit Kassidy Thompson was limited to eight points on 4-for-14 shooting.
Bella Mazur finished 11 points, four assists and three rebounds in 18 minutes on the floor. Sydney Stokes contributed 12 points and four rebounds for Mainland. Ava Mazur finished with six points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal as the Mustangs improved their record to 8-2.
Betson's group will have to prepare for a daunting portion of its schedule with matchups looming against Wildwood Catholic, Vineland, Our Lady of Mercy, Absegami, Middle Township and Clearview over the next three weeks.
The triumph over Camden Catholic provided the Mustangs with much-needed motivation.
"We came out with a huge win just really helping us for February," Bella Mazur said. "We have a big one on Monday against Wildwood Catholic."
Mainland also learned more about the importance of balance and composure after Saturday's statement win.
"As a team, we're trying to find ourselves in terms of the balance of being aggressive and then being out of control at times," Betson said. "We were under control kind of start to finish. It was impressive in terms of the offensive end of the floor and defensively, too."