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Williamstown defeats Clearview for first time in three years to seize TCC Royal Division lead

HARRISON TOWNSHIP (N.J.) - Last Friday marked the three-year anniversary of the last time the Williamstown High School girls basketball team defeated Tri-County Conference Royal Division foe Clearview.

The Lady Braves were winless in the last five meetings and were bounced from the TCC Tournament a season ago by their Route 322 rival.

Falling short for the sixth time in a row wasn't in the plans on Tuesday night.

The Lady Braves used a quick start and strong finish to hold off Clearview, 63-52, to claim sole possession of first place in the division standings. Sophomore Alivia Mauz drained four three-pointers in the first quarter and tallied a game-high 19 points as the Lady Braves improved their record to 7-4.

"We were all just ready for this game," Mauz said. "We all just worked together as a team. Once I started getting hot, my teammates just gave me the ball and we were just in a flow for a little bit. That's really what won us the game - we just kept going.

"This is a really big win for us. This is going to give us confidence for the rest of the season."

Carla "C.J." Jones sparked a fourth-quarter run for Williamstown after she drew an offensive foul in the paint. The senior rose from the hardwood and let out a thunderous roar to illustrate her satisfaction.

Jones followed up the play with an assist to Mauz for two points. Mauz returned the favor on the next possession.

Mauz proceeded to nail a jump shot off the dribble to contribute to an 8-0 run and provide the Lady Braves with an 11-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter.

Jones is only in her second season with the Lady Braves, but was well aware of the importance of Tuesday night's matchup.

"I'm new to the team. I just came last year," Jones said. "But I wanted to beat this team and I wanted to bring everyone (together) to win. I wanted everybody to have the energy that we all knew we could all bring. This one was key. Biggest game of the season. We worked together and we did it."

Jones scored eight of her 14 points in the second half.

The Lady Braves felt their energy as a team was was nonexistent in practice on Monday. Jones made sure the lack of effort wasn't replicated a day later.

"Honestly we had kind of a tough practice yesterday," Jones said. "The energy was low, so I told myself I was gonna bring it on the court today."

2021 South Jersey Sports Zone Rookie of the Year Ana Pellecchia powered the Pioneers with a team-high 18 points. Rollins College commit Emma Steidle added 17 and Beth Lindenbaum contributed 12.

Pellecchia was pivotal in helping Clearview erase double-digit deficits on multiple occasions. The junior set up her teammates for scoring opportunities with her instinctual passing skills, flashed her ability to finish in traffic, and was a staple on defense by utilizing her length to defend the perimeter, secure rebounds and scramble for loose balls.

More importantly, her leadership was on full display as she motivated her teammates and remained vocal during timeouts.

"She's a fantastic player," Clearview coach Casey Heitman said. "Sees the floor well, sets her teammates up. She makes people around her better. She's aggressive, she looks to score. She's a great player."

Clearview dropped its record to 5-6 and will look to cease a two-game losing skid against neighboring rival Kingsway on Thursday.

A loss wasn't the outcome Clearview aspired for against the Lady Braves, but the experience was one to learn from.

"It makes them want it even more," Heitman said. "I think the feeling that our girls have right now is going to drive them to push and be even better next time."

Williamstown has won three out of its last four games, but hopes it's best basketball still lies ahead.

"I think it's a big turnaround for our season right now," coach Jaime Land said. "We've been battling trying to get into the groove of things and having four complete quarters. It's still not as good as I want it be. I don't want it to be good yet. I want it to be good towards the end of the season. We keep getting better and better every day."

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