The Verona boys and girls basketball teams played in the second round of the Essex County Tournament on Friday afternoon, both capturing victories in convincing, double-digit fashion. Verona boys, the 11-seed, beat 23-seed Nutley 57-46 and the 15-seed girls beat 18-seed Newark Academy 57-37.
Verona boys got off to a slow start against Nutley trailing by 2 after the first quarter and leading 28-26 at the half. The Hillbillies stepped up their perimeter defense at the start of 2nd quarter, limiting Nutley to only four three pointers in the last three quarters, when they hit four in the first. Verona pulled away to a comfier lead during the third quarter, outscoring the Raiders 15-7. Travis Jocelyn had a monster game, scoring 26 points on 12 field goals and one rim-rattling alley-oop assisted by Jack Farrell. Farrell added 14 to the Verona scoring, while Joe Zecchino had 10.
The Lady Hillbillies, on the other hand, took control of their game in the middle of the first quarter and rode that momentum to the final buzzer. The Hillbillies shut down Newark Academy in the fourth quarter, holding them to only four made free throws, which allowed Verona to bury NA on offense. Amber Reed led the Hillbillies with 15 points, Kylee Gallagher and Dez Meyer both had 10, and Brianna Horton chipped in 9.
The girls will play at University High School today at 11 a.m. and the boys will travel to Columbia High School at 1 p.m.