Close, but painstakingly far away. The No. 6 seed RCGC women's basketball team moved to within 2 points against No. 3 seed and host Passaic County Saturday late in the game -- sparking hopes of advancing in the Region XIX playoffs -- but simply could not get over the hump.
The Panthers prevailed, pulling away with a 69-62 opening round victory in the final moments of play to advance to the Region XIX Final Four next week at Brookdale Community College.
As expected the game proved to be more of a defensive battle than the two regular season losses RCGC experienced to the Panthers. The Runners were successful in limiting Passaic explosive scorers Zeniya Thomas and Kathy Davis to a combined 33 points. But guard Jada Comachio picked up the slack by firing in 23 points to help the Panthers slip into the Region XIX Final Four.
A pair of free throws by RCGC forward Kylar Coughlin gave the visitors momentum heading into the fourth quarter, when the Runners indeed moved to within two points of the lead. That was as close as Coach Rich Cooper's team would get before falling short in a tight defensive struggle. Coughlin finished with 18 points to lead the RCGC offense,
The Runners, who entered the Region XIX tourney as defending champions, finish the season with a 13-13 overall record.