There was very little on Montville's side over the last three games of the Selena Fulmore Memorial Tournament.
"We were down to five girls," Montville Jon Alin said. "It really didn't look good."
Montville, however, made multiple negatives into positives and went on to win the seventh grade division at the tournament which concluded on March 18 at Central Middle School.
A big fourth quarter propelled Montville past West Essex in its last game, 33-28.
Down in the second half, Montville rallied in the closing period, scoring half of its points.
"That's the first time I was speechless after a game," Alin said. "People figured we'd get tired in the fourth quarter and the girls just kept going."
Montville ended the title game with four players as one of the girls fouled out with 15 seconds remaining.
"It was a great experience for our players," Alin said. "It was a valuable life lesson. We went into games with five kids. The other teams had 10. We kind of thought 'How can we win?' We did it and it's something the girls will remember for a long time."
Having only five players - Laurel Alin, Jane Beiermeister, Alessandra Guarnieri, Lauren Minardi and Victoria Montemorano - for the last three games gave Montville time to adjust. It'd be without its three tallest players so the defense had to be altered.
"By playing with five, we got a feel for what we could and couldn't do," Alin said. "We changed our defense to zone and told our players they'd have to box out and crash the boards."
Montville, apparently, got used to being shorthanded. Girls were asked to play positions they were unaccustomed to and adapted.
"We got a basket when we needed one," Alin said. "We got a steal when we needed one. It all came together."
The seventh graders had a busy season, playing 34 games and going 15-19. They were involved in the Passaic Valley and Hoop Heaven leagues.
Success on the lower levels has been important in recent years. The Montville High School squad posted its best record in decades, going 14-12.
"The focus of our travel program is fundamentals," Alin said. "We work on ballhandling and building skills. Derek Lynn, the high school coach, has taken an interest in our program. It was wonderful to see him at games.
"The girls have shown a lot of improvement. We hope to make a difference for years to come."
Pictured from left to right in the slideshow photo on the home page are assistant coach Rocco Minardi, Laurel Alin, Jane Beiermeister, Alessandra Guarnieri, Lauren Minardi, Victoria Montemorano, Katie Tortorella and coach Jon Alin.
In other action at the Fulmore Memorial Tournament, which featured 24 teams, Frederick Douglass was the varsity division champion as well as the fifth and sixth grade titlist. Top honors on the pee wee level went to Montville, which beat West Essex in its last game.
Below are photos of the Pee Wee games between the Par-Troy Pacers and the West Essex Lady Knights and Our Lady of Mercy and the Montville Lady Broncos.