SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Union Catholic girls basketball team has been waiting all season for its offense to explode.
In the third quarter against Cranford on Wednesday, that outburst finally came when the Vikings displayed the firepower they knew they were capable of by erupting for a 20-0 run to blow the game wide open on the way to an impressive 52-24 victory over the Cougars.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Vikings, who are now 3-5 on the season. The 52 points represents the highest scoring game for UC this season. Its previous high was 41 points in a loss to New Providence earlier this month.
With UC clinging to a 19-16 lead early in the second half, junior Daniela Peralta caught fire by scoring 10 of her career-high tying 13 points, and senior Madison Johnson scored six of her season-high 21 points when the Vikings opened a 39-16 lead. Peralta ignited the big surge with one of her three 3-pointers in the game, and also scored on an acrobatic driving layup during the run. Kaleigh Gunsiorowski, who played a very strong all-round game, scored all four of her points in the third quarter.
The Rider-bound Johnson was her usual splendid self, finishing with 10 rebounds to go with her 21 points. Johnson showcased her all-round skills by hitting two long-range three-pointers, scoring on slashing drives to the basket, and scoring in transition.
Another key to the victory was the stifling defense by UC, which came up with 12 steals in the game. Senior Gianna Peralta led the Vikings defensive effort with three steals. She also had six rebounds and two assists.
UC didn't get off to a very good start as it trailed Cranford, 5-3, after the first quarter. The lone basket for the Vikings came on a 3-pointer by Johnson.
But the Vikings snapped out of its early struggles with a pivotal 11-0 run in the second quarter that led to a 17-13 halftime lead. Kayla Riley, who finished with eight points, hit two key three's in the quarter to spark UC
UC will be back in action at 4 p.m. on Friday when the Vikings host New Providence.
Union Catholic (1600 Martine Ave., Scotch Plains) prepares a diverse student body to fulfill their college and career goals by cultivating the students' achievement of academic standards of excellence within a value-centered environment, strong in its commitment to our core values (respect, responsibility, honesty, compassion, and community), and to the establishment of a community of faith and love in the Catholic tradition. For more information, call (908) 889-1600 or visit www.unioncatholic.org.