COLTS NECK – Movement off the ball can be easily taken for granted, a fundamental necessity in order for any halfcourt offense to achieve desired success.

A high-rate of activity is something Colts Neck not only emphasizes but thrives upon because of the interchangeable parts executing it at such brisk intervals, defenders tasked to specific assignments on the verge of suffering dizzy spells chasing the carousel of moving pieces.

Catherine Gibson of Colts Neck (Photo by Gregg Lerner)

Junior guard Camryn Foltz and senior twins Catherine and Eva Gibson specifically tend to apply the most stress, each in the neighborhood of 6-0 yet virtually impossible to trace as they effortless swap tasks. Chase one into the paint and another will flash to the perimeter. Close hard on the arc and any of the three will offset the aggressiveness by posting up as an option.

Gritty, undersized Middletown North did its best to subdue the trio over 32 grueling minutes, its man to man fierce, relentless and disruptive. Yet, Colts Neck combated that feistiness through the diversity of its sum. Foltz, and the Gibson sisters supplied a variety of timely contributions that totaled exactly what was demanded for the top-seeded Cougars to outlast ninth-seeded Middletown North for a 42-36 victory on Thursday night in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 quarterfinals.

Catherine and Eva Gibson of Colts Neck (Photo by Gregg Lerner)

Foltz delivered 12 of her game-high 16 points in the first half to accompany seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Catherine Gibson scored all but two of her 10 points in the second half, marked by two critical 3-pointers, and cleaned 10 boards while Eva Gibson chipped in with nine points and 12 rebounds. Their performances key ingredients that secured the rubber match between B North foes who spilt in the regular season and launched Colts Neck (19-7) into the sectional semifinals on Saturday against fourth-seeded Red Bank, another division rival that the Cougars have already defeated twice.

“We talk about creating your own opportunities but not so much off the dribble,” said Colts Neck coach Steve Jannarone. “It can come by working away from the ball or hitting the offensive glass.”

Both areas proved pivotal in the outcome. Foltz and the Gibsons were all responsible for offensive boards that not only kept Colts Neck possessions alive but resulted in instant buckets on putbacks.

“We needed to get the ball in the bucket and find any way to do that,” said Foltz, who was instrumental in Colts Neck building a 21-12 lead in the second quarter. “We all put a big emphasis on moving without the ball.”

Middletown North methodically chiseled away at the deficit, drawing to within 29-26 with 1:56 showing in the third on a 3-pointer by junior Hayley Stratton, who scored a team-high 13. But, a triple from Catherine Gibson less than two minutes into the fourth gave Colts Neck a 34-26 edge.

“Knowing we can trust each other helps us all stay calm,” Gibson said. “We can rely on everyone. We consider ourselves to all be really athletic. Against most defenses, if we are moving constantly, then eventually there is going to be a wide-open shot. I was just happy to hit one.”

An 8-3 charge that featured a three from sophomore guard Victoria Palladino and was capped by two fouls shots courtesy of senior guard Melissa Golembieski narrowed the gap to 37-34 with 1:18 to play. However, a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Jess Theising six seconds later sparked a quick run of five points for Colts Neck.

Melissa Golembieski of Middletown North (Photo by Gregg Lerner)

Eva Gibson, who misfired on three consecutive attempts from the foul line, knocked down one before applying the finishing touch on the triumph with a layup in the waning seconds.

“I was getting frustrated with myself,” said Eva, who was a force on the offensive boards and provided five points in the fourth. “It was good to make the one free throw and the basket at the end definitely helped ease the frustration.”

Middletown North (14-14)    09           05           12           10 --- 36
Colts Neck (19-7)                 10           11           10           11 --- 42

Middletown North: Giana McGaughey 1-0-0-2; Olivia Cerbo 0-0-0-0; Melissa Golembieski 1-0-6-8; Gina Palladino 0-0-0-0; Hayley Stratton 2-2-3-13; Victoria Palladino 2-2-1-11; Sophia Memon 1-0-0-2.

Colts Neck: Kiera Jacobs 1-0-0-2; Camryn Folts 4-1-5-16; Eva Gibson 4-0-1-9; Jess Theising 0-0-2-2; Teresa Marsh 0-1-0-3; Catherine Gibson 1-2-2-0-10; Maddy Hunt 0-0-0-0; Kaitlyn Torres 0-0-0-0.