Girls Basketball – Vianney Clicking Behind Evans, New Blood
With four new starters - many of whom played sparingly, if at all on last year's NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winner - in her 2016-17, St. John Vianney coach could easily and endlessly implore her less experienced players to get the ball to returning senior center and Seton Hall recruit Kimi Evans every time down the floor.
That, however, would not be all that productive over the long haul, according to Karpell. The former Lancers standout and 10th-year head coach would like to see the wealth spread out among her team to build confidence and a tougher offense to guard.
On nights like Tuesday, however - when the Lancers hosted unbeaten Rumson-Fair Haven - Karpell doesn't mind seeing her best weapon dominate.
Evans did just that in a 70-43 win over the Bulldogs Tuesday, with the senior posting a season-high 25 points to go with 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. Dumping the ball into Evans was almost an automatic basket as she finished 12-for-17 from the floor and scored on putbacks following two of those missed field goals.
"She did a good job of attacking and not getting frustrated about not getting touches early," Karpell said of Evans. "She kind of inserted herself that way, got in there, attacked the glass and that loosened up things for us and for her."
The game began with Vianney following Karpell's preferred mix of Evans and the perimeter players - which included returnees senior Courtney Dobrzynski, sophomores Sarah Karpell and Julia Ramos, and sophomore newcomer Sajada Bonner - touching the ball on offense.
Dobrzynski and Ramos found Evans for Vianney's first two scores, but the Lancers strayed away from dumping the ball into her for the remainder of the first quarter. That did not, however, hamper the Lancers, who outscored Rumson 19-8 over the first eight minutes.
"I want the other kids to grow into their roles," Karpell said. "If we're too one-dimensional, then we're easier to guard. We have a lot of other kids that have abilities, so we want them to be respected, but not lose sight of the fact that Kimi needs to get touches. Courtney is a senior and she's good about knowing when it's time to get the ball into Kimi."
Evans took the game over in the second quarter by scoring nine points to help Vianney build a 32-14 lead, although the Bulldogs fought their way back into the game with a 9-3 run to head into the locker room down 35-23.
Vianney dropped the hammer on the previously undefeated visitors during the third quarter. Evans scored eight points on four field goals that were assisted by four different Lancers players - Karpell, Dobrzynski, Bonner and junior Madison Doring. She then capped her night with four quick points in the fourth quarter before heading to the bench with a little more than four minutes to go.
"The thing about our team is that people on the bench can come in during huge, close games and really make huge plays and lift us up and give us that energy," Evans said. "Especially in these games, our bench is able to come in and help us offensively and defensively. I just it's great that this year, we're so deep - more deep than people thought we were going to be this year."
While Evans led the way Tuesday, Vianney's balance on both ends of the floor was on full display as well. Bonner added 12 points and four assists while Karpell finished with nine points on three three-pointers to go with three assists.
Doring added nine points off the bench and Dobrzynski chipped in seven assists to go with her four points. While eight SJV players scored at least two points nine had at least one assist in the game.
The Lancers might have benefitted from not seeing Rumson - which returned four starters from its 22-win team from a year ago - until the third week of January considering all the new players in their lineup, but Vianney began the year with a number of high-end opponents. Before the New Year, Vianney dropped games to National Christian (Md.) and Rutgers Prep while picking up a win over Franklin. On Friday, the Lancers beat New York City power Christ the King as well.
"Coming out this year, I knew people were going to step up and make big plays each game," Evans said. "We're just going to keep getting better as the season goes on and I think we're doing a really good job as a team every time we step on the court and really getting after it, no matter who we're playing."
Vianney will play several more noteworthy programs before the postseason begins, starting with 10-1 Red Bank Catholic on Saturday.