Girls Basketball – ’18-’19 Preview: Class A South
CLASS A SOUTH
Team to beat: Toms River North
Team to watch: Jackson Memorial
Sleeper: Toms River East
In predicted order of finish
Toms River North
Head coach: Vicki Gillen, 18th season
‘17-’18 Record: 28-4
Potential starting 5: Jenna Paul (Sr. G/F 5-10); Brielle Bisogno (Sr. G 5-7); Kristina Johnson (Sr. G/F 5-10); Sydney Howell (Fr. G 5-7); Faith Wavershak (Sr. G 5-6).
Key reserves: Hailey Wicks (Sr. G/F 5-7); Isabella Pures (So. F 5-11); Lexi Rizzo (So. G/F 5-7); Jackie Bevenuto (Fr. F 5-10); Brandi Manna (Fr. G 5-5); Victoria Laudien (Fr. G 5-6); Gia Pissott (Fr. F 6-0).
Strengths: Exemplary senior leadership, core defensive principles, offensive cohesion, Class of '22.
Player to watch: Jenna Paul
A spark in Toms River North's march to the South Jersey, Group 4 sectional title, Paul is as reliable as she is versatile. She can post up small defenders on the blocks, catch and release from long range and put the ball on the floor to finish a drive. She scored at a 17.5 clip as a junior (including 33 3-pointers) and grabbed 5.2 rebounds. Paul enters her final year with 1,329 career points and a load of respect for her hustling style.
Geared to defend the crown: The Mariners claimed the A South crown last season behind a stubborn defense (40.3 ppg.) and an halfcourt scheme that accentuated the sum of its parts. Senior Brielle Bisogno (12.5 ppg., 52 3-pointers) is slick at collapsing a defense and creating offense through penetration to balance her production outside while junior forward Kristina Johnson (6.6 ppg.) is a workhorse underneath, battling on the boards and eager to step into a long jumper (42 3-pointers).
Ready for prime time: The roster is loaded with promising young talent. Toms River North will open with six freshmen and two sophomores in the mix. Freshmen Faith Wavershak and Brandi Manna figure to rotate in the backcourt alongside Bisogno while sizable classmates Jackie Benvenuto (5-10) and Gia Pissott (6-0) will team with 5-11 sophomore Isabella Pures to fortify depth in the frontcourt.
Head coach: Rachel Goodale, 19th season (283-171)
‘17-’18 Record: 21-4
Potential starting 5: Bianca Giordano (Jr. G 5-5); Rachel Capua (So. G 5-8); Kristina Donza (Jr. G 5-9); Dani Evans (Sr. G/F 5-11); Ally Vella (Jr. G/F 5-7).
Key reserves: Mackenzie Dakin (Jr. G/F 5-8); Haley Pitlak (Sr. F 5-8); Zoe Holmes (So.G 5-4); Abigail Reist (Fr. F 5-9); Natalie Knauf (Jr. G 5-4); Brooke McKown (Fr. G 5-6).
Strengths: Uptempo pace, scoring balance, bonded starters
Player to watch: Kristina Donza
Amid an offense that thrives off its unselfishness, Donza was the top beneficiary last winter. The 5-9 guard exhibited confidence and delicacy in dropping 35 3-pointers, composure at the foul line and physical durability venturing into the paint en route to netting 12.9 points per game as a sophomore.
But, there's more: You can't just focus on taking one element away from the Jackson Memorial offense. Elusive 5-8 guard Rachel Capua (11.8 ppg., 36 3-pointers) and seasoned 5-11 swing Dani Evans (10.5 ppg., 39 3-pointers) speak to the variety of confident options the Jaguars are capable of unleashing.
The faciliatator: Biana Giordano has developed into a heady playmaker with a feel for the hot hand. The 5-5 junior guard handed out six assists a game with her sense of incorporation. She dispensed 10 dimes twice as a sophomore en route to engineering wins against Toms River East and Keyport.
Shedding underrated label: The Jags could make a case they didn't get enough credit for a '17-'18 campaign that included a split with A South champ Toms River North. The foundation to make a jump over the Mariners into the division penthouse is in place and anxious to take their shot.
Toms River East
Head coach: Kevin Cohen, 15th season (188-167)
‘17-’18 Record: 18-10
Potential starting 5: Kamryn Lister (Sr. G 5-9); Jordyn Madigan (Jr. G 5-2); Nicole Platten (Jr. G 5-7); Emily Maire (Jr. F 5-11); Adriana Hart (Sr. G 5-6).
Key reserves: Natalie Dudar (So. G 5-6); Sydney Lorentzen (So. G 5-6); Jenna Lozzi (Sr. G 5-5).
Strengths: Experience, speed, long-range shooting depth.
Player to watch: Kamryn Lister
On the cusp of netting her 1,000th point (890), the 5-9 senior guard as put together a respectable career without the fanfare she deserves. Lister (13.1 ppg, 37 3-pointers) has an impact on the complexion of the game that spans far beyond just scoring. She dives inside to give the Raiders support on the glass (7.2 rpg.), moves the ball into open hands (1.7 apg.) and sinks her teeth into defending on the ball (2.5 spg.)
Not the team to sleep on: One reason why the A South's stock has risen is due to the quiet emergence of teams like Toms River East. The Raiders concede little on defense (40.6 ppg.) and their affinity to defusing opposing offenses carried them to the semifinals of South Jersey, Group 3. While Toms River North and Jackson Memorial may have crafted higher profiles based on records, East earned a good deal of respect last year for its willingness to compete.
Spreading the wealth: A modest 44.1 points per game doesn't begin to tell what makes this group tough on the offensive end. Fearless 5-2 sparkplug Jordyn Madigan (9.0 ppg.) will take her chances attacking the basket to complement the punch she packs from the perimeter (34 3-pointers) while 5-7 junior guard Nicole Platten (5.3 ppg., 29 3-pointers) adds another outside dimension that demands attention.
Toms River South
Head coach: Kim Peto, 2nd season (11-15)
‘17-’18 Record: 11-15
Potential starting 5: Caitlin Carroll (Sr. G 5-4); Shiloh Williams (Sr. F 6-0); Ashlee Pataky (Sr. G 5-5); Molly LeGrand (Sr. F 5-8); Aliya Canfield (Sr. G 5-4).
Key reserves: Madison Braun (Jr. G 5-10); Brianna Weltner (Jr. F 5-10); Sarah Kukfa (Jr. F 5-10); Jenny Hearne (Jr. G 5-5); Kelle Anwander (So. F .6-3); Jordan Adcock (Sr. G 5-5); Caitlyn Fall (So. G 5-4); Leonora Krajewski (Sr. G 5-4); Erin Maguire (So. F 5-8).
Strengths: Athletic, depth, quick, experiene.
Player to watch: Shiloh Williams
Williams uses her 6-0 frame wisely, especially when challenging on the boards, where she ripped down 10 rebounds a game as a junior. She shed some light on how dominant she can be underneath when she accumulated 17 points and 20 boards during a 68-46 victory over Lacey. Her stellar play was interrupted by a seven-game absence mid-season due to injury but, fully healthy, Williams is primed for a breakout senior year.
Picking up the slack: Toms River South has to make up for the 18.9 points a game supplied by '18 graduate Emily Donzanti. Senior guards Caitlin Carroll (4.6 ppg., 18 3-pointers) and Ashlee Pataky (4.3 ppg., 22 3-pointers) are ready to step up to lend a hand in the scoring load. A key to the offense will revolve around the duos' ability to knock down jumpers and draw defenders away from the post to give Williams additional room to exploit.
On the move: Much like crosstown rival Toms River East, South emits a sense it's on the verge of rising into contention within the division. In order to do so, the Indians have to find a way to dicatate terms through a desirable uptempo pace that accentuates some of their finer qualities.
Long wings: There should be ample length on the wings. Madison Braun, Brianna Weltner and Sarah Kukfa are three 5-10 juniors ready to use their combination of size and athleticism, two traits that should work well alongside 5-4 senior guard Aliya Canfield's creativeness.
Head coach: Tom Lecorchick, 6th season (71-48)
‘17-’18 Record: 14-13
Potential starting 5: Angel Hernandez (Sr. G 5-7); Haley Dietz (Sr. F 5-7); Jordan Viggiano (Jr. G 5-5); Jenna Schiessl (Jr. G 5-5); Karina Roettger (Jr. G 5-8).
Key reserves: Nicole Chick (Sr. F 5-11); Amanda Barry (Jr. F 5-3); Katie Quackenboss (Jr. F 5-8); Alexis Voorhees (So. G 5-7); Jaclyn Lahey (So. G 5-1); Ella Moore (Fr. G 5-6).
Strengths: Collective quickness, elusiveness, hustle.
Player to watch: Jenna Schiessl
A heady junior with a nose for perimeter space, the 5-5 junior is not the shooter opponents want to discover with an open look. Schiessl buried 37 triples as a sophomore en route to scoring at a 6.9 rate. She sank a season-high four threes and finished with career-best 15 points as the Mustangs outlasted Donovan Catholic, 54-52, in the WOBM Christmas Classic.
Shot of confidence: Brick Memorial turned some heads and cracked open a window into their potential in the opening round of the South Jersey, Group 4 tournament. Seeded 15th, the Stangs shocked second-seeded Kingsway, 49-43. That win was part of a strong finishing kick that saw them triumph in seven of their final nine contests.
Run the floor: It's a must for the undersized crew. Senior guard Angel Hernandez, along with juniors Jordan Viggiano and Karina Roettger, comprise a backcourt that will seek to exploit any chance they get to induce the Stangs into speedy transition. Rebounds collected by senior forwards Haley Dietz and Nicole Chick will be encouraged to be outletted quickly to promote run outs.
Head coach: Kevin Stockoff, 4th season (15-61)
‘17-’18 Record: 8-19
Potential starting 5: Danielle Christ (Sr. G 5-2); Angelina Jones (Jr. G 5-5); Sonja Andersen (Jr. F 5-8); Erika Cameron (Jr. F 5-8); Lauren Washco (Jr. G 5-7).
Key reserves: Emily Rossini (Jr. G 5-4); Emma Carpino (Jr. F 5-9); Lindsey Christ (Sr. G 5-2); Carly Sullivan (Jr. G 5-5); Jamie Melitto (Jr. G 5-4); Lisa D’Eufemia (Jr. C 6-0).
Strengths: Game experience, depth, bench, junior class.
Player to watch: Danielle Christ
Besides her scoring (8.2 ppg.), Christ likes to get others involved (3.0 apg.). But, don't judge this book by the cover. Only 5-2, the senior, who is heading to Nazareth, where she'll play soccer, won't hesistate to tangle with large competition to grab a rebound (4.4 rpg.), symbolic of her work rate.
Improved scoring: A good portion of this group has played together for the past three years and that familiarity could prompt an uptick in offensive output from the 36.8 points the Green Dragons averaged last winter. Junior guard Angelina Jones (7.0 ppg.) and junior forwards Erika Cameron (6.0 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) and Sonja Andersen (5.5 ppg., 5.0 rpg., 3.0 apg.) could all see their scoring numbers rise.
Utilize assets: While size isn't prominent with only 6-0 junior pivot Lisa D'Eufemia and 5- junior forward Emma Carpino representing Brick's height, there is a strong collection of quickness that could be useful to the cause. If the Dragons can beat defenses down the floor and find routes to the rim before opponents set up in the halfcourt, scoring chances may be plentiful.
Head coach: Tom Bucci, 5th season (85-40)
‘17-’18 Record: 17-10
Potential starting 5: Jacqueline Ward (Sr.); Kaela Curtin (Jr.); Alex Mattner (Jr.); Sam Del Rio (Jr.); Jordan Frangipani (Jr.).
Key reserves: Taylor Tancredi (Jr.); Christina D’Amodio (Sr.); Nicole Conroy (Sr.); Kyleigh Bell (Sr.); Molly Cialberto (So.); Corinne Spina (So.); Ashley Altman (So.); Catherine Walker (Jr.); Kylie Conner (So.).
Strengths: Work ethic, depth, limited experience.
Player to watch: Jacqueline Ward
The senior, along with juniors Kaela Curtin and Alex Mattner, is among the few carryovers from last year's crew, which bid farewell to the scoring prowess of Lauren Cruse and Mikayla Nicolini. Ward addresses multiple needs for the Rams with an ability to finish (7.0 ppg.), rebound (3.0 rpg.), distribute (3.2 apg.) and dispossess (2.5 spg.).
Maximizing chances: There's not a whole lot of varsity experience within the roster but the veterans Southern does have are on the verge of surprising. Junior Kaela Curtin (5.7 ppg.) is cut from similar cloth as Ward, doing her scoring primarily from inside the arc and helping out underneath (4.3 rpg.). The two are the only returners with extensive minutes on their resume, meaning they will have to be patient while assuming leadership roles for a youthful supporting cast.
Abide to program principles: Always a tough defensive team, Southern has to maintain that rich tradition. The Rams allowed 39.1 points a game a year ago and never surrendered more than 54 points. If it can adhere to that same stout style, the defense can take some pressure off the offense to generate more than its capable of and assure Southern is in every contest.
Head Coach: Dana Cerullo, 3rd season (8-36)
‘17-’18 Record: 4-20
Potential starting 5: Kristi Truhan (Sr. G 5-4); Mercedes Corbin (Jr. G 5-6); Jadelyn Smith (So. G/F 5-9); Brittany Gable (So. G 5-3); Julia Altieri (So. G 5-6).
Key reserves: Taylor Fifield (So. F 5-11); Martine Chevalier (Fr. G 5-4); Kayla Krzykowski (Fr. F 6-2), Allison Bentley (So. G 5-5); Jordan
Strengths: Experience, quickness, athletic size
Player to watch: Mercedes Corbin
An instrumental piece in Central's progression, the 5-6 junior guard provides a scoring presence (10.8 ppg.) and rebounding force (5.0 rpg.). With some size in the lineup, she can anticipate aid on the boards.
Ready to rise: This is not the team to sleep on. The Golden Eagles boast seven returners, including four in the starting lineup. Senior guard Kristi Truhan brings a high basketball IQ to the backcourt while 5-9 sophomore swing Jadelyn Smith (5.9 ppg., 4.6 rpg.) knows how to get herself involved. Central began to discover its identity over the second half of the '17-'18 season, countering a 0-11 start with four wins over its final 13 matchups, including February victories against Manalapan and Jackson Liberty.
Passion on defense: One path for Central to pursue is generating offense through a respectable defense that yielded 46.3 points a game. The division continues to grow into a formidable collection of teams meaning its ascent back into contention won't be easy. Yet, the pieces are in place to surprise some folks.