Girls Basketball – ’18-’19 Preview: Class B Central
CLASS B CENTRAL
Team to Beat: Trinity Hall
Team to Watch: Mater Dei
Sleeper: Point Beach, Keyport
Head Coach: Matt McCarthy, 1st year
‘17-’18 Record: 20-5
Potential starting 5: Colleen Cusat (Sr. G 5-6); Caitlin Wingertzahn (Jr. F 6-1); Colleen Kelly (Jr. F 5-9); Alexis Nerenberg (So. G 5-7); Haven Dora (Fr. G 5-5).
Key reserves: Grace Kenney (Sr. F 5-7); Maggie Ward (Jr. G 5-6); Sophia Gana (Jr. G/F 5-9); Emma Bradley (So. F 6-0); Cecilia Peters (So. F 6-1); Cameryn Keane (Fr. G/F 5-9).
Strengths: Athletic, deep rotations in all areas.
Player to watch: Caitlin Wingertzahn
There is not a lot of low-post presence within the division which should translate into music to the ears of the 6-1 junior forward. Wingertzahn (7.9 ppg., 5.1 rpg.) was insulated inside last year by guards Bridget Andree, Kathryn Kwapniewski and Nicole Ventura, all '18 graduates. Thus, the halfcourt may change direction with first-year coach Matt McCarthy trying to establish the post early to soften a defense up out high.
Perimeter protection: Senior guard Colleen Cusat will do her best to deter opponents from collapsing on Wingertzahn. As a junior, she connected on 37 3-pointers and clicked for 8.1 points per game.
Chasing a title: Don't lose site of how quickly this program has matured. Trinity Hall is set to embark on just its fifth season and does so on the heels of a 20-5 performance that saw it finish second to St. Rose in the division and take state power Patrick School to the brink before succumbing, 68-61, in overtime in the South Jersey, Non-Public B quarterfinals. McCarthy inherits a program that is the team to beat in B Central.
Mater Dei Prep
Head coach: Brian Laux, 6th season (72-49)
‘17-’18 Record: 14-11
Potential starting 5: Katie Zoda (Jr. G); Liz Mauro (Jr. G); Jaylynn Graham (So. G); Jhamena Range (So. F); Shelby Barksdale (Fr. F).
Key reserves: Madison Lopez (Fr. G); Tori Kirk (So. F); Bridget Sullivan (So. F).
Strengths: Three-point shooting, balance, exciting youth.
Player to watch: Katie Zoda
Warning: This is not the player you want to give a clean look to from beyond the arc. Zoda was a gamechanger from distance, bursting onto the scene as a sophomore by drilling 63 3-pointers and averaging 13.8 points a game. She sank at least one trey in all but one contest last year. He stroke is pure and rhythmic. Zoda dropped at least three bombs in 16 games, highlighted by five when she clicked for 25 points in an 83-47 victory against CSI McCown of New York. She pinned a season-high 27 on Freehold Boro to key a 53-41 triumph.
Shooting Range: The Seraphs got stronger in the frontcourt with the addition of sophomore Jhamena Range, a transfer from Asbury Park. Range will convert in the space vacated by defenders drawn to contest Zoda on the outside. She scored 11.4 an outing as a freshman.
Step up: Mater Dei finished third in the B Central a year ago behind St. Rose (16-0) and Trinity Hall (14-2). The Seraphs might have the most to gain from St. Rose's move to A Central. They will miss the output of '18 grad Taylor Crystian but turn to junior Liz Mauro, sophomore Jaylynn Graham and freshman Shelby Barksdale to assume more prolific roles.
Point Pleasant Beach
Head coach: Jay Lagomarsino, 32nd season
‘17-’18 Record: 14-10
Potential starting 5: Carleigh Burns (Sr. G); Cassidy Burns (So. F); Allison House (So. G); Madelyn House (Sr. F); McKayla Hughes (Sr. G).
Key reserves: Brooke Cairns (So. G); Kristen Ohlinger (So. G); Jillian Hoeler (So. F); Jane MacPherson (So. F); Grace Frauenheim (Fr. G); Olivia Henderson (Fr. G); Patricia Rizzo (Fr. F); Alexis Milak (Fr. G); Nikoleta Koutzoulis (Jr. F); Margaret Beyer (Jr. F); Jillian Feehan (So. G).
Strengths: Backcourt depth, defense, shooting, youthful bench.
Player to watch: Carleigh Burns
This senior guard has a nose for finding opportunity through drives and exploration. Burns (10.7 ppg.) scorched Perth Amboy Tech for a season-best 21 points in a 70-27 victory during the opening round of Central Jersey, Group 1. A good deal of what the Garnet Gulls generate on offense hinges on what Burns does with the basketball.
Pick 'em up: Better be ready to defend the Beach's backcourt. Sophomores Cassidy Burns and Allison House join senior McKayla Hughes (9.1 ppg., 28 3-pointers) and Carleigh Burns to form one of the division's top guard sets. While all pose a threat to shoot, they won't overlook getting the ball inside to senior forward Madelyn House, who is heading to Green Mountain College.
Tough defense: The Beach digs in on the defensive side. Last year, it gave up 41.2 points per game. That intensity can't wane.
Head coach: Deboney Braithwaite, 8th season (78-83)
‘17-’18 Record: 14-12
Potential starting 5: Giana Piccini (Sr. G/F 5-7); Shannan Devlin (Sr. G 5-6); Alexis Breen (Sr. G 5-4); Lila Trench (So. G/F 5-8); Algeria Kelley (Sr. F 5-7).
Key reserves: Brittney Mallon (So. G 5-4); Jackie Burgos (Jr. G/F 5-8); Alexis Vazquez (Sr. G 5-4); Olivia Leonard (Fr. F/C 6-0); Kasani Leonard (Fr. G 5-5).
Strengths: Leadership, speed, proven scorer.
Player to watch: Giana Piccini
Piccini is coming off an exceptional junior run in which she averaged 14.6 points and 5.2 rebounds game. The 5-7 swing became an assertive producer in the lane, backing her scoing touch with a firm rebounding grip and staunch defense. She needs just 13 points to reach 1,000th for her career.
Complementary piece: Shannan Devlin (10.2 ppg., 5.4 rpg., 2.7 apg., 2.9 spg.) plays in a style that matches Piccini and promotes another area of the floor that defenders have to address. The 5-6 senior guard seeks lanes to pursue to go with her 3-point shot. Devlin has matured into a reliable producer across the board and a scoring threat who saw her average spike to 13.3 over the final 10 games of last season. If she can back her breakthrough junior year with a similar performance, Devlin could quite possibly reach the 1,000-point plateau as well.
Fire away: The Red Raiders are loaded at guard with 5-4 senior Alexis Breen a shining example to emphasize the point. She carved her niche as a perimeter specialist by burying 26 threes while scoring at an 8.6 clip.
Head coach: Jonathan Book, 5th season (27-62)
‘17-’18 Record: 2-19
Potential starting 5: Hannah Valle (Sr. G 5-6); Alyssa Castera (Sr. G 5-6); Alicia Croswell (Sr. F 5-7); Aaliyah Coleman (Jr. F 5-8); Mackenzie Smith (So. G 5-4).
Key reserves: Modupe Badru (Fr. F 5-10); Christina Flores (Sr. F 5-7); Montana Gogan (So. G 5-5).
Strengths: Experience, seasoned backcourt.
Player to watch: Mackenzie Smith
As a freshman, the 5-4 guard offered signs of what she is capable of and is the Titans' top returning scorer (5.8 ppg.). She balances what she can create through penetration with an outside jumper that can't be released uncontested.
Welcome back: Keansburg will count on seven players with varsity experience to lead its way into contention. Senior guards Hannah Valle (4.8 ppg.) and Alyssa Castera (5.4 ppg.) are three-year starters who will be beacons relied upon to steer the Titans.
Ready to make a jump: The Titans suffered through a 0-16 performance in the B Central last year. Yes, they endured their share of lumps along the trek but are primed to inflict a few of their own this season. Keansburg is not exceptionally deep, which translates into the importance of its starters being in top condition Anticipate this group making some strides.
Head coach: Ryan Patrick, 1st year
‘17-’18 Record: 8-17
Potential starting 5: Kerry Harper (Sr. G); Alyssa Curry (Jr. G); Lilija Mednis (So. G); Shannon Forbes (So. F); Ann McGavin (So. F).
Key reserves: Gina Keel (Jr. G); Holly Diovisalvi (Jr. G); Lauren McCahon (Fr. G); Jordan Lombardi (Fr. F).
Strengths: Athletic, defense, backcourt.
Player to watch: Kerry Harper
The Admirals demand each piece be diverse, to make multiple contributions and Harper exemplifies that work rate. The senior guard (6.4 ppg.) poses a threat from 3-point range amid a well-rounded offensive game, can strip unsuspecting ball handlers on defense (2.5 spg.), moves the basketball into good looks (2.3 apg.) and goes up on the boards to retrieve caroms (5.3 rpg.).
Strong point: Henry Hudson is well stocked in the backcourt. Junior Alyssa Curry (5.7 ppg., 8.4 rpg., 3.2 apg., 2.6 spg.) resembles Harper in her endless hustle. Combined, the tandem should supply the type of commanding leadership expected from playmakers.
Multi-tasker: Sophomore forward Shannon Forbes is yet another example of player who can address multiple needs. She, too, can knock down a three and be a body tough to move under the glass. It's that array of players willing to do whatever is asked of them that makes Henry Hudson a team worth monitoring in the B Central.
Head coach: Katelynn Linney, 1st season
‘17-’18 Record: 7-13
Potential starting 5: Katherine Geraghty (Sr. F 5-8); Brooke Schmelz (So. G 5-7); Lilly Blumenkrantz (Jr. G 5-9); CJ Moore (So. F 5-8); Maddy Mazza (Fr. G 5-3).
Key reserves: Charlotte Henry (So. F); Becca Ryan (Fr. G); Addy Basile (Fr. F); Sonia Gazi (Fr. F).
Strengths: Guard play, championship-caliber coach, bright future.
Player to watch: Brooke Schmelz
There's not a lot of offensive firepower back for the Panthers. Schmelz is the top returning scorer and can put up numbers between her drives inside, that earn her trips to the line, and stroke along the arc.
Back home: First-year coach Katelynn Linney returns to the Shore Conference, where she shined at St. John Vianney, leading it to a 31-2 record and the Tournament of Champions crown as a senior in 2009, when she garnered First Team All-State. A product of Fairfield University, she spent the last two years serving as an assistant at Fordham. Rest assured she will be instilling plenty of the positive qualties she acquired along her basketball journey.
Backcourt benefactors: The Panthers' guards will benefit greatly from the wisdom bestowed by Linney. And, she will have some young ones to groom. Schmelz, junior Lilly Blumenkrantz and freshmen Maddy Mazza and Becca Ryan will be sponges absorbing the teaching nuggets bestowed upon them.
Head coach: David Johnson
‘17-’18 Record: 4-20
Potential starting 5: Deyonna Cartar (Sr. G), Lourdana Cajulus (Jr. G); Eliyah Tunney (Jr. F); Katiana Charles (Jr. G/F); Fatiana Figuroa (Sr. G).
Key reserves: Stephanie Landeau (Jr.); Lauribia Washington (So.); Myleah Estes (Jr.); Kimberly Flix (So.); Jaylah Davis (Sr.); Ijana Silas (So.); Ava Wilson (Fr.); Jaione Murray (Fr.); ZyMayha Johnson (Fr.); Tatyana Mendez (Fr.); Darrinaye Johnson (Fr.); Kerichna Lavaria (Fr.); Ester Paul (Fr.).
Player to watch: Deyonna Carter
A fixture in the rotation for the Blue Bishops since her sophomore year, Carter (9.4 ppg.) will be the leader of a young squad looking to make strides in the division. While her scoring is primarily conducted in and the around the lane, she has hinted that her perimeter stroke is not to be ignored.
One step at a time: Asbury Park yearns to climb back to respectability and enjoy a winning season for the first time since going 10-8 in '14-'15. This roster is full of underclassmen who will learn on the fly with an eye toward buidling some formidable in the near future.
Catching a break: With St. Rose moving out of the B Central, the Blue Bishops no longe have a home-and-away series with one of the state's top outfits. A schedule more in line with its level of play should help coach Dave Johnson restore certain principles while building some growing confidence.