Girls Basketball – ’18-’19 Preview: Class B South
CLASS B SOUTH
Team to beat: Manchester
Team to watch: Point Boro
Head coach: Dave Beauchemin, 8th season (10-3-83)
'17-'18 Record: 26-5
Potential starting 5: Kemari Reynolds (Jr. G 5-8); Leilani Correa (Sr. G 6-0); Serenity Anderson (Jr. G 5-9); Dakota Adams (Sr. F 5-10); Destiny Adams (So. F 6-3).
Key reserves: Nahkaleigh Hayes-Jones (Jr. G 5-6); Myah Hourigan (Fr. G); Morgan Brustman (So. G).
Player to watch: Leilani Correa
Correa (17.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg.), who transferred in from Rutgers Prep, has made a name for herself on the statewide scene as a gliding, lengthy off guard who borders on undeniable when she sets her sights on getting to the rim. She also packs range and spring on the jumper and manueverable wheels in transition. The Hawks were already good before she arrived. With her in the fray, they become one of the serious contenders in pursuit of the program's first Shore Conference Tournament and Group 2 state title.
Band on the run: The Hawks not only fly up and down the floor they keep everyone involved while doing so. Creating turnovers through high-pressure defense will be the primary way they get into transition, but the potential for run outs really exists the instant someone pulls down a defensive board. What makes the situation even more daunting is how easily all can handle the ball and push the tempo.
Matchup nightmares: They abound everywhere. Sophomore Destiny Adams, a 6-3 sophomore swing who was Second-Team All-Shore as a freshman, enjoys success scoring inside but also packs the jumper to effortlessly fire over defenders from long distance.
Good luck to any defender that has the unenviable task of denying junior point guard Kemari Reynolds off the dribble. The slick handler slides around obstructions, delivers pinpoint passes and smoothly runs the offense.
While adept at posting up in the halfcourt, senor forward Dakota Adams is a smarter trailer on the break with something rarely seen these days - a mid-range jumper. She also happens to be a tenacious rebounder.
And, Serenity Anderson is coy at spotting up along the arc and blowing past defenders who hastily rush to contend her shot. Defenders are rendered to pick a poison when guarding her.
The keys will be: How well Manchester defends and handles being more in the spotlight. On the first point, its speed and length are ideal for full-court pressure and timely traps but it must continue to be disruptive when teams settle into their sets. Anticipate the Hawks to be extremely active in passing lanes.
Manchester is the hot-topic team in the Shore. It's won consecutive South Jersey, Group 2 titles but each of the last two seasons ended in the state semifinals at the hands of Manasquan. It also reached the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament last year for the first time in school history, falling to St. Rose, 52-39.
St. John Vianney, Manasquan and St. Rose are all back in the hunt for Shore supremacy...and so is Manchester. The abundance of strengths and length cast an appearance the Hawks are as good as anyone. Now, it's time to prove it.
Point Pleasant Boro
Head Coach: David Drew, 11th season (181-90)
‘17-’18 Record: 6-20
Potential starting 5: Allie Delaney (Sr. G); Riley Sexton (Sr.F); Morgan Woods (Sr. F); Lila Shaver (So. G); Carlie Ventrini (Sr. G).
Key reserves: Annalise Albarano (Sr. G); Megan Feehan (Jr. F); Sadi Connors (Sr. F); Natalie Murphy (Sr. G); Sydney Tornquist (Sr. G); Rachel Wisniewski (Jr. F); Hannah Kasper (Jr. G); Molly Burn (Fr. G); Chelsea Distlecamp (Fr. G); Gen Farra (Fr. G); Keira Munyan (Fr. C); Erika Marinelli (Fr. G); Olivia Valente (Fr. F).
Strengths: Experience, depth, defense, primed youth, maturity.
Player to watch: Allie Delaney
Delaney is a multi-tasking workhorse who is centrally involved in almost everything the Panthers do. As a junior, she collected 10.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.7 assists a game. She may pose the biggest threat along the arc (36 3-pointers).
They look familiar: All five starters are back for Point Boro as are the top six players coach David Drew summons off his lengthy bench. This crew endured some hardship during a 6-20 showing last winter but showed improvement as the season progressed, a trend the Panthers hope transcends into this winter.
Positional depth: The Panthers have a long bench that anxiously awaits the chance to get involved. Drew will make the most of it by assuring fresh legs are on the floor at all times.
Board policy: Riley Sexton and Morgan Woods will enforce the law under the glass. The senior forwards make the little things - like boxing out - a priority, which makes them a formidable duo to push away from the glass.
Head coach: Tammy Nicolini, 6th season (55-69)
‘17-’18 Record: 18-10
Potential starting 5: Jada Baker (Sr. F 5-9); Sydney Boyer (Sr. F 5-9); Samantha Soccadato (Sr. G 5-4); Kaya Foy (So. G 5-8); Nikki Lozito (Sr. G 5-4); Kya Joseph (Fr. G/F 5-7).
Key reserves: Ashley Pringle (So. G 5-5); Bianca Savoy (Fr. G 5-4).
Strengths: Speed, senior guidance
Player to watch: Jada Baker
Baker (7.5 ppg.) will be a key ingredient within an offense that has to make up for the loss of '18 grad Shannon McCoy, the program's all-time leading scorer. Giving the Bengals an inside target is vital, but so too, is the work she puts in on the boards (9.1 rpg.). At the defensive end, her rise-and-grab play can effectively limits opponents to one-and-done trips while on the offensive side, she'll keep Barnegat possessions alive by seizing offensive rebounds.
Freshman to watch: Keep a close eye on Kya Joseph. The 5-7 swing picks her spots. She can drive inside off the wings or step back to sink a three. She'll also be a rebounding asset and defensive catalyst.
Need to speed: Why such a request? Two reasons. The division has quite a few teams that want to run whenever possible, so turnabout is fair play and could subtly induce opposing fatigue. Secondly, the Bengals have quickness throughout their lineup, meaning any chance to spring into transition is an opportunity for an easy bucket.
Head coach: Glenn Jansen, 6th season (87-47)
‘17-’18 Record: 21-6
Potential starting 5: Paige Slaven (Jr. G 5-7); Jayda Kearney (Jr. F 5-11); Karolina Jarusevicuite (Jr. F 6-0); Nalah Tinsley (Sr. F 5-9); Jordyn Keating (So. G 5-9).
Key reserves: Olivia Parlow (Jr. G 5-5); Victoria Gelosi (Sr. G 5-4); Alex Gelosi (So. G 5-5); Katie Polo (So. G 5-7); Madelyn Panuska (So. G 5-6).
Strengths: Defense, veteran nucleus, size, athletic.
Player to watch: Jayda Kearney
Some of the Griffins' offensive focus might be directed at the 5-11 junior forward and with good reason. Kearney (7.6 ppg.) has deceptive quickness in the post and the touch to finish inside against heavy traffic.
Defend the court: Donovan Catholic lost three starters to graduation and with them went a good portion of the scoring load. While the offense tries to find its identity, the staunch defense implemented by the Griffins should hold opponents in check, taking pressure of its counterpart to generate a desperate rash of points. Defense is also a good bond agent when seeking to develop chemistry.
Plays well with others: Junior guard Paige Slaven will handle a large portion of distribution. Her unselfish passing encourages teammates to work off the ball for reward. But, any defense that sags off her thinking she's just a dispenser is in for a rude awakening; Slaven is the Griffins' top returning scorer (8.8 ppg.).
Head coach: Sam Savona, 2nd season (6-19)
‘17-’18 Record: 6-19
Potential starting 5: Hailey McGee (Sr. G); Amber McGee (Sr. G); Logan Sigmon (Sr. C); Kayla Nelson (Jr. G); Maura Carney (So. G).
Key reserves: Ashleigh Tavaska (So. F); Amira Brown (Jr. G); Jessica Cannestro (Fr. C); Kayla Ryan (Fr. G); A'maijah Tyler (So. G); Anessa Brown (Sr. G); Gabby Crawley (Sr. C).
Strengths: Guard play, defense.
Player to watch: Maura Carney
Coming off a freshman year in which she averaged 7.2 ppg., the sophomore guard has plenty of promise. Her rapid development began to show dividends over the final 11 games when she produced at a 10.3 clip, marked by a season-high 18 in a 37-22 victory over Lakewood.
Guards, guards, guards: Yes, the Lions have quite a few, including senior Hailey McGee. Don't let her heat up along the arc. McGee hit 36 3-pointers as a junior, including six when she scored 18 during a 60-45 loss to Lacey. Amber McGee and Kayla Nelson are back from a year ago and senior Anessa Brown, junior Amira Brown, sophomore A'maijah Tyler and freshmen Kayla Ryan give the backcourt plenty to work with.
Head coach: Richard Larice, 5th season (28-59)
‘17-’18 Record: 8-15
Potential starting 5: Haley Ocskasy (Sr. G 5-6); Allie Toth (Sr. G 5-5); Karli Buxton (Sr. G 5-7); Brianna Scott (Sr. F 5-7); Cayli Biele (So. G 5-4).
Key reserves: Karli Sokolov (Sr. F 5-7); Gianna Todara (Sr. G 5-3); Nicole Corragio (So. F 5-9); McKayla Mooney (So. F 5-8); Jadyn Reilly (Jr. G); Desray Schneider (Jr. F); Sarah Zimmerman (Fr. G)..
Strengths: Uptempo, perimeter game
Player to watch: Allie Toth
Toth quietly put together a quality junior run that featured a 13.9 scoring average and 29 3-pointers. Her game only got better down the stretch; in the final two weeks of last season, she poured in 27 to lead a 52-38 victory over Brick, clicked for 26 in a 61-50 loss against Holmdel and scored at a 17.2 rate.
Fire away: The Lions have a pair of potential perimeter sharpshooters. Besides Toth, senior Haley Ocskasy (9.9 ppg., 21 3-pointers) lurks along the arc. Quick ball movement will be essential toward them getting clean looks.
Step on the glass: With no one above 5-9, Lacey won't have the luxury of repeatedly posting a big body on the blocks. Senior forward Brianna Scott (5-7) and sophomores Nicole Corragio (5-9) and McKayla Mooney (5-8) will show to the ball on the interior but Lacey's best offensive attribute could be quickness. All three will fill lanes on the break as the Lions seek to run often.
Head coach: Keith Lowe, 13th season (140-151)
‘17-’18 Record: 10-14
Potential starting 5: D'Anna Capriotti (Sr. F); Calyn Conway (Sr. F); Alyssa Vitiello (Sr. G); Katie McGrotty (Sr. F); Alyssa Breese (Jr. F).
Key reserves: Tamar Beaubrun (So. G); Skylar Callahan (So. G); Sunni DiElmo (So. G); Emily Fence (So. F); Morgan Muller (So. G); Maddison Stein (So. F); Bridget Dudas (Fr. G).
Strengths: Veteran nucleus, youthful depth, defense.
Player to watch: Alyssa Vitiello
The senior guard averaged 7.4 points and 2.3 assists last season for the Wildcats. A contributor on varsity since she was a sophomore, Vitiello has a feel for the system and first-hand knowledge of the division, essential to being a successful playmaker.
Denial: Pinelands gives itself a chance practically every game due to its defense. The Wildcats get after the ball and concede the necessary room to effectively execute an offense. They have a band of disruptors who are tough on opposing point guards due to how well they cut off options.
Interesting blend: The starting five could feature four seniors - D'Anna Capriotti (4.6 ppg.), Calyn Conway, Vitiello and Katie McGrotty (9.4 ppg.) - along with junior Alyssa Breese. Meanwhile, those who will spell them are young and learning on the fly. Six sophomores and a freshman might comprise the list of reserves.
Head coach: Steven Vanhise, 2nd season (4-19)
‘17-’18 Record: 4-19
Potential starting 5: Tiana Medina (Sr. F 5-9); Trishann Morgan (Sr. F 5-8); Jessica Rivera (Jr. G 5-3), Melissa Estevez (So. G 5-1); Aysha Diawara (Jr. G 5-2).
Key reserves: Jezzele Ortiz (So. G 5-2); Iyuanna Tims (So. G 5-2); Ann Fontus (Sr. F 5-5).
Strengths: Scoring options, improved defense.
Player to watch: Aysha Diawara
Lakewood is banking on the elusive 5-2 junior guard to be a scoring threat. In order to do so, Diawara has to pick her spots when to challenge the interior of a defense and when to opt for the jumper.
More than one: Coach Steven Vanhise aims to balance the floor on offense and work the ball inside to Tiana Medina. The 5-9 senior forward is expected to complement Diawara's offerings in the backcourt.
Compensation: The Piners lack significant size, so properly spacing the floor and creating paths for Diawara, Jessica Rivera and Melissa Estevez will be critical to the offense.