Girls Basketball – ’19-’20 Preview: Class B Central
CLASS B CENTRAL
Defending champion: Trinity Hall
Team to beat: Trinity Hall
Team to watch: Mater Dei
Sleepers: Point Pleasant Beach
Pre-Season Player of the Year: Caitlin Wingertzahn, Trinity Hall
Pre-Season All-Divison Team
Caitlin Wingertzahn, Trinity Hall
Katie Zoda, Mater Dei
Cassidy Burns, Point Beach
Shelby Barksdale, Mater Dei
Haven Dora, Trinity Hall
TRINITY HALL MONARCHS
Head coach: Matt McCarthy, 2nd season (17-9)
‘18-’19 Record: 17-9 (13-1 in B Central) B Central champion.
Potential starting 5: Caitlin Wingertzahn (Sr. F 6-1); Colleen Kelly (Sr. G/F 5-9); Maggie Ward (Sr. G 5-6); Haven Dora (So. G 5-5); Emma Bradley (Jr. F 6-0).
Key reserves: Sophia Gana (Sr. G/F 5-9); Riley Dunfee (Sr. F); Cecilia Peters (Jr. F 6-1); Sydney Commesso (Fr. F).
Key losses: Colleen Cusat.
Strengths: Experience, size, athletic, defense, offensive balance.
College commitments: Caitlin Wingertzahn (William & Mary).
Player to watch: Caitlin Wingertzahn
A three-year starter and fixture in the paint for the Monarchs, Wingertzahn is a picture of consistency in the middle. She accounted for 11.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game. The William & Mary pledge is a pillar in the post who deposits around the basket, finishes through contact and capitalizes on her trips to the line. Not the player you want to see catch an entry up high, turn and face from close proximity.
Beware of…: Haven Dora
Dora came right in, earned a starting role as a freshman and never blushed under the varsity pressure. Teamed with '19 grad Colleen Cusat in the backcourt, she was afforded the chance to grow into her position and gained some quality insight along the way. Dora (7.4 ppg., 3.0 apg.) can shoot the jumper from 3-point land, manuever off the bounce and effortlessly get others involved.
By the numbers: 4
Besides talent and solid game-planning, Trinity Hall can point to a ramped-up schedule to explain its rapid rise in the Shore Conference. Last year, it ventured out of division to face Marlboro, Middletown South and Rumson-Fair Haven - all Top 10 residents - before encountering eventual champion and top-ranked Manchester in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament. Want to compete with the best? Trinity Hall does, so it competes with them to get a first-hand account of where it wants to ascend.
Team to beat
Despite losing Cusat and her perimeter punch, Trinity Hall has no plans of relinquishing its grip on the B Central crown. With senior forward Colleen Kelly, a workhorse on the boards, senior guard Maggie Ward, a fierce defender, 6-0 junior forward Emma Bradley teamming up front with Wingertzahn and 5-9 senior swing Sophia Gana all returning, the Monarchs are equipped to defend their throne.
MATER DEI SERAPHS
Head coach: Mike Pineiro, 1st season
‘18-’19 Record: 14-10 (12-2 in B Central)
Potential starting 5: Jaylynn Graham (Jr. G); Katie Zoda (Sr. G); Elizabeth Mauro (Sr. G); Shelby Barksdale (So. G/F); Bridget Sullivan (Jr. F).
Key reserves: Jhamena Range (Jr. G/F); Lara Gritzek (Jr. G/F); Madison Lopez (So. G); Jenna Dacquel (So. G); Tori Kirk (Jr. F/C); Danielle Perpignan (Sr. G); Jill Corcoran (Jr. G/F); Olivia Leonard (So. C).
Key losses: None.
Strengths: Grit, chemistry, backcourt depth, balance.
Player to watch: Katie Zoda
Talk about getting everyone's attention. Zoda did just that at the outset of last season, stinging Henry Hudson for a season-high 28 points that was powered by eight 3-pointers in a 60-22 victory. The outburst was a harbinger of things to come. Zoda knocked down 53 triples despite missing three games and clicked for a robust 14.7 points a game. But her work doesn't reside simply around the arc. Zoda is tough and competitive on defense, quick to make a steal and persistent cleaning the boards. She also happens to be an exceptional distributor.
Beware of...: Shelby Barksdale
As a freshman, Barksdale (8.0 ppg., 7.5 rpg.) posed the threat to produce a double-double at any given moment. Although she recorded only three, she maintained a level of consistency throughout her first season that points to more to come in her future. She backed 14 points with 11 rebounds in a 54-47 win over Keyport, scored a dozen and took down a dozen caroms when the Seraphs topped Point Beach, 54-37, and accumulated 15 points and 10 boards during a 54-51 loss to Howell. Skies the limit for the talented sophomore.
By the numbers: 2 and 22.5
Mater Dei finished 12-1 in B Central and in second place, a game back of of Trinity Hall. In their two encounters with the Monarchs, the Serpahs bowed by substantial margins; 48-24 and 42-21. Mater Dei has the potential to once again threaten Trinity Hall's reign but to do so, has to close those vast gaps.
First-year coach Mike Pineiro inherits a team ready to roll. The starting five is back as are some valued reserves on the bench. Senior guard Liz Mauro and junior guard Jaylynn Graham are part of a galvanized backcourt while, up front, Bridget Sullivan and Jhamena Range, who only saw action in six games a year ago, team with Barksdale to from an imposing group of powerful forwards.
POINT PLEASANT BEACH GARNET GULLS
Head coach: Jay Lagomarsino, 34th season
‘18-’19 Record: 19-8 (14-4 in B Central)
Potential starting 5: Allison House (Jr. G); Cassidy Burns (Jr. F); Kristen Ohlinger (Jr G.); Patricia Rizzo (So. F); Jada Clayton (Fr.).
Key reserves: Grace Frauenheim (So. G); Olivia Henderson (So.); Hannah Hensler (So.); Alexis Milak (So.); Jillian Hoeler (Jr.); Jane McPherson (Jr.); Brooke Cairns (Jr.); Morgan Highland (Fr.).
Key losses: Carleigh Burns, Madelyn House, McKayla Hughes.
Strengths: Chemistry, veteran nucleus, balance, defense.
Player to watch: Cassidy Burns
The junior forward (7.3 ppg.) was the third-leading scorer for the Garnet Gulls last season, trailing only her older sister Carleigh and McKayla Hughes, both of whom have graduated. More opportunity to take lead on offense seems likely for Burns, who averaged 9.0 points over the closing 12 games. While most of her shots come in and around the lane, Burns can spring an element of surprise from the perimeter. Burns saved one of her best performance for a neighborhood grudge match, pumping in a season-best 14 points when Point Beach upended Point Boro, 47-44.
Beware of...: Allison House
Like Burns, House played in all 27 games a year ago, netting 6.0 points an outing. The two can interchange as the primary shooting subject from one possession to the next, making them complementary piece to enhance the other's game. House netted a season-high 17 points to help the Beach topple Piscataway Tech, 82-34, in the first round of the Central Jersey, Group 1 tournament.
By the numbers: 39.5
Defense was the calling card of the Garnet Gulls a year ago. They outscored the opposition by an average score of 50.6 to 39.5. Once again, it will be the end of the court and how well they close it off that could ultimately define the course of this season.
KEYPORT RED RAIDERS
Head coach: Deboney Braithwaite, 9th season (93-93)
‘18-’19 Record: 15-10 (8-6 in B Central)
Potential starting 5: Jackie Burgos (Sr. G/F); Brittney Mallon (Jr. G); Shannon O'Donnell (Jr. G); Jezzle Avinion (So. F); Isabella Bednarz (Fr. F).
Key reserves: Marquita Cordero (So. G).
Key losses: Giana Piccini, Shannan Devlin, Alexis Breen, Lila Trench, Algeria Kelley.
Strengths: Future, toughness, defense, unpredictability.
Player to watch: Jackie Burgos
On a team decimated by graduation and transfer, Burgos (2.2 ppg.) stands as one of the few familiar faces in the Red Raiders' lineup. She will move from a reserve role into a starting swing who can score from the outside or when driving to the hoop. Burgos didn't have to be a big-time scorer last year. Instead, she found alternative routes to contribute, notably through passing and rebounds. Keyport could still use both but the 5-8 senior also has to be a leader who holds everything together and sprinkles in some points.
Beware of...: The future
Coach Deboney Braithwaite is undergoing a complete overhaul a year after Keyport finished a respectable fourth in B Central. With Burgos the only senior penciled into the playing rotation, the Red Raiders will have players on the court getting their first taste of extensive varsity playing time. Don't expect Keyport to be waving a white flag; there is too much pride and hustle at the root of the program. However, it can take solace that lessons learned by a large number of players can be put to good use in the years ahead.
By the numbers: 39.6
Keyport was downright stingy on defense a year ago. It limited opponents to 39.6 points a game. While the offense may need some time and patience to form a chemistry, the grit and hustle that's long been a Red Raiders' trademark can be translated through the defensive end. The formula is simple: Keyport will continue to strive toward keeping opponents off the scoreboard, giving its own maturing offense a better chance to squeeze out low-scoring victories.
HENRY HUDSON ADMIRALS
Head coach: Ryan Patrick, 2nd season (8-19)
‘18-’19 Record: 8-19 (5-9 in B Cental)
Potential starting 5: Alyssa Curry (Sr. G/F); Gina Keel (Sr. G); Ann McGavin (Jr. C); Lily Mednis (Jr. G); Lauren McCahon (So. G).
Key reserves: Jordan Lombardi (So. F); Gabby Balter (Fr. C); Ellie Hendrickson (Fr. G); Emily Rogers (Fr. F).
Key losses: Kerry Harper.
Strengths: Quick, athletic, collective communications.
Player to watch: Alyssa Curry
A torn ACL cost the Curry her entire junior year. Back for her final season, the senior swing looks to recapture some of the magic she revealed as a sophomore when she balanced 5.7 points per game with 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.6 steals. When healthy, Curry is one of the B Central's most complete players.
Beware of...: Ann McGavin
Henry Hudson has crafted a bona fide post in McGavin. She dropped in 20 points in a heartbreaking 36-35 loss to Keansburg, grabbed 22 rebounds to aid a 26-15 win over Ranney and culminated the campaign with 20 points and 21 boards in a 57-54 overtime setback against Piscataway Tech in the first round of the Central Jersey, Group 1 tournament.
By the numbers: 27.2
The Admirals played solid defense and shrewd managed the clock in their favor en route to containing opponents to the tune of 42 points per game. However, Henry Hudson needed more offensive consistency (27.2 ppg.). It was a more than respectable 5-5 when it scored 30 or more points. Considering this year's cast is quicker and more athletic, anticipate the Admirals to show a different look, that of a team capable of running the floor and finding higher-percentage looks. Sophomore Lauren McCahon, senior Gina Keel, a dangerous streak shooter, and junior Lily Mednis comprise a back familiar with each other and ready to run the floor more briskly.
Head coach: Jonathan Book, 6th season (33-76)
‘18-’19 Record: 6-15 (3-11 in B Central)
Potential starting 5: Mackenzie Smith (Jr. G 5-4); Montana Gogan (Jr. F 5-5); Abigail Boccio (Jr. F); Aaliyah Coleman (Sr. F 5-8); Aerianna Godwin (Jr. G).
Key reserves: Amanda Demo (Sr. F); Scarlet Oliva (Fr. G); Kiara Castera (Fr. G); Morgan Hutchins (Fr. F); Madison Fernandez (Fr. F).
Key losses: Hannah Valle, Alyssa Castera, Alicia Croswell.
Strengths: Defense, athletic.
Player to watch: Mackenzie Smith
The diminutive 5-4 junior (5.7 ppg.) ventures into the lane without fear or hesitation and represents the top returning scorer for the Titans. Her contributions extend to the defensive side where she collected nearly two steals a game as as sophomore. Smith could be the catalyst that makes Keansburg tick.
Beware of...: Aaliyah Coleman
Opposing frontcourts certainly will. Coleman leads the charge on the glass for Keansburg. She cleared 5.5 boards last winter while showing signs she can put the ball in the basket working the low post.
By the numbers: 40.4
Don't judge the Titans solely on their record from last season. They showed plenty of guts and guile on defense, holding opponents to 40.4 points a game.
Keansburg has to develop a consistency in scoring to improve on the 27.5 average posted last year. While the roster is limited in terms of varsity experience, Smith, Coleman and 5-5 junior swing Montana Gogan got plenty of time in '18-'19. How the Titans wind up come season's end hinges on how quickly they can develop their underclassmen and encourage them to jump into the shooting rotation.
ASBURY PARK BLUE BISHOPS
Head coach: David Johnson, 31st season overall
‘18-’19 Record: 3-21 (2-12 in B Central)
Potential starting 5: Eliyah Tulley (Sr. G); Katiana Charles (Sr. G/F); Stephanie Landeau (Sr. G); Marie Simeus (Sr. F); Lourdiana Cajulus (Sr. C).
Key reserves: Zy'Mayha Dekle-Johnson (Fr. F); Jaione Murray (So. F), Ava Wilson (So. G), Tyasia Cooper.
Key losses: Deyonna Carter.
Strengths: Cohesion, balance, senior guidance, youthful exuberance.
Player to watch: Eliyah Tulley
Tulley returns as leading scorer (4.0 ppg.) for a Blue Bishops' squad that will look to a potentially senior-laden starting five to light the fuse. Tulley can strike from long range but chooses more high-percentage opportunies that spring from her drives.
Beware of...: The backcourt
Tulley and fellow seniors Katiana Charles and Stephanie Landeau played together last winter within the guard rotation. The bond the trio has forged must blaze the trail for the offense to thrive and capitalize on any chances it creates, particularly on run outs generated off turnovers. Ava Wilson and Tyasia Cooper will offer some depth to the backcourt.
By the numbers: 9
Coach David Johnson aims to cycle at least nine players into game action, marking one of the more deeper Asbury Park teams in recent memory. What he and the Blue Bishops must cultivate is a bigger offensive presence to gain some improvement on the 31.6 points per game they produced a season ago. While the guards could prove to be more formidable this winter, Asbury Park would be wise to include forwards Marie Simeus, Zy'Mayha Dekle-Johnson, Jaione Murray and center Lourdiana Cajulus into the shooting equation.
Head coach: Katelyn Linney, 2nd season (2-15)
‘18-’19 Record: 2-15 (2-12 in B Central)
Potential starting 5: Lilly Blumenkrantz (Sr. G 5-8); Brooke Schmelz (Jr. G 5-6); CJ Moore (Jr. F 5-8); Madison Mazza (So. G 5-5); Bella Santulli (Fr. G 5-6).
Key reserves: Becca Ryan (So. G 5-5); Sonia Gazi (So. F 5-10); Paris Huizenga (So. F 5-8); Grace Bay (Fr. F 5-7).
Key losses: Katherine Geraghty.
Strengths: Maximum effort, backcourt.
Player to watch: Brooke Schmelz
The Panthers are glad to have their leading scorer back. Schmelz netted a 10.8 points per game, balancing her work off the dribble with a jumper that canned 19 3-pointers. She began to find her rhythm over after the new year, scoring in double figures in seven of Ranney's final 14 contests. She pumped in a game-high 16 points and doled out five assists when the Panthers ended an 11-game losing streak to start the season with a 41-21 decision over Keansburg.
Beware of...: Lily Blumenkrantz
Leaving the 5-8 senior guard uncontest along the perimeter is not a good practice. Blumenkrantz(7.9 ppg.) is Ranney's most dangerous streak shooter. She drained 30 3-pointers, stamped by seven when she erupted for a season-best 28 points to fuel a 40-20 victory against Woodbridge Academy. Her penchant for long-range jumpers is balanced by her quick defensive hands that reap steals and trigger the break.
By the numbers: 4
One reason you can expect Ranney to build off its 2-15 mark from last season is that four of its potential starting five gained valued experience. Schmelz, Blumenkrantz, sophomore guard Maddy Mazza and junior forward CJ Moore, a rugged rebounder, are eager to start making some waves in the division.
Freshman to watch: Bella Santulli
As a former standout guard at St. John Vianney, coach Katelyn Linney has a keen eye for quality backcourt play. Thus, she must have firm faith in Santulli, a 5-6 frosh who is expected to crack the starting lineup and make instant, positive contributions.