Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 52
 
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
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MAKING THE SWITCH: Molly Barber, right, applies the defensive pressure last winter while playing for the Hun School girls’ basketball team. Barber, a sophomore guard, transferred to Princeton High this year and had a special debut last Monday, scoring eight points to help the Little Tigers to a season-opening 41-23 win over Hightstown. PHS is currently on holiday break and will next be in action when it plays at Hopewell Valley on January 6.

With Barber Making Smooth Transfer, PHS Girls’ Hoops Prevails in Opener

Bill Alden

Molly Barber’s face was beet red and she was winded after playing every minute for the Princeton High girls’ basketball team in its season opener last Monday against visiting Hightstown.

But as Barber gulped down water after the game, her face was locked in a smile, basking in the glow of helping PHS to a 41-23 win over the Rams.

After being mired on the bench last season while playing for the Hun School girls’ hoops team, sophomore guard Barber transferred to PHS hoping for a moment like last Monday.

“There were a lot of reasons I left Hun but I really just wanted to play basketball even if I was on a losing team,” said Barber, who scored eight points and made several superb assists in the win over Hightstown. “I just wanted to get out on the court and play. It’s really good to be tired.”

Barber hit the floor Monday night determined to put in an exhausting effort. “I was just ready to come out hard,” asserted Barber, who starred for John Witherspoon Middle School before making the move to Hun. “I know our team lost almost all of its games last year. I really wanted to prove a lot to everyone.”

With PHS coming off a disappointing 1-20 season, there is a collective desire among the players to prove that they can be competitive.

“We have been working hard,” said Barber. “We have been practicing and playing as hard as we can so we can come out like this.”

It didn’t take long for Barber to play well with backcourt running mate, senior Casey Moran.

“I have been playing with her since I was in fourth grade,” said Barber. “We have a lot of experience playing together; we work really well together.”

Running the PHS offense from the point guard position, Barber did well getting the ball to the post as forwards Keisha Brown and Julia Maltby scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.

“They post up well,” said Barber. “We have been working on it in practice seeing the open man. I thought we played really well.”

In Barber’s view, playing well on defense paved the way to the win for PHS. “The defense won the game today,” said Barber. “We rotated fine; we finally started talking.”

PHS head coach Steff Shoop saw communication as a key to the win. “We slowed the ball down the way we were supposed to,” said a beaming Shoop, the second-year coach who didn’t get the first win of her PHS tenure until the team’s final game last season. “We communicated tonight which was very important to us winning.”

The addition of Barber was also important for the Little Tigers. “Molly is a very smart player,” said Shoop. “She and Casey pass very well together.”

The Little Tigers also benefited from the way senior Brown and junior Maltby played together down low at both ends of the court.

“Keisha played very, very well tonight on the boards,” added Shoop. “She also played very smart helpside defense. Julia Maltby was everywhere on defense. She filled in every spot that was open whether it was post or whether it was a guard.”

Shoop was pleased with her team’s collective defensive effort. “A couple of balls bounced our way on offense but defense is what the made the difference tonight,” asserted Shoop. “We were in control the entire game.”

The Little Tigers’ superb opening night effort has Shoop confident that more bounces will go her team’s way this winter.

“I think that proves to us that we have gotten better,” said Shoop, whose team is on holiday break and will next be in action when it plays at Hopewell Valley on January 6.

“We need to keep focusing on our defense. We need to keep focusing on communicating. We need to keep focusing on teamwork.”

Barber, for her part, believes the team will be even more focused as the season unfolds.

“We are going to come out just as strong,” said Barber. “We really want to win games this year and I think we can. Instead of winning the last game; we won the first game. We have a long road, we can do it.”

And it certainly helps PHS to have Barber along for the ride.

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