Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 10
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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STATE OF JOY: Members of the Princeton High girls’ basketball team celebrate after they topped Northern Burlington 43-37 last week in the first round of the state tournament. Junior guard Molly Barber led the way for the ninth-seeded Little Tigers, scoring 16 points in the win over the No. 8 Greyhounds. It was PHS’s first appearance in the states since the mid-1990s. The Little Tigers state tourney run ended last Wednesday when they fell to top-seeded Neptune 83-42 in the Central Jersey Group III quarterfinals.

With Barry and Junior Classmates Setting the Tone, PHS Girls’ Hoops Tastes Success in State Tourney

Bill Alden

As Julie Barry and her teammates on the Princeton High girls’ basketball team faced Hopewell Valley in its last game before starting play in the state tournament, they were looking to build some positive momentum.

After starting 8-8 to clinch the program’s first spot in the state tourney since the 1990s, PHS had fallen into a rut.

“We were in a slump,” said junior guard Barry. “We had a few losses in a row.”

With Barry chipping in six points, PHS edged HoVal 34-30 to break a six-game losing slide and finally get its ninth win.

“It was a huge confidence builder,” said Barry, reflecting on the victory over the Bulldogs. “We had played twice before this season and had lost close games to them.”

That jolt of confidence helped ninth-seeded PHS pull out a 43-37 win at No. 8 Northern Burlington last week in the first round of the Central Jersey Group III sectionals.

The Little Tigers built a 23-13 lead at halftime and then held off a spirited rally by the Greyhounds.

“We wanted to go into state with nothing to lose; we wanted to do things other Princeton High teams hadn’t done,” said Barry, who scored six points in the victory.

“In previous games we had a weak first or second quarter so it was good to get off to a strong start. In the fourth quarter, they kept pushing back. Coach Shoop told us we had eight minutes to hold our ground and we have done it.”

Getting it done triggered a raucous post-game celebration. “It was crazy,” recalled Barry with a laugh.

“We went back into the team room and everyone was screaming. We were so happy and jazzed. Everyone was beaming.”

Although PHS’s state run ended last Wednesday when it fell 83-42 at top-seeded Neptune, Barry thought the team took some important things out of the setback.

“They work together so well; they have so much trust,” said Barry. “We need to develop that kind of trust. It was intimidating at times but it was an honor to be on the court with a team like that.”

The sharp-shooting Barry is working to develop her all-around game. “I think I need to work on being more consistent and improve my ballhandling,” said Barry.

“I need to work on my overall mental game; I need to have more mental toughness on the court.”

PHS showed good toughness this winter, earning respect as it posted its first 10-win campaign since 2005-06.

“It was huge,” said Barry, referring to the team’s progress. “We made some notable firsts. We beat teams like Notre Dame and Nottingham that we hadn’t beaten in a while. Beating HoVal and Northern Burlington was a perfect ending to the season.”

With a core of juniors returning and the development of some promising freshmen, PHS is looking to beat even more teams next winter.

“There is a trust within the four juniors,” said Barry, whose classmates on the team include Tara Thomas, Talya Nekash, and Molly Barber, the squad’s leading scorer and a first-team All-CVC selection by the league’s coaches.

“We are already working toward next year; we are talking about playing together in the summer. We want to win a division title, we came close this year. We want to go back to the states and go further.”

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