With the Princeton High girls’ basketball team winning just one game in the 2012 calendar year, Mary Sutton and her teammates were ready to turn the page.
“We certainly thought if we all worked together and if all of the components came together on the court, we could definitely come up with a victory,” said sophomore guard Sutton, reflecting on the mindset of the team which started the 2012-13 season with a 0-4 record.
“We knew that we could win if we believed in ourselves and worked hard everyday in practice.”
That belief proved justified as the Little Tigers topped Robbinsville 59-39 on January 5 to break into the win column this winter.
“We talked a lot in that game, there was a lot of communication,” said Sutton, who tallied nine points in the victory.
“Everyone played their part, post players, guards, forwards, on the offensive end and the defensive end. To me, it was the best we have ever played as a team.”
Coming into last Friday’s game against visiting Steinert, PHS was looking to build on the Robbinsville triumph.
“Before the game. one of my teammates wrote ‘we can do it’ on the board in the locker room,” said Sutton. “We were all like we can do it if we work hard as a team.”
With Sutton scoring a career-high 19 points and junior forward Liz Jacobs producing a career-best 24, PHS pulled out a 56-53 win over the Spartans.
Sutton took pride in the way the Little Tigers played down the stretch as they held off a Steinert rally.
“The third quarter we came out a little bit choppy,”
said Sutton. “But then something clicked in our heads and we just started picking up the intensity.”
Noting that she had never scored 19 points in any game in her life in high school, travel, or recreation league hoops, Sutton lost herself in the moment during her offensive outburst.
“I don’t even remember scoring at all,” said Sutton, who drained four three-pointers as part of her barrage.
“I just had to do what my team needed me to do, either by making a three-pointer or a stop on defense.”
PHS certainly made things hard on Steinert with the inside-out combination of Jacobs and Sutton.
“Liz’s presence in the post always is helpful when the other team has big girls,” noted Sutton.
“Steinert didn’t have many big girls, they were more of a guard-oriented team. She was able to dominate in the post and get 24 points.”
While Sutton may not be a dominant player yet, she is feeling a comfort level as a sophomore.
“I am certainly more confident in myself and more confident in my teammates too,” said Sutton.
“I like the role of being the point guard and leading my team. I know that last year was a rough year for us; it was a growing year. We have the components of a good team and we just need to put it all together.”
In Sutton’s view, PHS could grow into something special this winter. “After these two wins, all the momentum is going our way,” said Sutton, who will look to help keep the Little Tigers on the winning track as they play at WW/P-S on January 18 and at WW/P-N on January 22.
“All we have to do is to keep working together as a team. If everyone does their part, I think we can be a challenger in the county tournament.”