Dan Van Hise enjoyed the first quarter of his first game as the head coach of the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.
Showing spunk, PHS battled visiting Allentown tooth and nail in the early stages of last Friday’s contest, trailing 9-8.
“I loved the way things started,” said Van Hise. “The girls really seemed to be fired up for their first game. They mentioned in the locker room, it was great to feel the newness, the new regime. It was really nice to see it come out in the first quarter.”
The Little Tigers edged ahead 10-9 early in the second quarter but then the roof fell in, as the Redbirds got hot from the outside. Reeling off 27 unanswered points, Allentown rolled to a 36-10 lead by halftime.
While PHS scrapped in the second half, it couldn’t narrow the gap, losing 58-24.
Van Hise acknowledged that his team didn’t respond well to the Allentown run. “We have got to start to know how to bounce back off a run; even six or eight points is a run and they need to know that it doesn’t have to turn into 27,” said Van Hise.
“We just didn’t close out on their shooters in the first half. We talked about how somebody needs to make a play. It doesn’t have to be a basket. It can be taking a charge. It can be forcing yourself to get an offensive rebound and get fouled. Something needs to happen to stem the tide a little bit so that we can calm things down.”
The Little Tigers didn’t put their heads down as they kept fighting to the final whistle.
“I loved their attitude, the girls on the bench really tried to keep things positive, that was good to see,” said Van Hise. “That’s part of what we are trying to do here.”
PHS has to do better in terms of offensive execution. “I think they were still a little wishy-washy on the plays,” said Van Hise.
“It is game one and I don’t know that many of them have run plays in previous years. That is going to come with time. I would like to see that be a little crisper, even at this point.”
The combination of junior Mary Sutton and sophomore Julia Ryan made some nice plays in the opener.
“Mary had a nice game,” said Van Hise of Sutton, who scored a team-high nine points for the Little Tigers.
“She and Julia should be a nice backcourt all season. I think Mary’s strength is shooting but she needs to be more of a point guard first. She is going to have to score for us and she was aggressive.”
Sophomore Haley Bodden, a standout for the girls’ soccer team gave PHS some aggressiveness off the bench.
“Haley is aggressive, she is an athlete first and a basketball player second and that’s OK,” said Van Hise.
“She has a nice little first step but she kind of hesitates with the ball. She has to go right to the hoop but she should be a nice player off the bench.”
In Van Hise’s view, the team’s nice start Friday will pay dividends down the road.
“I knew that Allentown is a strong program; what the girls are thinking right now is that we know we can play a little bit,” said Van Hise, whose team was slated to play at Monroe on December 23 before starting 2014 action with a game at Trenton Central on January 2.
“I think that first quarter is going to go a long way at some point. There was good energy and that was great for me to see. There was a decent crowd and good energy coming off of it. Hopefully that will be the positive they will take from the game.”