December 12, 2018

Looking to Build on Last Winter’s Progress, PHS Girls’ Hoops Poised for Banner Campaign

ON POINT: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Shaylah Marciano gets ready to unload the ball in a game last season. Junior point guard Marciano figures to be a catalyst for the PHS offense this winter. The Little Tigers open their 2018-19 campaign by hosting Hopewell Valley on December 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last winter, the Princeton High girls’ basketball team made big progress in its first campaign under the guidance of Dave Kosa.

PHS posted a 14-14 record in 2017-18, a marked improvement on the 6-20 mark posted in the previous season, and earned its first win in the state tournament since the mid-1990s when it defeated South Brunswick in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional.

As Kosa looks ahead to his second season at the helm, he believes the team is poised to build on last year’s progress.

“We keep on pointing to our banner in the gym, there is nothing on that banner and we want to be the first team to put something on there,” said Kosa. “With a lot of experience back, it is just really exciting to see what is going to happen this year.”

Featuring the return of most of its top players, the team is on the same page.

“We have great team chemistry this year; we have been developing that from last year,” said Kosa, whose team opens its 2018-19 campaign by hosting Hopewell Valley on December 14.

“We played in the summer league and did really well. There is a confidence and a trust out there and we have to keep building it day by day. We are very unselfish, we are going to be cheering for one another. It is not going to matter as to who gets the most rebounds or the most points. Everybody is going to be looking to perform their role.”

The one-two punch of senior stars Erin Devine and Catherine Dyevich at forward should draw a lot of cheers.

“They are very versatile; they are interchangeable in our offense, either can play the four or the five and they can both step outside and knock down the three,” said Kosa.

“Both do a good job of rebounding the ball for us and that makes them more dangerous. Cat averaged close to averaging a double-double last year. Erin has really stepped up her game. She can step outside and she also takes the ball to the hole. She has developed a pull up now.”

The versatility provided by senior twins Anna and Olivia Intartaglia in the backcourt is another plus for the Little Tigers.

“Anna is more of a point guard and more of a shooter,” said Kosa. “Olivia is more of a slasher and take the ball to the basket kind of a player with her aggressiveness and quickness. As far as getting by people off the dribble, sometimes last year she was just like a one-man press break; we got the ball to her and just let her go.”

Junior point guard Shaylah Marciano, a star soccer goalie and lacrosse attacker, has a knack for getting her teammates the ball.

“Shaylah does some special things out on the court; her vision is just spectacular sometimes, she will thread passes,” said Kosa.

“We are looking for her to improve her shot a little bit. She is a true point guard where she just finds people. She anticipates so well; she has the goalie instincts. She just sees everything in front of her developing before it even happens so that is an added plus for us.”

The Little Tigers are developing some depth with junior Eva Petrone, senior Ella Kotsen, and freshman Hillary Allen coming off the bench. 

“We have Eva; she is so athletic,” added Kosa. “Ella is back and we might have her play a little four when she comes in. Hillary is probably going to get some time for us; she has come on. She has picked up our system really quickly and is a heady player, which is a nice luxury to have. I love going eight deep and developing girls for the future too.”

Kosa believes his squad can pick up where it left off last winter. “It is a matter of continuing to do the little things and understanding that the little things are what got us here; we can’t forget those,” said Kosa.

“The pieces are there for us this year to take that next step but we have to go out and do it. We have to earn it.  We have multiple girls who can score. We play sound defense, which was one of our strong points last year. That is one thing we like to hang out hat on – being solid defensively so we can be in every ball game.”

—Bill Alden