February 18, 2015
BLUE LINE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Briana Blue drives to the basket in recent action. Last Monday, senior star Blue scored seven points to help PHS edge WW/P-S 33-32 and snap a six-game losing streak. The Little Tigers, now 7-13, play at Robbinsville on February 18 before starting action in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded 12th and will play at No. 5 Hopewell Valley in a first round contest on February 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BLUE LINE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Briana Blue drives to the basket in recent action. Last Monday, senior star Blue scored seven points to help PHS edge WW/P-S 33-32 and snap a six-game losing streak. The Little Tigers, now 7-13, play at Robbinsville on February 18 before starting action in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded 12th and will play at No. 5 Hopewell Valley in a first round contest on February 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After defeating Hightstown on January 16 to improve to 6-7, the Princeton High girls’ basketball team experienced some hard times.

Playing a murderer’s row of tough foes like Trenton, Notre Dame, and Allentown, PHS dropped six in a row.

During the skid, the Little Tigers struggled offensively and its 50-36 loss to Howell last Thursday was a case in point. Scoring just three points in the second quarter, PHS found itself trailing 27-13 at half.

While his team didn’t throw in the towel, Little Tiger head coach Dan Van Hise acknowledged that inconsistent production has been an issue.

“If we don’t score, we don’t win,” said Van Hise. “We went into a drought in the second quarter. In the second half, we fought. We always fight. We got it to eight or nine but then Howell took the air out of the ball and we are not fast enough to trap them. We put them at the line and they made their free throws.”

PHS showed its fight last Monday as it edged WW/P-S 33-32 to snap the losing streak and improve to 7-13. Junior Julia Ryan scored 11 points in the win with Briana Blue adding seven and Mary Sutton and Zoe Tesone chipping in six apiece.

“We are still taking steps in the right direction, we have doubled last year’s win total,” said Van Hise, noting that the Little Tigers went 3-16 last winter. “We still have some winnable games and I don’t want them to be complacent.”

Van Hise believes that some of his key players have taken steps forward as the season has unfolded.

“Briana and Zoe had 18 points combined against Howell, they have found a niche inside,” said Van Hise.

“Catherine (Curran-Groome) is a solid contributor in every way that she can. Mary and Julia are the x-factors, when they are shooting well, we are tough to beat.”

PHS is shooting to do some good things in the postseason as it starts play in the Mercer County Tournament this week before taking part in the state tournament. The Little Tigers are seeded 12th in the MCT and will play at No. 5 Hopewell Valley in a first round contest on February 20. In the states, they are seeded 15th in the Central Jersey Group 4 tourney and will play at second-seeded Marlboro in the opening round on March 2.

“We have HoVal on Friday in the counties, they are always a solid team who can shoot,” said Van Hise.

“I don’t think they outmatch us athletically like some of the other teams. If we play our best game of the season, we have a chance. I am proud of the team for making states. I know we are a low seed but we feel pretty pumped up about it.”

Van Hise is confident that the six-game losing streak won’t get his players feeling down on themselves.

“We are not a different team than we were earlier even though it feels like it with these losses,” said Van Hise.

“The mood is good. We have talked this year about when things get tough, we have to stick together and not make excuses.”

February 11, 2015

Blake Brown was especially happy to see Evan Barratt return to action for the top-seeded Hun School boys’ hockey team as it hosted fourth-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy last week in the state Prep semis.

Last winter sophomore Brown combined with classmates Jon Bendorf and Barratt to form a high-powered line that helped Hun win the Independent Hockey League and Mercer County Tournament titles.

With Barratt sidelined with a knee injury all season until the semi contest on February 3, it was like old times when the trio reunited.

“It helped that Evan was back, that was huge for us,” said Brown. “It adds a huge offensive element for us, it is a big part of our game.”

Brown benefitted right away in the contest against Montclair Kimberley, scoring two first period goals as the Raiders jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

“We were able to score a couple of goals quick,” said Brown. “Right from the start, we were back to where we were. We felt like the beginning of the season again.”

Reflecting on his two early goals, Brown didn’t take too much credit for the tallies.

“Those were some shots I could not have missed, they put the pucks perfectly to me,” said Brown. “If I had missed those, I shouldn’t be playing hockey.”

Hun head coach McNally credited Brown with working hard to get into perfect scoring position.

“Blake can move the puck with Jon and Evan but he can also wait until they find their shot and bang in the rebound,” said McNally.

“He is the workhorse. He is the dog that goes into the corner to get it and then goes to the front of the net and it eventually comes back to him.”

When MKA made a comeback to narrow the Hun lead to 5-3 late in the third period, Brown tallied with 1:41 left in the period and then added another 38 seconds left to seal the deal for the Raiders.

“It was everything,” asserted Brown of his insurance goal. “It secured the win for us and we are going to the championship.”

The win also marked another achievement for a Hun program on the rise. “Each year we have been progressing,” said Brown. “Last year we won Mercer counties and this year we are in state final.”

Brown helped Hun continue that progression, scoring two goals to help Hun beat second-seeded Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the title game last Thursday.

McNally, for his part, was not surprised that Brown was the top goal scorer for Hun in its Prep title run.

“Blake had six goals in two games and they were all within two feet,” said McNally, noting that Brown’s final tally against Mo-Beard marked the 100th point of his Hun career. “He was in the right spot.”

In Brown’s view, Hun’s team camaraderie has put it in a very good spot. “Everyone loves each other; it is a big family for us,” said Brown. “Everyone hangs together at school, it is like a brotherhood.”

The Hun hockey band of brothers is looking to keep the titles coming.

“This brings the school together; we don’t get a lot of championships at Hun,” said Brown, who will be shooting to help Hun gain another championship as it goes after its second straight Mercer County Tournament crown next week.   “Hopefully we will bring a new chapter to Hun and start winning a lot of championships.”

SQUEEZE PLAY: Hun School boys’ hockey star Evan Barratt squeezes between two defenders to control the puck against Montclair Kimberley in the state Prep semis. Last Thursday, sophomore Barratt, playing in his second game this season after being sidelined by a leg injury, chipped in three assists as top-seeded Hun defeated No. 2 Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the state Prep title game. It marked the program’s first Prep title since 1996. The Raiders, now 14-2-4, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded first and have a quarterfinal game slated for February 11 at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SQUEEZE PLAY: Hun School boys’ hockey star Evan Barratt squeezes between two defenders to control the puck against Montclair Kimberley in the state Prep semis. Last Thursday, sophomore Barratt, playing in his second game this season after being sidelined by a leg injury, chipped in three assists as top-seeded Hun defeated No. 2 Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the state Prep title game. It marked the program’s first Prep title since 1996. The Raiders, now 14-2-4, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded first and have a quarterfinal game slated for February 11 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Facing second-seeded Morristown-Beard last Thursday in the state Prep championship game, the top-seeded Hun School boys’ hockey team was serenaded by derisive chants of “overrated, overrated” by the fans at the Twin Oaks Rink.

Noting that his players laughed off that greeting from the Mo-Beard partisans, Hun head coach Ian McNally sensed that his team was ready to silence its doubters.

“They were in a very good place,” recalled McNally. “There was a lot of excitement in the room, you sensed that when you saw how they were preparing.”

Hun showed why it had been rated so highly coming into the tourney, jumping out to a 4-1 lead through two periods and holding off a late Mo-Beard charge to prevail 5-3 and earn the program’s first Prep crown since 1996.

Led by its Killer B’s line of sophomores Blake Brown, Jon Bendorf, and Evan Barratt, the Raiders were buzzing from the opening face-off.

“You could tell right from the start, Evan, Jon, and Blake spent 40 seconds in the offensive zone on the first shift and had three good chances,” said McNally, whose team scored late in the period to go ahead 1-0.

“The first period was good, the guys were excited. We felt the goal was coming but if it never does, you do get frustrated and worried. The goal was beautiful. It was Evan to Jon to Blake like tic tac toe so we were able to get on the board.”

When Mo-Beard scored the first two goals of the third period to make it a 4-3 contest, Hun wasn’t fazed.

“We were still in control of the game; it didn’t feel like they were coming,” said McNally.

“The first of the two goals was a shot that bounced off Chris Rossi’s skate. On the next goal, the guy came in and had a nice shot. When it is 4-3, you are worried that one mistake could tie the game. They took two penalties in the last five minutes. Blake scored and things slowed down. We were able to get a breath.”

Having the trio of Barratt, Bendorf, and Brown to trigger the offense helps McNally breathe easier. Brown and Bendorf each scored two goals in the championship contest with Barratt chipping in three assists as Hun improved to 14-2-4.

“It is huge, you put those guys out and you know you are going to have the puck in your offensive zone,” said McNally, noting that Barratt just returned to action after being sidelined since the fall due to a knee injury.

“They work so hard and they are so competitive. Jon and Blake were getting it done without Evan but having him back does change things. He is a dynamic kid in every way. He has energy, skill, and he doesn’t stop talking on the ice. You can’t help but notice him. When he gets the puck the other teams are thinking I want to stop that guy and they pay attention to him and one of the other two gets open. They find each other.”

In McNally’s view, senior stalwarts Danny Seelagy and captain Chris Rossi are deserving of special notice.

“They were freshmen and it was my first year; it is neat to have gotten to this point,” said McNally.

“We have added something every year. We won the Independent Hockey League when they were sophomores, then the league and county last year and now preps. It was not like it was imminent for them when they came in. They had to work through it. They are in our top four defensemen. Danny set up the second goal against Mo-Beard and Chris had some big physical plays in the d-zone.”

In becoming a top team, Hun has shown that it possesses the intangibles to go with its talent.

“We have the skill but we also have chemistry and work ethic and you don’t always get that with the skill,” said McNally. “If you have those three things, you can do well in any league.”

Hun is now looking to do well in the upcoming Mercer County Tournament as it goes after a second straight county crown.

“The most fun we had in a long time was that Notre Dame game in the final last year,” said McNally, whose team is seeded first in the MCT and has a quarterfinal contest slated for February 11 at Mercer County Park.

“The guys are definitely excited for the counties, they have siblings and friends who have played in it. It is great that we have the preps and then the counties so it is not just a two-day tournament. It feels like a real postseason.”

BORDENTOWN Hun School boys’ basketball player Kyle Borden puts up a shot in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior Borden scored 10 points off the bench to help Hun defeat Metuchen High 40-24 and win its ninth straight game. The Raiders, now 14-7, will be competing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament at the Blair Academy from February 13-15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BORDENTOWN Hun School boys’ basketball player Kyle Borden puts up a shot in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior Borden scored 10 points off the bench to help Hun defeat Metuchen High 40-24 and win its ninth straight game. The Raiders, now 14-7, will be competing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament at the Blair Academy from February 13-15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kyle Borden wasn’t in the starting lineup for the Hun School boys’ basketball team when it hosted Metuchen High last Wednesday but he was confident he would impact the game.

“I don’t mind it, I enjoy it,” said senior forward Borden, reflecting on coming off the bench for Hun.

“I bring energy, that is something I love to do. My coach (Jon Stone) told me he is going to bring me off the bench to bring a spark to the game. I take pride in doing that.”

Borden entered the contest in the first quarter and made a key contribution, scoring seven points in the first half as Hun jumped out to a 25-5 halftime lead.

“Something I have learned this season and the whole team has learned, is to take the best shot,” said Borden. “Today I was in rhythm; I stepped up and made them.”

The whole Hun team showed a commitment to defense against Metuchen as it took a 34-7 lead into the third quarter on the way to a 40-24 win.

“We came with defensive intensity, that is something our team prides itself on,” said Borden.

“You definitely have to learn how to have fun but you have to play defense first, that is what wins games. That’s what we did, we made a statement.”

Borden has had fun developing over his Hun career. “It is growing a lot and learning how to be a leader on and off the court,” said Borden, who ended up with 10 points in the win over Metuchen. “I worked on developing my game over the summer because I knew I had to step up this season.”

Hun head coach Jon Stone liked the way his team stepped up in the early stages as it jumped out to an 18-2 lead by the end of the first quarter. “I think our defense was very, very good,” said Stone, whose team improved to 14-7 as it won its ninth straight game.

“We were able to get some good looks, both in our halfcourt and our transition. Unfortunately it only lasted for a quarter. Fortunately our defense lasted a little longer. Our defense was very good for at least two and a half quarters.”

In Stone’s view, Borden has given Hun some very good play off the bench. “He’s been doing that all year long,” asserted Stone. “He plays with a lot of energy and he has been giving us a spark off the bench.”

Senior center Dominic Robb gave Hun a big spark in the win over Metuchen, scoring a game-high 15 points and making a number of blocked shots.

“Dominic effects the game in so many ways, he has the ability to finish,” said Stone. “You saw his blocked shots out there today, two in one possession. He really adds a great dimension to the rest of the team.”

With his team riding a late surge, Stone is hoping its best basketball is to come.

“Your hope is always that you peak at the right time,” said Stone. “I think we have just been competing well. We have shown some mental toughness and the ability to play well together and to just get more and more comfortable with each other.”

Stone knows his team faces a tough challenge this weekend as it competes in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament at the Blair Academy from February 13-15.

“It looks like we are going to be the two seed, it is anybody’s tournament to win because anybody can beat anybody on a given night,” said Stone.

“You just hope you are playing good basketball and you know you are going to play some really good games and they are probably going to come down to the wire so it should be a lot of fun and a great weekend. I think we have been climbing and making moves in the right direction, the time is now. We are ready to test ourselves and see how good we are.”

Borden, for his part, believes the Raiders are headed in the right direction.

“When we first started playing, it was rocky,” said Borden “We had to learn all of our different personalities, where we wanted to be on the court, and the chemistry and now it is there. We have bought into the system and we have become a family. We were a team of individuals in the first couple of games and now we play for each other. Our goal is the MAPL championship and that is what we are going for.”

HOT HAND: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Kevin Kane heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior guard Kane scored a game-high 26 points to help PHS top Trenton 68-58 and improve to 7-10. PHS hosts WW/P-S on February 16 and Robbinsville on February 18 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 10th and will play at No. 7 Trenton in a first round contest.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HOT HAND: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Kevin Kane heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior guard Kane scored a game-high 26 points to help PHS top Trenton 68-58 and improve to 7-10. PHS hosts WW/P-S on February 16 and Robbinsville on February 18 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 10th and will play at No. 7 Trenton in a first round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High boys’ basketball team, pulling out a win over a strong Allentown team last Wednesday gave it a lift as it hosted Trenton two days later.

“The Allentown game was really good, it was the first game this season where we really held the lead in the fourth,” said PHS senior guard Kevin Kane. “We got confidence, we knew we could play with Trenton.”

But when PHS struggled in the early stages against Trenton, Kane’s confidence in his offensive skills helped keep the Little Tigers in the contest.

“I was just trying to attack the basket in the first half,” said Kane, who scored 15 points in the half as PHS trailed 33-28 going into intermission. “Matt Hart got into early foul trouble so I knew I had to put up more shots.”

PHS kept attacking in the second half, outscoring Trenton 40-25 over the last two quarters in rolling to a 68-58 victory and improving to 7-10.

In Kane’s view, the Little Tigers seized momentum in the third quarter when it erased the Trenton lead with a 19-13 run.

“We were passing the ball well,” said Kane. “Zahrion [Blue] played well keeping us in it, going to the basket. We handled the pressure well and we guarded Derek Dix well.”

The fourth quarter turned into the Kevin Kane show as he scored 11 points, draining a trio of three-pointers in the process.

“That was awesome,” said Kane, who ended the evening with a game-high 26 points.

“My role is to keep the team’s heads up and when I am open shoot the ball. My teammates, J.C. [Silva], Zahrion, and Chris [Diver] do a good job, dribbling through the lane and getting me the ball. There is more balance and we have good team chemistry.”

Having narrowly lost 60-55 to Trenton a week earlier, PHS was looking to play better team defense in the rematch.

“We just wanted to trap more,” said Kane. “Today with our traps in the second half, coach Karim (assistant coach Shahid Abdul-Karim) was saying that we have to stand there and don’t jump. We got four turnovers because of that. We had to box out, which we did, and hold them under 60, which we also did.”

In the view of PHS head coach Mark Shelley, the formula for success in the rematch was simple.

“We wanted to play more fundamental and harder,” said Shelley, noting that the tape of the first Trenton game showed PHS standing around on defense at times.

It took a while, however, for PHS to get into a groove against the Tornadoes.

“I thought they came out with a little more energy than us in the first half, we struggled with that a little bit,” said Shelley, who got 17 points from sophomore Blue in the win with junior Hart chipping in 12.

“We need Kevin’s scoring, obviously. He really played well overall tonight. He got some key rebounds. He played well defensively, he is so much better in that area. His scoring really kept us in it. We got down by seven, four or five times in the first half but we managed to get it to five at the half.”

Like Kane, Shelley believed that PHS applied the lessons it gained from the Allentown win.

“It was sort of like the Allentown game,” said Shelley. “We were the more fundamental, patient, harder working team in the second half. In the third quarter tonight, we were methodical. As good as we were in the fourth quarter, to me the key was winning the third. We went from down five to up one. That was the key for me because then we just built on that. We hit a flurry of 3s, which we can do. Kevin’s threes were key, it is hard to guard us when one of our guys are stroking it.”

Starting the week with a 60-58 win over WW/P-N in double overtime on February 3 that snapped a six-game losing streak and got things headed in the right direction for the Little Tigers.

“I told them for several weeks, I thought if we could just get one, we would be fine,” said Shelley, whose team hosts WW/P-S on February 16 and Robbinsville on February 18 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 10th and will play at No. 7 Trenton in a first round contest.

“We beat North and Steinert and then we lost to Nottingham with just a terrible fourth quarter. Then we had that slide where Hopewell was close, Notre Dame was close and Hightstown was overtime. We just couldn’t get over the hump and we were a little dispirited and coach Karim gave a pretty excited talk at halftime of the North game. It got us going. Matt Hart had a great shot to win it. He literally hit a 17-foot fadeaway step back swish with three seconds left. It was a tough shot.”

Kane, for his part, believes PHS will be tough to beat down the stretch. “This is a great win; it just shows how our character has built through the season,” asserted Kane. “We have lost a lot of games late. Tonight we got the lead and kept it, which was really good.”

DRIVE THROUGH: Stuart Country Day basketball player Harlyn Bell puts up a shot over a foe in recent action. Last Friday, senior Bell scored six points in a losing cause as Stuart fell 37-27 to the George School (Pa.). The Tartans, now 10-9, are starting action in the state Prep B tournament this week where they are seeded fifth and will play at No. 4 Pennington in a quarterfinal contest on February 11. Stuart is also slated to host Steinert on February 12 and to play at the Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 13. The Tartans will also be taking part in the Mercer County Tournament, where they have been seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Steinert in the first round.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DRIVE THROUGH: Stuart Country Day basketball player Harlyn Bell puts up a shot over a foe in recent action. Last Friday, senior Bell scored six points in a losing cause as Stuart fell 37-27 to the George School (Pa.). The Tartans, now 10-9, are starting action in the state Prep B tournament this week where they are seeded fifth and will play at No. 4 Pennington in a quarterfinal contest on February 11. Stuart is also slated to host Steinert on February 12 and to play at the Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 13. The Tartans will also be taking part in the Mercer County Tournament, where they have been seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Steinert in the first round. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Harlyn Bell liked how things were going as the Stuart Country Day School basketball team battled the George School (Pa.) to a 12-12 stalemate through two quarters last Friday.

“I definitely thought we were in good shape,” said Stuart senior standout Bell. “Our defense was really great, we have been working on it all season.”

After Stuart fell behind 22-16 early in the fourth quarter, Bell had some good moments, hitting two jump shots as Stuart narrowed the gap to 26-22 with about three minutes remaining in regulation. The Tartans, though, never got any closer as they fell 37-27.

“Coach Leith always says you can never lose the game in the last two minutes so that kind of mentality really pushed me to score a little,” said Bell, reflecting on her fourth quarter heroics.

In reflecting on the loss, Bell acknowledged that Stuart has to be sharper with the ball.

“Unfortunately we had a few breakdowns,” said Bell. “We can learn better offensive execution with crisper passes, faster transition, and less dribbling.”

Working hard over her career, Bell has transitioned into a solid defensive player for the Tartans.

“I have improved defensively, when I was a freshman, I would foul out,” said Bell.

“I really picked up moving my feet, especially this year with coach [Justin] Leith. He has been amazing ingraining that in us.”

Bell has also picked up her offensive game, gaining confidence in her shot.

“That is something we work on in practice a lot,” said Bell “Coach is trying to get all of us to be confident in putting up shots. This year I have seen improvement in myself.”

In Bell’s view, first-year head coach Leith has helped each of the Stuart players improve.

“He is definitely different than all of our other coaches,” said Bell. “He is very tough but he can see potential in all of us. He really forces us to step up so that is good.”

Coach Leith, for his part, was disappointed with how his team failed to step up in the fourth quarter against George.

“One of the goals is to speed the tempo and play our game in the second half but we didn’t execute,” said Leith.

While Leith was heartened to see Bell’s second fourth quarter jumper draw Stuart to within four, he felt like his squad never found an offensive rhythm.

“There were very small flashes of how we can play and that was one of them,” said Leith. “That didn’t give me any more encouragement because we never put those things together. The game felt like one big lull.”

In order to put things together, Stuart needs to transfer what it does in practice to the games.

“It really is about growing as individuals and growing as a team,” said Leith, whose team moved to 10-9 with a 55-27 loss to Country Day School of the Sacred Heart last Saturday.

“They are understanding how to work hard but they are not understanding how to apply it. That is obvious from this game.”

Leith is seeing growth from junior Harley Guzman and Bell. “Harley did a great job of staying out of foul trouble, she shot the ball pretty well,” said Leith.

“She didn’t make the best decisions but she is still a junior. She is getting there, she has definitely improved over the season. Harlyn wasn’t hitting shots that she hits in practice, she had some really good looks. Against Villa Victoria, she had the same open looks and she hit six or seven in a row. She just wasn’t hitting today but she played great defense.”

As fifth-seeded Stuart plays at No. 4 Pennington on February 11 in the state Prep B quarterfinals, Leith is looking for a great effort.

“It was really about getting a win in the first round of the preps,” said Leith, noting that Stuart fell 59-31 to Pennington in regular season play.

“If we play our game, there is a possibility to beat them but we have to play our best game. If we are firing on all cylinders on Wednesday, it should be a good game.”

Bell, for her part, is looking to end her Stuart career by firing away. “I haven’t had a 20-point game ever so I would like to get that, I have had 18,” said Bell, who also stars as a goalie in both field hockey and lacrosse and is headed to Wake Forest. “That is a goal I want to get by the end of the season. But you know what, I just want to enjoy the last few games.”

IN THE ZONE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Paul Franzoni heads upcourt in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore guard Franzoni scored 14 points in a losing cause as sixth-seeded PDS fell 77-52 to third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers, who dropped to 5-15 with the defeat, will host New Egypt on February 11 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 13th and will play at No. 4 Trenton Catholic in the first round.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN THE ZONE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Paul Franzoni heads upcourt in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore guard Franzoni scored 14 points in a losing cause as sixth-seeded PDS fell 77-52 to third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers, who dropped to 5-15 with the defeat, will host New Egypt on February 11 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 13th and will play at No. 4 Trenton Catholic in the first round. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Playing at third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B quarterfinals last Sunday, the sixth-seeded Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team enjoyed a solid offensive performance.

Featuring three players in doubles figures with Chase Lewis at 18 points, Paul Franzoni chipping in 14, and Mark Washington adding 11, PDS exceeded its usual output this winter as it tallied 52 points.

But that wasn’t nearly enough as MKA pulled away to a 77-52 win.

PDS head coach Paris McLean acknowledged that his team fell short on the defensive end.

“We mustered up more points than we normally do but we couldn’t stop them,” said McLean, whose team dropped to 5-15 with the  setback. “If you look at our wins, we kept those games in the 40s.”

Tipping his hat to an underrated MKA squad, McLean said the Cougars posed some match-up problems for his team. “We battled but we struggled at times to match their intensity, they were 8-8 coming in but that is not indicative of how good a team they were,” said McLean. “They had a good big man in Josh Chery and they had some good outside shooters.”

McLean liked the intense efforts he got against the Cougars from sophomores Franzoni, Lewis, and Washington.

“Paul really battled, he really scrapped,” said McLean. “We needed others to match his intensity. You know what you are going to get from Chase, 15-20 points and a good floor game. Mark has had two solid games in a row, he also had 11 against Hightstown in our last game. The good thing is that all three of them are coming back.”

While the early tourney exit stung, McLean is looking for his players to keep battling over the last few weeks of the season.

“We had an honest conversation with them in the locker room; when you lose this early in the Prep tournament, you can feel like the season is over,” said McLean.

“We told them that there is a lot to play for. We have New Egypt on February 11, that is our senior night, and then we have the Mercer County Tournament. We will be playing a really good team in the first round of the counties but we could possibly play a spoiler role. We will have a consolation game no matter what happens so we are guaranteed at least four more games. If we can win four more, that would give us nine wins and one more than last year.”

Despite taking plenty of lumps this winter, PDS hasn’t lost its upbeat approach.

“They have kept their heads up,” asserted McLean, whose team is seeded 13th in the MCT and will play at No. 4 Trenton Catholic in the first round.

“For many of them it is the first full season of varsity basketball and they are realizing what a grind it is and how hard it is to keep up a high level of play. The practices have been good, they are giving a good effort in the games and if you look at our bench during games, they are all cheering for each other.”

February 4, 2015

After limping into the exam break with 5-2 losses to Union and Rensselaer in early January, the Princeton University men’s hockey team wanted to end the month on a high note.

Returning to action against visiting Army last Wednesday for its first game in 18 days, Princeton produced one of its better performances of the season, pulling away to a 4-1 win over the Black Knights.

“The game was a little sloppy in the first period, we had solid defensive zone structure in the second half of the game,” said Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty, who got goals from senior Tucker Brockett, senior Mike Ambrosia, sophomore Ben Foster, and sophomore Tommy Davis in the victory with junior Jonathan Liau picking up three assists.

“It was nice to score a bunch of goals. I hope that sets us up for games to come. One good thing was the power play, we were 2-for-4. We have been working on that a lot and that was good for our confidence.”

Last weekend, the Tigers gained some more confidence as they rebounded from a 4-0 loss at Yale on Friday to pull out a 2-2 tie at Brown a day later.

The Tigers played a solid first period against Yale as the teams were knotted at 0-0 heading into the first intermission. But a five-minute major penalty incurred by Princeton late in the period came back to haunt the Tigers.

“The 5-minute major was the turning point of the game, they scored twice on it,” said Fogarty, whose team ended up yielding four goals in the second period.

“Losing (Mike) Ambrosia and Tucker (Brockett) early on was tough, we were down to three lines.”

A day later, Princeton showed some toughness at Brown, fighting back from a 2-1 second period deficit to pull out the 2-2 tie.

“We got back to more puck possession on Saturday, we were forcing Brown to chase us,” said Fogarty, who got goals from freshman Eric Robinson and Liau in the win.

“It was good to get points on the road. It is good to get any points at this time of the season.”

The play of Liau and Robinson since the break has impressed Fogarty.

“That three-game stretch was the best hockey Liau has played,” said Fogarty of Liau, who was later named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week.

“He understands the system. He is not thinking out there, he is just playing. We took Eric off the power play and put him back on 5-on-5. He is getting back to the basics. He had that goal and had a great chance late.”

In Fogarty’s view, Princeton is getting better collectively at the basics. “Overall, we were looking at things before and after Christmas,” said Fogarty, whose team moved to 3-15-2 overall and 1-12-1 ECACH with the tie at Brown.

“Before there was a shot differential of -15 with opponents outshooting us by 15 shots a game. The differential has been below two since Christmas. We are playing better defense, we are controlling the puck, we are passing better. We are getting some opportunities.”

Princeton will be looking to generate more opportunities as it hits the road again this weekend, playing at Colgate (14-9-3 overall, 6-5-3 ECACH) on February 6 and at Cornell (9-9-3 overall, 7-6-1 ECACH) a day later.

“Every road trip is tough, there is so much parity in the league,” said Fogarty, noting that the Colgate game has special significance for assistant coach Brad Dexter, who spent the last nine seasons coaching for the Raiders.

“I am excited for Brad to get back to Colgate, that is the team he helped assemble. We would like to get a win for him and then go for a sweep of Cornell, they are our one league win. I get excited for every road trip. It is fun to coach a team like this Princeton group. They have all bought in and they are trying to get better everyday.”

Competing in the boys 100-meter breaststroke final at the Mercer County Championships last Saturday at the WW/P-N pool, Princeton High freshman Oliver Hunsbedt was happy to have junior teammate Christian Chiang in the next lane.

“It was a great way to push each other and for us to have a great competition together,” said Hunsbedt. “We were talking about it before; we really wanted to beat each other.”

Hunsbedt went on to have a great swim, taking first in a time of 1:09.70 with teammate Chiang coming in third at 1:12.85.

“As a freshman, I am just really excited,” said Hunsbedt, who also swims for the Whitewaters club.

“There are too many emotions right now, it is crazy. My club coach is going to be so proud and so will my high school coaches. I am just so happy to win it.”

Hunsbedt was happy to end the day by helping PHS take second in the 400 free relay behind Notre Dame.

“That was really fun,” said Hunsbedt. “Notre Dame is a really great team and we tried our best to beat them. We got second so we beat everyone else.”

PHS had a fun day collectively, taking third in the team standings behind champion Notre Dame and runner-up WW/P-S.

Chiang took sixth in the 100 butterfly while Alex Petruso placed fourth in the 100 free and fifth in the 100 backstroke. The Little Tigers took third in the 200 medley relay and second in the 200 free relay in addition to the second-place finish in the 400 free relay.

While the Little Tigers saw their four-year county title streak come to an end, PHS first-year head coach Carly Misewicz believed that her boy swimmers competed to their potential.

“We swam our hearts out today,” said Misiewicz. “The guys were awesome, they far surpassed all of our expectations. Everybody was stepping up and filling in those spots on the relays.”

Misiewicz liked the heart Hunsbedt displayed in his first county meet. “He was psyched; he was so excited and pumped,” said Misiewicz.

“Going into that breaststroke final, he said “Oh my god, I’m going for it.’ He had that last relay coming off the breaststroke. Oliver is the kind of kid who likes to chase somebody. He likes it when we are behind and are chasing people down.”

Seeded fourth in the Group, North 2 sectional, PHS is looking forward to being in the chase for a state title.

“Everyone is dropping crazy amounts of time so they now are knowing their potential and we just want to keep it rolling through states,” said Misiewicz.

Hunsbedt, for his part, feels that PHS has the potential to do well in the states.

“We all just pushed each other to the limits today, we competed well as a team,” said Hunsbedt.

“We can’t wait for states. We have a lot of stuff planned; we are going to have an exciting time.”

ABBEY ROAD: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Abbey Berloco displays her butterfly form in a recent meet. Last Saturday, freshman star Berloco won both the 50 and 100 freestyle races at the Mercer County Swimming Championships to help PHS win its third straight county crown. Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer on the girls’ side. PHS will now go after more titles as it was seeded first in the Public B Central Jersey sectional.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ABBEY ROAD: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Abbey Berloco displays her butterfly form in a recent meet. Last Saturday, freshman star Berloco won both the 50 and 100 freestyle races at the Mercer County Swimming Championships to help PHS win its third straight county crown. Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer on the girls’ side. PHS will now go after more titles as it was seeded first in the Public B Central Jersey sectional. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After rolling through a 12-0 regular season with one lopsided win after another, the Princeton High girls’ swimming team was determined to make a statement at the Mercer County Swimming Championships last week.

“Since we made such an impression in our dual meets, we were looking to try to win the meet and really do something great,” said PHS junior star Brianna Romaine, reflecting on a season which started with a 145-25 rout of Hopewell Valley and has seen no meet closer than a 107-63 win over WW/P-N in mid-December.

Romaine and her teammates achieved that goal with aplomb at the county competition held at WW/P-N, piling up 266.5 points to win the title and nearly double runner-up Pennington’s score, who finished with 140.

In earning its third straight county crown, PHS won six of eight individual events and two of the three relays. Capping the day in style, the Little Tigers produced a meet record in winning the 400-meter freestyle relay, breaking the 4:00 barrier with a time of 3:58.61.

Romaine won the 200 free and 100 backstroke while classmate Madeleine Deardorff prevailed in the 200 individual medley, sophomore Melinda Tang was victorious in the 100 butterfly, and freshman Abbey Berloco won both the 50 and 100 free. The precocious Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer on the girls’ side.

In reflecting on her win in the 200 free, Romaine said the cheers of her teammates spurred her to victory as she had trailed early in the race.

“I did realize I was behind, I was just trying to swim my own race,” said Romaine. “I saw her but the atmosphere of our team was so motivating, I wanted to do it for them.”

The Little Tigers were motivated to set a new county standard in the 400 free relay.

“After we hit 4:00 in the prelims, trying to go sub 4 was definitely on our minds,” said Romaine, who combined with Deardorff, Tang, and Berloco in the record-breaking effort. “It was great to finally do it.”

The addition of freshman star Berloco has been a great plus for PHS. “It is amazing, Abbey takes it to a whole other level,” said Romaine. “She really completes the team.”

Berloco, for her part, came into the county meet simply looking to enjoy the experience.

“I have heard that counties is a really fun meet,” said Berloco. “I was trying to have a great time with everyone else on the team.”

In the 50 free, Berloco was inspired by the example of former Lawrence swim star Katie O’Rourke.

“I knew that Katie O’Rourke had the record; I wasn’t really sure what it was,” said Berloco, who clocked a time of 26.37 to break O’Rourke’s record of 26.46. “She is just such a phenomenal swimmer. I just wanted to maybe come close to what she did last year.”

As for the 100 free, dueling with a buddy helped Berloco produce another record.

“I was really happy with that; I felt pretty good,” added Berloco, who posted a time of 57.20 to break the mark of 57.62 that she set on Friday in the county preliminaries.

“It was really great because I was right next to my best friend Maddie Horner (of Steinert). I am on the same club team (Hamilton Aquatic Club) with her so we practice together.”

For Berloco, the relay record was icing on the cake. “That was really fun,” added Berloco. “I knew we could do it. We have such a strong team. It was really great to break it with them.”

Berloco got a surprise when she was singled out as the meet’s top girl swimmer.

“I didn’t even know that there was a MVS, everyone said we have to go up for awards,” recalled Berloco. “I was like OK. I was really shocked when I heard my name called.”

While Berloco was thrilled to earn the individual award, she was more excited about the team’s superb performance.

“Everyone did such an amazing job,” said Berloco. “It is great to be part of that; it was really fun to win counties.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz liked how her girl swimmers took care of business on Saturday.

“They stepped it up and put their all into it,” said Misiewicz. “We had better times than we did yesterday pretty much across the board. They were super psyched, the energy level was up.”

In Misiewicz’s view, Berloco’s propensity to go all out sets her apart. “She is a stellar athlete without a doubt,” said Misiewicz.

“She gets in there and swims her heart out no matter what. If she is a body length ahead or a lap ahead of everybody, she puts her heart and soul into it. That is all you can ask for and that is what makes her the kind of swimmer that she is. She puts 200 percent effort all of the time.”

The trio of Romaine, Deardorff, and Tang has been giving PHS great efforts all winter long.

“Brianna, Maddie, and Melinda are so consistent and so constant,” said Misiewicz. “They are all into the next one. Their goal as a team was to go under 4, that was awesome. It was a great way to end the meet, crushing 4 minutes is huge because we were well under.”

With PHS seeded first in Public B Central Jersey sectional, Misiewicz believes her squad is primed for a happy ending this winter.

“We told them the other day that we are seeded first for states and I think that fired them up,” said Misiewicz.

“They were super excited. They knew there were a lot of expectations coming into counties. They all rose to the occasion, every single person.”

Romaine, for her part, is fired up about PHS’s chances to make a deep run in state competition.

“I am pretty confident going into states; I think this is the most we have had talent-wise,” said Romaine. “We are seeded first in the sectionals, we’ll see what happens.”

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice in recent action. Senior captain Herring chipped in two assists as PHS topped Pingry 4-2 in the program’s annual Senior Night. The Little Tigers, now 4-8, are next in action when they play at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice in recent action. Senior captain Herring chipped in two assists as PHS topped Pingry 4-2 in the program’s annual Senior Night. The Little Tigers, now 4-8, are next in action when they play at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Lucy Herring entered Baker Rink for her Senior Night with the Princeton High girls’ hockey team, she gained extra inspiration from looking into the rafters.

“I saw the signs, it was awesome to see my name,” said senior forward and captain Herring, referring to the banners hanging in front of the bleacher honoring each of the seven seniors on the squad.

“After the three senior days when I have made the signs and then seeing a sign made for me, it was pretty special.”

Herring went on to enjoy a special evening, passing for two assists to help PHS top Pingry 4-2 in the January 23 contest.

Both of Herring’s helpers came on passes to younger sister, sophomore star Maggie, as the Little Tigers scored three goals in a 33-second span in the first period and then added an insurance goal in the third.

“In the beginning, we wanted to make sure that we were focused on passing,” said Herring. “I know Maggie has a really strong shot so I can always trust passing to her and having her get it in with her slap shot.”

The victory gave PHS its fourth triumph of the season, already doubling its win total from last winter when the Little Tigers posted a 2-11 record.

“It is really surreal actually,” said Herring. “My freshman year, we didn’t win a single game and my sophomore year we didn’t win anything and last year it was two. It is so amazing, especially my senior year. It is a great note to end on.”

In Herring’s view, the bond among the seniors has helped spark the team’s improvement.

“The senior class this year is really close,” said Herring, whose classmates on the squad include Britney Coniglione, Anne Daly, Julia DiTosto, Marian Hancock-Cerutti, Campbell McDonald, and Stephanie Ren.

“We have played since freshman year together, it has definitely been an experience. Senior year is fun. Everyone wants to be at practice, everyone wants to be at the games. It is not as much of a hassle and that just creates a more fun environment and motivates people to do well.”

Getting an infusion of talent has helped give PHS extra motivation. “I think we have definitely gotten new players like Alexa Zammit,” said Herring. “Campbell who left and came back and then Allie Callaway. Also Maggie has gotten a lot better through sheer practice.”

Herring relishes the on-ice connection she has developed with her younger sister. “It is really fun because we know each other really well,” said Herring. “I know what she is going to do with the puck; she knows what I am going to do with it. We sense where each other is going to go so we know where to pass.”

As Herring reflected on her career, she noted that she also got to be on the ice with older sister, Keely, a 2012 PHS alum and former hockey star herself.

“On the high school team, I played one year with Keely,” said Herring. “I was thinking about that. It was very different with Keely. Our playing styles were different. We didn’t have that same tight connection as Maggie. That is the benefit to being the middle child.”

PHS head coach Christian Herzog knows that his program has benefitted from Herring’s constant presence over the last four years.

“I can’t say enough good things about Lucy,” asserted Herzog. “When she came to the program, we were already struggling. It speaks volumes about her level of character that she didn’t just throw in the towel and say I want to play with a better team. She has really given some significant effort; her leadership has gotten better throughout the year. Over four years, she has done a lot for this program and the school in general. She has been a pretty good ambassador with her sportsmanship.”

In addition to providing plenty of intangibles, Herring shoulders the burden on the ice in crunch time.

“The sign of a good player is one who is asking for the puck when there are 30 seconds left and you are down by one, added Herzog. “Like her older sister Keely, she is one of those who is asking for the puck. She wants the opportunity to rise above and make that play and get that goal.”

As PHS got ready to hit the ice for the Pingry game, emotions were on the rise for the Little Tigers.

“The girls were buying into the fact that we were going to play period by period,” said Herzog.

“We are just going to go out there and play our game and regardless we are going to leave all of that emotion on the ice. I told them that if  nothing else, you guys should play even harder for the seven people graduating in here because eventually you younger players are also going to be in the same situation. You don’t know what it feels like until you are in that position. You start to think alright this is the last hurrah.”

Herzog liked the position PHS put itself in with the three-goal outburst in the first period that started with an Isabelle Sohn tally.

“Izzy admitted it was a garbage goal but if a garbage goal goes in, the goalie focuses on that garbage goal,” said Herzog.

“They put a little more pressure on her and they got lucky with some opportunities. That is a first this season, I haven’t seen that since the Gabby Vukasin days when we had four in 1:05. That changed the tone of the game and it gave me the opportunity to get the novice skaters in as well.”

The team’s progress this season has been heartening for Herzog. “It is night and day different compared to some of our previous years,” said Herzog. “It means a lot. You are coming from the very bottom and you aren’t focusing on not getting people to quit.”

Herzog credits the program’s Class of 2015 with getting people to play their best.

“The senior class, in general, is a good group of girls,” said Herzog. “They are always out to have a good time, they are a very inclusive kind of group. They all vibe together and they have a collective vision for the program.”

As Herzog looks ahead to the last few weeks of the season, he envisions some good things ahead.

“I don’t want to have a let up, regardless of what the record is at the end of the season,” said Herzog, whose team is now 4-8 and is next in action when it plays at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 4.

“I want to reflect back on this when we have our banquet and be able to say that to the end, there was no let up or throwing in the towel. The season is not over until that second game on February 15; I want to focus all the way through.”

Herring, for her part, isn’t about to lose her focus. “We have never had so many close games that are winnable,” said Herring. “I am really excited to try our best in them and see where we go.”

READING THE GAME: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Reid controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior forward Reid enjoyed a big game on the program’s annual Senior Night, tallying four assists as PHS topped WW/P-N 10-3 to improve to 7-8-1. The Little Tigers play Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

READING THE GAME: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Reid controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior forward Reid enjoyed a big game on the program’s annual Senior Night, tallying four assists as PHS topped WW/P-N 10-3 to improve to 7-8-1. The Little Tigers play Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

John Reid and his senior classmates on the Princeton High boys’ hockey team have become closer through adversity.

“We have had a couple of tough state tournament losses; we had a couple of tough losses early on,” said Reid.

“I think as a class we have grown into really strong hockey players. We all like each other. As a whole, I think we are a pretty cohesive unit.”

Last Saturday, Reid and his classmates were showered with affection as the program held its annual Senior Night celebration at Baker Rink in conjunction with its game against WW/P-N.

“Sending off three classes of seniors before me in this building and now doing it with my classmates is really special; getting the opportunity to play our last game here at Baker,” said Reid. “It is tough to swallow that we can’t be back here. It was a fun night.”

Reid ended up having a lot of fun in the game, getting four assists to help trigger PHS to a 10-3 win over the Northern Knights which improved the Little Tigers to 7-8-1.

In reflecting on his performance, Reid said he enjoys being the playmaker.

“That is usually my game, it mostly comes from the fact that I don’t have the best shot,” said Reid with a smile. “I like setting guys up. I guess tonight it showed itself.”

Many of Reid’s passes over the years have found the stick of classmate and fellow captain Connor McCormick.

“Connor played a big role freshman year and then both of us have gotten a lot of minutes since our sophomore year,” said Reid of McCormick, who scored two goals in the win over WW/P-N.

“I think he and I bonding has really helped the team. I think we both came in knowing that this was our last game in Baker. I think knowing that gave us a little extra spark.”

Reid is hoping the win will spark PHS as it looks to qualify for the upcoming state tournament, needing to have a .500 record as of the February 9 cut-off date.

“We need four more points to qualify for the state tournament,” said Reid. “I think this is huge for us to come in tonight and get a big win. We have struggled finding our identity. We are just kind of finding that now later in the season.”

PHS head coach Terence Miller saw the win over WW/P-N as a huge plus. “We have a big week coming up, this was much needed,” said Miller.

“We just told our guys that our season is on the line from now on. I think we realize that we have no room for error at this point. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole and we are trying to climb out with about 10 days left in the regular season.”

The emotions surrounding Senior Night gave PHS a lift on Saturday. “It is fun to see these guys get honored on Senior Night in Hobey Baker Rink,” said Miller, whose Class of 2015 includes Joe Hawes, Chris Munoz, Nick Palmer, Becket Tovar, and Aidan Bitterman in addition to Reid and McCormick.

“It is great stuff, it is well deserved. We have a great group of guys, great seniors. They are genuinely good kids and they deserve the recognition. Hockey aside, they are just really good kids. I was happy for them.”

The pair of Reid and McCormick had provided good leadership for the program this winter.

“Connor and John have the ‘C’ on their sweater for a reason, they are our leaders,” said Miller.

“They have been good at adapting to different needs, whether that be on the back side, playing defense or going to wing or center. They are both willing and eager to play wherever they are asked. They are good solid good-hearted kids that set a good tone for our guys. They are not necessarily the loudest rah rah type guys but they lead by example. They quietly go about their business and the other guys follow that lead.”

Some of the other PHS seniors took care of business on Saturday. “Aidan Bitterman got his first career goal,” said Miller. “Nick Palmer is a great kid, he plays on the back end and he got a lot of good minutes tonight. I am happy he was honored and had a good night on Senior Night. It is important.”

In Miller’s view, PHS has what it takes to produce a good finish this winter. “I think we are a game off the pace for states,” said Miller, whose team plays Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8.

“We are just trying to take this one game at a time; we want to finish on a good note. Hopefully this gets us going, gets our mojo going, gets our legs going a little bit.”

Reid, for his part, is confident that the Little Tigers will do their best to go as far as possible in postseason play.

“We don’t have the deepest team but we have some great skill,” said Reid. “We have guys that are going to fight until we are done so a run in the counties is definitely not out of the question.”

OUT OF STEP: Hun School girls basketball player Erica ­Dwyer drives to the basket in a recent game. Last Saturday, senior guard Dwyer tallied 20 points in a losing cause as Hun fell 62-38 to Montgomery to suffer its eighth straight defeat. The Raiders, now 3-13, are slated to host Germantown Friends (Pa.) on February 5 and then play at the Shipley School (Pa.) on February 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OUT OF STEP: Hun School girls basketball player Erica ­Dwyer drives to the basket in a recent game. Last Saturday, senior guard Dwyer tallied 20 points in a losing cause as Hun fell 62-38 to Montgomery to suffer its eighth straight defeat. The Raiders, now 3-13, are slated to host Germantown Friends (Pa.) on February 5 and then play at the Shipley School (Pa.) on February 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Just a few years ago, the Hun School-Peddie matchup was the most heated rivalry in local prep girls’ basketball.

The two programs met in the state Prep A finals five straight seasons from 2005-2009 and even though Peddie always prevailed, Hun customarily fought the Falcons to the final horn.

Last Wednesday, when the teams met in the latest installment of the series, those halcyon days were a distant memory.

A shorthanded Hun team, missing some key players to injury, fell behind visiting Peddie 16-0 on the way to a 74-40 defeat.

Afterward, a glum Hun head coach Bill Holup declined to use the injuries as an excuse.

“The injuries obviously impact the team but psychologically we have to be ready to play and physically we have to be ready to play,” said Holup, who was without the services of top scorer Janelle Mullen along with Alexis Goeke and Clare Moloney.

“We have got to get used to playing without Janelle. We are hoping she will be back the first week of February.”

Holup acknowledged that his team didn’t play well at either end of the court in the loss to Peddie.

“I don’t think we gave ourselves a chance at all in this game,” lamented Holup. “Defensively we were disorganized and offensively we didn’t move.”

In Holup’s view, his team needs to undergo some soul searching. “The bottom line is that we have to come ready to play,” said Holup, whose team fell 62-38 to Montgomery last Saturday to drop to 3-13 and is slated to host Germantown Friends (Pa.) on February 5 and then play at the Shipley School (Pa.) on February 7.

“I am disappointed in the overall effort that we put in. It is upsetting. I am hoping it is an aberration.”

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Gianluca Travia holds his position in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore defenseman Travia and the Panthers skated to a 4-4 tie with Chatham. The Panthers, who moved to 2-11-4 with the tie, were slated to play Morristown-Beard on February 3 in the state Prep semifinals with the winner advancing to the title game on February 5 against the victor of the Hun/Montclair-Kimberley semi. In addition, PDS is hosting Bergen Catholic on February 6 and Saint Augustine Prep on February 9.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Gianluca Travia holds his position in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore defenseman Travia and the Panthers skated to a 4-4 tie with Chatham. The Panthers, who moved to 2-11-4 with the tie, were slated to play Morristown-Beard on February 3 in the state Prep semifinals with the winner advancing to the title game on February 5 against the victor of the Hun/Montclair-Kimberley semi. In addition, PDS is hosting Bergen Catholic on February 6 and Saint Augustine Prep on February 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hosting a powerful and skilled Portledge School (N.Y.) last Wednesday, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team held its own in the early stages of the contest.

“I look at the first period and I thought the first six or seven minutes, the game played out the way we wanted it to,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli.

“We had more chances early in that first period then at any point in any game in the last month. I told our kids if you are willing to be disciplined and compete in the offensive zone, you are going to get opportunities.”

But it was Portledge that broke through with two goals in the first period to take a 2-0 lead and then the roof fell in on the Panthers as they gave up four unanswered goals in the second to fall behind 6-0 heading into the final period. PDS did show some fight in the third but it went on to lose 8-1.

“We hung with them early but we are so limited offensively that we can’t give up easy goals,” said Bertoli.

“The first two goals are backbreakers. It falls apart because we take chances, we take dumb penalties and some of our older guys are taking penalties.

Bertoli acknowledges that his team lacks firepower. “There were four or five opportunities today where the puck hit their sticks in scoring areas but we are just not ready to score,” said Bertoli.

“We don’t play stick, we don’t body up on men; that is the frustrating part. That is why we average a goal a game. We don’t have the type of kids who can make plays and beat people one-on-one and we don’t have kids who are ready to score the puck.”

As a result, Bertoli wants his players to focus on being ready to make things tougher on their foes.

“I talk about it all the time, our kids play hard but they are not hard to play against,” said Bertoli, whose team put in some good work last Friday, pulling out a 4-4 tie with Chatham to move to 2-11-4.

“They work hard but they have to work outside their comfort zone and that has to happen in practice. We have to demand more in practice.”

As defending state prep champion, PDS faces a demanding road to a title repeat as it is slated to play at Morristown-Beard on February 3 in the state Prep semifinal with the winner advancing to the title game on February 5 against the victor of the Hun/Montclair-Kimberley semi.

“We have a lot to work on and a lot to improve on,” added Bertoli, looking ahead to a big week that also includes home games against Bergen Catholic on February 6 and Saint Augustine Prep on February 9.

“It is a young group and we need to take advantage of every opportunity we throw the uniform on. The focus has to shift to going to Mo Beard and beating a very good team. They came in here and beat us pretty handily; that is not to say that we can’t have some success because I think we did some things in the third period of that game.”

No matter how his squad does in the Prep tourney, Bertoli believes it can take steps to laying a foundation for future success.

“The reality is it doesn’t matter how many games we win this year,” said Bertoli. “It is building and getting that mindset that we have to play outside our comfort zone. We have to be harder to play against. My focus is on them playing the right way and competing at the level I want to see them compete at.”

January 28, 2015

Hannah Ash has experienced a breakthrough in her final campaign with the Princeton High girls’ swimming team.

After being a member of the supporting cast for PHS over the last three seasons, senior Ash has emerged as a star this winter.

Coming into last Thursday’s showdown with Lawrence, Ash had posted six individual wins and had taken part in six relay victories in the last five meets for PHS.

In reflecting on her recent success in the water, Ash attributed her progress to some work on the water as a rower for Mercer Rowing Club.

“It has been really exciting getting to drop times this year since the past couple of years I have been in a lull,” said Ash.

“I think it is because of the cross training with crew, that’s definitely showing.”

There was plenty of excitement in the air at the John Witherspoon School pool on Thursday as both PHS and Lawrence brought 10-0 records into the contest. Ash had a big day as the Little Tigers rolled to a 120-50 victory, placing second in the 100 freestyle and helping the 200 free relay to victory.

“It was really impressive seeing everyone definitely swimming their hardest,” said Ash, reflecting on the win. “The atmosphere in here was so amazing.”

There was a special atmosphere on the deck as PHS held its annual Senior Day ceremony.

“It is kind of bittersweet,” said Ash. “It is really exciting that it is finally us up there but it is definitely sad knowing that we are going to leave these people.”

The PHS squad has definitely come together this winter. “I think we bond as a team really well; everyone is so supportive of
each other,” said Ash.

“That definitely helps when you are in the pool and you hear everyone cheering for you. That is a really good feeling.”

Ash and her fellow seniors support each other on a daily basis. “Since there are so many of us is it is really good being able to feed off of each other,” said Ash.

“We get the vibes from each other and get each other’s opinions on what we think is going to make the team better. Since none of us are club swimmers we are at practice everyday so it is definitely good being around each other.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz believes Ash is making PHS better in a number of ways.“Hannah Ash is definitely stepping up this year as far as times,” said Misiewicz. “She is also making sure that the freshmen are really involved in what is going on as a whole team.”

In Misiewicz’s view, the whole senior class has been making a positive impact.

“They are great,” asserted Misiewicz, whose other senior swimmers include Jessica Bai, Rhea Bhatt, Lopa Krishnan, Lindsey Lim, Charlotte Singer, and Stephanie Tam.

“They are here everyday because none of our seniors are club swimmers. It is nice that the high school kids see them on a daily basis. They see them here, training so hard, practicing day in, day out.”

The team’s hard work certainly paid off against Lawrence. “I can’t be any happier for the swimmers, they are swimming out of their minds,” said Misiewicz, whose team improved to 12-0 with a 124-45 win over Ewing last Thursday.

“We knew going into the season that our girls are definitely good; this is their year in our opinion.”

In the win over Lawrence, the Little Tigers’ quartet of stars, sophomore Melinda Tang, freshman Abbey Berloco, and juniors Brianna Romaine and Maddie Deardorff, showed they are very good as they each won two races. Tang placed first in the 200 and 500 freestyle races, Berloco won the 50 free and 100 butterfly, Romaine was victorious in the 100 free and 100 backstroke while Deardorff prevailed in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.

“When Abbey, Maddie, Bri, and Melinda get into the pool, they get in to race,” said Misiewicz. “It doesn’t matter if they are a body length ahead or a fingertip ahead.”

The rest of the squad has adopted that competitive approach. “All of other girls are getting the hang of it, reaching for that second or third, out-touching the person next to them,” said Misiewicz.

“That is what I have been stressing, outrace the person next to you. Be aware of the whole entire pool, you may in lane seven but something is happening in lane two.”

With PHS going after its third straight Mercer County Swimming Championships team title this week as the competition is slated for January 29-31, Misiewicz is confident that her team will keep racing as hard as it can.

“They are having fun with every single meet,” said Misiewicz. “They are getting excited for counties and seeing how far we can make it in states after counties.”

Ash, for her part, is excited for her final county meet. “I think we have a pretty good chance; I am pretty enthusiastic about it,” said Ash.

“I think we have really good depth in our team. That is definitely important at counties since it is more individual than team-wise. I think it is looking good.”

TAKING OFF: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Take Numata churns through the water last week as PHS hosted Lawrence. Senior Numata took third in the 50 freestyle and helped the 400 free relay to a win as the Little Tigers prevailed 95-75 in the January 20 contest. PHS, who improved to 10-2 with 123-44 win over Ewing last Thursday, are next in action when it competes at the Mercer County Swimming Championships from January 29-31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TAKING OFF: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Take Numata churns through the water last week as PHS hosted Lawrence. Senior Numata took third in the 50 freestyle and helped the 400 free relay to a win as the Little Tigers prevailed 95-75 in the January 20 contest. PHS, who improved to 10-2 with 123-44 win over Ewing last Thursday, are next in action when it competes at the Mercer County Swimming Championships from January 29-31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Take Numata was fired up to see the Princeton High boys’ swimming team come through with a win against Lawrence last week.

“Today was a power pointing day so it was important that we swam fast to see how we would stack up later on,” said senior Numata, who took third in the 50 freestyle and helped the 400 free relay to a win as the Little Tigers prevailed 95-75 in the January 20 contest.

“These meets are always the best kind of meet because they are the ones that get the most cheers and excitement.”

The meet did get exciting as Lawrence pulled to within 57-53 after taking first and third in the 500 free. PHS, though, took control from that point, prevailing in the 200 free relay and getting wins from sophomore Will Kinney in the 100 backstroke and freshman Oliver Hunsbedt in the 100 breaststroke.

In Numata’s view, it was important for PHS to pull out the close meet.

“It is always good to have that because the more you have, the better off you will be in the future,” said Numata.

Numata has been getting better and better as his senior season has unfolded. “I swam year round this year so that made for an improvement,” said Numata, who joined the X-Cel club program.

While Numata has put in extra time working on his strokes, his success as a sprinter comes down to keeping a clear head in the water.

“I got pretty close to my personal bests today,” said Numata. “When it  comes to sprinting events and tough meets, there is really not much thought.”

It was an eventful day for Numata and his classmates as the program held its annual Senior Day celebration after the meet.

“I am going to miss this pool, it is a nice place,” said Numata, whose fellow seniors include Odin Adams-Tuck, David Lawrence, Warren Saengtawesin, and Matt Shanahan. “Hopefully it won’t be my last home meet.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz saw the win over Lawrence as a nice step forward for the boys’ squad.

“We have had our ups and downs, we have had some tough meets,” said Misiewicz.

“This is our last meet where everybody will be together before the counties. It was a great atmosphere, being Senior Day. The seniors were getting in and swimming their events and everyone was behind them.”

In Misiewicz’s view, it was great for PHS to pass the test posed by a tough Lawrence squad.

“It was a really close meet at one point, I was getting a little worried there,” said Misiewicz.

“The 500 really hurt us there and then a lot of the sophomores and juniors were coming up ‘hey where are we at, what do we need to do.’ I had no problem telling them because I know they will go up to everybody and say we are down by four, we really have to get up and go. That 200 relay was clutch, from that point on it was good. We had one-two in backstroke and one-two on breaststroke.”

With PHS going after a fifth straight team title this week as it competes in the Mercer County Swimming Championships from January 29-31, Misiewicz is getting her swimmers to fine-tune things.

“We have been working a lot on the technique and the little details, especially for our sprinters,” said Misiewicz.

“They are getting pumped up, they are getting excited. It is just consistent improvement across the board, there is nothing more you really can ask.”

Whether or not PHS wins another county crown this week, Numata is going to enjoy competing with his teammates.

“When you leave a team, it is not about the races or your own personal times,” said Numata.

“The thing I am going to end missing most of all is the people. Inside and  outside of the pool, you have activities with them. I would say that they are more important than the races.”

VALUABLE COYNE: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Maddie Coyne dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Friday, freshman Coyne scored four points in a losing cause as PDS fell 56-24 to Bound Brook. The Panthers, now 4-10, play at the Ranney School on January 29 before hosting Rutgers Prep on January 30 and Pennington on February 3.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

VALUABLE COYNE: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Maddie Coyne dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Friday, freshman Coyne scored four points in a losing cause as PDS fell 56-24 to Bound Brook. The Panthers, now 4-10, play at the Ranney School on January 29 before hosting Rutgers Prep on January 30 and Pennington on February 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ending its game against visiting Bound Brook last Friday on a high note, the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team outscored the Crusaders 9-6 in the fourth quarter.

But that surge was too little, too late for the Panthers as they lost 56-24 in dropping to 4-10.

In reflecting on the setback, PDS head coach Kamau Bailey was pleased with how his players battled to the final whistle.

“I am proud of the way we played, we played hard until the end,” said Bailey. “We just have to figure out all the stuff in between.”

The Panthers need to figure out how to start games better as they fell behind Bound Brook 15-0.

“It was tough to come back from that; we just got off to a rough start,” said Bailey.

“We are one of those teams that needs to get out to a good start. We are not a comeback team just yet; we are still working on that. Before the game, the girls admitted that they were nervous so it’s just really getting our nerves under control and relaxing. By the time everybody relaxed a little bit and realized that we could score on that team, it was 15-8.”

In Bailey’s view, everybody needs to get on the same page for the Panthers to be more consistent offensively.

“We have just got to bring it all together,” said Bailey, who got eight points from freshman Bridget Kane in the defeat to Bound Brook with sophomore Shayla Stevenson adding seven. “We are, in my opinion, doing a little bit too much one-on-one. We need to move the ball a little bit more. The girls need to have a little bit more confidence in their teammates and their ability to score.”

With PDS having topped Stuart 40-30 on January 14 and Villa Victoria 53-33 on January 16 in its two games prior to Friday, Bailey is confident that his team can get things together.

“Things are going in the right direction; these girls are getting better,” asserted Bailey, whose team plays at the Ranney School on January 29 before hosting Rutgers Prep on January 30 and Pennington on February 3.

“Beating Stuart was a nice measurement; they had beaten us three times prior (once earlier this season and twice last winter). To be able to beat a team like that, let’s these girls know and me as a coach know that we have made some progress. We have to continue to do that. These girls look so good in practice. We just have to translate the way we practice onto the game floor.”

GOING FOR IT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player ­Malia Leveson goes after the puck in a game earlier this season. Freshman standout Leveson tallied a goal and an assist to help PDS top Holton Arms (Md.) 4-1 last Sunday. The Panthers, who improved to 8-6-1 with the victory,  are slated to host the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 28 and Mater Dei on February 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOING FOR IT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player ­Malia Leveson goes after the puck in a game earlier this season. Freshman standout Leveson tallied a goal and an assist to help PDS top Holton Arms (Md.) 4-1 last Sunday. The Panthers, who improved to 8-6-1 with the victory, are slated to host the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 28 and Mater Dei on February 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though Malia Leveson is only a freshman, she emerged as a go-to finisher for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team.

Leveson enjoys having that responsibility, letting her production speak for itself.

“I definitely like that a lot,” said Leveson of her role as a top scorer. “I am more of a leader on the ice rather than in the locker room.”

Last Sunday against visiting Holton Arms (Md.), Leveson displayed that leadership, scoring a key second period goal to help the Panthers pull away to a 4-1 triumph.

Kiely French, Ashley Cavuto, and Emma Stillwaggon added goals for PDS in the victory with senior goalie and captain Katie Alden making 13 saves as the Panthers improved to 8-6-1.

“I think it really put us in a safe spot,” said Leveson, reflecting on her tally which came on a breakaway. “It felt good to finish it off.”

Playing defenseman earlier in the season has helped Leveson become a more dangerous scoring threat.

“I think it has been good for me,” said Leveson, who also had an assist against Holton Arms. “I play forward for my club team. It was good playing defense at the beginning of the year, it helps me see the ice better and understand all the positions.”

PDS head coach Lorna Cook likes the way Leveson and sophomore Cavuto have been getting in position to score.

“They have playing a lot better and we have been doing a good job of timing that traffic in front and getting on rebounds,” said Cook. “We still need to battle harder but they are getting in there now.”

Cook was looking for a better result on Sunday against Holton Arms after her team had just missed victory in two games on Saturday against Shady Side Academy (Pa.), losing 1-0 and tying 3-3.

“Yesterday was obviously disappointing in that we just lost a tie and then we just lost a win and they were both in the last three minutes of the game,” said Cook.

“Those are hard but at the same time the tie was huge for us. We played well against a good team so we had to take a step back and look at the positives from that.”

Another positive on Sunday was the way the Panthers closed the deal in the third period despite not having the services of Cavuto, who was sidelined after taking a hard hit late in the second.

“We were mixing things up a ton and I think they all played really well,” said Cook.

“It was good. You need to play with everybody because you never know what is going to come up. I thought that was a good experience for us to have to do that.”

With the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament coming up in a few weeks, Cook believes PDS can come up big down the stretch.

“Now it is really using the tough games that we have left and just continuing to improve,” said Cook, whose team is slated to host the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 28 and Mater Dei on February 2. “I think our power play has never looked better, it is continuing to get better and better.”

Leveson, for her part, believes that the victory over Holton Arms portends good things to come.

“We tried to keep the same intensity as yesterday,” said Leveson. “I think we did a good job, it was a good win.”

January 21, 2015
ON THE MOVE: Sean Timmons heads up the ice this winter in his freshman campaign for the Skidmore College men’s hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Timmons has scored three goals in 14 appearances so far this winter for the Division III Thoroughbreds.(Photo Courtesy of Skidmore College Sports Information)

ON THE MOVE: Sean Timmons heads up the ice this winter in his freshman campaign for the Skidmore College men’s hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Timmons has scored three goals in 14 appearances so far this winter for the Division III Thoroughbreds. (Photo Courtesy of Skidmore College Sports Information)

Sean Timmons didn’t waste any time making an impact this winter for the Skidmore College men’s hockey team.

After being scratched from the team’s season opener against SUNY Canton, former Princeton Day School star forward Timmons made his collegiate debut when Skidmore played at the University of New England on November 7.

“I didn’t really know what I was doing out there but I didn’t want to go back to sitting out,” said Timmons.

“On my second shift, I got the puck in the offensive zone and I shot as hard as I could and it went in. It was pretty awesome, I didn’t expect that to happen.”

Having wanted to play college hockey as long as he can remember, Timmons didn’t want to wait to get his shot at the next level. Emerging as one of the most prolific scorers in PDS program history, Timmons was on the radar of many college programs. But while most coaches wanted him to get extra seasoning, Division III Skidmore offered him the chance to play this winter and that proved to be decisive.

“A bunch of the other schools wanted me to play juniors or do a post-graduate year,” said Timmons.

“Skidmore wanted me to come and play right away. It was a great fit academically, it was a perfect fit all the way around.”

As the youngest player on the team, Timmons has a big learning curve. “We had a bunch of captain’s practices in the fall; coach told me that it was going to be an adjustment,” said Timmons.

Now that he has seen game action at the college level, Timmons is learning to speed things up.

“The biggest transition is feeling comfortable on the ice, it has taken awhile,” said Timmons.

“When you get the puck on your stick, you have to know where you are going. You can’t wait. You have to think ahead, you don’t have time to make up your mind.”

In addition to thinking quicker on the ice, Timmons is working on getting bigger.

“There is the physicality aspect, everyone is my size or bigger,” said the 6’2, 195-pound Timmons.

“We started lifting when we got here, we have an athletic trainer working with us. We work out a couple of times a week during the season. I am definitely more developed.”

With Skidmore currently at 3-12-2 overall, Timmons acknowledges that the team is working on developing a winning mentality.

“It has been a rough year, we are having trouble playing a full 60 minutes,” said Timmons.

“When we choose to play, we can play with anyone. We have been in the games more lately, we had a 1-1 tie with SUNY Potsdam and a 4-2 loss to No. 9 Plattsburgh State. We are still trying to fit the pieces together. Every minute of the game counts, you never give up for a moment.”

In Timmons’ view, Skidmore has some good pieces in place. “We have 11 freshmen and a bunch of sophomores so we have a bright future,” said Timmons. “We have six d-men and only one is a senior.”

In the meantime, Timmons is looking to make the most of the last month or so of his freshman season. “Individually I want to help the team as much as possible and get more ice time,” said Timmons, who has three goals in 14 appearances.

“I have been on the 4th line most of the year. I was on the third line last weekend and was getting regular shifts.”

Looking ahead to his sophomore season, Timmons is determined to be a top line performer.

“I am focusing on getting stronger, quicker, and faster,” said Timmons. “I want to make it easier for me to adjust and work on being more of a scoring threat.”

BLUE SHIELD: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Zahrion Blue, left, looks to thwart a foe in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore forward Blue scored 12 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 58-48 to visiting Nottingham. The Little Tigers, now 4-5, play at Hopewell Valley on January 23 before hosting Allentown on January 26.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BLUE SHIELD: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Zahrion Blue, left, looks to thwart a foe in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore forward Blue scored 12 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 58-48 to visiting Nottingham. The Little Tigers, now 4-5, play at Hopewell Valley on January 23 before hosting Allentown on January 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Zahrion Blue liked the way the Princeton High boys’ basketball team took care of its business in the early stages against visiting Nottingham last Friday.

“We were playing good in the first half,” said PHS sophomore forward Blue. “We came out at the start playing like a team.”

Blue gave the Little Tigers a big lift in the waning moments of the half as he drained a long three-pointer before the buzzer to put PHS up 24-18 at intermission.

“Time was running out and I had to shoot it,” said Blue, reflecting on his buzzer-beater.

PHS, though, got run out of its building in the second half as Nottingham outscored the Little Tigers 40-24 over the last 16 minutes of the contest to pull away to a 58-48 victory.

“It got to the point where we are not screening or cutting,” said Blue in assessing the team’s second half struggles. “We were just not running our plays right.”

Making the move up to varsity this year after starring for the PHS freshman team last winter, Blue is feeling right at home. “I have to play hard,” said Blue. “I think I should be on varsity; it is my level.”

Blue is looking to take his game to a higher level, working on honing his inside-out skills.

“I am a shooter so I like to be outside the three-point line,” said Blue. “I also like to play inside, be in the lane and dish it out to Kevin (Kane) and Matt (Hart).

PHS head coach Mark Shelley like the way his team played in the first half against Nottingham.

“I felt like we were patient with our offense,” said Shelley. “We ran our motion, we ran it side to side a few times. We had good looks. Defensively, I thought our zone frustrated them. They didn’t hit some shots but we also defended well. It wasn’t a clean first half but we were happy with it.”

Shelley was happy to see Blue come up big in the waning moments of the second quarter, believing that his buzzer beater would give PHS some momentum heading into the second half.

“Zahrion hit a three at the end of the first half,” said Shelley. “It was big, I thought it would give us a boost.”

Instead, Nottingham started hitting on all cylinders in the third quarter, seizing momentum by outscoring PHS 19-11.

“I told them the turning point in the game was that we got three steals in the first three minutes of the third and we turned every one of them over and they scored,” said Shelley. “So that it is a 12-point swing.  There was some adversity that we didn’t handle.”

PHS, though, battled back and took a 43-42 lead with 5:14 left in regulation but Nottingham responded with a 10-0 run to take control of the contest.

“Several times we have been in games like this and we haven’t closed them well,” said Shelley.

“The second thing that totally frustrated me was that is was back and forth a point here, a point there and when they got it to five, we just lost our composure. We didn’t do things we were supposed to do.”

In the wake of the frustrating setback, Shelley asked his players to catalog the things they need to be doing better.

“I think the lesson is always take whatever mistakes happened and be better with those mistakes the next time,” said Shelley, whose squad plays at Hopewell Valley on January 23 before hosting Allentown on January 26.

“They all have a little homework assignment for the weekend — to watch the tape and bring me a written list of things they can do better on offense and defense. They have a certain number to bring me and we are going to watch film and then practice on Monday. I want them to be able to look at it and say these are the things the coaches and my teammates expect me to do and these are the things we are doing.”

In Blue’s view, the lessons from Friday are clear. “We should just do better things,” said Blue. “We need to have better shot selection and just play basketball.”

HERE COMES THE SOHN: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Isabelle Sohn heads up the ice in recent action. Last week, junior forward and assistant captain Sohn tallied a goal and assist to help PHS top Academy of New Church (Pa.) 7-1. The Little Tigers, who fell 4-3 to Summit last Wednesday to move to 3-5, host Pingry on January 23 at Baker Rink before facing Holton Arms (Md.) on January 24 and Shady Side Academy (Pa.) on January 25 with the latter two games taking place at Princeton Day School.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HERE COMES THE SOHN: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Isabelle Sohn heads up the ice in recent action. Last week, junior forward and assistant captain Sohn tallied a goal and assist to help PHS top Academy of New Church (Pa.) 7-1. The Little Tigers, who fell 4-3 to Summit last Wednesday to move to 3-5, host Pingry on January 23 at Baker Rink before facing Holton Arms (Md.) on January 24 and Shady Side Academy (Pa.) on January 25 with the latter two games taking place at Princeton Day School. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High girls’ hockey squad brought a four-game losing streak into its game last week against Academy of New Church (Pa.) (ANC), Isabelle Sohn and her PHS teammates weren’t down in the dumps.

“I think with this group of girls, everyone is always really excited to play,” said junior forward and assistant captain Sohn.

“Everyone has a positive attitude no matter what the record because we have gone through a couple of difficult seasons. It is our identity as a team that we are always able to bounce back and continue to play hard and enjoy ourselves on the ice. I think this game was no different. We were excited to see what we could do and see what happened.”

Sohn made some good things happen against ANC, setting up Sophie Corrodi for the first goal of the contest and then scoring a goal minutes later as PHS jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first period in the January 13 contest.

“That was really fun, Sophie is one of my closest friends on the team; it is a bond on and off the ice,” said Sohn, reflecting on her assist.

“I was not expecting my goal to go in. It went off on my backhand, I was throwing it towards the net. It hit her skate and it went in, that was a nice surprise so I enjoyed that too.”

PHS enjoyed a nice evening as it went on to post a 7-1 victory, earning its third win of the season in snapping the losing streak.

“We have been in the opposite situation so often,” said Sohn. “It is kind of nice to be more comfortable in the situation we found ourselves in.”

Having already exceeded last year’s win total when PHS went 2-11. Sohn feels the program is in a good situation.

“We have gained some really valuable players and some of the returning players have improved over the season,” said Sohn. “I feel like we may be more cohesive this year in the way we are working together.”

The team’s seven seniors have helped hold the team together. “They are good role models in terms of watching how they play along with the work ethic and dedication they bring to the team,” said Sohn.

“As a junior I have watched them; I have been playing with them for a couple of years. There is good team rapport and the seniors are such an integral part of the team.”

Sohn has put in a lot of work to be a better player. “I am skating harder,” said Sohn. “I think my shooting has definitely increased. I practiced more in the off season than I have in the past.”

PHS head coach Christian Herzog liked seeing his team find the back of the net early and often against ANC.

“It is good to see when they start coming together collectively, making their passes and building it,” said Herzog, who got a goal and three assists from senior star Lucy Herring in the win with sophomore Maggie Herring chipping in two goals and an assist and junior Corrodi and senior Anna Daly each contributing a goal and an assist.

“We are hoping to break the mold a little bit, the last four games, we haven’t been playing really strong hockey from the top of the lineup to the bottom.”

Having struggled before the holiday break, PHS was looking to produce a strong performance.

“We needed it,” said Herzog. “The confidence was there, the girls knew they had it in them to defeat this team just based on having beaten them last year.

In Herzog’s view, his players have it in them to play even better hockey over the last month of the season.

“We need to do a lot better with the puck movement,” said Herzog, whose team fell 4-3 to Summit last Wednesday to move to 3-5 and will look to get back on the winning track when it hosts Pingry on January 23 at Baker Rink before facing Holton Arms (Md.) on January 24 and Shady Side Academy (Pa.) on January 25 with the latter two games taking place at Princeton Day School. “We need to move the puck faster and integrate all five players on the ice.”

Sohn, for her part, is savoring simply spending time on ice with her teammates.

“I think it is just to win as many games as possible and to enjoy ourselves,” said Sohn.

“Hockey is such a fun sport to play even with the practices at 5:30 a.m. It is funny, all of the other kids at school are like you guys who get up so early but then we get to go to Wawa. Nobody is grumpy in the locker room. It is a little quiet and then when we get out on the ice, everyone gets energized.”

SEEING RED: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Kyle Weller unloads the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, junior star Weller and his teammates didn’t get the puck in the back of the net as they fell 6-0 at Lawrenceville. The Panthers, who dropped to 1-9-3 with the loss to the Big Red, are scheduled to host LaSalle College High (Pa.) on January 21, Notre Dame on January 22, and Holy Ghost (Pa.) on January 26.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SEEING RED: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Kyle Weller unloads the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, junior star Weller and his teammates didn’t get the puck in the back of the net as they fell 6-0 at Lawrenceville. The Panthers, who dropped to 1-9-3 with the loss to the Big Red, are scheduled to host LaSalle College High (Pa.) on January 21, Notre Dame on January 22, and Holy Ghost (Pa.) on January 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Scott Bertoli knew that his Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team faced an uphill battle as it played at rival Lawrenceville last Thursday.

“Physically, we knew it was going to be a challenge,” said PDS head coach Bertoli. “It is just a bigger, older group over there.”

With Loucks Ice Center packed to the rafters, Bertoli was looking for his team to draw inspiration from the electric atmosphere at the rink.

“I told them before the game that everything that has happened to this point, just throw it out the window,” said Bertoli, whose team had beaten the Big Red 6-3 in last year’s installment of the heated local rivalry.

“At the end of the day, it is a fun environment. Look at how many people showed up for it. We were in here two years ago with the best team arguably we have ever had at this school and we had the same amount of people here today and we have won one game this year. They all showed up again, that is pretty cool.”

In order for PDS to make a good showing, Bertoli knew that his team had to play it close to the vest and keep cool heads.

“Our approach is to get through the first five minutes and get through the first period and hope that we are either even or ahead,” explained Bertoli.

“When you look at our results in games that we have been able to take into the third period with an opportunity to win, we have kept it together.”

Although outshot 14-5 in the first period, PDS was able to keep the game scoreless, largely through some dazzling saves by sophomore goalie Logan Kramsky.

Lawrenceville, though, broke through with two straight goals in the opening minutes of the second period. PDS had some good chances, including a breakaway by junior star Kyle Weller, but couldn’t find the back of the net and the Big Red tacked on a goal in the waning seconds of the period to make it a 3-0 game.

“I think the game swung when that goalie made that save on Weller’s breakaway,” said Bertoli.

“If we had scored there, it is 2-1 going into the third and it is a completely different game. Then they score right at the end of the second period. That is not to say that they didn’t outplay us because they absolutely outplayed us. That is the way we have to play this year. We have to take chances and we have to be opportunistic.”

In the final period, Lawrenceville buried its chances as it pulled away to a 6-0 victory.

“I said to my coaches at the start of the third period, this is going one way or the other,” said Bertoli, whose team was outshot 36-10 on the day as it dropped to 1-9-3.

“It is not going to stay a 3-0 game. It is either going to go to 6-0 or 7-0 or it is going to go 3-1 or 3-2. I don’t know what way it is going to go. It is a young group in there. We are going to come ready to go and we are going to take some chances. It could backfire and it did.”

Afterward, the PDS players trudged into their locker room with their heads down and some banging sticks in frustration.

“They are not happy, I said I feel bad for you guys,” said Bertoli. “I know you are disappointed. I know you wanted to play well. I know you wanted to win. I know you wanted to perform well in front of all of your friends, peers, and alumni. The next 24 hours is going to be tough for you guys. I feel for you because you are going to walk into school disappointed.”

Bertoli is confident his team can put that disappointment behind it as hosts LaSalle College High (Pa.) on January 21, Notre Dame on January 22, and Holy Ghost (Pa.) on January 26.

“It has been a struggle but it is a good group and I want them to stay positive,” said Bertoli.

“I want them to learn from this. We have got to get ourselves ready and pick ourselves back up. I keep telling them, don’t worry about the scoreboard. You can’t chase the score because once you start doing that you are going to get way from everything we are teaching you and want you to do.”

While it may take a while for those lessons to yield dividends, Bertoli believes his players are better for the experience.

“It may not happen this year because in the next four or five weeks no one is gaining 10 pounds and growing two inches; that’s a reality,” said Bertoli.

“They can get smarter as players. Some of these younger kids are gaining valuable experience playing in big games. I saw some really good things from the Russell Friedmans, the Ryan Lisks, the Eric Shermans, the Nic Truolos. Eugene Yoon had a good game. They have to take some positives from this. As hard as it is, when you step back and look at the big picture, it is another game.”

STAYING STRONG: Hun School boys’ hockey player Brayden Stasow, left, tangles with an opponent in recent action. Last Wednesday, post-graduate forward Stasow tallied a goal and an assist to help Hun rally to a 5-2 win over Seton Hall Prep as it improved to 13-1-1. The Raiders are slated to host Bishop Eustace on January 22, play at Don Bosco on January 25, and then host St. Joseph’s (Metuchen) on January 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STAYING STRONG: Hun School boys’ hockey player Brayden Stasow, left, tangles with an opponent in recent action. Last Wednesday, post-graduate forward Stasow tallied a goal and an assist to help Hun rally to a 5-2 win over Seton Hall Prep as it improved to 13-1-1. The Raiders are slated to host Bishop Eustace on January 22, play at Don Bosco on January 25, and then host St. Joseph’s (Metuchen) on January 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having lost just once in its first 14 games, the Hun School boys’ hockey team was in danger of suffering its second setback as it hosted Seton Hall Prep last Wednesday.

Missing some key players, Hun found itself trailing the Pirates 2-1 late in the second period.

But Hun post-graduate forward Brayden Stasow wasn’t all that concerned.

“We have a good team; we know we can pull through,” said Stasow, a native of Alberta, Canada. “We have been in those situations before and we can come back.”

The shifty Stasow took matters into his own hands, flying up the ice to score a goal with 1:09 left in the period to knot the game at 2-2.

“That was a good momentum change going into the intermission, tied up instead of one goal down,” said Stasow, reflecting on his goal.

At intermission, Hun decided that getting physical would help it maintain that momentum.

“Coach (Ian McNally) said we didn’t have anything going for us so we just have to bear down and get some pucks on net and work hard,” recalled Stasow.

“That is what we did, we played physical. We had some big hits there from a couple of key guys, that was huge for us.”

The Raiders also got some huge goals from Reid Doerler, Justin Grossman, and Kyle Pettoni as they pulled away to a 5-2 win and improved to 13-1-1.

For Stasow, coming to the U.S. and joining the Hun community has been a winning proposition.

“I found out about this opportunity, I knew the coach here and I thought it would be cool to come and try it out,” said Stasow.

“It is nice, it is a great group of guys. I really fit in nicely with these guys, they make me feel at home here. It has been huge for me.”

Hun head coach McNally didn’t feel too good when his team fell behind Seton Hall.

“I was very worried; I banged my hand on the bench a little more than I do usually,” said McNally.

“We were taking an extra second to make the plays and then they were gone. We were able to hold on and get in for the intermission and I basically just pleaded with them. A lot of guys were coughing and hanging their heads. I said we are off the rest of the week, we have got to figure out something for 15 minutes because we are going to regret it if we drop this one.”

McNally figured that Hun needed to rely on grit as much as skill to overcome Seton Hall.

“We stopped being you got to do this, you got to be there; it is not going to happen today so let’s play physical,” said McNally. “We can dump it in more. We never play dump and chase but it was let’s just chase and get it up to the point and shoot. That’s how we scored all the goals, just tipping it in from the point.”

Getting goals from Doerler, Grossman, and Pettoni in the third period, Hun displayed the depth that has made it a special team.

“Our top end guys are very skilled and they lead our team in points but all three of our lines are scoring in every single game,” said McNally.

“Reid, Kevin (Guns), and Justin or some combination of those guys scored every game. That is the difference between having a bit of success or constant success. Right now we are in constant success because we have three lines that can play.”

With sophomore star Evan Barratt having been sidelined all season due to a leg injury and fellow sophomore standout Jon Bendorf not on hand last Wednesday due to a travel hockey conflict, McNally needed Stasow to play really well.

“Brayden has been, especially in the absence of Jon, a guy that can control the play,” said McNally. “Skilled players can do that; they get in fast, they cause turnovers and dictate what is going to happen next instead of just banging it in and banging it out. He kills penalties, which is big because we like to take them. When we are missing guys, we expect Brayden to step up and he did today.”

Senior defenseman and team captain Chris Rossi, whose father, Peter, passed away in November, has stepped up under difficult circumstances.

“Today was his dad’s birthday; he is our captain and so he does the job that we need from him leadership-wise,” said McNally of Rossi.

“There is a reason people wanted him to be captain. It has obviously been a very tough year personally for him but the hockey rink has been a happy place for him. We lean pretty heavily on him when it is close. I think he is able to take that as a positive because the guys need him.”

Stasow, for his part, is very positive about Hun’s prospects as it heads into the final stages of the season.

“We have a good team in there,” said Stasow. “It doesn’t matter who we are missing, we are always going to come back and play hard and get the win.”

Slowed by a gimpy ankle, Amber Bourke got off to a slow start this winter in her junior season with the Hun School girls’ basketball team.

While her ankle got better by the holiday break, it took some prodding from family members to get her fully up to speed.

“My parents had a pep talk with me over Christmas break,” said Bourke. “We had a talk and they told me to step up.”

Taking her parents words to heart, Bourke caught fire this week for Hun, scoring a total of 42 points in two games, tallying 22 in an 87-56 loss to Blair Academy last Wednesday and 20 in a 46-42 loss to Pingry two days later.

Last Saturday, Bourke took things to a higher level, pouring in 27 points as Hun fought valiantly before falling 87-80 in double overtime to visiting Mercersburg Academy (Pa.).

Bourke was rolling from the start on Saturday, scoring 13 points in the first quarter as Hun jumped out to a 27-14 lead.

“I came down early to warm up,” said Bourke. “My teammates were looking for me so I was able to just release my shot when I got the ball.”

In the second quarter, the shots started falling for Mercersburg as it outscored Hun 23-12 to narrow the gap to 39-37 at halftime.

“We let them get back in the second quarter,” said Bourke. “After halftime, they were pumped up and we relaxed. We should have been more into it.”

Midway through the fourth quarter, Hun found itself trailing 61-52. Getting into it, the Raiders went on a 21-12 run to knot the game at 73-73 and force overtime.

“We said we could play together, make the pass and look for each other,” said Bourke. “I think that helped us.”

The teams each scored two points in the first overtime but then Mercersburg pulled away in the second OT, outscoring Hun 8-1 in the waning moments of the contest.

While Bourke was disappointed by the loss, she is heartened by her progress.

“I have been working with my trainer for ballhandling,” said Bourke. “I have been able to make moves and get to the basket more.”

Bourke is getting more comfortable following in the footsteps of older brother, Michael, a former Hun hoops star who led the boys’ squad in scoring last winter with an average of 13.4 points a game.

“It is a lot of pressure, I feel like I have to get to his level,” said Bourke. “He helps me a lot with getting better.”

Hun head coach Bill Holup felt his team handled the pressure well as it battled to the last whistle on Saturday.

“The effort all around was amazing,” said Holup, whose team dropped to 3-9 with the setback.

“The bottom line was that the effort was there and they never gave up. They didn’t hang their heads. It was a great crowd, a very supportive crowd. It was an exciting game. Unfortunately it didn’t come out in our favor.”

In Holup’s view, his players showed resolve that will serve them well going forward.

“I think yesterday was a real tough loss for us,” said Holup, referring to the defeat at Pingry.

“To be able to bounce back and play as well as we did today really says something about our character. They are certainly not giving up on anything. There is a lot of fight in them.”

Sophomore guard Julie Fassl showed a lot of fight for Hun, playing tenaciously at the defensive end and hitting two big buckets down the stretch.

“Her defense was fantastic,” said Holup. “She came up from JV last year. She has started almost every game I think. She has come in there and she plays hard; she brings her lunch pail every day.”

Holup likes the way Bourke has been coming on over the last few weeks, especially in the absence of senior guard Erica Dwyer, who is currently sidelined due to injury.

“Amber has really found her stroke now; her overall team play has been amazing,” said Holup.

“She is following through on her shot so her form is great. Erica was one of our other perimeter scorers so Amber really has to step up and handle the ball more as well as looking to score more. She is a terrific ballhandler, that is not anything she is uncomfortable with.”

Senior star and St. Peter’s-bound Janelle Mullen has been stepping up all season for the Raiders.

“Janelle is a legitimate basketball player; she is going to be playing at the Division 1 level,” said Holup of Mullen, who tallied a game-high 32 points in the defeat to Mercersburg.

“She has been helping with the development of the younger girls. She is an experienced player and it is great that she is already set for college so she doesn’t have to worry about anything.”

While it would have been great for Hun to pull out the game last Saturday, Holup isn’t worried about the challenges ahead.

“I think it says that there is a lot more parity overall in the MAPL,” said Holup, whose team is slated to play at Newark Academy on January 22 and at the Padua Academy (Del.) on January 24 before hosting the Peddie School on January 27.

“Blair is heads above everybody else but I think there is a lot of parity there. We may face Mercersburg, Hill, or Lawrenceville again. We are all competitive with each other; it is pretty exciting stuff.”

In Bourke’s view, the Raiders could have an exciting finish if they build on their effort against Mercersburg.

“I think we played as a team together today,” added Bourke. “This is definitely good because we sometimes struggle with that.”

BIG BEN: Hun School boys’ basketball player Ben Seipt drives around a foe in a recent game. Last Saturday, Seipt, a resident of Woking, England, scored a game-high 19 points to help Hun defeated the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 60-48. The Raiders, who improved to 6-7 with the victory, were slated to play at Lawrenceville on January 20, at St. Joseph’s (Metuchen) on January 22, at the Perkiomen School (Pa.) on January 25, and at Medford Tech on January 25 before hosting Peddie on January 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BIG BEN: Hun School boys’ basketball player Ben Seipt drives around a foe in a recent game. Last Saturday, Seipt, a resident of Woking, England, scored a game-high 19 points to help Hun defeated the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 60-48. The Raiders, who improved to 6-7 with the victory, were slated to play at Lawrenceville on January 20, at St. Joseph’s (Metuchen) on January 22, at the Perkiomen School (Pa.) on January 25, and at Medford Tech on January 25 before hosting Peddie on January 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While Ben Seipt has proven that he is one of the top basketball players his age in England, playing for the country’s Under-15, 16, 17, and 18 national programs, he wanted to test himself in the U.S.

“I have played in America; I was on an English team that came over three summers playing AAU,” said Seipt, a resident of Woking, England.

“It is a different game, I love playing over here. It was a dream of mine to come over here for a year.”

Seipt’s dream came true this fall when he came to the Hun School to play for its boys’ basketball program.

“The team is great, we get along well,” said Seipt, a 6’5 forward. “We always hang out in the dorms, everyone gets along. I don’t feel like I am an outsider. Obviously I am foreign but I don’t feel like it.”

A couple of months into the season, Seipt is feeling a comfort level with the American game.

“It is definitely quicker, more intense,” said Seipt. “It is a different attitude to the game. When someone turns it over they are coming right back at you. Everyone can do everything a little bit better, everyone is a bit more athletic, everyone can shoot a little better, everyone can handle it better. I am adjusting, it just has been a great experience.”

Last Saturday as Hun hosted the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.), Seipt’s shooting was a great asset as he scored 10 points in the first quarter to help Hun jump off to a 15-4 lead over the Blue Storm.

“I had a good day of practice yesterday so I was feeling confident coming in,” said Seipt.

“I just wanted to play relaxed and let the game come to me. We always have an emphasis on moving the ball and I got a couple of wide open shots and I knocked them down.”

When Mercersburg knocked the Hun lead down to 53-47 in the fourth quarter, the Raiders took care of business, pulling away to a 60-48 win.

“We had some illnesses this past week and some of us are feeling under the weather so I guess maybe concentration went a tiny bit,” said Seipt.

“We pulled it out, we just focused. It was a great learning experience for us to work through that kind of thing and we came out on the right end thankfully.”

Seipt hit four straight free throws in the last 1:05 to help seal the win for Hun.

“It is just practice; we shoot a lot of free throws every practice,” said Seipt, who ended the day with a game-high 19 points.

“It is something I work on, it is something I pride myself on. In the late game situations, you have to step up and drill it.”

Hun head coach Jon Stone was proud of his team’s work against Mercersburg.

“We got off to a great start; we came out and shared the ball really well and hit some shots,” said Stone.

“I thought our defense was really, really good. We have been really good some games and not so good other games. I think today, in particular, in the first and third quarters, we were really sharing the ball as well as we have all year and it really made a difference.”

In Stone’s view, Seipt’s production made a big difference for the Raiders.

“Ben was terrific; I thought he came out and played with some confidence,” said Stone.

“He got good looks early. He was able to benefit from the sharing of the ball that we had. He’s more than capable of scoring. On those clutch free throws, he just stepped up and drilled them.”

Hun’s clutch play in overcoming Mercersburg’s late run was another positive.

“Any time you compete enough to make some plays to pull it out is important,” said Stone. “When you can learn from your mistakes and still get a win, it helps.”

With the Raiders having lost 61-42 to Blair last Wednesday, Stone was happy to see his players rectify some of the mistakes made in that setback.

“We struggled in that game; we weren’t good,” said Stone. “It is always good to get a win to erase some of the thoughts of the loss. We have got a tough week this week, starting with Tuesday.”

Stone believes his team can hold its own in the always-tough Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL).

“I feel like it is that way every year,” said Stone, whose team was slated to play at Lawrenceville on January 20, at St. Joseph’s (Metuchen) on January 22, at the Perkiomen School (Pa.) on January 25, and at Medford Tech on January 25 before hosting Peddie on January 27.

“Blair is very, very good and so is Hill and Peddie. We have Lawrenceville on Tuesday and they are very strong. Any one of us can beat anybody on a given night so it makes for a fun league.”

Seipt, for his part, believes that Hun should have plenty of fun over the rest of the season.

“We had a bit of a rough patch before Christmas; I think Christmas break came at just the right time,” said Seipt.

“We all came back refreshed. We come into every game to win it. We are going to take it one game at a time and see how far we can get. We would like to win the MAPL and make a run at the states. I think we will do well.”