May 27, 2020

THE RIGHT STUFF: Princeton High baseball player Jason Ramirez fires a pitch in a 2019 game. Senior Ramirez had assumed a leadership role for PHS this season, being selected as a tri-captain along with classmates Judd Petrone and Gautam Chawla. The trio has stepped up to keep the Tiger players on the same page after the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Heading into his second season at the helm of the Princeton High baseball team, Dom Capuano liked the vibe around the squad.

“We had 45 people try out and we had cuts; while making cuts is never fun, it is good that the program is growing,” said PHS head coach Capuano, who guided the Tigers to a 9-13 record in 2019 as it won six of its last eight games and advanced to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals.

“We were excited. We lost some stuff from last year but I don’t think the team makeup was going to be that much different.”

Capuano credited his group of seniors — Jason Ramirez, Judd Petrone, Gautam Chawla, Brian Frost, Aidan Regan, Enoch Zeng, and Connor Parish — with setting a positive tone.

“I didn’t take over until basically almost February last year so there wasn’t the ability for those seniors to work in what we are trying to do now with the culture,” said Capuano.

“With this group of seniors, especially, the captains (Ramirez, Petrone, and Chawla) ran with it, leading the workouts and everything. They did an excellent job.” more

TAGLINE: Hun School softball player Gigi Venizelos looks to tag a baserunner in a game last spring. Senior star and Colgate University-bound Venizelos was poised for a big final campaign before the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Led by a trio of battle-tested and dedicated seniors, the Hun School softball team was bringing high hopes into this spring.

“I thought it was a promising season, our seniors did such a great job, working out this fall and winter,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk, whose Class of 2020 featured Gigi Venizelos, Abby Zucatti, and Jackie Drozd.

The Raiders did see some game action on their annual preseason trip to Florida.

“We did a get a chance to go to Florida and play two games down there,” said Quirk, whose team went 9-6 in 2019 as it advanced to the state Prep A semifinals.

“We were starting to jell, we were young. Of the pitchers we had on the mound, one was a freshman and one was a sophomore. We had a freshman at first base, who was very similar to Meg Donohue and we had a new sophomore at shortstop.”

But the trip was cut short due to concerns stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak and the season was subsequently canceled, leaving Quirk feeling particularly sad for her veterans. more

May 20, 2020

MAKING STRIDES: Mariana Lopez-Ona heads up the field last year in her senior season for the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team. This past spring, Lopez-Ona made her debut for the University of Michigan women’s lacrosse team, tallying one goal in three appearances for the Wolverines as they went 5-1 before their season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Mariana Lopez-Ona started from day one of her career with the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team in the spring of 2016 and ended up tallying more than 300 goals over the next four seasons.

Heading to the University of Michigan last fall to join its Division I women’s lacrosse program, things didn’t come so easily for Lopez-Ona.

“The college game is just so much different and faster,” said Lopez-Ona, a 5’9 midfielder.

“There is a lot more work involved in bringing it up to that level. When you start playing outside of the high school realm, it is just a shock when you first get there.”

In dealing with those challenges, Lopez-Ona found she was able to lean on her teammates.

“One of the most beneficial things is that it is somewhat different from high school because everyone is so insanely supportive of each other,” said Lopez-Ona.

“You are all going through the run test and tough coaching together and you are basically living together. If you are having a bad day at practice, your teammates are there to pick you up.”

Former PHS teammate and star goalie for Michigan, Mira Shane, also helped to pick up Lopez-Ona’s spirits.

“I talked to Mira a lot throughout my fall about practices and everything; she was really, really helpful,” said Lopez-Ona. more

STICKING TOGETHER: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Allison Cowan goes after the ball in a game last spring. Senior star Cowan and her classmates were poised for a big finale before 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hun players have remained connected through Zoom and Instagram as they have worked from home. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Rachel Hickey sensed something special about her Hun School girls’ lacrosse team this spring.

“I don’t know if I have ever been part of a team where I have seen so much growth, not only physically but in terms of culture as well,” said Hun head coach Hickey.

“It was just a really wonderful feeling of how the girls were really enjoying being there. They were really enjoying each other and just working so hard. They were wanting to work hard for each other and we worked to change the culture.”

Hickey credited her senior group with taking a major role in setting that positive tone.

“A huge piece of it as well was this year I had 10 seniors so that was real special,” added Hickey, whose Class of 2020 included Emily Albanese, Sophie Bennett, Emma Caforio, Allison Cowan, Grace Davis, Rose Denommee, Ariel Gold, Samantha Gold, Julia McBryan, and Chessie Ross.

“All of the seniors were friends as well. When you have a group of leaders who are friends that in and of itself goes so far when kids want to play for each other.”

With Hickey in her second year at the helm of the program, the players had developed a greater comfort level from the start of the school year.

“Kids in high school are young and change is challenging for anyone,” said Hickey. more

May 13, 2020

LEAP OF FAITH: Stuart Country Day School track star Heather Kwafo displays her jumping form in a meet this past winter. Senior Kwafo placed first in the long jump (17’10 ½) and third in the triple jump (34’4 ½) at the Mercer County Indoor Championship meet in late January. The Vassar College-bound Kwafo helped Stuart win its third straight state Prep B indoor title on February 1, placing first in both the 55 dash and 200 dash and finishing second in the 55 hurdles.

By Bill Alden

For Heather Kwafo, joining the Stuart Country Day School track team as a freshman in 2016 was a family affair.

With her older sister, Michele, having emerged as a star for Stuart, Kwafo decided to give the sport a try.

“I started in the ninth grade, I hadn’t run in middle school or anything,” said Kwafo.

“I basically did it because my older sister did. She liked it and she was very passionate about it. That kind of let me know that it was something I could be passionate about too.”

While Kwafo admired her sister, who was a junior at the time, she was a bit intimidated by Michele’s success in piling up a number of state Prep B individual titles and school records on the way to heading to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and joining its women’s track program.

“She was really good at it, she was very talented right off the bat even though she put in a lot of hard work,” said Kwafo.  more

KEEPING SPIRITS UP: Hun School baseball head coach Tom Monfiletto enjoys the moment during a 2018 game. Monfiletto was enthusiastic about his team’s prospects this spring as several veterans were ready to step up with Hun coming off a 22-2 campaign in 2019 that saw the program win its fourth straight state Prep A title. In the wake of the 2020 campaign being canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Monfiletto has been keeping in frequent contact with his players, providing them with a practice plan and a workout on a daily basis. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Hun School baseball team, this spring was shaping up to be a season of opportunity.

Coming off a 22-2 campaign in 2019 that saw the program win its fourth straight state Prep A title led by a group of seniors, several veteran returnees who patiently waited their turn were primed to shine this year.

“It was never a sense of how do we figure this out; it was hey we have built the foundation and the sky is the limit,” said Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto.

“It was a different cast of characters, but it is the same show. Each one brings their own personality and strengths. It was a different feel but it was really, really exciting. I knew that we had talent across the board. I knew that we had guys that worked their butts off but we didn’t have the experience that we had last year. The guys that were going to be starting for us, some of them were starters last year and some of them definitely contributed last year, but not many were everyday guys and they were going to have to become everyday guys.”

Those guys showed they were ready by playing well in two scrimmages in Florida in early March as they faced the ELEV8 Baseball Academy (Fla.) and New Jersey prep powerhouse Delbarton.

“We came out and we won that scrimmage against ELEV8 and looked very good on the mound,” said Monfiletto. more

April 29, 2020

GAME OFF: Hun School Director of Athletics Bill Quirk, left, and his wife, Kathy, discuss strategy in their roles as coaches of the Hun softball team during a game in the 2016 season. Last week, Quirk and the school’s administration formally canceled its 2020 spring sports season, concluding that it would not have time to compete in the wake of Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to keep schools closed through May 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As schools across New Jersey were shut down by Gov. Phil Murphy in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hun School was hopeful that it could hold an abbreviated spring sports season starting in May.

But with Governor Murphy’s later decision to extend the school closure to May 15, time has run out on Hun and it formally canceled its spring campaign last week.

“We tried to hold off as long as we could,” said Hun Director of Athletics Bill Quirk of the decision, which comes in the wake of the Peddie School and the Lawrenceville School having previously pulled the plug on their spring seasons.

“Once the governor kept moving that date back with us being scheduled to graduate on May 27, by the time we would come back, there would be only nine days of school.”

For Quirk, who also serves as an assistant coach of the Hun softball team, the cancellation was a tough pill to swallow.

“Spring is one of those seasons where you see the kids working out all the time from September on,” said Quirk. “The teaser was that the majority of them got to go on their spring break trips and then they come home and find out that basically was your season. It is disheartening.” more

April 22, 2020

NEW STAR: Coby Auslander unloads the ball this spring during his freshman season for the Christopher Newport University men’s lacrosse team. Princeton Day School alum Auslander made a superb debut for the Captains, scoring 8 goals and 10 assists in six games as the season was halted due to coronavirus pandemic. Last week, he was named as an Inside Lacrosse 2020 Division III All-Freshman midfielder. (Photo provided courtesy of Christopher Newport Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Coby Auslander didn’t know much about Christopher Newport University when he headed down to Newport News, Va., in 2018 to check out the school and its men’s lacrosse program.

It didn’t take long for Auslander, a former boys’ soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse star at Princeton Day School, to feel at home in the Tidewater area.

“A lot of people up here haven’t heard of Christopher Newport, myself included in the beginning,” said Auslander, a 2019 PDS grad.

“The second I stepped on campus, took the tour, and met with the coach, I knew right away that it was the perfect fit. I looked at my mom and said this school is so beautiful; this campus and the team seems like the culture I want to part of,” he said.

This spring, Auslander emerged as a key part of the team, scoring 8 goals and 10 assists in six games before the season was halted in early March due to coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Auslander was named to the Inside Lacrosse 2020 Division III All-Freshman team. In choosing Auslander, the publication noted that he “ran on the first line midfield, took the wing on face-offs, was a member of the man-up unit, and played a ton of defense for the Captains.”

For the 5’7, 150-pound Auslander, earning such responsibility didn’t come easy. more

April 15, 2020

BY GEORGE: Pat George enjoys the moment after helping to coach Jackson Memorial High baseball team to a Group IV South sectional title in 2018. Earlier this year, George took the helm of the Princeton Day School baseball program, succeeding Brian Dudeck.

By Bill Alden

Pat George is only 31 years old, but he has paid his dues when it comes to coaching baseball.

After playing for the St. John Vianney High School baseball program and then going on to Rutgers where he took a break from the game to focus on his studies, George had stints as an assistant coach at St. John Vianney, Bishop Eustace, and Jackson Memorial. In addition, he helped coach Hamilton Post 31 of the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) to the 2017 state legion title game.

In reflecting on those stops, George said he was influenced by two head coaches in particular, Bishop Eustace’s Sam Tropiano and Jackson Memorial’s Frank Malta.

“Eustace is one of the premier powers in the state; coach Tropiano has been there since the late ’80s,” said George. “It was incredible to learn from a guy like that, all of the knowledge he has of the game helped me boost my knowledge and my career. Jackson is a big power in the state and coach Malta has done great things over there. Being able to see those kids in the hallway every day and talk to coach Malta every day, that was best of all the coaching experiences.”

Growing from those experiences, George got the itch to become a head coach himself.

“Last year, I decided that I wanted to run a program and build my own program,” said George, a history and social studies teacher at Jackson Memorial. more

April 8, 2020

BIG TRAIN: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Aidan Trainor brings the puck up the ice in a game this winter. Senior star forward and team captain Trainor tallied 24 goals and 19 assists this season to help PHS go 18-4-2 and win its first Mercer County Tournament title since 2011. Trainor ended up with 212 career points on 102 goals and 110 assists. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Aidan Trainor, playing for the Princeton High School boys’ hockey team has been a family affair.

The senior forward was preceded in the program by his older brothers Anthony ’17 and Robby ’19 and has played the last two seasons with younger brother Colm ’21.

But Trainor’s family feeling on the squad extended beyond his brothers as he enjoyed a special experience during his time with the program.

“I have been lucky enough to play on four great teams in my four years at PHS — we have been really successful,” said Trainor.

The prolific Trainor played a key role in that success, tallying 212 career points on 102 goals and 110 assists.

Coming into his final campaign this winter, Trainor was determined to go out with a bang.

“This is my last year; it is easy to ignore that and not to think about that when you are a freshman, a sophomore, or even a junior,” said Trainor. “This year, I have a bigger sense of urgency to perform and just do my best to help the team succeed.”

PHS first-year head coach Joe Bensky was thrilled to have Trainor on his team. “It is not a secret how good he is, what impresses me is how approachable he is as a 17-year-old young man,” added Bensky. “The kids really like him and look up to him. He doesn’t have a cocky attitude, he is a great young man.”

With Trainor tallying 24 goals and 19 assists over the winter to spark a balanced attack that featured five players with 17 or more goals, PHS put together an impressive regular season record of 15-3-2. more

April 1, 2020

ALL IN: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Ally Antonacci, left, goes after the puck in a game this winter. Sophomore forward Antonacci joined the program this season and helped PDS go 10-11 and advance to the championship game of the Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic (WIHLMA) Miran Division playoffs. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team, its three match-ups against Rye Country Day School (N.Y.) proved to be a measuring stick of the squad’s progress this winter.

In two regular season meetings, PDS dropped a pair of 2-0 decisions. When the rivals met in the championship game of the Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic (WIHLMA) Miran Division playoffs in mid-February, the Panthers battled valiantly before falling 2-1.

“I was really proud of the girls and how hard they worked,” said PDS head coach John Ritchie, who guided the Panthers to a 10-11 record in his first season at the helm of the program.

“It definitely shows the improvement from when we played them early in December to the middle of January to the end of the year. We had played Rye twice before and I thought we played them better each time.” more

EMPTY FEELING: The stands were empty around the turf field at Princeton High in late March. The PHS boys’ lacrosse team was slated to host Peddie on April 1 on the field, but that game has been canceled as the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) declared that no interscholastic athletic competition will take place for the time being as schools statewide are closed indefinitely pursuant to an Executive Order issued by Governor Phil Murphy on March 16 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

April Fools’ Day is traditionally a day for harmless practical jokes, pranks, and some laughs.

This April 1 figured to be a very busy, fun day on local playing fields.

The Hun School boys’ lacrosse team was slated to host Everest Academy (Canada), while the Raider baseball team had a home game against the Hill School (Pa.). Over at the Princeton Day School, the girls’ lax team was scheduled to host archival Pennington.

Things would have been hopping around the turf field at Princeton High as the boys’ lacrosse team was welcoming the Peddie School while the track teams were hosting a tri-meet against Hightstown and Notre Dame. more

March 25, 2020

VICTOR VICTORIA: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Victoria Zammit brings the puck up the ice in a game this past winter. Senior star Zammit ended her PHS career on a high note, scoring three goals as the Tigers defeated Holton Arms (Md.) 3-1 in a consolation contest of the Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic (WIHLMA) Miran Division playoffs. Zammit tallied 45 points on 34 goals and 11 assists this winter as she earned First-Team All-Miran honors and was named team MVP. After going winless in 2018-19, PHS posted a final record of 4-14 this winter. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton High girls’ hockey team took its lumps this winter, it produced a game to remember in its finale.

Playing in the consolation contest of the Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic (WIHLMA) Miran Division playoffs, PHS defeated Holton Arms (Md.) 3-1 on February 16 as senior star Victoria Zammit scored three goals and senior goalie Ella Chauder made 11 saves.

“It was a good game; Victoria wanted to go out on a high note, she wanted to get those goals,” said Tiger head coach Christian Herzog, whose team posted a final record of 4-14. “The girls were very excited.”

With PHS having gone winless in the 2018-19 season, Herzog was excited by the fighting spirit he saw from his players this winter. more

March 18, 2020

IN PLAY: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Brynne Hennessy looks to pass the ball in a game this winter. Playing in her first varsity campaign, junior guard and co-captain Hennessy emerged as a key offensive threat from the perimeter as PHS went 5-20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With a roster including no seniors and few of the returning players having any varsity experience, Dave Kosa knew that his Princeton High girls’ basketball team would take its lumps this winter.

While PHS ended up posting a 5-20 record, Tiger head coach Kosa saw positives as his young squad picked up valuable experience.

“I was definitely encouraged by the progress that we made throughout the course of the season, even though it didn’t show up in the win/loss column,” said Kosa. “Some girls really got better.”

In the last week of the campaign, PHS displayed that improvement, playing three tight games and picking up its fifth win in the process.

“The reason why we played these three games was to get more experience,” said Kosa, whose team fell 37-26 to Northern Burlington on February 25, defeated Willingboro 31-27 two days later, and ended with season by losing 39-33 to Bordentown on February 28. more

March 11, 2020

GIRLS’ WEEKEND: Princeton High wrestler Chloe Ayres controls a foe in a match last season. Last Saturday, junior Ayres won the 107-pound weight class in the NJSIAA girls’ wrestling championships in Atlantic City to earn her second straight state crown. PHS freshman Ava Rose took second at 100 at the competition. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Chloe Ayres and Ava Rose gave the Princeton High  wrestling team a pair of aces in the finals of NJSIAA girls’ wrestling championships in Atlantic City last weekend.

Ayres, a junior, repeated as champion at 107 pounds in a close bout while Rose, a freshman, took second at 100 to a two-time champion Sydney Petzinger of Parsippany in her first trip to states Saturday.

“Anyone taking two girls or two boys to the state tournament and placing that high, it would be tremendous for any program,” said PHS head coach Jess Monzo.

“We’re just looking to grow our program and grow our numbers, so having two girls have success always helps. At the same time, having girls be successful like that kind of scares people because now, coming into a program, they’re not too sure about what their role would be.” more

BIG BEN: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Ben Moyer looks to pass the ball in recent action. Senior guard Moyer’s hard-nosed play helped PHS advance to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals and post a final record of 13-12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Winning eight of its last 10 regular season games, the Princeton High boys’ basketball team was primed for a big postseason run.

Hosting 10th-seeded Trenton in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament on February 19, seventh-seeded PHS got off to a good start, racing past the Tornadoes 69-41.

“That was great, we hadn’t beat them in a very long time; we beat them twice this year and that is saying a lot,” said PHS head coach Pat Noone.

“It was a rough first quarter but the team really hung in there. We started hitting shots and we really defended well against them and stopped them in transition so that was really good. We hit a lot of shots that game, that was good to see. That was a big momentum builder for us.”

Unfortunately, the Tigers didn’t hit shots in the MCT quarters two days later, falling 46-29 at second-seeded Robbinsville. more

ON THE RISE: Hun School girls’ basketball player Nicole Angelini goes up for a lay-up in a game this winter. Senior guard Angelini provided a spark off the bench for Hun as it advanced to the state Prep A final and ended the winter with an 18-7 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It is an oft-stated sports adage that it is hard to beat the same opponent three times in one season and the Hun School girls’ basketball team was happy to provide evidence this winter to help support that proposition.

Having fallen to Lawrenceville 57-44 in a regular season meeting in late January and then losing 68-53 to the Big Red in the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) semis on February 8, Hun turned the tables on its archrivals by defeating them 61-55 in the state Prep A semis on February 17.

In reflecting on the win in the rubber match, Hun head coach Bill Holup pointed to defensive versatility and a quick start as factors that made a difference for the Raiders.  more

March 4, 2020

SOUTHERN STATE: Princeton High boys’ hockey Cooper Zullo controls the puck in a game earlier this winter. Last Friday, freshman forward Zullo scored the lone goal as ninth-seeded PHS fell 4-1 at eighth-seeded Southern High in the first round of the Public B state tournament. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 18-4-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having lost 6-1 to Southern High in a regular season meeting in early February, the Princeton High boys’ hockey team was determined to put the pressure on when the foes met for a rematch last Friday in the first round of the state Public B tournament.

“We were trying to screen the goalie more and take advantage of the opportunities that we got,” said PHS head coach Joe Bensky.

“We just really needed to finish more, that was evident the first time we played them.”

Having rallied from a 5-0 deficit a week earlier to defeat Hun 7-5 in the Mercer County Tournament final, ninth-seeded PHS wasn’t fazed when it fell behind eighth-seeded Southern 1-0. more

ON THE MOVE: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Aleah James races past a Trenton Catholic Academy defender last Friday evening in the Mercer County Tournament final at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton. Junior guard James scored a team-high 12 points in a losing cause as second-seeded Stuart fell 60-43 to top-seeded and defending champion TCA in the program’s first-ever appearance in the county title game. The defeat left the Tartans with a final record of 21-7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Stuart Country Day School basketball team, facing nationally-ranked Trenton Catholic Academy in the Mercer County Tournament final at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton was exactly where it wanted to end the season.

Heading out to Phoenix in December to play in the Nike Tournament of Champions and then going through a gauntlet of tough foes such as Blair, Immaculate Conception Lodi, Saddle River Day, Moorestown Friends, and Markham Prep (Can.), Stuart was ready for the challenge presented by TCA.

“We came in laser focused and set on showing everybody exactly who we are because sometimes I think people take the Stuart name for granted,” said Stuart junior guard Aleah James. more

KNIGHT MOVES: Hun School boys’ basketball player Dylan Knight drives to the hoops in a game this winter. Senior guard Knight helped Hun overcome a shaky 4-9 start to end the season at 12-14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Hun School boys’ basketball team started its 2019-20 campaign by losing nine of its first 13 games, its players could have given up on the season.

Instead, displaying resilience, Hun won eight of its next 13 contests, posting some memorable wins on the way to a 12-14 record.

“It was a pretty rough start for us overall; we struggled early,” said Hun head coach Jon Stone. “We were finding ourselves and having said that, I think we really made a lot of progress throughout the year. We grew and got better.”

Hun showed that growth in the last week of the season, bouncing back from a disappointing 53-46 loss to Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) in the opening round of the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament on February 7 to defeat rival Lawrenceville 62-45 in a MAPL consolation contest the next day and then topping a formidable West Nottingham (Md.) squad 56-45 in the regular season finale on February 13. more

February 26, 2020

ROCKING THE HOUSE: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Rocco Salvato follows through after firing the puck up the ice last Friday in the final of the Mercer County Tournament. Senior star Salvato tallied four goals and an assist as second-seeded PHS rallied from a 5-2 deficit with 3:57 left in the game at Mercer County Park to stun top-seeded and six-time defending champion Hun 7-5. The Tigers, now 18-3-2, are next in action when they compete in the state Public B tournament where they are seeded ninth and slated to play at eighth-seeded Southern in a first round contest on February 28 with the victor advancing to the quarterfinals on March 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When it was over, Rocco Salvato had trouble finding the words to describe what he just experienced. The Princeton High boys’ hockey team produced a stunning rally to defeat Hun 7-5 in the final of the Mercer County Tournament last Friday evening.

Trailing six-time defending champion Hun 5-0 in the second period and 5-2 with 3:57 left in the third period, PHS scored four goals in the next 2:26 to take the lead and then added an empty net tally to put the finishing touch on a shocking 7-5 victory.

“The past three years getting here we just fell a little short so tonight is extra special,” said senior star Salvato, who scored three goals in the third period rally and ended the night with four goals and an assist. more

MAIN MAN: Princeton High wrestler James Romaine, left, battles a foe in a match last season. Over the weekend, junior Romaine placed first at 152 pounds in the District 17 tournament at South Plainfield. He advanced to the Region 5 tournament at Franklin High this weekend along with senior teammate Dominic Riendeau-Krause, who took second at 145 pounds. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

James Romaine had to change his attitude to become a top wrestler.

“I’d go in scared before,” said Romaine. “I’d wrestle scared, which is never good.”

Losing that fear has made a huge difference for the Princeton High junior as he has turned into a formidable competitor on the mat.

As part of that process, Romaine thought about why he had been wrestling since he started in first grade with the Princeton Wrestling Club, thought of all the fun he had and how much he enjoyed the sport and realized there was nothing to be scared of. He had to be confident. more

GETTING IT DONE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Ethan Garita passes the ball in a recent game. Last Sunday, junior forward Garita scored 18 points to help second-seeded PDS defeat top-seeded Doane Academy 64-50 in the state Prep B final. The Panthers ended with winter with a 14-11 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Losing 69-63 to Hightstown in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals last Friday helped fuel the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team as it prepared to face Doane Academy in the state Prep B final two days later.

“After the game we used that intensity and that loss and brought it to this game,” said PDS junior forward Ethan Garita.

“We worked hard yesterday in practice, we just ran over all defensive drills. We were talking, having our hands up. It is a family, we worked hard for this.”

With second-seeded PDS playing at top-seeded Doane in a bandbox of a gym with the bleachers packed and people lining the baselines at both ends of the court, the Panthers quieted the home fans, outscoring the Spartans 15-7 in the third quarter to go up 44-33. more

ENDGAME: Hun School boys’ hockey player Eddie Evaldi speeds up the ice last Friday in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. Junior star Evaldi tallied a goal in the contest for top-seeded and six-time defending champion Hun but it wasn’t enough as second-seeded Princeton High overcame a 5-0 deficit to pull out a 7-5 win. The defeat left the Raiders with a final record of 9-14-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

History appeared to be repeating itself as the Hun School boys’ hockey team faced Princeton High in the Mercer County Tournament final last Friday evening.

Having won six straight county crowns with PHS as the runner-up the past three seasons, Hun built a 5-0 lead over the Tigers early in the second period in the contest at the Mercer County Park Skating Center.

With 4:00 left in the third period, Hun had a 5-2 advantage and its student section was chanting “warm up the bus, warm up the bus” at the PHS fans. more

THREE’S COMPANY: Senior guard Jasmine Hansford (front row, far right), celebrates with her teammates on the Stuart Country Day basketball team after the Tartans topped Academy of St. Elizabeth 65-33 in the state Prep B final last Wednesday to win their third straight state crown. On Friday, Hansford and the Tartans took a step toward another title as second-seeded Stuart topped seventh-seeded Hopewell Valley 51-23 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. Stuart, now 20-6, faces third-seeded Notre Dame on February 26 in the MCT semis at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton with the victor advancing to the title game on February 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although Jasmine Hansford scored only two points as the Stuart Country Day basketball team topped Academy of St. Elizabeth 65-33 in the state Prep B title game last Wednesday, she helped set the tone for the Tartans.

“Defense is my main thing,” said Stuart senior guard Hansford. “I always guard the best players on the other team and make sure that they get the least amount of points possible. That is my main goal.”

Against second-seeded St. Elizabeth, top-seeded Stuart produced a stifling defensive effort on the way to building a 31-16 halftime lead and never looked back as it earned its third straight Prep B title.

“There was a lot of energy. We wanted to win; we wanted to get the third one,” said Hansford, who had four steals, two assists and a rebound in the title game. more