January 2, 2014
STANDING TALL: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Kate Walsh heads to the basket in action last season. Sophomore forward Walsh’s inside play has helped the Tartans get off to a 3-2 start in 2013-14, already exceeding last year’s win total when the Tartans went 2-13. Walsh scored 12 points as Stuart closed out the 2013 portion of its schedule with a 62-19 win over Noor-ul-Iman School on December 19. Stuart is next in action when it plays at the King’s Christian School on January 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STANDING TALL: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Kate Walsh heads to the basket in action last season. Sophomore forward Walsh’s inside play has helped the Tartans get off to a 3-2 start in 2013-14, already exceeding last year’s win total when the Tartans went 2-13. Walsh scored 12 points as Stuart closed out the 2013 portion of its schedule with a 62-19 win over Noor-ul-Iman School on December 19. Stuart is next in action when it plays at the King’s Christian School on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last winter, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team won two games the whole season.

By this Christmas, Stuart had already exceeded that win total, taking a 3-2 record into the holiday break.

The Tartans didn’t waste any time showing that things were going to be different in 2013-14, opening the season with a 27-17 win over Villa Victoria on December 11.

“The girls came out and played a great first half,” said second-year Stuart head coach Dana Leary.

“We did a great job of rebounding the ball at both the offensive and defensive end.”

After losing 40-30 in its second game to Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Stuart came back with a great performance in a 48-21 victory over Princeton Day School.

“We played good defense,” said Leary, reflecting on the PDS win.

“We have been trying to play a couple of different defenses and we matched up well with them. We did a good job in the man-to-man.”

Junior forward Nneka Onukwugha did a great job for Stuart in the win over the Panthers, producing a career game with 20 points and 19 rebounds.

“It was Nneka’s first double-double of the season,” said Leary. “She stepped up really big for us. She just comes to play. She is very calm, she just goes out and does her job and takes care of business.”

In their last outing before the break, the Tartans took care of business as they routed Noor-ul-Iman School 62-19 on December 19, rebounding from a 48-14 defeat to Pennington a day earlier.

“We had a tough loss to Pennington and I told the girls we have to learn from that,” said Leary who got 15 points from Onukwugha in the win with sophomore Kate Walsh chipping in 12.

“You are going to lose games and there are going to be bumps in the road, you have to take each game and learn from it and move on. The girls came out and just bounced back. We played well offensively. It was a nice win, all the girls played and everyone scored.”

Stuart’s nice start has the players feeling good about themselves heading into 2014.

“I think the girls are just more confident; they are starting to believe in themselves,” said Leary, whose team returns from the holiday break by playing at the King’s Christian School on January 8.

“We are communicating well on the court, I think they have better court sense. They are crashing the boards and securing the rebounds. They were talking that they were already past last year’s record.”

In order to add more wins to that record when it resumes play in the new year, Stuart will focus on being a little sharper at both ends of the court.

“We will be working on taking better care of the ball,” said Leary. “Defense-wise, we need to work more on on man-to-man and talking through screens.”

December 27, 2013
MIGHTY QUINN: Princeton University quarterback Quinn Epperly looks to throw the ball in a game this fall. Epperly passed for 25 touchdowns and rushed for 18 to help the Tigers go 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy League, tying Harvard for the Ivy championship.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MIGHTY QUINN: Princeton University quarterback Quinn Epperly looks to throw the ball in a game this fall. Epperly passed for 25 touchdowns and rushed for 18 to help the Tigers go 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy League, tying Harvard for the Ivy championship. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Princeton University athletics, the beat went on in 2013 as the Tigers won a slew of Ivy League championships and added to their impressive haul of NCAA titles. On the local high school scene, the year saw a number of championship firsts.

As for Princeton, the winter brought two NCAA titles as the fencing team won the joint men’s/women’s national crown while the men’s distance medley relay placed first in the indoor national meet. Women’s basketball won its fourth straight Ivy championship while men’s and women’s swimming along with men’s and women’s squash earned league crowns.

In the spring, Princeton excelled on the track as the men’s team won the Ivy Heptagonal Outdoor Championships. On the water, the women’s open crew took its second straight Ivy title at the league regatta and the varsity 8 ended up placing second in the NCAA grand final. Junior Greg Jarmas won his first Ivy men’s golf individual title and helped Princeton earn its first team crown since 2006. Junior star Kelly Shon won the Ivy women’s golf crown and advanced to the NCAA championships. The women’s water polo team won the Eastern Championships and placed fifth at the NCAAs.

The Princeton football team turned heads in the fall, going 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy, to tie with Harvard for the title and give the Tigers their first championship since 2006. Defending its 2012 NCAA title in style, the Tiger field hockey team won its ninth straight Ivy title on the way to the national quarterfinals.

As for local high schoolers, the Princeton High swimming program enjoyed an historic season as the girls’ team won its first ever Mercer County Championship meet while the boys’ squad took its third straight county crown and fifth consecutive Public B Central Jersey sectional title. Hun School teams produced a championship winter as the boys’ hockey team won its first-ever Independence Hockey League (IHL) championship and the boys’ basketball team won the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament. Led by a stellar group of seniors, the PDS boys’ hockey team shared the state Prep title on the way to a 21-3-1 campaign.

In the spring, longtime head coach Peter Stanton guided the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team to a pair of milestones as he won his 200th game at the helm of the program and the Little Tigers earned the first Mercer County Tournament crown in program history. The PDS boys’ tennis team also had a championship season as it shared the state Prep B title with two other schools.

History was made on the tennis court in the fall as PHS sophomore Christina Rosca won the program’s first NJSIAA state singles title. Rosca also helped the Little Tigers make their second straight trip to the state Group III team finals. The PDS girls’ tennis team won its second straight state Prep B title while the Panther girls’ soccer team produced one of the more heartening reversals of fortune as they went from 4-9-4 in 2012 to 17-2-1 this fall on the way to winning the program’s first MCT title.

Winter Wins

Led by a quartet of stellar seniors, Niveen Rasheed, Lauren Polansky, Kate Miller, and Meg Bowen, the Princeton University women’s basketball team won its fourth straight Ivy League title. Head coach Courtney Banghart’s Tigers went 22-7 overall and 13-1 Ivy. During the regular season, Princeton established an Ivy record as it extended its league winning streak to 33 before falling to Harvard in March. The Tigers were seeded ninth in the Oklahoma City regional at the NCAA tournament where they fell 60-44 to eighth-seeded Florida State.

While the season ended on a down note, that was a mere blip in one of the greatest four-year runs in league annals as the seniors went 54-2 in Ivy play, tying them as winningest class in Ivy men’s or women’s history with Penn’s men’s basketball Class of 1996 (1992-93 to 1995-96).

Rasheed was named Ivy Player of the Year for a second time and earned AP All-America Honorable Mention, the first player to do so in program history. The league’s scoring leader at 16.9 points a game, Rasheed was also named a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection, her third first-team honor. She finished with 1,617 career points for fourth-best in program history. She also is all-time No. 5 in scoring average (16.7), No. 5 in field goals made (604), No. 3 in rebounds (860) and No. 6 in rebounds average (8.7). Polansky was named Ivy Defensive Player of the Year for a third time while Miller and Bowen were key starters in their final campaign. The latter was a second-team All-Ivy pick along with junior teammate Kristen Helmstetter.

The men’s hoops team nearly matched their female counterparts as they stood first in the Ivy standings heading into the final weekend of the season. Coach Mitch Henderson’s club, though, stumbled on the road, losing at Yale and Brown as Harvard passed the Tigers to win the title.

Senior star Ian Hummer put together one of the greatest seasons in program history for Princeton, which went 17-11 overall and 10-4 Ivy. The 6’6 forward Hummer was named Ivy Player of the Year and led Princeton in scoring, rebounding, blocks, and assists, the first Tiger since Kit Mueller ’91 in 1990-91 to top the team in all of those categories. Hummer made first-team All-Ivy with junior guard T.J Bray getting second-team honors and sophomore Denton Koon being named as an honorable mention selection.

The Princeton fencing program made history as the Tigers won their first-ever joint men’s/women’s NCAA fencing championship under the format that began in 1990.

Coach Zoltan Dudas’ team edged Notre Dame by seven bout victories, 182-175, for the team title.

Four of the six Tiger men earned All-America honors, and senior epeeists Jonathan Yergler and Edward Kelley made it to the medal round and faced each other in the semifinals. Yergler won, coming in second in the nation.

All six Tiger women earned All-America honors and three qualified for the medal round, including the Stone sisters and saberists Gracie, a freshman, and Eliza, a senior, and junior epeeist Susannah Scanlan.

Junior forward Andrew Calof lit up Baker Rink and picked up a slew of honors for the men’s hockey team. Calof finished third in the ECAC Hockey in scoring with 13 goals and 23 assists for 26 points and earned All-ECACH and All-Ivy honors. Despite Calof’s heroics, coach Bob Prier’s team went 10-16-5 overall and was swept by Cornell in a best-of-three ECACH opening round playoff series.

Struggling down the stretch, the women’s hockey team failed to make the ECACH tournament, ending an 11-year streak of having qualified for postseason play. Coach Jeff Kampersal’s club posted an overall record of 11-16-2. Seniors Corey Stearns and Kelly Cooke ended their careers on a high note as Stearns led the team in scoring with 31 points on 5 goals and 26 assists while Cooke tallied 27 points on a team-high 15 goals and 12 assists.

Over at DeNunzio Pool, the men’s swimming and diving team continued its domination of the Ivy League, winning its fifth straight league title. Coach Rob Orr’s squad was led by senior diver Stevie Vines along with such star swimmers as junior Daniel Hasler, junior Michael Strand, sophomore Harrison Wagner, freshman Byron Sanborn, and freshman Teo D’Allessandro.

Junior star Lisa Boyce produced a dominant performance to help the women’s swimming and diving team win the Ivy championship meet. It was the 11th title in the last 14 seasons for the Tigers and the 16th overall for coach Susan Teeter.

Boyce won three individual Ivy titles and was part of one relay winner along with two relay runners-up. She went on to earn All-America honorable mention in the 100 free at the NCAA Championships as she placed 15th.

It was the end of an era for the men’s squash team as legendary Hall of Fame coach Bob Callahan stepped down after 32 years at the helm. Callahan guided the Tigers to a tie for the Ivy title with Harvard and third in the College Squash Association (CSA) national team championships. Senior Todd Harrity finished second in the CSA individual championship.

Callahan, a 1977 Princeton alum and former Tiger squash star, led the program to 314 victories, 11 Ivy League titles and three national championships (1982, 1993, 2012) in his 32-year tenure. Sean Wilkinson, a former Bates College squash star and assistant coach at Drexel, was named to succeed Callahan.

Under its legendary coach, Gail Ramsay, the women’s squash team won the Ivy title and placed fourth in the Howe Cup team championships. Senior Julie Cerullo and junior Libby Eyre earned All-Ivy honors for Ramsay’s squad.

The men’s track and field team came within a whisker of winning the Ivy Heptagonal indoor title, finishing second to Cornell by a single point. The runner-up finish ended a streak of three straight indoor titles for coach Fred Samara’s squad. Senior Peter Callahan was named co-Most Outstanding Track Performer and junior Damon McLean was named co-Most Outstanding Field Performer at the 2013 Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships.

A few weeks later, Callahan ended the indoor season in a blaze of glory as he ran the anchor leg for the men’s distance medley relay team that won the NCAA title. He was joined in the victorious quartet by Michael Williams, Austin Hollimon, and Russell Dinkins.

Senior Tory Worthen won her seventh consecutive Ivy League Heptagonal pole vault title to provide a highlight for women’s track. Coach Peter Farrell’s team took fourth in the Indoor Heps meet with its other victory being produced by the 4×800 relay team of senior Greta Feldman, senior Alexis Mikaelian, junior Molly Higgins, and junior Kristin Smoot.

The wrestling team made progress under coach Chris Ayres. Princeton placed three wrestlers in the top 8 at the EIWA Championships with junior Ryan Callahan taking sixth at 174 pounds, freshman Scott Gibbons taking seventh at 184 and senior Zach Bintliff placing eight at 149.

Spring Steps

Fueled by the combination of freshman goalie Ashleigh Johnson and junior star Katie Rigler, the Princeton women’s water polo team won the Eastern title.

Coach Luis Nicole’s squad ended up taking fifth at the NCAA tournament, the highest finish program. Johnson and Rigler were both named All-Americans to climax a season that saw Princeton finish with a final record of 28-6.

Over at Weaver Stadium, the men’s track team enjoyed a championship season of their own. Coach Fred Samara’s team won the Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championship. It marked the third consecutive Outdoor Heps title for the Tigers and 15th overall.

The Tigers were paced at the Heps by Peter Callahan, the winner of the 1,500, and Michael Franklin, who won the 5,000 and the 10,000. Austin Hollimon won the 400 and helped the 4×400 relay to victory while Tom Hopkins joined him in the relay and also win the long jump. Russell Dinkins won the 800 and also competed on the 4×400 relay. Franklin went on to take fifth in the 10,000 at the NCAA championship meet.

Senior standout Feldman starred as the women’s track team took fourth in the Outdoor Heps. Feldman won the 800, placed second in the 1,500 and was part of the winning 4×800 relay for Peter Farrell’s team.

Other winners at the Heps meet included Imani Oliver in the triple jump, Julia Ratcliffe in the hammer throw, and Tory Worthen in the pole vault. Worthen made Ivy League history as the victory marked her eighth career Heps pole vault title.

Led by sophomore Erin McMunn and senior Caroline Rehfuss, the women’s lacrosse team returned to the NCAA tournament for the 21st time in program history. Coach Chris Sailer’s team fell to Duke 10-9 in double overtime in the NCAA opener to finish the spring at 10-7.

Junior midfielder Tom Schreiber added another chapter to his storied career for the men’s lax team, posting his second straight 60-point season and making first-team All-America for a second time. Despite Schreiber’s heroics, the Tigers fell just short of making the NCAA tournament as coach Chris Bates’ team fell 12-8 to Yale in the Ivy title game and finished the spring at 9-6.

Coach Lori Dauphiny guided her women’s open crew program to another successful season. The Tigers won their second straight Ivy team title and then took third at the NCAA regatta as the first varsity eight placed second in the grand final. The top boat was led by a quartet of seniors, Gabby Cole, Molly Hamrick, Liz Hartwig, and Heidi Robbins.

Sparked by senior star Alex Morss, the Tiger women’s lightweight crew enjoyed a solid campaign. Coach Paul Rassam’s top eight took second at the Eastern Sprints and fifth at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship grand final.

Seniors Michael Evans, Brian Wettach, and coxswain Keanan Clark helped the Princeton men’s heavyweight crew finish on an encouraging note. The trio helped the varsity eight take fourth in the Eastern Sprints and sixth in the IRA national championships. With a number of solid rowers returning, coach Greg Hughes is optimistic that the program can build on that performance in 2014.

Led by a group of freshmen and sophomores, the men’s lightweight crew gained some valuable experience. Coach Marty Crotty’s top eight placed fifth in the Eastern Sprints and sixth at the IRA national championship regatta.

Mike Ford produced a season to remember for the Princeton baseball team as he became the first player in Ivy history to be named both the league’s Player of the Year and its Pitcher of the Year. The Belle Mead, N.J. native and former Hun School standout hit .320 for second-best on the team. He ranked in the top-10 in the Ivy League in 10 categories, including No. 1 in walks (31), No. 2 in home runs (6), No. 3 in RBIs (38) and No. 4 in on-base percentage (.443). On the mound, he went 6-0 with a league-leading 0.98 ERA, third-best in a season in program history. In nine starts, he tallied five complete games, all in Ivy play, and a shutout victory. Ford ranked first in earned runs allowed (7), opposing batting average (.191) and home runs allowed (0) to place in the top-10 in 10 statistical categories in the league. He signed with the New York Yankees over the summer and player for their Staten Island Single A affiliate.

Despite Ford’s heroics, it was a disappointing year for coach Scott Bradley’s team as the Tigers went 14-28 overall and 11-9 Ivy as they tied for second in the Gehrig Division. Junior Alec Keller joined Ford as a first-team All-Ivy selection.

New head coach Lisa Sweeney injected a burst of energy into the softball program, guiding the Tigers to a 27-19 record, its most wins since 2006. Princeton finished second in the Ivy South division with a 12-8 league mark. Alex Peyton, Maddie Cousens, Alyssa Schmidt, and Nikki Chu were second-team All Ivy picks.

Led by junior Greg Jarmas, the men’s golf team won its first Ivy league title since 2006. Jarmas fired a 3-under 216 to win the individual title and help coach Will Green’s squad win the team title by five shots over Yale.

Kelly Shon matched Jarmas’ feat by winning her first Ivy women’s golf crown. Shon edged Christine Lin of Harvard in a playoff to take the title. Shon’s performance wasn’t enough for coach Nicki Cutler’s squad to win the team title as Harvard edged the Tigers by one stroke. Shon went on to place second at the NCAA East Regional to qualify for the NCAA championships, where she finished tied for 37th.

Senior Matija Pecotic made an impact on the national scene for the men’s tennis team. The three-time Ivy Player of the Year advanced to the Round of 32 at the NCAA singles championship. He helped first-year head coach Billy Pate’s tie Columbia for second in the Ivy standings.

Former pro star Laura Granville took the helm of the women’s tennis program and led the Tigers to a fourth place finish in the Ivy league race. Sophomore Lindsay Graff earned first-team All-Ivy honors in singles, while junior Katherine Flanigan was a second-team All-Ivy honoree in singles.

Sparked by first-team Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) performers, sophomore Cody Kessel and junior Pat Schwagler, the men’s volleyball team made the EIVA semis. Coach Sam Shweisky’s team went 13-10 as they ended the year by falling to perennial power Penn State in the EIVA tourney

Fall Feats:

Coming off an encouraging 2012 season that saw it win five games after going 1-9 in the previous two seasons, the Princeton football team was still seen as being a year away from contending for an Ivy title. But with junior quarterback Quinn Epperly putting together a season for the ages, the Tigers moved up the timetable.

Coach Bob Surace’s squad went 8-2 overall and 6-1 in league play, tying Harvard for the Ivy crown, giving Princeton its first title since 2006.

Epperly, for his part, rewrote portions of the Princeton record book en route to one of the greatest seasons in program history. He matched the single-season passing touchdown record of Doug Butler ’86 (25, 1983), and he came within one of matching the single-season rushing touchdown record of Keith Elias ’94 (19, 1994). He missed the single-season completion percentage record by the slimmest of margins; his 68.0 percent finished second to Jason Garrett ’89 (68.2 percent, 1988).

He set an NCAA record with 29 straight completions in Princeton’s 53-20 victory over Cornell; that followed Princeton’s 51-48 triple-overtime win at Harvard, when Epperly set Princeton single-game records for both completions (37) and passing touchdowns (six). He set an Ivy League record by earning the Offensive Player of the Week honor six times, including five in a row; all six of his honors followed Princeton’s six Ivy League victories.

He made first-team Ivy League along with receiver Roman Wilson, defensive back Anthony Gaffney, center Joe Goss, offensive tackle Spenser Huston, and defensive lineman Caraun Reid.

To add icing to the cake, Princeton got to celebrate a second straight bonfire, emblematic of beating Harvard and Yale in the same season.

Despite dealing with some heavy graduation losses and a rash of injuries, the Tiger field hockey team made a spirited defense of its 2012 NCAA title. Coach Kristen Holmes-Winn’s squad won its ninth straight Ivy title and advanced to the NCAA quarters where it dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to Maryland.

Princeton ended the fall at 14-5 and senior Michelle Cesan was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year while classmate Julia Reinprecht was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year. Freshman Annabeth Donovan was picked as the co-Rookie of the Year. The Tiger trio earned first-team All-Ivy honors along with sophomore Teresa Benvenuti.

The men’s soccer team fell just short of an Ivy crown, finishing third with a 4-2-1 league mark, one win behind champion Penn, which posted a 5-1-1 record. Coach Jim Barlow’s squad went 7-9-1 overall and had four players, junior forward Cameron Porter, sophomore forward Thomas Sanner, junior midfielder Myles McGinley, and sophomore defender Josh Miller, earn first-team All-Ivy honors.

Unable to recapture the magic of a 2012 campaign that saw it go undefeated in Ivy play and reach the second round of the NCAA tournament, the women’s soccer team had a down year. Coach Julie Shackford’s squad went 7-6-4 overall and 1-5-1 Ivy.

Senior midfielder Gabriella Guzman made first-team All Ivy while Tyler Lussi, an honorable mention All Ivy performer, became the first Tiger freshman to reach 10 goals since Linda DeBoer ‘86 in 1982.

Spending most of the season in the top 20, the men’s water polo team narrowly missed making the NCAA tournament as it lost 11-9 to St. Francis in the CWPA Championship finals. Coach Luis Nicolao’s squad went 22-6 overall with junior Drew Hoffenberg getting named as a first-team All-CWPA Southern Division performer and freshman Jovan Jeremic being picked as the Southern Rookie of the Year.

A one-two punch of senior stars Tyler Udland and Chris Bendtsen helped the men’s cross country team take second at the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships. Udland and Bendtsen finished sixth and seventh, respectively in the race as coach Jason Vigilante’s squad was edged by Columbia. Princeton went on to finish 22nd in the NCAA championship meet.

Freshman Megan Curham enjoyed an impressive debut season for the women’s cross country team, emerging as a frontrunner for the Tigers. She placed fourth at the Ivy League Heps to help Peter Farrell’s squad take fourth in the team standings. The Tigers ended the season by coming in 30th at the NCAA championship meet with Curham earning All-American honors with her 34th place finish.

Rebounding from some early season struggles, the women’s volleyball team played well down the stretch as it won four of its last six matches to finish the season at 10-14 overall and 6-8 Ivy. Freshman Cara Mattaliano, who led the league in both kills and points in league matches, earned first-team All-Ivy League honors for coach Sabrina King’s squad.

Hun

It was a winter of championship breakthroughs at the Hun School. Sparked by senior star defenseman Eric Szeker and rock-solid junior goalie Devin Cheifetz, the Hun boys’ hockey team won its first-ever Independence Hockey League (IHL) championship. Coach Ian McNally’s squad topped Haverford School (Pa.) 5-3 in the IHL championship game and ended the winter with final record of 16-5-4. Stellar seniors Fergus Duke, Hashim Moore, Jake Newman, and Grant Mackay helped the Hun boys’ hoops team followed suit as it won the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament. Coach Jon Stone’s team had to rally from a late deficit of 10 points in the MAPL opener to top Hill (Pa.)and then gathered steam, rolling past Lawrenceville 46-31 in the title game. The Raiders later advanced to the state prep A title game and ended the winter with a gaudy 20-6 record.

Coach Bill Holup guided the girls’ team to another solid campaign as the Raiders went 14-11, advancing to both the MAPL and Prep A semis. Hun was sparked by the play of junior center Johnnah Johnson who provided a dominating inside presence.

In the spring, the Hun boys’ lax team caught fire under new coach M.V. Whitlow and advanced to the state Prep A title game where it fell to perennial champion Lawrenceville. The Raiders were led by seniors Zach Bicho,  Greg Flood and Zach Winterstein as they posted an 11-6 record.

Prolific senior standout and Boston College-bound Kate Weeks passed the 300-goal mark in her career with Hun girls’ lax team, helping the Raiders go 6-9 under new head coach Haley Sanborn.

Senior star catcher Carey Million saved her best for last, hitting over .500 as she helped Hun softball advance to the Prep A title game where it fell 5-3 to archrival Peddie. Coach Kathy Quirk’s team went 11-7 and has plenty of hope for the future as freshman ace Alexis Goeke established herself as one of the top pitchers in the area.

Guided by legendary head coach Bill McQuade, the Hun baseball team fell short of a Prep A title by an eyelash, falling 2-1 to Blair in the championship series. The Raiders were led by seniors Stevie Wells, Shane Adams, Devan Birch, and Austin Goeke as they posted a record of 16-7 in McQuade’s 43rd spring guiding the program.

Under coach Todd Loffredo, the boy’s tennis team went through a rebuilding season as several young players gained valuable experience in a 3-12 campaign.

It looked like it was going to be a long season when the Hun girls’ soccer team got off to a 0-7 start under new head coach Joanna Hallac. But with a corps of freshmen coming of age and some key veterans returning from injury, the Raiders got on a roll down the stretch.

Led by senior Olivia Braender-Carr, junior Ashley Maziarz, and sophomore Jess Johnson, Hun pulled two upsets on the way to the state Prep A championship game against perennial power Pennington. Hun fell 2-0 to the Pennington and ended the season at 7-12-1. While the title game defeat stung, the future looks bright as most of the squad will be back in 2014.

The boys’ soccer team also stumbled out of the gate as it started 1-4. But under the steady hand of coach Pat Quirk, the Raiders righted the ship and made a stirring run in the Mercer County Tournament. Hun was seeded 11th in the MCT and topped No. 6 Princeton High, last year’s state Group III co-champion and third-seeded Allentown, the eventual 2013 Group III co-champion on the way to the semis. Battling valiantly, the Raiders fell 2-0 to second-seeded Hightstown. The run, which helped Hun finish with a record of 7-12, was triggered by a core of senior stars, Felix Dalstein, Bailey Hammer, Chris Meinert, and Andres Gonzalez.

With John Law taking the helm of the football program just weeks before the season started, Hun took a while to get in synch. Bouncing back from a 0-4 start, Hun won two of its last four games and has plenty of hope for the future with the return of quarterback Donavon Harris and running back Chris Sharp.

Led by a pair of seniors, Francesca Bello and Alex Kane, the field hockey team had a competitive fall. Under coach Kathy Quirk, the Raiders posted a 6-14 mark.

Featuring a young squad without one senior on the roster, the girls’ tennis team made good progress. Under longtime coach Joan Nuse, the Raiders went 6-7 and placed fourth in the MAPL tournament.

PDS

Davon Reed capped his brilliant career with the Princeton Day School boys’ hoops team by eclipsing the 2,000-point mark, ending up with a program record total of 2,102. The senior guard led the way as coach Paris McLean’s team went 19-8 and reached the Mercer County Tournament semis and the state Prep B title game where they lost a 47-45 heartbreaker to Pennington. Reed went on to University of Miami where he averaged 9.0 points a game through the first 10 games of his college career.

Led by a stellar group of seniors, the PDS boys’ hockey team produced one of the best seasons in program history. Coach Scott Bertoli’s team went 21-3-1 and tied Morristown-Beard 2-2 in the state Prep championship game to share the title.

The team’s Class of 2013 included Cody Triolo, Rob Colton, Conrad Denise, Connor Walker, Eddie Meyercord, C.J. Young, Taran Auslander, Tucker Triolo (Cody’s cousin), and Grahame Davis.

Sparked by senior goalie Daisy Maze and junior defenseman Robin Linzmayer, the girls’ hockey team continued to make progress. Coach Lorna Gifis Cook led her squad to a 10-8 mark.

Hurt by a thin roster, the girls’ basketball team fought an uphill battle. Coach Mika Ryan led her squad to an 8-14 season. After the season, Ryan headed to WW/P-S to guide its girls’ program and was replaced by Kamau Bailey.

It was another big spring for the PDS boy’s lacrosse team as it advanced to the Prep B title game and the MCT semis. Coach Rob Tuckman’s team posted a final record of 11-6 and was paced by Lehigh-bound senior standout Cody Triolo with classmates Taran Auslander, Eddie Meyercord, Derek Bell, Brendan Shannon, Andrew Phipps, Bump Lisk, and Tucker Triolo also making valuable contributions.

Senior star and MIT-bound Hannah Levy triggered the offense for the girls’ lacrosse team as she passed the 150-goal mark in her career. Levy’s prowess helped coach Jill Thomas’ squad go 6-7.

A core of talented young players helped the baseball team produce a promising spring. Sophomores Cole McManimon, Jake Alu, and J.P. Radvany starred as coach Ray O’Brien’s team went 9-12. Senior star and VMI-bound B.J Dudeck ended his career on a high note, hitting a team-high .406 with 18 RBIs.

Junior Neeraj Devulapalli and a pair of freshmen, David Zhang and Scott Altmeyer, came up big at singles as the boys’ tennis team shared the state Prep B team title along with Pennington and Montclair Kimberley. Coach Will Asch’s team went 10-3 on the season and placed second in the Mercer County Tournament.

The softball team hung together despite a lack of depth, going 0-6 under coach Paul Lano.

Coming off a disappointing 4-9-4 season in 2012, the PDS girls’ soccer team was hungry to regain its winning ways this fall. Cultivating a positive team chemistry to get the best out of its talent, the Panthers enjoyed one of the best seasons in program history, Coach Pat Trombetta’s squad lost just once in regular season play and then topped Hamilton, Robbinsville, Princeton High on the way to the MCT title game against Hopewell Valley. With the teams knotted in a scoreless tie late in the second half of the championship contest, PDS broke through with goals by Eloise Stanton and Kirsten Kuzmicz to earn a 2-0 victory and the team’s first-ever MCT title. The Panthers also advanced to the state Prep B title game where they fell to Morristown-Beard 2-0.

PDS posted a final record of 17-2-1 and Trombetta credited senior co-captains Brit Murray and Lily Razzaghi with providing positive leadership that got the team on the same page. With such returning stalwarts as Kuzmicz, Erin Hogan, and the Soltesz twins, Stef and Alexa, the Panthers seemed poised to be title contenders again in 2014.

Sparked by singles stars Renee Karchere-Sun, Maria Martinovic, and Emily Dyckman, the girls’ tennis team won its second straight state Prep B team title. Junior Martinovic won the Prep B second singles crown with classmate Dyckman following suit at third singles. Sophomore Karchere-Sun took second at first singles. Coach Ed Tseng’s squad also took third in the team standings at the MCT.

A quartet of senior stars, Mary Travers, Sarah Brennan, Emma Quigley, and Emily Goldman, helped the field hockey team stay on track as it went through some ups and downs. Playing its best hockey in the final weeks of the campaign, coach Tracey Arndt’s squad went 9-10 and advanced to the state Prep B semifinals.

Skilled junior Marco Pinheiro stood out at midfield as the boys’ soccer team struggled through a rough fall, Coach Malcolm Murphy’s team posted a final record of 3-11-3.

Led by a pair of talented freshmen, Ian Moini and Sam Noden, the boys’ cross country team made strides. Coach Merrill Noden’s team finished fourth in the Prep B championship meet with Moini placing sixth individually and Noden taking 11th.

Another freshman standout, Morgan Mills, made an immediate impact for girls’ cross country. Mills was the team’s top runner from day one and set the pace as coach Noden’s Panthers took ninth in the team standings at the county meet and ended the season by placing third in the Prep B championship meet.

PHS

It was another big winter in the pool for the Princeton High swimming program. The PHS boys’ team won its third straight county crown and fifth straight Public B Central Jersey sectional championship. Coach Greg Hand’s team was led by a stellar group of juniors, Will Stange, Peter Kalibat, Colburn Yu, Matt Purdy, and Scott MacKenzie, as it went 15-1.

Coach Hand guided his girls’ squad to a breakthrough season as the Little Tigers won their first-ever county title. Led by the senior duo of Serena Deardorff and Marisa Giglio along with a pair of precocious freshmen in Madeleine Deardorff and Brianna Romaine, PHS advanced to the sectional final and posted a final record of 13-1.

Under new head coach Mark Shelley, the boys’ basketball team enjoyed a promising campaign. Sparked by seniors Lior Levy and Scott Bechler, the Little Tigers went 12-11 and advanced to the second round of the Central Jersey Group III sectional.

Led by the trio of junior Liz Jacobs, sophomore Mary Sutton, and freshman Julia Ryan, the girls’ basketball team fought an uphill battle. The Little Tigers posted a 4-14 record and coach Steffanie Shoop stepped down after the season. Dan Van Hise, the PHS JV boys’ hoops coach, was named to replace Shoop.

Sparked by senior Matt DiTosto along with juniors Patrick McCormick, Spencer Reynolds, with sophomores Jackson Andres, John Reid and Connor McCormick, the boys’ hockey team maintained its winning tradition. The Little Tigers posted a 10-9-1 record under coach Tim Campbell. After the season, Campbell stepped down and was replaced by longtime assistant and former PHS standout, Terence Miller.

Sophomore Lucy Herring was a standout for the girls’ hockey team, providing the main highlights as the team went winless under coach Christian Herzog.

The winter track team produced some fine individual efforts for coach Ben Samara. Senior Tim Brennan took third in the shot put at the state Group III meet while classmate Ian McIsaac placed third in the 1,600. On the girls’ side, junior Michelle Bazile finished third in the shot put at the state Group III meet at Toms River.

Senior star David Klinges proved to be a standout for the PHS wrestling team. Klinges took third at 160 pounds District 17 tournament to lead the way as coach Rashone Johnson’s squad placed eighth of nine schools in the team standings.

It was a breakthrough spring for the PHS lacrosse programs. Coach Peter Stanton passed the 200-win mark at the helm of the boys’ program and led the Little Tigers to their first-ever county crown. Led by such veteran stars as Adam Ainslie, Matt Corrado, Matt Purdy, Matt DiTosto, Jack Persico and the Halliday brothers, Zach and Kevin, the Little Tigers routed Allentown 10-4 in the MCT championship game. PHS also produced a good run in the state tournament, advancing to the South Jersey Group III sectional semifinals where it fell to powerful Shawnee 5-4. The Little Tigers ended the spring with a final record of 16-4.

With the one-two punch of juniors Emilia Lopez-Ona and Liz Jacobs triggering the offense, the girls’ lax team made some history of its own. Coach Kelsey O’Gorman’s squad went 18-4 and made it to the sectional final for the first time this century.

Riding the pitching of sophomore ace Sara Eisenach and the hitting production of senior star and Wisconsin-bound Marisa Gonzalez, the PHS softball team reached new heights. Coach Dave Boehm’s club hit double figures in wins for the first time in program history, going 11-12 on the spring.

Senior infielder Ellis Bloom and senior pitcher Rohit Chawla had big years as the baseball team rebounded from a tough start to finish in a high note. After losing 10 of their first 11 games, the Little Tigers ended the season at 9-15 for head coach Dave Roberts.

The boys’ tennis team enjoyed another superb spring, finishing fourth in the MCT and advancing to the Central Jersey Group III finals. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s squad posted a final record of 16-2 and was sparked by the doubles duo of Tyler Hack and Zach Kleiman together with singles stars Rishab Tanga and Brock DeHaven.

Senior star thrower and Dartmouth-bound Tim Brennan starred for boys’ track, winning the discus at the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet. Brennan, along with running standouts Anders Berg, Matt Wong, Conor Donahue, and Jacob Rist, helped coach Rashone Johnson’s team place fifth at the sectional meet.

Another throwing star, junior Michelle Bazile, stood out for the girls’ track team. Bazile won both the shot put and discus at the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet to help coach Jim Smirk’s squad place ninth at the meet. The quartet of Paige Metzheiser, Lou Mialhe, Julie Bond, and Amelia Whaley also performed well at the sectional, placing fifth in the 4×800 relay.

Girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca produced one of the highlights of the fall season as she rallied to pull out a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Fair Lawn’s Valerie Shklover in the NJSIAA state girls’ singles final. It was the first-ever state singles crown for a PHS player. Rosca helped the Little Tigers reach the Group III team championship match where they fell 4-1 to Montville. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s club, which placed second in the MCT with Rosca winning the first singles crown, posted a final record of 16-1.

Led by senior Emilia Lopez Ona and a pair of juniors, Julia DiTosto and Lucy Herring, the field hockey team continued it recent run of success. Coach Heather Serverson’s squad went 13-4-2, reaching the county semis and advancing to the North 2, Group III sectional quarterfinals.

Junior striker Shannon Pawlak provided the offense while Dana Smith and Haley Bodden controlled the midfield as girls’ soccer produced another outstanding campaign. Coach Greg Hand’s squad advanced to the county semis and the Central Jersey Group III sectional quarterfinals and finished the fall at 14-4.

Seniors Kevin Halliday and John Blair along with junior Chase Ealy stood out as the boys’ soccer team experienced a bumpy ride this fall. After starting 7-1-1, the Little Tigers slumped over the last few weeks of the regular season and lost to Hun in the opening round of the MCT. Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s team showed its quality in the state tourney as it advanced to the Group III Central Jersey sectional semis where it fell 1-0 to eventual state Group III co-champion Allentown. PHS ended the fall with a 10-6-3 record.

Paced by Jacob Rist and Conor Donahue, the boys’ cross country team continued to make strides. Under new coach Mark Shelley, PHS placed fourth in the county meet and second in the Central Jersey Group III sectional.

Sophomore Lou Mialhe raced to the head of the pack for girls’ cross country and helped the Little Tigers enjoy another superb campaign. Coach Jim Smirk’s took second at the county meet and third at the Central Jersey Group III sectional.

Senior Liam Helstrom did it all for the PHS football team, grabbing 50 receptions for 853 yards and seven touchdowns at receiver and making 110 tackles with four forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery at linebacker. Despite Helstrom’s heroics, it was a long year for the Little Tigers as they went 0-10 under new coach Charlie Gallagher.

Stuart

The arrival of new head coach Dana Leary gave the Stuart Country Day School basketball team a fresh start. Although the Tartans went 2-13, such young players as freshman Harley Guzman, freshman Kate Walsh, sophomore Nneka Onukwugha, and sophomore Harlyn Bell showed progress.

Lacey-Ann Wisdom led the way as Stuart track finished third of eight teams at the state Prep B championship meet at Gill St. Bernard. Wisdom won the long jump and the triple jump for coach Len Klepack’s squad. Olivia Vande Woude placed fourth in the 400-meter hurdles while Paul-Anne Robb was fifth in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the triple jump. Queen Johnson took sixth in both the 100 hurdles and the 100 dash. Kate Walsh took fourth in the discus and fifth in the high jump. The quartet of Annaliza Carey, Robb, Vande Woude and Wisdom placed second in the 4×100 relay.

A trio of freshmen, Julia Maser, Sam Servis, and Tori Hannah, provided a slew of highlights in the spring for the Stuart lacrosse team. Maser had a team-high 45 points on 36 goals and 9 assists with Hannah chipping in 20 goals and 14 assists, and Servis tallying 24 goals and 7 assists as coach Caitlin Grant’s squad went 4-10.

Julia Rourke starred at second singles as the tennis team went 3-6 in dual match play. Coach Katherine Stoltenberg’s squad placed 12th in the MCT.

The trio of Maser, Servis, and Hannah along with seniors Amy Hallowell and Margaret LaNasa starred as field hockey was much improved. Coach Missy Bruvik guided the Tartans to the state Prep B semis and a 7-14 record, more than doubling the program’s win total from 2012 when it went 3-14-1.

Brianna Romaine is an adrenaline junkie when it comes to her swimming.

“I have always done sprint training,” said Romaine, a sophomore standout for the Princeton High girls’ swimming team. “I just love the rush, going up and getting after it right away.”

Last Thursday, Romaine certainly got after it as PHS competed at WW/PS. The sprint specialist won both the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke races as the Little Tigers cruised to a 100-70 win over the Pirates.

Romaine loved seeing PHS post a second straight win over WW/P-S as the Little Tigers had not beaten the Pirates this century until topping them 94-76 last year.

“It is such a big step for us,” said Romaine, reflecting on the victory which improved the Little Tigers to 5-0.

“South is always such a big meet and it’s a big focus meet and we were power pointing. It is a great start for the early season. It feels good to get a leg up and just race.”

Showing her focus, Romaine posted a time of 55:06 in winning the 100 free, more than two seconds better than runner-up Annie Menninger from WW/P-S. Romaine won the 100 back race by an even greater margin as she posted a time of 1:03.51 with Sarah Lattime of WW/P-S finishing second in 1:08.82.

“I was very happy with my times, they were close to my top meet times,” said Romaine, who also competes on the club level for Peddie Aquatics.

“I couldn’t ask for much else, my teammates are so supportive. My 100 back was good. There is still so much more room for improvement like my turns and my underwater kicks. Getting these races in now and having the opportunity to race so many times in the high school season definitely helps me work on the things I need to. It helps my swimming overall.”

Having a full season of high school swimming under her belt has also helped Romaine.

“I feel like I know the drill better,” said Romaine. “I know how I need to prepare myself before my races. Before I would warm up randomly but now I know that I need to get in at the break and I need to swim before. I know that I always need to drink water. I am more aware of things.”

With the Little Tigers off to such a good start, the team appears well-prepared to make a spirited run at defending its title at the Mercer County Championships in a few weeks time.

“I could not be more proud of the girls team,” asserted Romaine, who will look to help PHS stay on the winning track when it returns from the holiday break to host Steinert on January 2.

“We are a young team. We have some very strong freshmen. We all swam great today. Our captains are really organized and they are great leaders. The counties are definitely something to look forward to. The team has talked about it and beating South is the perfect way to look forward to the future.”

YU KNOW IT:  Princeton High boys’ swim star Colburn Yu heads to a win last year in the breaststroke. Senior Yu and his classmates have sparked PHS to a hot start this winter. The Little Tigers topped WW/P-S 110-60 last Thursday to improve to 5-0. PHS returns from the holiday break to host Steinert on January 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

YU KNOW IT: Princeton High boys’ swim star Colburn Yu heads to a win last year in the breaststroke. Senior Yu and his classmates have sparked PHS to a hot start this winter. The Little Tigers topped WW/P-S 110-60 last Thursday to improve to 5-0. PHS returns from the holiday break to host Steinert on January 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

During his sophomore season with the Princeton High boys’ swimming team two years ago, Peter Kalibat followed the lead of the squad’s seniors as PHS went undefeated on the way to the program’s first state title.

Now as a senior co-captain, Kalibat is trying to emulate the example set by the team’s Class of 2012.

“We can take some guidance from the seniors that we had then and take on that role for our younger underclassmen now,” said Kalibat.

“We had some great leaders in that class and we are trying to be the same thing to our younger guys.”

Last Thursday, Kalibat assumed a lead role as PHS posted a 110-60 win over WW/P-S with the senior distance specialist winning both the 200 and 500 freestyle races.

“This is definitely one of our main focus meets,” said Kalibat, who also helped the 200 free and 400 free relay teams to victory against WW/P-S.

“We were power pointing so it was very important. We had some great energy going into the meet. We were trying to go very fast and swim as hard as we could and get an early season fast meet, which we did. I am very proud of our team and our performances.”

Kalibat was pleased with how he performed in his individual races against the Pirates.

“I was very happy with my time; 1:47 is a very good time for this early in the season,” said Kalibat, reflecting on his win in the 200 free.

“It gives me a nice idea of where I am right now and what I need to work on — some turns, coming off my walls for some good breakouts. I was very happy with the time in the 500. I definitely still had to go because we were power pointing so I tried nice and hard to help the team out.”

While many swimmers consider the distance races to be hard labor, Kalibat thrives when it comes to endurance.

“I took a turn when I was about 14, then I was more of a stroke guy; I would swim the 500 and down,” said Kalibat.

“Once I got to high school, I focused more on distance. I went to open water nationals in the spring. That’s a 10-kilometer race and it gets you working at threshold for hours at a time so it gets you pumping for a whole race. Once you get to a 500 in a pool it feels so much shorter.

Kalibat and his senior classmates, who include Will Stange, Matt Purdy, Colburn Yu, Scott MacKenzie, Matthew Tam, Eric Zhang, and Avery Soong, are pumped up for their stretch drive which starts with a home meet against Steinert on January 2.

“It is a great senior class, we support each other all the way through,” said Kalibat of the class which has helped PHS earn three straight county and sectional titles.

“They are great guys and great to have on a team because there is some great sportsmanship. We are always cheering each other on; always wishing everyone good luck and supporting everyone after their swims. We have some goals that we want to achieve.”

And based on how the seniors have started their final campaign, they could match the achievements of their 2012 role models.

CHASING SUCCESS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Chase Lewis dribbles the ball in recent action. Freshman guard Lewis scored six points in a losing cause as PDS fell 58-52 to Conwell-Egan last Wednesday. The Panthers, now 0-4, are next in action when they compete in the Prime Time Shoot-Out on December 27 and 29.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CHASING SUCCESS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Chase Lewis dribbles the ball in recent action. Freshman guard Lewis scored six points in a losing cause as PDS fell 58-52 to Conwell-Egan last Wednesday. The Panthers, now 0-4, are next in action when they compete in the Prime Time Shoot-Out on December 27 and 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Dan Van Hise enjoyed the first quarter of his first game as the head coach of the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.

Showing spunk, PHS battled visiting Allentown tooth and nail in the early stages of last Friday’s contest, trailing 9-8.

“I loved the way things started,” said Van Hise. “The girls really seemed to be fired up for their first game. They mentioned in the locker room, it was great to feel the newness, the new regime. It was really nice to see it come out in the first quarter.”

The Little Tigers edged ahead 10-9 early in the second quarter but then the roof fell in, as the Redbirds got hot from the outside. Reeling off 27 unanswered points, Allentown rolled to a 36-10 lead by halftime.

While PHS scrapped in the second half, it couldn’t narrow the gap, losing 58-24.

Van Hise acknowledged that his team didn’t respond well to the Allentown run. “We have got to start to know how to bounce back off a run; even six or eight points is a run and they need to know that it doesn’t have to turn into 27,” said Van Hise.

“We just didn’t close out on their shooters in the first half. We talked about how somebody needs to make a play. It doesn’t have to be a basket. It can be taking a charge. It can be forcing yourself to get an offensive rebound and get fouled. Something needs to happen to stem the tide a little bit so that we can calm things down.”

The Little Tigers didn’t put their heads down as they kept fighting to the final whistle.

“I loved their attitude, the girls on the bench really tried to keep things positive, that was good to see,” said Van Hise. “That’s part of what we are trying to do here.”

PHS has to do better in terms of offensive execution. “I think they were still a little wishy-washy on the plays,” said Van Hise.

“It is game one and I don’t know that many of them have run plays in previous years. That is going to come with time. I would like to see that be a little crisper, even at this point.”

The combination of junior Mary Sutton and sophomore Julia Ryan made some nice plays in the opener.

“Mary had a nice game,” said Van Hise of Sutton, who scored a team-high nine points for the Little Tigers.

“She and Julia should be a nice backcourt all season. I think Mary’s strength is shooting but she needs to be more of a point guard first. She is going to have to score for us and she was aggressive.”

Sophomore Haley Bodden, a standout for the girls’ soccer team gave PHS some aggressiveness off the bench.

“Haley is aggressive, she is an athlete first and a basketball player second and that’s OK,” said Van Hise.

“She has a nice little first step but she kind of hesitates with the ball. She has to go right to the hoop but she should be a nice player off the bench.”

In Van Hise’s view, the team’s nice start Friday will pay dividends down the road.

“I knew that Allentown is a strong program; what the girls are thinking right now is that we know we can play a little bit,” said Van Hise, whose team was slated to play at Monroe on December 23 before starting 2014 action with a game at Trenton Central on January 2.

“I think that first quarter is going to go a long way at some point. There was good energy and that was great for me to see. There was a decent crowd and good energy coming off of it. Hopefully that will be the positive they will take from the game.”

OPENING DRIVE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Liz Jacobs drives up the court during the the 2012-13 season. Last Friday, senior forward Jacobs scored three points as PHS lost 58-24 to Allentown in the season opener for both teams and the debut of new Little Tiger head coach Dan Van Hise. PHS was slated to play at Monroe on December 23 before starting 2014 action with a game at Trenton Central on January 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING DRIVE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Liz Jacobs drives up the court during the the 2012-13 season. Last Friday, senior forward Jacobs scored three points as PHS lost 58-24 to Allentown in the season opener for both teams and the debut of new Little Tiger head coach Dan Van Hise. PHS was slated to play at Monroe on December 23 before starting 2014 action with a game at Trenton Central on January 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team has started the season by losing its first four games, Paris McLean is far from discouraged.

“We are playing well for most of the games but we are giving up one big quarter and that is hurting us,” said head coach McLean. “Teams are having 20-point quarters and we are digging ourselves a hole.”

At the Peddie School Invitational Tournament (PSIT), the Panthers showed character as they rebounded from a lopsided defeat to the Phelps School in the first round to battle cross-town rival Hun School in a consolation contest.

“The number one thing I have learned about this team is that we are resilient,” asserted McLean, whose team fell 65-46 to Hun.

“When you a lose a tough game like we did to Phelps, you don’t know what kind of team is going to come out the next day. We came out and played Hun tough. We were more disciplined on offense and we were steadier on defense. We played well.”

While the Panthers came up empty at the PSIT, McLean views the tourney as a key learning experience.

“It is fantastic competition, it is the best competition we are going to see all year,” said McLean.

“It is an honor to be invited. It is a good measuring stick of where we are and what we need to improve on.”

In its final action before Christmas, the Panthers showed more improvement as they dropped a 58-52 nailbiter at Conwell-Egan (Pa.) last Wednesday.

“We came out and built a six or seven point lead,” recalled McLean. “But then they went ahead by 15. We battled it back and cut it to five. When you fight back like that, you get spent and the kids run out of gas. Everyone played and some guys really stepped up.”

Senior guard Ford Schneider has been stepping up big time this winter for PDS.

“Ford was all-tournament at Peddie and that is a testament to the hard work he has put in,” said McLean.

“Ford has been fantastic for us. He is a do-it-all player; he goes to the basket. He gets rebounds, he is more confident offensively.”

The backcourt tandem of seniors Deante Cole and Zach Banks has earned McLean’s confidence.

“Deante has been great,” said McLean of Cole who had 17 points in the defeat to Conwell-Egan.

“He has been very aggressive, he has been going to the basket and facilitating things. Zach has been good in relief, doing some ballhandling so Deante can play off guard at times.”

In McLean’s view, the holiday break comes at a good time for PDS since such key players like Langston Glaude, J.P. Radvany, and Josiah Meekins have missed time due to injury.

“It will be good to rest guys and get some guys practice-ready,” said McLean. “It is a great time to rest mentally and physically and reflect on things.”

As PDS returns to action by competing in the Prime Time Shoot-Out on December 27 and 29, McLean wants the team to focus on a few key things.

“We need to get leads and keep them,” said McLean. “The defensive intensity has to step up; that starts in practice. We can’t let other teams have those big quarters; we need to stem that.”

McLean is hoping that his team can enjoy another big run at the Prime Time event.

“We are excited to go back to the Prime Time as defending champions,” said McLean. “We will play Rancocas Valley in the first round and we know they are a tough Group IV team.”

December 18, 2013
INSIDE JOB: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Peter Mahotiere drives to the hoop in a game last season. Senior forward Mahotiere will be counted on to provide PHS with an inside presence this winter as it looks to build on last winter’s 12-11 campaign. The Little Tigers tip off their 2013-14 season by playing at Allentown on December 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

INSIDE JOB: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Peter Mahotiere drives to the hoop in a game last season. Senior forward Mahotiere will be counted on to provide PHS with an inside presence this winter as it looks to build on last winter’s 12-11 campaign. The Little Tigers tip off their 2013-14 season by playing at Allentown on December 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Mark Shelley is preparing for a lot of nailbiters this winter with his Princeton High boys’ basketball team.

“I don’t think we are going to blow out a lot of teams but I don’t think many teams are going to blow us out,” said PHS head coach Shelley, who guided the Little Tigers to a 12-11 record last winter in his debut campaign at the helm of the program.

“We have a lot of depth and a lot of seniors. We play a good zone defense which should keep the games close.”

The Little Tigers feature a lot of depth in the backcourt, with junior Kevin Kane and sophomore Matt Hart at shooting guard and the trio of senior Paul Murray, junior J.C. Silva, and junior Max Tarter handing the point guard duties.

“Kevin Kane and Matt Hart can really shoot the ball and they have separated themselves from the others because of that,” said Shelley, whose team tips off the 2013-14 season by playing at Allentown on December 20.

“Kane can score in bunches. He has gotten a lot better; he played all summer and fall. Matt played a lot too and he is playing so well right now. Paul Murray is not as quick as the other point guards but he is a really savvy player. He really understands the game. J.C. makes good decisions and can shoot from the outside. Max has the best ball skills and quickness.”

A pair of battle-tested seniors, Peter Mahotiere and Callahan O’Meara, should provide good production for PHS at forward.

“Peter and Cal will be down low for us,” said Shelley. “We like the fact that they can put the ball on the floor and shoot from the outside. We are tough to guard when we have five shooters on the floor, we are working on spreading the floor and generating good matchups. We will be running a lot of one post sets.”

In Shelley’s view, PHS can win the close games by being tough on the boards and properly executing its offense.

“The biggest keys are rebounding and taking care of the ball,” said Shelley.

“We are going to have a challenge with rebounding, we drill on it everyday. We send everybody to the glass on defense. On offense, we want three to go to the glass and two to stay back. We are not going to score a ton of points so we need our point guards to make good decisions. They need to know when to run our set offense and when to take a quick shot. The basic concept is that if the defense isn’t set, we want to push it.”

With the PHS players having pushed themselves hard over the offseason, Shelley believes they are ready for the challenges ahead.

“I feel like we could have a really good season,” said Shelley. “We had a good summer of work. We are competitive. We played in the Princeton men’s summer league, the Princeton University team camp, and the Hillsborough summer high school league. We also played in a fall league. A lot of them just play basketball and they have worked hard to get ready for the season.”

NEW LOOK: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Julia Ryan looks to pass the ball in a game last winter. Sophomore guard Ryan figures to be a key performer as PHS aims to get on the winning track under new head coach Dan Van Hise. The Little Tigers open the 2013-14 season by hosting Allentown on December 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NEW LOOK: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Julia Ryan looks to pass the ball in a game last winter. Sophomore guard Ryan figures to be a key performer as PHS aims to get on the winning track under new head coach Dan Van Hise. The Little Tigers open the 2013-14 season by hosting Allentown on December 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Dan Van Hise focused on soccer during his days at Hightstown High but he gained a passion for basketball at college.

“I went to Syracuse University and developed a strong love for the game,” said Van Hise, 32, a 2003 graduate of Syracuse.

“In my previous job, I got the chance to see some of Coach Boeheim’s [legendary Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim] practices. I knew that if I ended up teaching, I would want to coach.”

Van Hise ended up teaching in the Princeton school system and coached the John Witherspoon boys’ team two years ago and was the head coach of Princeton High boys’ JV squad last winter.

While Van Hise enjoyed coaching the boys, he will be now be looking to develop the PHS girls’ team into a winner as he has taken the helm of that program.

“I met with John Miranda; I was thinking to myself that I wanted to stick with the boys, I liked where I am and where the program was going,” said Van Hise.

“John said that if I love basketball the way I do, it doesn’t make any difference whether you are coaching boys or girls.”

With the girls’ squad having gone 4-14 last winter and endured a steady diet of losing seasons in recent years, Van Hise is looking forward to the challenge of rebuilding the program.

“It is nice to get experience as a varsity head coach and I like the idea of taking over a program that has been stuck in the mud and getting it competitive,” said Van Hise, who is replacing Steffanie Shoop. “It is exciting.”

In Van Hise’s view, job one for him is to change the mentality around the program.

“Our main thing is to establish a culture of commitment, sportsmanship, and team work,” said Van Hise, whose team opens regular season play by hosting Allentown on December 20.

“I want them committed to basketball from December to March. We want to get something in place this year that we can build on.”

The PHS offense will be built around senior star forward and co-captain Liz Jacobs.

“On offense, we are going to go through Liz and play motion around her,” said Van Hise of the talented Jacobs, who is heading to Dartmouth next year where she will be playing lacrosse.

“We are trying to get Liz to think a little more on the court. She is used to getting the ball and going to the hoop. We want her to realize that she has teammates who can shoot and she can kick it out to them. We are going to run sets for her.”

Other options for the Little Tigers at forward include junior Mira Shane, junior Catherine Curran-Groome, senior Bryanna Blue, and junior Mia Levy.

“Mira is a glue girl; she talks on defense and does the little things,” said Van Hise, who will also be using freshmen Zoe Tesone and junior Ellie Maltby inside.

“Catherine worked hard in the offseason; her jump shot has really improved. Bryanna Blue is also on the mix in the frontcourt. Mia has that Levy skill, she has good court sense, sometimes her brain is ahead of her feet. She could be a player that surprises.”

PHS features two skilled players starting at guard in sophomore Julia Ryan and junior Mary Sutton.

“Julia Ryan will be the lead guard; she did a lot of work in the offseason and played AAU,” said Van Hise, who also has senior co-captain Stephanie Hauer and sophomore Crystal Wang at guard.

“She looks good and is confident on the court. She can spot up and hit her jumper or go to the basket. Mary is a good hard worker and a strong ballhandler. She can hit an open shot. We need her to be smarter with the ball, patience is a big thing for her.”

Sophomore Haley Bodden, a girls’ soccer star for PHS, will provide good depth at both guard and forward.

“Haley will be coming off the bench; she hustles and is aggressive,” said Van Hise. “She is an athlete. She can also play forward.”

Van Hise is looking for aggressiveness across the board this winter. “We won four games last season and I would like to double that,” said Van Hise.

“Defensively, they need to be willing to stop girls and not just hope that shots don’t go in. They need to be tough. On offense, we need  to be patient, we can’t get uncomfortable and just jack up a shot. We need to be more patient and work the ball from the inside out.”

BIG BROTHER: Princeton high boys’ hockey player Patrick McCormick heads up the ice in recent action. Senior captain and star defenseman McCormick has combined with younger brothers, junior Connor, and freshman Brendan, to help PHS produce a sizzling 5-0-1 start.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BIG BROTHER: Princeton high boys’ hockey player Patrick McCormick heads up the ice in recent action. Senior captain and star defenseman McCormick has combined with younger brothers, junior Connor, and freshman Brendan, to help PHS produce a sizzling 5-0-1 start. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Patrick McCormick is shouldering a lot of responsibility this winter for the Princeton High boys’ hockey team.

As the senior captain and star defenseman for PHS, McCormick knows that he needs to set the right tone on the ice.

“My role has changed a lot from last year; because we have lost guys on offense, I have had to take more of an offensive role,” said McCormick.

“In desperate situation mode, I try to rush it up as much as I can and try to get those goals. As a senior, I have to take charge of the team but the other guys match my efforts and keep up with me.”

McCormick is taking charge in the role of older brother, as two of his younger brothers, junior Connor, and freshman Brendan, also star for the Little Tigers.

“It’s fun, it’s different, it has never happened here before,” said McCormick. “It is just awesome when the three of us are out there together.”

The McCormick clan had a lot of fun last Thursday as PHS rolled to an 8-0 win over WW/P-S. Connor and Brendan each tallied two goals and two assists with Patrick chipping in a goal and two assists.

“Of course we have a connection on the ice,” said McCormick, reflecting on the family’s big night.

“We are always playing road hockey together, even in these temperatures. We will be raking leaves, and we take a 20-minute break to play free-for-all road hockey against each other.”

The McCormicks have been on the ice together for a long time. “Connor and I started playing together when we were real young,” said McCormick, noting that he took up hockey when he was around 5 or 6 at the IceLand Skating center through its Learn to Skate program.

“The funny thing was the little guy, Brendan, always wanted to come and play with us so that’s why I feel he is one of the stronger players on the ice out there. We used to be rough on him. There is a 7th grader brother, Ryan, and we rough him up the most. He is a tough, little kid, I will tell you that, he is trooper.”

PHS head coach Terence Miller knows his squad is a lot stronger due to the presence of the three McCormick brothers.

“It is fun, not only are they good players but they are great kids,” said Miller.

“Patrick as the senior, he is the captain and he takes the lead. Brendan and Connor are hard workers, very coachable. It is a real pleasure to have the three of them on the team this year. We have Brendan and Connor on the same line together and they have some nice chemistry working together on that line.”

Noting that the Little Tigers built on a 3-1 third period the day before in a 4-4 tie against WW/P-S, Miller was happy with the way his team pulled away against the Northern Knights.

“We came flat tonight; it took a few shifts for us to get our legs going a little bit,” said Miller, whose team topped Hopewell Valley 6-2 last Monday to improve to 5-0-1 with Brendan McCormick scoring three goals and Patrick McCormick contributing two assists.

“Once we got it going we were able to find a rhythm and we got a lot of guys some ice time. It is always fun to see guys get ice time.”

McCormick, for his part, believes that it is going to be a fun winter for PHS.

“We are sitting pretty but we haven’t faced our toughest teams,” said McCormick, who will look to keep up his hot play as PHS faces Pennington on December 19 at Mercer County Park and then hosts Cranford the next day at Baker Rink.

“If anything, I think it is good that we start off this way because it is preparing us for later in the season when we face those tougher teams. I am impressed with our effort, game after game. We are short on guys but we are always going as hard as we can, doing the best we possibly can.”

DRIVE THROUGH: Hun School girls’ basketball player Johnnah Johnson drives past a foe in a recent game. Last Wednesday, senior star and Robert Morris University-bound Johnson scored a game-high 13 points as Hun defeated the Pennington School 51-17 to improve to 2-1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DRIVE THROUGH: Hun School girls’ basketball player Johnnah Johnson drives past a foe in a recent game. Last Wednesday, senior star and Robert Morris University-bound Johnson scored a game-high 13 points as Hun defeated the Pennington School 51-17 to improve to 2-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over the first three years of her career with the Hun School girls’ basketball team, Johnnah Johnson used her height and strength to become a dominant inside force.

But this winter, the 6’1 senior is looking to diversify her game, having committed to play college basketball for Division I Robert Morris University.

“I am trying to take my game from just the post to the wing a little bit since I am not going to be a big person in college,” said Johnson, who is nearing the 1,000 point milestone in her Hun career as she has passed the 930 mark.

“I’ll be playing the 3-4 position so I am trying to work on my jump shots a little bit more than just my post moves and working to swing the ball to everybody else.”

Last Wednesday in a 51-17 romp over the Pennington School, Johnson showed her all around game as she hit some jumpers, ran the court well, and fired some deft passes.

“I was able to practice my moves and everything as well,” said Johnson, who scored a game-high 13 points in the victory as Hun improved to 2-1. “I also looked to pass the ball a little more than I usually do just so I can get some assists on the board and work on the high-low game.”

Coming off a tough 55-48 loss to Germantown Academy (Pa.) on December 6, Hun was looking to get into a rhythm against Pennington.

“This was a time for us to get our groove back and use this to practice our plays and our defense,” said Johnson.

“I am really proud of everybody on the team. I am proud of Janelle Mullen, Amber Bourke, and Erica Dwyer, they really stepped up tonight and did a good job.”

Johnson believes that Robert Morris will be a good fit for her when she steps up to the college level.

“It wasn’t a very big school but I love it there,” said Johnson. “The campus is beautiful. It was a place where I could thrive and I could focus.”

Hun head coach Bill Holup likes the way Johnson has been focusing on becoming a more versatile player.

“She has been really working hard on the inside out game,” said Holup. “She gets it in the post and she will kick it to the other side and back out to the wing and that has been opening things up because we do have girls that can shoot from the perimeter.”

Even though Hun cruised to victory over Pennington, leading 21-2 after the first quarter and 36-4 at halftime, Holup saw room for improvement.

“For whatever reason, our shot wasn’t there today,” said Holup. “We did move the ball pretty well. It’s nice to get the win like that where everyone got a lot of playing time.”

Junior guard Erica Dwyer has been there for the Raiders this winter, averaging 10.3 points a game.

“I would say in the preseason, her shot was a little bit off but she has been hot for us in the first few games of the season and hopefully she will keep that up,” said Holup.

“We have just got to make sure that she maintains her dribble a little bit low and keeps her head up at all times. When she has been spotting up, her shot has been on and that has been very helpful in these first three games.”

Holup is hoping to see his team build on its promising 2-1 start. “We have only three games before we head into the break,” said Holup, whose team’s game against the Shipley School (Pa.) last Saturday was postponed, meaning that the Raiders were slated to wrap up the 2013 portion of their schedule by hosting Penn Charter (Pa.) on December 17 and then facing Allentown on December 21 in the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton event.

“Hopefully we ride that momentum because the competition is going to get stronger and stronger.”

Johnson, for her part, is primed to produce a strong finish to her Hun career, on and off the court, now that she has made her college choice and is free of the pressure that goes with the recruiting process.

“I can have a lot more fun this year, I don’t have to worry about my stats,” said Johnson.

“I can focus on my grades and school and everything and just enjoying my senior year.”

FREQUENT OCCURRENCE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Brad Stern (No. 3) celebrates with Jon Bendorf (No. 21) and Bobby Wurster (No. 20) after a goal in recent action. Senior defenseman Stern and the Raiders have been torrid offensively in the early going this season, averaging 9.5 goals a game as they have produced a 3-1 start.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FREQUENT OCCURRENCE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Brad Stern (No. 3) celebrates with Jon Bendorf (No. 21) and Bobby Wurster (No. 20) after a goal in recent action. Senior defenseman Stern and the Raiders have been torrid offensively in the early going this season, averaging 9.5 goals a game as they have produced a 3-1 start. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When Brad Stern assisted on a second period tally to give the Hun School boys’ hockey team a 3-0 lead over visiting Calvert Hall last Friday, it looked like the Raiders had things under control.

But Calvert Hall responded by outscoring Hun 5-1 over the rest of the period to take a 5-4 lead into the last 15 minutes of regulation.

Stern acknowledged that the Raiders relaxed a bit after building the three-goal cushion.

“They had bus legs coming up from Maryland and we did let off a little bit,” said senior defenseman Stern.” We were very undisciplined, I would say, taking a lot of penalties.”

Coming into the third period, Hun was looking to tighten up. “The message after the second was lots of intensity, and lots of discipline,” recalled Stern. “We wanted controlled intensity.”

Displaying his intensity, Stern ripped a one-timer that classmate Spy Avgoustiniatos directed into the back of the net early in the third period to pull Hun even at 5-5.

“It was a good pass up from Alec Karanikolas and then I just shot it on,” said Stern.

“There was a good screen in front and it went right in. I did think we were going to win after that.”

Unfortunately, Hun took a string of penalties and yielded a goal with 2:17 left in regulation to fall 6-5 and taste defeat for the first time this season.

“It wears you down when you are shorthanded the whole game,” said Stern, who ended up with three assists on the game. “It is tough.”

With a roster containing four freshmen and five sophomores, Hun’s youth showed through in the defeat.

“We were flying a little high,” said Stern of the team’s 3-0 start which saw it outscore its foes 33-14. “It was like football games with us scoring 13 or 14 goals. We have a lot of young guys.”

Stern is looking to be a mentor to Hun’s group of newcomers. “It is a very, very different team so I have to lead by example and vocally on and off the ice,” said Stern. “I just keep up what Eric Szeker did last year when he was our captain.”

Hun head coach Ian McNally saw great leadership from Stern on the Calvert Hall game.

“Brad was awesome today; I told him that was one of the best games I have seen him play for us,” asserted McNally.

“It was not only the way he played but the way he led. Every time he was on the bench he was over talking to somebody in a positive way. He showed the most leadership I have seen from him. He had the on-ice game to back it up as well.”

In McNally’s view, his team can take some valuable lessons from the defeat to Calvert Hall.

“Unfortunately this is something that we needed,” said McNally, whose team plays at Gloucester Catholic on December 20 and then will be competing in the Purple Puck tournament from December 28-30 in Washington, D.C.

“We have been getting away with giving up eight goals and winning. It hasn’t bit us like this. Hopefully this is a wakeup call. We let them come back into the game and then in the third period we did turn it on. We were there, we were going to win the game and we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties that were consistently called the whole game. We need to be more disciplined. We are doing a lot of watching the puck. Every one of their goals was within five feet of the net and the guy who shot it was not contested at all.”

Hun’s group of freshmen, though, has scored plenty of goals right from the start.

“We have got Evan Barratt, who is an incredible, dynamic hockey player,” said McNally, who is also getting good play from two other newcomers, Blake Brown and Tanner Preston.

“He is very much a go-to guy on the team already. Jon Bendorf is lights out. Without those two guys, we would be in a much different situation in all of these games. We are pretty lucky to have those two.”

With a 3-1 start, Hun appears to be in a good situation going forward. “The energy is good,” said McNally. “The emotions are high but mostly in a good way. Everything is looking pretty good right now so we will keep hammering. The issues we have are easy to fix.

In Stern’s view, the Raiders are headed in the right direction. “We are jelling very well, we have good chemistry on the ice,” said Stern. “We are very optimistic. We just need to be grounded a little.”

LI WAY: Hun School boys’ basketball player Xin Li establishes inside position in recent action. Last Saturday, senior forward Li scored 13 points to help Hun top Princeton Day School 65-46 in a consolation contest at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament (PSIT). A day later, Li and the Raiders defeated Lawrenceville 73-45 to take fifth place at the PSIT and improve to 2-4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LI WAY: Hun School boys’ basketball player Xin Li establishes inside position in recent action. Last Saturday, senior forward Li scored 13 points to help Hun top Princeton Day School 65-46 in a consolation contest at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament (PSIT). A day later, Li and the Raiders defeated Lawrenceville 73-45 to take fifth place at the PSIT and improve to 2-4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Xin Li couldn’t speak English when he came to the Hun School from Qingdao, China in the fall of 2010.

But he did know how to play basketball and the powerfully built 6’5, 245-pound forward has grown into a key contributor for the Hun boys’ hoops team.

Early in his career, Li’s game was raw but his muscle and hustle made him a crowd favorite. This winter, Li has refined his game, developing a nice shooting touch to augment his physical play.

Last Saturday in a 65-46 win over Princeton Day School in a consolation contest at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament (PSIT), Li displayed his versatility.

Li scored 13 points, hitting some long range jump shots to go along with some good work down low as the Raiders pulled away from their crosstown rival.

With Hun having lost its first four games of the season coming into the contest, Li and his teammates were looking to make a statement.

“We just wanted to prove that we are a good team,” said Li, who grabbed five rebounds in the victory.

Li has put in extra effort to make himself a good player. “At high school, we have a good coach [Jon Stone] and he has always taught me to work hard every day and push myself,” said Li. “I can’t change my teammates but I can change myself.”

Combining with 6’8 senior forward Josh McGilvray and 6’7 post-graduate Remi Janicot, Li has helped give Hun a formidable inside game. “We have three big guys and we can shoot, dribble, and move faster than the defense,” said Li.

Hun head coach Jon Stone was glad to see his team move into the win column on Saturday.

“It is nice to get your first one,” said Stone. “It is definitely good to win. Hopefully we can come together a little bit as a team and continue to improve every game, that is our goal.”

Stone saw progress at both ends of the court in the victory over PDS. “I think some of our offensive execution was pretty good,” said Stone, whose team executed well on Sunday when it beat Lawrenceville 73-45 in the PSIT fifth place game to improve to 2-4 and will look to keep on the winning track as it competes in the Tip-Off Classic from December 21-22.

“We did a really good job of getting the ball inside. We did a pretty good job of sharing the ball as well offensively. The press was pretty good at times, especially in the second half. It worked well for us.”

Hun is getting some good work from Li. “He has the ability to score in different ways, he can do a lot of different things as well,” said Stone in assessing Li’s progress.

“He can really rebound. He is a big presence out there. From the time he first got here, he has improved so much. He is going to be a really good college player.”

Li, for his part, is looking to be an even bigger presence for the Raiders.

“I have to keep improving everyday,” said Li. “I need to open my mouth on defense.”

December 11, 2013
BOARD MEETING: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Spencer Reynolds, left, battles for the puck along the boards in action last week. Senior forward Reynolds has helped PHS get off to a 3-0 start under new head coach Terence Miller. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers play WW/P-S on December 11, WW/P-N on December 12, and Hopewell Valley on December 16 with all three games to take place at the Mercer County Park rink.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BOARD MEETING: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Spencer Reynolds, left, battles for the puck along the boards in action last week. Senior forward Reynolds has helped PHS get off to a 3-0 start under new head coach Terence Miller. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers play WW/P-S on December 11, WW/P-N on December 12, and Hopewell Valley on December 16 with all three games to take place at the Mercer County Park rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High boys’ hockey team mustered only one goal on 15 shots against Hightstown in the first period last Thursday, Spencer Reynolds wasn’t concerned.

“We knew going in that they had a short bench so it was just a matter of wearing them down,” said PHS senior star Reynolds. “I think everything was clicking; we were getting shots on net.”

In the second period, Reynolds got some shots in the back of the net, tallying twice in a span of 3:18 as PHS jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back on the way to a 7-0 win.

“I definitely think that gave us some momentum,” said Reynolds, reflecting on his two tallies. “It got everyone fired up.”

A night later, the Little Tigers kept rolling as they topped Lawrence 5-2 to improve to 3-0.

In Reynolds’ view, getting three wins in the first week of the season has helped get PHS get into a rhythm.

“We can get a feel for each other and get some energy going,” said Reynolds, who scored a goal in the victory over Lawrence. “It is a lot easier coming back to practice when you are winning games. It is pretty tough when you are losing them.”

Reynolds is looking to give the Little Tigers a jolt in his senior year with the program.

“My role is bringing speed and energy,” said Reynolds. “I like to play physical but I like to keep myself in control. This is a last chance to make things happen.”

First-year PHS head coach Terence Miller likes the way Reynolds has been making things happen so far this season.

“Spencer has been skating well for us and has been moving his feet well,” said Miller.

“He was originally a defenseman but we moved him to forward. He has got really good speed and he is a great skater so we try to use his speed and that stuff on the forecheck and let him loose on the wing.”

In reflecting on the win over Hightstown, Miller had a feeling his team would eventually break loose from the Rams.

“As I told their coach, their goalie was lights out in the first period; he really stood on his head there and kept them in it,” said Miller. “We just had to keep pressing and stick to our guns. We weren’t trying to change anything. We just had to keep it simple. I told the guys we just had to get traffic in front of the net and keep firing away.”

Senior star defenseman Patrick McCormick got PHS fired up as he tallied the fourth goal in the win over Hightstown, skating end-to-end through the Rams and then flying through the air after his shot, a la Bobby Orr.

“Patrick brings that to the table,” said Miller. “He is always a threat to attack from the back end. That was a nice goal to help separate us from them there and build up that lead.”

A trio of freshmen, Tooker Callaway, Brendan McCormick, and Eamon McDonald, have gotten off to a nice start for the Little Tigers

“Tooker has done well; he is a big, strong kid,” said Miller. “He is a good skater; he has really helped solidify us on the back end there along the blue line. I think young Brendan McCormick has done well. Eamon McDonald at defenseman is another guy I have been happy with early on here.”

While it is very early in the season, Miller is happy with how PHS is looking. “We have to keep plugging along,” said Miller, whose team is slated to play WW/P-S on December 11, WW/P-N on December 12, and Hopewell Valley on December 16 with all three games to take place at the Mercer County Park rink.

“It is going to get tougher and tougher as we go along. We are going to have keep improving and stick to our guns; keeping it simple and playing hard. We have gotten our feet under us in the first two games. It is going to take some more time. We are off to a good start and we are just looking to keep it rolling.”

Reynolds, for his part, believes that the Little Tigers are going to have a good time this winter.

“I think we have just a few minor kinks that we have to work out and we will be able to build up some speed and make some more progress,” said Reynolds.

SISTERLY BOND: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice last winter. Junior star Herring and younger sister, freshman Maggie, should form a potent one-two punch for PHS this season. The Little Tigers open their 2013-14 campaign by playing at perennial WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) power Morristown-Beard on December 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SISTERLY BOND: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice last winter. Junior star Herring and younger sister, freshman Maggie, should form a potent one-two punch for PHS this season. The Little Tigers open their 2013-14 campaign by playing at perennial WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) power Morristown-Beard on December 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Christian Herzog doesn’t wait to put his Princeton High girls’ hockey team under pressure.

“I like to start with Mo-Beard,” said PHS head coach Herzog, whose team will get its 2013-14 campaign underway by playing at perennial WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) power Morristown-Beard on December 11.

“They are at the top of the league and I want the girls to see the best so they know how hard they have to work.”

Herzog is expecting some good work this winter from his top forward line, which includes the Herring sisters, junior Lucy and freshman Maggie, along with sophomore Isabelle Sohn.

“The Herrings are dynamite together; they work well with each other,”said Herzog. “Lucy is looking really strong. I think Maggie is farther along as a freshman than Lucy was at the same point. I have Isabelle Sohn on the first line with them. I like that she is aggressive.”

PHS will need some aggressive play from its other forwards, which include senior Merritt Peck, senior Molly O’Brien, and junior Erin Forden.

“I will have Merritt Peck and Molly O’Brien on the second line, they are both hard workers,” said Herzog. “Erin Forden is also in the mix. I am looking at some others. We need somebody to be a finisher on that line.”

On defense, the Little Tigers can count on aggressive play from senior captain Kate Sohn and junior Julia DiTosto, who is returning to the ice after being sidelined last year due to injury.

“Kate is great for us as a leader,” asserted Herzog. “She gets everyone on the same page. She is very specific on instructions. Julia is looking good; it looks like she never missed a beat. She is a tough player.”

The PHS defensive corps should also include junior Britney Coniglione, sophomore Sophia Corrodi, and junior Marian Hancock-Cerutti.

“Coniglione will be another defenseman,” added Herzog, whose team will hold its home opener on December 13 at Baker Rink against the Portledge School (N.Y.).

“Corrodi plays with Nassau, she can skate. Hancock-Cerutti played some shifts in defense; I am thinking about using her there this year.”

As its last line of defense, PHS will be using sophomore Callie Urisko and senior Breanna Hegarty-Thorne at goalie.

“The goaltenders have both gotten better,” asserted Herzog. “Callie is getting into the butterfly style and she is good on angles. Breanna is aggressive, she will come out and make a run at you.”

Although PHS is coming off a winless campaign, Herzog believes the team can have a good run this winter.

“I don’t use the record to judge the season, the girls are very excited to play,” said Herzog. “I am looking forward to the season. The girls need to keep working hard, we need to keep pushing the envelope. We can’t let in early goals; that hurt us last year.”

While the Princeton High girls’ swimming team wasn’t pushed as it rolled to a 112-58 win over Robbinsville in its season opener last week, Greg Hand still saw the meet as an important test.

“Regardless of the opponent, I will always be looking for a certain few qualities in the team,” said longtime PHS head coach Hand, reflecting on the December 3 contest.

“I think we have made a lot of progress since training began, pulling ourselves together and understanding how we do things. We competed; we were really there for each other.”

Freshman Melinda Tang made a nice debut in the win, earning victories in both 200-yard individual medley and the 500 freestyle. Other victors for PHS in the meet included Jamie Liu in the 200 free, Madeleine Deardorff in the 100 butterfly, Brianna Romaine in the 100 free, and Belinda Liu in the 100 backstroke.

In Hand’s view, his core of senior swimmers will be there for the team all winter.

“We have a great crew of seniors who really understand what we want it to feel like and try to make that happen,” said Hand, whose Class of 2014 includes Belinda Liu, Taylor Chang, Lizzy Till, Kelsey Schwimmer, and Melanie Williams with Chiang, Liu, and Schwimmer serving as team captains for the program which went 13-1 last winter and won its first-ever county title.

“Those kids have been here since the beginning; they get it. It is not that you walk on the deck and say it is a Princeton practice, it is that within the team we know what we are doing better and better everyday we train and in every meet. So in this meet, we did stuff right. There were a lot of kids getting their first chance at high school swimming, regardless of their ability level.”

PHS boasts a solid group of freshman swimmers who are taking advantage of their chance to compete at the high school level.

“We have a really nice freshman class; there is quite a bit of depth,” said Hand, citing newcomers Tang, Jamie Liu, Maddie Troilo, and Maddie Whaley as swimmers who make an impact right away for the Little Tigers.

“Some kids have been club swimming for quite a while now and other kids have been swimming year-round, maybe a little younger in the sport and some kids who are high school only. They seem to be very hard workers and it was nice to see how excited they were about racing. That whole crowd seems really enthusiastic. In a couple of years, that will be the real center of gravity for the team. It is exciting to have that level of enthusiasm.”

It is exciting for PHS to have two sophomore stars in Deardorff and Romaine.

“They are just great competitors,” asserted Hand, whose team topped Lawrence 102-68 last Thursday and will face Hopewell Valley on December 12 in a meet taking place at the Pennington School pool.

“As committed as they are to becoming their best, they really maintain composure. Their nervousness is a positive nervousness. I think the other kids understand, whether they are older or younger, that these are two athletes to whom they can look to learn from on how to approach the sport.”

And based on how PHS approached its opener, the squad appears headed to another positive season.

MAKING WAVES: Princeton High boys’ swimming star Peter Kalibat powers to victory in a race last season. Senior Kalibat and a stellar group of classmates are looking to end their PHS careers with a bang. The Little Tigers, who have won three straight county crowns and five consecutive Public B Central Jersey titles, opened their 2013-14 season with a 131-39 win over Robbinsville last week.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING WAVES: Princeton High boys’ swimming star Peter Kalibat powers to victory in a race last season. Senior Kalibat and a stellar group of classmates are looking to end their PHS careers with a bang. The Little Tigers, who have won three straight county crowns and five consecutive Public B Central Jersey titles, opened their 2013-14 season with a 131-39 win over Robbinsville last week. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2012, a stellar group of seniors helped the Princeton High boys’ swimming team make history as it went undefeated and won the program’s first-ever state title.

That group of seniors, which included such standouts as Matt Kuhlik, Jacques Bazile, Harun Filipovic, Derek Colaizzo, Addison Hebert, and Victor Honore, ended their careers with a bang, setting eight team records in 11 events as they routed Scotch Plains-Fanwood 109-61 in the state Public B championship meet.

This winter, PHS boasts another group of seniors who have the potential to make some history of their own.

The team’s Class of 2014 which includes such stalwarts as Peter Kalibat, Scott MacKenzie, Matt Purdy, Will Stange, Matt Tam, and Colburn Yu, went 15-1 last year, winning the program’s third straight county crown and fifth consecutive Public B Central Jersey title.

While PHS head coach Greg Hand isn’t forecasting another state title, he acknowledges that his veterans could do some special things.

“This year is going to test them,” said Hand. “As good as they are, this will be their chance, just as the seniors a couple of years ago had their chance, not to win the championship, I don’t mean the external, that would be great, but to become a kind of team that really produced their very best effort when we needed it.”

Opening its season against Robbinsville last week, PHS produced an outstanding effort as it posted a 131-39 win. The seniors helped lead the way for the Little Tigers as Stange won the 200 individual medley, Purdy placed first in the 500 freestyle, and Tam won the 100 breaststroke. Other victors for PHS included Alex Bank in the 200 free, Alex Petruso in the 50 free, Gabriel Bar-Cohen in the 100 butterfly, and Matthew Shanahan in the 100 backstroke.

“This meet showed some understanding of what the team wants to be about,” said Hand. “Regardless of the opponent, it is a question of do we understand what kind of team we are going to have to be if we have even a shot, even a glimmer of a possibility of being a county champion or a sectional champion, let alone a state champion. So it is really important that these guys show each other that they understand if we get too far ahead of ourselves, we’ll be finished early. I like what I saw today, there was a lot of good positive team spirit.”

PHS is expecting some positive contributions from a crop of promising freshman swimmers.

“Alex Petruso, Will Kinney, Gabriel Bar-Cohen are three kids who are serious club swimmers,” said Hand. “Jaime Schettini has been in club for a little while now. Club says a lot, it shows how much you love the sport and how committed you are to taking the time necessary. If you come to the high school environment, valuing the team, which all of these guys are doing, then good things are going to happen.”

The committed group of seniors is determined to do big things in their final campaign.

“We couldn’t have a better set of role models than the experienced guys,” asserted Hand, whose team topped Lawrence 117-53 last Thursday and will face Hopewell Valley on December 12 in a meet taking place at the Pennington School pool.

“The thing about the seniors is that everybody has improved, everybody has been working hard, and I mean for the last nine months. We have four captains in Stange, Kalibat, Purdy, and Tam. Matt Tam is such a contributor to this team, he swam a PR in the breaststroke tonight. There are meets in which that wouldn’t necessarily score but he won it tonight. What he brings is an absolutely indomitable spirit, a positive approach to things, and a willingness to be enthusiastic when other people might be a little bit timid about it. It is a huge ingredient in our success I think.”

Featuring those seniors along with some precocious newcomers, PHS should enjoy huge success this winter.

TRIPLE CROWN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Andrew Clayton looks for an opening in action last weekend at the program’s Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at Lisa McGraw Rink. Senior defenseman and assistant captain Clayton came up big as PDS topped Moses Brown School (R.I.) 4-0 in the title game. It was the third straight title for the Panthers at the event.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRIPLE CROWN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Andrew Clayton looks for an opening in action last weekend at the program’s Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at Lisa McGraw Rink. Senior defenseman and assistant captain Clayton came up big as PDS topped Moses Brown School (R.I.) 4-0 in the title game. It was the third straight title for the Panthers at the event. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team posted a 6-4 win over Rye Country Day (N.Y.) last Friday in the opening round of its Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at Lisa McGraw Rink, the Panthers weren’t pleased with their performance.

“Coach [Scott Bertoli] gave it to us a little after yesterday’s game, saying that we are not playing to our potential at all right now,” said PDS star senior defenseman and assistant captain Andrew Clayton.

“When we play better teams we play up. The opposite is true as well; I think we played down to the other team a little bit yesterday. When you play less competitive teams, you get away from the simple things and you try to do too much which ends up hurting you a lot.”

A day later, the Panthers displayed plenty of competitive fire as they defeated Moses Brown School (R.I.) 4-0 to earn their third straight title at the event, which is in its 44th year.

“It was so much different, we played with energy and passion,” said Clayton, reflecting on the team’s performance which saw it outshoot Moses Brown 43-18 and break the game open with three goals in the second period.

“Yesterday, we were just flat, we played terrible in our defensive zone. Today was much better. When you are playing for a championship, there is extra motivation. We were just better all the way around.”

PDS brought special motivation into the title game as they wanted to please the legendary Rulon-Miller, a former Panther coach and rink manager, who was a constant presence at the tourney all weekend long.

“We always seem to not play too great in the first game and then we come back,” said Clayton.

“We want to win for Harry, he is great for the school and he does everything for us. It means a lot for us to win.”

Clayton wants to perpetuate the program’s storied tradition.

“I have been on this team for a while now; we have been so successful so you want to keep that going,” said Clayton.

“No matter who we have out there, we know we can compete with anyone and win games. When you see kids from last year, they really do still care. They come back and they text us after every game, asking us how we are doing. It’s not just for us, it’s for the alumni who have played in the past.”

Clayton has raised the level of his game. “I think I am just more confident with the puck,” said Clayton, who had two goals in the win over Rye and added an assist in the title game.

“The coaches have faith in me and that always helps. I am better with the tempo and being able to skate with the puck.”

PDS head coach Bertoli liked the tempo he saw from his players in the title game.

“I was pretty critical of the performance yesterday and this was a complete 180, I couldn’t be more proud of the way they played,” said Bertoli, who got two goals apiece from senior Lewie Blackburn and junior Will Wright in the victory over Moses Brown.

“You are always happy with a result that ends up in your favor but I think the way we went about our business, the way we played, the way we competed to play at that level this early is exciting. Hopefully, it bodes well.”

The Panthers played better as a unit against Moses Brown. “I thought that we got a little selfish yesterday,” said Bertoli.

“We tried to do too many things individually and played one-on-one. I thought we made a conscious effort today of just simplifying it and supporting one another and playing hard hockey; winning 50/50 battles.”

Bertoli was proud of the effort he got from unsung heroes Wright and Blackburn.

“Some guys stepped up and scored goals who hadn’t scored goals before,” noted Bertoli.

“Will Wright scored two goals and those are his first two high school goals. He is usually on third line. Today with Kyle Weller not here, he steps in and plays on the top line and they really don’t miss a beat. Lewie has also stepped up, I think those were his first two goals of the year. His line has been great. Connor Fletcher, Johnny Egner, and Lewie play the way they need to play. They grind it out, they get involved in the cycle down low. They are all talented enough to score goals. It was nice to see them get rewarded like that.”

The Panthers got nice defensive play from its defensive unit, led by Clayton and classmate C.J. Young.

“The defense was getting way too involved in the offense and today I think  they simplified and supported each other,” said Bertoli.

“Our breakouts and defense-to-defense play, the way we made decisions leaving the zone was completely different from yesterday. It allows our forwards to handle pucks in the middle of the rink and create offensive opportunities. Andrew and C.J. are the two guys that we count on to lead the way, they were good today as were the other four guys.”

Freshman goalie Logan Kramsky handled himself well between the pipes in the title game, making 18 saves to earn the shutout.

“The kid in net makes timely saves when he needs to,” said Bertoli of Kramsky.

“He didn’t get tested a lot but there were points in the game and in every game where you rely on those guys to make critical saves and keep momentum going in your favor. He did that again today. He’s good. He plays a high level of travel hockey. You can tell that he has been well coached. Fundamentally, the kid is flawless. He competes like heck and he wants to be in there.”

Drawing inspiration from Rulon-Miller, the Panthers displayed the brand of hockey that could make them a force in the newly-formed Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) which includes Lawrenceville, Hill School (Pa.), Portledge School (N.Y.), LaSalle College High (Pa.), and Wyoming Seminary (Pa.).

“Harry is a fixture around here; he means everything to this hockey program and this school and we were proud to not only win but to play the way we did today,” said Bertoli, whose team improved to 3-0 and hosts Morristown High on December 12 and Bishop Eustace School on December 17.

“It’s not that I don’t care about the result but I am more concerned about the process and how we played at the end of the day. Playing the important games in our league and the tournaments that we have ahead of us, we need to elevate the level of our play to compete against these top schools. I was happy to see, not only that we won and got a piece of hardware, but we played the right way.”

Clayton, for his part, knows that the Panthers will have to compete hard every game in order get more hardware.

“Our schedule is about to ramp up and get a lot tougher,” said Clayton. “We know how we played today and we know how we need to play to be successful. We just need to do that a little more consistently and not every other game or  every third game. We need to bring that energy to every game.”

ROCKING ROBIN: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Robin Linzmayer controls the puck in action last weekend in the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at PDS’s Lisa McGraw Rink. On Sunday, senior defenseman and team captain Linzmayer scored two goals as PDS defeated the Princeton Tiger Lilies 5-1 to win the tournament. The Panthers, now 3-0, will look to keep on the winning track when they host Pingry on December 11 and play at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ROCKING ROBIN: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Robin Linzmayer controls the puck in action last weekend in the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at PDS’s Lisa McGraw Rink. On Sunday, senior defenseman and team captain Linzmayer scored two goals as PDS defeated the Princeton Tiger Lilies 5-1 to win the tournament. The Panthers, now 3-0, will look to keep on the winning track when they host Pingry on December 11 and play at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into last weekend, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team hadn’t won its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational since 2002, a drought that Robin Linzmayer and her senior classmates were determined to end.

“I have been on this team for four years and every year all of the seniors say we are going to win this year because we haven’t won it for so long,” said star defenseman and team captain Linzmayer.

“We are the seniors this year so we were the ones that were — OK we are winning. This is our last chance.”

After defeating the Quarry Cats 4-0 in the opening round on Saturday, PDS had its chance for the title as it faced the Princeton Tiger Lilies in the championship game on Sunday morning at PDS’s Lisa McGraw Rink.

But with the elusive crown in sight, the Panthers fell behind 1-0 in the second period. But picking up its game, PDS responded with goals by Carly King and Linzmayer to take a 2-1 lead into the third period.

“You could tell as a group that we really wanted to win, especially between the second and third period when we came into the locker room,” said Linzmayer, whose fellow seniors include Mary Travers, Abby Sharer, Mimi Matthews, and Colby Triolo.

“We all went around talking about what we thought we could improve on in the game. You could definitely see the shift in the way the girls skated faster, went harder to the puck, and just put in that extra bit of effort to make it happen.”

The Panthers made things happen in the third period, scoring three unanswered goals to pull away to a 5-1 triumph.

The breakthrough prompted a raucous post-game celebration as the PDS players hugged on the ice and posed for multiple team pictures in front of their goal with their hard earned trophy.

“I am really excited,” said a grinning Linzmayer “It took the team 11, 12 years and it took us three but I am glad we ended it on this note. I hope the underclassmen can keep it up and maybe it will be we haven’t lost in 10 years.”

Linzmayer strives to keep the team’s intensity up when she is on the ice.

“As a defenseman I am looking to be positive,” explained Linzmayer. “If I keep my feet moving, others will do the same. How I see it working in sports is that there is a lot of momentum shift from player to player. So if I can set the standard and get kids going, that is awesome because that is exactly what I am looking to do.”

PDS head coach Lorna Gifis Cook knows exactly what she is going to get from Linzmayer on a daily basis.

“Robin is consistent, she always comes and plays hard,” said Cook. “We have been working to get all the forwards helping out with our defense so the defenseman can be more aggressive in the offensive zone. I thought we did a good job of that today, which allowed Robin to take more control.”

Cook acknowledged that it took a while for the Panthers to take control of the title contest against a gritty Tiger Lilies squad.

“We were fortunate that we escaped the first period still scoreless,” said Cook.

“I think we came out flat. The girls were so excited that it took a little while to get things cooking. Carly picking up that first goal was huge, just to get one past her and get that momentum going and then getting the power play goal after that. The flurry of goals in the third period was great to see. Once they felt more comfortable working the puck around the offensive zone, they created more chances and got more shots.”

PDS got some great contributions across the board in the victory. “I thought Kristi [Serafin] did a better job towards the end of the game moving the puck on the rush,” said Cook, who got good goalie play from freshman Annika Asplundh along with junior Katie Alden, the PDS recipient of the Christopher Reeve Sportsmanship Award for the tournament

“Colby [Triolo] and Mary [Travers] did a good job as wingers getting up the ice. Daphne [Stanton] is always impressive, she is always so positionally sound. Emma [Stillwaggon] is dealing with an injury and took a stick to the neck. She is always beat up because of the way she plays; she is smaller and she plays tough. She battles hard and she did a really good job covering for our defense. She had a goal, that was a big one.”

It was big for the Panthers to finally achieve their breakthrough at the invitational. “It is great; the boys winning last year and this year puts some extra pressure on us,” said Cook, whose team improved to 3-0 with the win on Sunday.

“It is really nice to come away with a win. I thought the past two years, they have played really well in the tournament so it has been close. It is really nice to finally seal the deal today.”

In assessing her team’s hot start, Cook sees progress on and off the ice.

“Aside from the first period and a half today, they have looked really good,” said Cook, whose team hosts Pingry on December 11 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 16.

“They have created a lot of chances; they have moved the puck well. They are a really close team and you can see that in practices and games. We have really high expectations for this group. It is a lot of pressure but it is a lot of fun.”

Linzmayer, for her part, is looking forward to having a lot more fun this winter. “We get along really well; I am sure we are going to grow closer as the season goes along,” said Linzmayer.

“The seniors and the upperclassmen in general are all doing a great job bringing the team together. We have a lot of talent on the team, we have got a lot of work ethic. It looks like we are going to have a good season.”

FORD FOCUS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Ford Schneider dribbles upcourt in a game last winter. Shooting guard Schneider is one of nine seniors on the PDS squad who will be looking to end their careers with a bang. The Panthers, who opened their season with a 65-46 loss to Pennington on Monday, are next in action when they compete in the Peddie School Invitational Tournament from December 13-15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FORD FOCUS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Ford Schneider dribbles upcourt in a game last winter. Shooting guard Schneider is one of nine seniors on the PDS squad who will be looking to end their careers with a bang. The Panthers, who opened their season with a 65-46 loss to Pennington on Monday, are next in action when they compete in the Peddie School Invitational Tournament from December 13-15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having ended his Princeton Day School boys’ basketball career last winter with a program record 2,102 points, Davon Reed can’t be replaced.

But while superstar guard Reed, who is currently starring at the University of Miami, will be sorely missed by the Panthers, he has left a legacy of success that PDS plans to build on this winter.

“Obviously when you lose a player like Davon, there is going to be a void to fill,” said PDS head coach Paris McLean of Reed, who helped the Panthers go 19-8 last winter and make their second straight appearance in the state Prep B title game.

“The players returning have played two or three years of varsity ball, they are ready for their moment and they deserve their moment. Davon will tell you and the returners will tell you that our program is not one player.”

The Panthers boast two talented and battle-tested players at guard in seniors Langston Glaude and Deante Cole.

“Langston and Deante both came in bigger, stronger, and faster; they had great summers and are really showing good leadership,” said McLean, whose team started the 2013-14 season by losing 65-46 to Pennington last Monday. “They have been looking as great as a two guard combination. Langston has a mid-range game and can attack the rim. Deante has really improved as a facilitator and handling game management.”

The Panthers have some other veterans in the backcourt who can handle themselves in a trio of seniors, Ford Schneider, Zach Banks, and Brandon Glover along with junior Josiah Meekins.

“Ford Schneider has been fantastic, he had some great games last year and he is building off of his junior year,” said McLean. “Zach has been great, he is going to have a role, we will need him to relieve Langston and Deante. He knows our system. Meekins and Glover are similar players but they have a different dynamic.”

Freshman Chase Lewis figures to be a dynamic newcomer this winter. “Chase Lewis is ready to step in and play,” said McLean. “He has a great outside shot and he can finish. He has a good confidence, he doesn’t get deterred like some young players do. He really wants to learn and has been taking the opportunity to learn from our senior leaders.”

McLean is looking for two seniors, Chris Okorodudu and Dan Lee, to be leaders in the frontcourt.

“We need Chris to step up,” said McLean. “He can shoot and finish at the rim. He is long on defense and can disrupt passing lanes. With some consistency, he can be a force. Dan Lee has looked good in the preseason. He is attacking the basket more. He is learning that less is more and to do straight drives. He can get on the glass.”

Two newcomers to the varsity team, junior J.P. Radvany and senior Ben Levine, should give the Panthers additional strength on the glass.

“J.P. Radvany is a great addition; he played his first year and then took sophomore year off to concentrate on baseball,” said McLean.

“He is around 6’4 and 200 pounds. He has the ability to get out and run in the open court. He is not afraid to mix it up. He will do the dirty work and the little things. Ben Levine has worked his way through the program, he will give us minutes off the bench. He is physical and will block people out.”

In McLean’s view, PDS has the ability to do some good things this winter.

“This is a group that can produce a lot,” said McLean, whose team is next in action when it competes in the Peddie School Invitational Tournament from December 13-15.

“We need to play a team-oriented game. We need to take better care of the ball on offense, we need to limit teams to one shot and control the defensive boards. I think we are going to surprise some people. We have nine seniors, this is their moment. They have worked hard to reach this point. It has been a great three years and they can end with a great fourth year. They want to finish what they have started.”

PASSING GAME: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Harlyn Bell passes the ball in action last winter. Junior guard Bell figures be a key performer for Stuart this winter as the Tartans look to improve on the 2-13 record they posted last season. Stuart tips off its 2013-14 campaign by playing at Villa Victoria on December 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PASSING GAME: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Harlyn Bell passes the ball in action last winter. Junior guard Bell figures be a key performer for Stuart this winter as the Tartans look to improve on the 2-13 record they posted last season. Stuart tips off its 2013-14 campaign by playing at Villa Victoria on December 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Dana Leary heads into her second season as the head coach of the Stuart Country Day School basketball team, she feels that the program is headed in the right direction.

“We are still in a period of rebuilding; we are starting further ahead than we were last year,” said Leary, who guided the Tartans to a 2-13 record last winter in her debut campaign.

“I have six returners; they understand my system and they understand the expectations. I am expecting more progress this year from us.”

Leary is expecting big things from her frontcourt trio of senior Maggie Walsh, junior Nneka Onukwugha, and sophomore Kate Walsh, Maggie’s younger sister.

“Maggie Walsh is a senior, she is a great leader and role model,” said Leary. “She is very fundamentally sound offensively and defensively. We are working with her to be more aggressive offensively. Nneka and Kate give us an inside presence. They provide great height and strong post play, Kate has showed a lot of growth and improvement. She is more aggressive offensively, she is looking to attack the basket.”

In the backcourt, sophomore Harley Guzman has shown a lot of growth at point guard.

“In the middle of last season she took over the role of point guard and did a good job,” said Leary, whose team opens the 2013-14 season by playing at Villa Victoria on December 11.

“She embraced it last year and stepped up. She is familiar with the position now and has improved offensively and defensively. She has developed into a point guard. She can handle the ball well and we have talked to her about improving her decision-making. She is more confident this year.”

Leary has confidence in two other veterans at guard, junior Harlyn Bell and sophomore Rose Tetnowski. “Harlyn Bell has emerged as a leader this year,” said Leary, who will also be using a quartet of freshmen Milan Kainer, Julia Kahn, Ally McGowen, and Vanessa Williams in the backcourt.

“She plays mostly as guard but she has the ability to give us depth in the post. She is a player who I think is really going to step up for us this year. Rose Tetnowski is versatile, she can play both guard positions. I want to see her more in the ‘2’ role this year.”

Stuart will look to play sharper this winter. “We emphasize developing the fundamentals and understanding of the game on a daily basis,” said Leary.

“We need to take better care of the ball on offense and we need to be more aggressive defensively. We played mainly zone last year, this year we want to have more options and give our opponents different looks.”

In Leary’s view, her players possess the mentality to apply those lessons. “It is a very coachable team, they have a desire to learn,” said Leary. “They have great team spirit; they are good teammates to one another.”

December 4, 2013
BROTHER ACT: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Connor ­McCormick, left, waits for the puck in action last season. The junior star is one of three McCormick bothers on the team along with senior Patrick and freshman Brendan. The ­McCormick brothers helped the Little Tigers get off to a good start last Monday under new head coach Terence Miller as PHS opened the season with a 11-0 win over Nottingham. The Little Tigers are next in action when they face Hightstown on December 5 and Lawrence on December 6 with both games slated to be played at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BROTHER ACT: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Connor ­McCormick, left, waits for the puck in action last season. The junior star is one of three McCormick bothers on the team along with senior Patrick and freshman Brendan. The ­McCormick brothers helped the Little Tigers get off to a good start last Monday under new head coach Terence Miller as PHS opened the season with a 11-0 win over Nottingham. The Little Tigers are next in action when they face Hightstown on December 5 and Lawrence on December 6 with both games slated to be played at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Terence Miller boasts a wealth of experience around the Princeton High boys’ hockey team as he takes the helm of the program this winter.

“I have been an assistant coach for six of the last seven years,” said new PHS head coach Miller, who is succeeding Tim Campbell.

“I know all the guys. I played for the program; it really makes it special. I am familiar with the school, program, and the CVC.”

As a result of Miller’s ties to the program, the transition has been smooth.

“It is a good group,” said Miller, who guided the Little Tigers to a 11-0 win over Nottingham last Monday in his debut as PHS looks to build on the 10-9-1 record posted last season.

“They know my coaching style. They know what we expect. PHS has a strong tradition in the CVC; we take pride in playing the game the right way.”

PHS features some strong offensive threats at forward in junior John Reid, junior Jackson Andres, freshman Brendan McCormick, sophomore Nathan Drezner, and senior Spencer Reynolds.

“John Reid will be depended on to contribute as well as Jackson Andres,” said Miller, who will also be using Chris Munoz and Anthony Trainer at forward.

“Brendan McCormick will be a good player for us. Nathan Drezner is bigger and better, he will be a top six forward for us. Spencer Reynolds will be in the mix. He played defenseman before and is a strong, fast skater.”

The older McCormick brothers, senior Patrick and junior Connor, will spearhead the PHS defense.

“We had to move Connor McCormick to defense because we lost Harrison Naylor; he will be paired with his brother Patrick,” said Miller, whose team faces Hightstown on December 5 and Lawrence on December 6 with both games slated to be played at Mercer County Park.

“Patrick is our engine, he is a four-year starter, He is a good leader, he is our quarterback. He can get into the rush, I am looking for him to give us a Brian Leetch or Bobby Orr imitation.”

Miller will also be using a pair of freshmen, Tooker Callaway and Eamon McDonald on the blue line.

“Tooker Callaway is third on the depth chart, he will see some minutes,” added Miller. “He is a big kid. Eamon McDonald is the fourth defenseman.”

At goalie, the Little Tigers will feature a tandem of senior Robert Quinn and freshman Sawyer Peck.

“Robert is looking good; he has gotten better,” said Miller. “He doesn’t have years of goalie experience so he is a little raw. He is a very good athlete. Peck is right there with him; they are neck and neck right now. That is probably my biggest decision. Robert is a senior but we want to get Sawyer as many minutes as possible as he is the goalie of the future for us.”

With his deep ties to the program, Miller will be looking to maintain the hallmarks of the PHS style.

“We will play a defensive-type of system; we are not going to be run and gun,” said Miller.

“We will be a tight checking team. We will pick our spots offensively and look to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes. We will defend as a unit. We will try to keep the games tight. We want to play disciplined. We have never been the biggest team. We usually have two lines, two-three good defensemen and a scrappy goalie; that is our identity.”

TON OF FUN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Andrew Clayton goes after a puck in a game last season. PDS will be looking to senior defenseman Clayton to be a key performer this winter. The Panthers, who went 21-3-1 last year and shared the state Prep championship, were slated to start their season with a home game against St. Augustine Academy on December 3 and then host the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 6-7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TON OF FUN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Andrew Clayton goes after a puck in a game last season. PDS will be looking to senior defenseman Clayton to be a key performer this winter. The Panthers, who went 21-3-1 last year and shared the state Prep championship, were slated to start their season with a home game against St. Augustine Academy on December 3 and then host the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 6-7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last winter, a stellar group of nine seniors sparked the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey to a memorable campaign as the Panthers went 21-3-1 and shared the state Prep championship.

While PDS will miss its Class of 2013, those players have left a legacy that should benefit the program this winter.

“They did some terrific things for the program,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, referring to last year’s seniors.

“The most important thing was that they created a culture of winning. It is up to juniors and seniors to continue that and take ownership. The seniors last year were not only great on the ice, they were good in the dressing room. They were good chemistry guys and exemplary student athletes.”

Bertoli believes that his quartet of current senior leaders, captain Sean Timmons and alternate captains Andrew Clayton, John Egner, and Connor Bitterman can keep that culture of winning intact.

“They are good kids, they have been varsity players for the last three years so they have experienced a lot of success,” said Bertoli, whose team was slated to start the season with a home game against St. Augustine Academy on December 3 and then hosting its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 6-7.

“I think we were something like 39-8-1 over the last two years. They were a big part of it and they know what it takes to be successful.”

Battle-tested forward Timmons should be a big gun for the Panthers this winter.

“Timmons has scored and produced for us over the last three years,” said Bertoli.

“He has played in every situation; he has gotten stronger. I really like the way his game is developing. I fully expect him to lead the way for us.”

Bitterman and sophomore Kyle Weller are also developing into offensive threats.

“Bitterman is always the fastest player on the ice; he is the most improved player in the program over the last three years,” said Bertoli, who will also be using Egner, senior Lewie Blackburn, sophomore Connor Fletcher, junior Mason Ward, freshman Keith Asplundh, sophomore Harrison Latham, senior Gabe Castagna, senior Hap Ammidon, and junior Will Wright at forward.

“He is understanding how to utilize his speed. His skills have developed and improved. Weller is extremely talented. He is healthy this year and has grown three-four inches. I look for him to do very well.”

On defense, Bertoli is expecting seniors Clayton and C.J. Young to do very well.

“Andrew Clayton got lost in the shuffle at times last year but when he played, he was outstanding at decision-making and distributing the puck,” said Bertoli.

“C.J. Young is a year round Tier 1 hockey player; he handles the puck well. They are going to log a lot of minutes and be out there in every situation.”

Junior Will Garrymore and sophomore Chris Hemlinger will see a lot of time as well along the blue line.

“Garrymore was in the mix at times last year, he understands our system and is a skilled player,” said Bertoli, whose defensive unit will also include freshman Gianluca Travia and senior Nelson Garrymore.

“He will be relied on in the power play and penalty kill. Chris Hemlinger was the seventh guy last year, now he is fourth. He has played a high level of travel hockey; he has a big body and he has been waiting for his opportunity and now it is here.”

At goalie, three players, sophomores Mark Anarumo and Colin Burgess together with freshman Logan Kramsky will get opportunities.

“Between the three of them, there is a lot of talent,” said Bertoli. “The three of them will compete and we are very confident with any one of them in there. It is a little early to tell who will be the starter. We have a scrimmage and some practices before the opener so we will see.”

The Panthers will be seeing some tough competition as it will participate in the newly-formed Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) along with Lawrenceville and Hill School (Pa.), Portledge School (N.Y.), LaSalle College High (Pa.), and Wyoming Seminary (Pa.).

“These are schools that we didn’t play four years ago but have played the last two or three years and have had success,” said Bertoli.

“They are the schools that we want to compete with and be at the same level. We know that some are boarding schools and have post-grads and that gives them an inherent advantage. I want the kids to compete on a higher level and be challenged. As athletes and hockey players, you gain so much more from that.”

While it may take a while for this year’s squad to reach a high level, Bertoli is confident the program will maintain its winning tradition. “We need to establish who this team is and what our identity is going to be,” said Bertoli.

“Last year, we had 17 returning players and we knew who we were. We have guys taking bigger roles and more responsibility. It will take time to evolve and find out who we are and what allows us to be the most effective. We have enough talent to be successful from the start. We are going to be different; we are not going to put up four or five goals in the first period. These are proud kids, they take a lot of pride in the program and the success we have had in recent years. They want to continue that.”

Kamau Bailey is a basketball lifer.

Bailey was a high school hoops star in Denver, Colo. before going on to play at NYU. After graduation, he worked for the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, and San Antonio Spurs in various capacities.

In recent years, he has directed the Philadelphia 76ers summer camp in Princeton and started
a player development
business.

This winter, Bailey will be looking to impart his vast basketball knowledge to a new group of students as he takes the helm of the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball program.

With a roster comprised entirely of freshmen and sophomores, Bailey is starting from square one as he succeeds Mika Ryan, who led the Panthers to an 8-14 record last winter and is now coaching the WW/P-S girls’ squad.

“One of the things I have been working on with the girls is teaching them the fundamentals,” said Bailey.
“I am teaching them to play the game; it is basketball 101.”

That same approach paid dividends for Bailey last winter as he coached the PDS 6th/7th grade squad.

“We had a very successful middle school team,” said Bailey. “We went undefeated.”

In Bailey’s view, his current charges are exhibiting a similar learning curve
so far.

“We are starting from scratch and they have already made a lot of progress,” said Bailey, whose team opens the season by hosting Villa Victoria Academy on December 10.

“Freshman Shayla Stevenson is a 5’7 point guard. She can shoot and dribbles the ball well. She has great court awareness. Devika Kumar and Helen Healey are returning players and they give us some help in the paint.”

While Bailey is taking a serious approach as he passes on the lessons of a lifetime, he hasn’t lost sight of the essence of hoops.

“Basketball is a fun sport and sometimes we get away from that and it becomes too serious,” said Bailey.

“We will be doing some running and gunning, that is the style I like. They need to keep working hard and stay focused.”

COOL CUSTOMER: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Mary Travers controls the puck in a game last winter. Senior forward Travers is coming off a 10-goal season and should be a primary offensive threat for the Panthers in her final campaign with the program. PDS starts the season by playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on December 4 and then hosting its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 7-8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

COOL CUSTOMER: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Mary Travers controls the puck in a game last winter. Senior forward Travers is coming off a 10-goal season and should be a primary offensive threat for the Panthers in her final campaign with the program. PDS starts the season by playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on December 4 and then hosting its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 7-8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team has established itself as a solid program, Lorna Gifis Cook is setting the bar higher for her squad this winter.

“I think we can be in the top four of WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic),” said Cook, who guided the Panthers to a 10-8 record last year, the team’s second straight 10-win season. “The girls always work hard, the focus needs to be there.”

Cook is expecting to get some good work from a pair of senior forwards, Mimi Mathews (2 goals and 9 assists in 2012-13) and Mary Travers (10 goals, 5 assists).

“We are fortunate to have Mimi back at forward; she gives us a lot of speed and has good instincts,” said Cook, whose team starts its 2013-14 campaign with a game at the Hill School (Pa.) on December 4 and then hosts its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 7-8.

“Mimi and Mary go out there and work hard. They have a good read of each other on the ice. They shoot to score and they have good habits when they enter the offensive zone.”

Senior Colby Triolo is emerging as a force in the offensive zone for the Panthers.

“Colby is looking good,” said Cook of Triolo, who tallied four goals and seven assists last winter. “We moved her from defense to offense last year and she did well. It looks like she picked up where she left off.”

The trio of sophomore Emma Stillwaggon, freshman Daphne Stanton, and junior Carly King figures to pick up some points for PDS.

“Emma looks a lot better, she runs cross country and that has her in better condition,” said Cook, who will also use junior Sophie Ward, junior Sophie Jensen, and senior Abby Sharer at forward.

“She is a grinder and creates chances for her linemates. Daphne has looked really strong; positionally she is sound. I think she is going to give us reliability. Carly definitely improved over the course of the season. She is competitive on the ice and she makes sure that everyone is going to have fun.”

One of PDS top competitors is senior captain and star defenseman Robin Linzmayer. “Robin has a lot of speed; she can recover quickly in the defensive zone,” said Cook of Linzmayer, an All-WIHLMA performer last winter who led PDS in scoring with 19 goals and seven assists.

“She has a great shot and has done a good job of keeping it low. She plays offense for her club team. She always plays hard.”

A pair of freshmen, Christi Serafin and Ashley Cavuto, should make an immediate impact for the Panthers along the blue line.

“The girls are definitely impressed with Christi, they think she is going to be a star in the league,” said Cook, who will also be using sophomore Caroline Okun at defense.

“She has so much potential. There are things we can work on with her but her instincts are so good. Ashley will sneak up on you. She is not flashy but she is consistent. She has a really good shot. I have seen in practice that she can put it on the corners. She is excited about playing defense.”

Cook is excited about her goalie tandem of junior Katie Alden [this reporter’s daughter] and freshman Annika Asplundh.

“Katie has really been impressive so far, she is much improved over last season,” said Cook.

“The girls are talking about it and I think it has given her confidence. She is more sure of herself. Annika plays on a boys’ club team so she will need to make an adjustment to the girls’ game. I think it is going to be a really good thing to have two goalies competing for ice time. They are both committed to being there and it helps our practices.”

In Cook’s view, a commitment to scoring goals combined with a growing team chemistry could make PDS a force this winter.

“With our defense being solid, it will be a matter of how productive our forwards can be,” said Cook.

“The girls have fun with each other, they already seem to becoming a close team.”

MAKING A BID: Hun School boys’ hockey player Alex Bidwell chases down the puck in a game last year. Senior forward Bidwell figures to be a key performer for Hun this winter as it looks to defend its Independence Hockey League (IHL) title. The Raiders start their 2013-14 season by playing at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on December 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING A BID: Hun School boys’ hockey player Alex Bidwell chases down the puck in a game last year. Senior forward Bidwell figures to be a key performer for Hun this winter as it looks to defend its Independence Hockey League (IHL) title. The Raiders start their 2013-14 season by playing at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on December 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Hun School boys’ hockey team is experiencing some major roster turnover, Ian McNally is bringing a lot of confidence into the winter.

“We lost seven seniors, two post-graduates, and three or four other kids,” said Hun head coach McNally, who guided the Raiders toa 16-5-4 record and the Independence Hockey League (IHL) title last winter. “We have a lot of kids who never played but we should be even stronger.”

McNally’s optimism is fueled, in part, by the upbeat attitude he sees around the team.

“There is a positive hunger, we have an influx of new kids who don’t know any better,” said McNally, whose team starts the season by playing at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on December 4.

“It is infectious for older kids to have that youthful energy. There is a good buzz around the team at the rink and around school. We have taken another step in the chemistry; it was already upbeat.”

Hun will be looking for senior forwards Alec Karanikolas, Spy Avgoustiniatos, and Alex Bidwell to step up.

“Alec, Spy, and Alex Bidwell are seniors and are the biggest and strongest kids but none of them have led us in scoring,” said McNally. “They are going to give us a lot of ice time.”

A pair of freshman forwards, Evan Barratt and Jon Bendorf, figure to be productive scorers for the Raiders.

“Evan Barratt and Jon Bendorf have pretty dynamic offensive abilities,” said McNally. “We had a scrimmage with Holy Ghost and they accounted for three of our four goals. We put them together with Bidwell and that seemed to work well.”

On defense, McNally is expecting some good work from battle-tested senior Brad Stern.

“Brad Stern is an offensive guy,” said McNally. “He was injured for half the season last year with thumb and wrist and he couldn’t get into a rhythm. He played a short midget season this fall and he is looking good.”

Joining Stern along the blue line will be a pair of juniors, converted forward Chris Rossi and Bobby Wurster.

“Rossi is going to be on defense this year,” said McNally. “He plays defense for his junior team and I said we could use some defensemen and he stepped up. Billy Wurster was in middle school, left for two years and is back as a junior; he will log a lot of time. Rossi, Stern, and Wooster will carry a lot of the load.”

At goalie, senior standout Devin Cheifetz will continue to carry a big share of the load for Hun.

“Devin has started all four years; he has been our guy since he got here,” said McNally.

“We have gotten better every year since he has been here. We would like to send him out with a great senior year. He has put on a little size, filling out as a 17-18 year old. He looks big in the net; he has a lot of confidence. His strength is  his ability to play the puck into the break, he is like a third defenseman.”

In McNally’s view, the Raiders are poised to have a big winter. “I think we can be even better than we were last year,” said McNally.

“We have been bounced early in the preps, it would be nice to string together some wins in that. I think we can compete with everybody on our schedule. It would help to not have injuries, we don’t have a lot of depth. We have high-end talent. We will have five or six freshmen playing regularly; a third of the team is freshmen. They are not going to be on the fourth line so it will make a big difference if they can step in right away and produce.”