February 19, 2014
STROKE OF BRILLIANCE: Leah Moran pulls in the stroke seat for the Peddie School women’s varsity 4. Moran, a Princeton resident who took up rowing during her freshman year at Peddie in 2010, will be joining the Bucknell University crew program this fall.

STROKE OF BRILLIANCE: Leah Moran pulls in the stroke seat for the Peddie School women’s varsity 4. Moran, a Princeton resident who took up rowing during her freshman year at Peddie in 2010, will be joining the Bucknell University crew program this fall.

When Leah Moran entered the Peddie School in 2010, the Princeton resident dreamed of someday playing college basketball.

Joining the perennial Prep A champion girls’ hoops program, Moran hoped to win some championships and hone her skills for the next level.

But when legendary Peddie coach Sean Casey left the school to become the upper school principal for a school in Atlanta before the 2010-11 season, the Falcons went through a rebuilding phase.

Moran, for her part, was switched from her natural shooting guard position to the point guard for her sophomore and junior seasons and went through some ups and downs with the program.

But as things turned rocky with basketball, Moran took up rowing and experienced a smoother ride and achieved her dream of being a college athlete, committing to the Bucknell University crew program.

Moran has no regrets about sticking with basketball. “I have learned a lot from the ups and downs,” said Moran.

“I have learned about sticking with it and working hard. We have focused on being one group as a whole. When we play together more, we make each other better.”

Things have gone a lot better this winter on the court as the Peddie hoops has enjoyed a renaissance, bringing a 12-3 record into the state Prep A title game at Blair which was slated for February 18.

“It feels so good to be doing really well,” said Moran. “I have had a different role and I still enjoy the game so much. We got help from a number of good new players that came in.”

Taking up rowing as a freshman turned out to be a very good move for Moran.

“We are required to do a fall sport; I had heard that the crew team was good and I decided to do rowing,” said Moran.

“You have to be a novice as a freshman. It was definitely hard to get used to it at first. We only had one race in the fall and one race in the spring; it was more learning how to row.”

By sophomore year, Moran had the hang of her new sport. “I was pretty OK with the technique by sophomore year,” said Moran, crediting Peddie coach Barb Grudt, a former Olympic rower who had coaching stints at Penn and Dartmouth, with helping her develop her skills.

“It is not an individual sport, you really have to work with your teammates to become one.”

Last year, Moran took on the role of stroke in the Peddie varsity 4, becoming the rower who sets the rhythm for the boat.

“At first I was really nervous about being stroke but the more I did it, the easier it got,” said Moran. “It gives me confidence; people rely on me in the boat and it shows that the coach has faith in me. The boat is depending on me.”

Moran’s developing confidence in rowing led her to change her college plans.

“I thought I was going to play basketball in college but I realized I had a better shot at crew and I really got into it,” said Moran. “I really liked my team and I really liked my coach.”

As Moran looked at such schools as Boston College, North Carolina, and Williams, she found herself really liking Bucknell.

“It seems similar to Peddie,” said Moran. “I have interest in a lot of things besides rowing. One of my favorite things is singing. They want athletes to participate in other things. They want rowers to work hard when you are on the water. They encourage you to study abroad in the fall; a lot of schools only want you to do that in the summer. I think it is a good fit.”

Moran is ready to work hard for the Bison rowing program. “I am really excited,” said Moran, who is looking forward to a big season this spring with the Peddie crew team and then some heavy ergometer training over the summer in preparation for her Bucknell debut.

“I feel like if I didn’t do a sport in college I would be lost. I love to compete and love being on a team.”

Moran certainly found out a lot about herself through the twists and turns of her Peddie sports career.

February 12, 2014
TAYLOR MADE: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Taylor Chiang competes in the 100 breaststroke last Thursday in the quarterfinals of the state Public B Central Jersey sectionals. Senior tri-captain Chiang help first-seeded PHS top No. 8 Holmdel 110-60 in the meet. On Monday, the Little Tigers defeated No. 4 Middletown South 94-76 in the semis to qualify for the sectional championship meet against No. 2 Lawrence on February 14 at Neptune High.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TAYLOR MADE: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Taylor Chiang competes in the 100 breaststroke last Thursday in the quarterfinals of the state Public B Central Jersey sectionals. Senior tri-captain Chiang help first-seeded PHS top No. 8 Holmdel 110-60 in the meet. On Monday, the Little Tigers defeated No. 4 Middletown South 94-76 in the semis to qualify for the sectional championship meet against No. 2 Lawrence on February 14 at Neptune High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As one of the team captains for the Princeton High girls’ swimming team, Taylor Chiang aims to both inspire and focus the squad.

“Mostly, I try to get people pumped up for meets,” said senior star Chiang, who serves as team captain along with classmates Belinda Liu and Kelsey Schwimmer.

“I try to make sure that everyone has the same mindset and that we are all not going into one meet saying this meet doesn’t matter. That is not what we are striving for, even if it’s a good chance we could win the meet, we want to be going in and swimming fast.”

Last Thursday, Chiang helped keep PHS on track as the top-seeded Little Tigers defeated No. 8 Holmdel 110-60 in the quarterfinals of the state Public B Central Jersey sectionals.

Chiang took second in the 100 butterfly and third in the 100 breaststroke to help PHS roll to victory. Individual victors for PHS at the meet included Jamie Liu in the 200 freestyle, Brianna Romaine in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke, Melinda Tang in the 50 free, and Madeleine Deardorff in the 100 butterfly.

In Chiang’s view, she probably got more out finishing third in the breast than taking second in the fly.

“Holmdel has some really fast girls in the 100 breast which is refreshing to see just because it pushes you a little bit,” said Chiang.

“They actually got first and second in the race and it is really great to race fast swimmers.”

In reflecting on her PHS career, Chiang believes she has become a much more versatile swimmer.

“In freshman year, I was trying to just work hard and by the end of the year I was hitting good times in the breaststroke,” said Chiang.

“From there, I went back to the club and I just started getting a little better and I started swimming other things like the fly. I also swim the 200 free relay too.”

As PHS looks to make a deep run in the state tournament, Chiang believes the team has to maintain its work rate.

“Even though it is the end of the season, we need to be keeping the training going and not be saying oh let’s taper, let’s relax,” said Chiang, who helped PHS defeat fourth-seeded Middletown South 94-76 last Monday in the sectional semis as the Little Tigers, now 11-0, earned a spot in the sectional championship meet against second-seeded Lawrence on February 14.

“Keeping things focused is definitely key because if focus isn’t there and we start to relax in the training environment, that is not going to translate well into meet situations.”

Chiang is used to a variety of competitive situations as she also stars at lacrosse and is heading to Swarthmore College where she will be playing for its women’s lax program.

“I will play winter lacrosse and swim,” said Chiang, explaining how she juggles her two sports.

“When it hits lacrosse time, I swim for a little bit and then I just cut that off. I go back in the fall when it comes to swimming.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand feels that Chiang has been a hit as a captain.

“Taylor is a great leader,” asserted Hand. “She has a big voice but she uses it judiciously and so you have this good mix of always hearing her but she always has something good to say. She is very supportive as a captain. She really reaches out to kids and keeps the team loose and focused.”

Hand saw solid focus from his team in the win over Holmdel. “It was good spirit for the first stage of the single elimination tournament,” said Hand.

“I don’t think anybody is backing down from the idea that we have a shot at the sectional title and maybe a great opportunity therefore to swim in a state semifinals and really push ourselves.”

Chiang, for her part, is determined to push herself hard to the end.

“It has been a long four years and I have been swimming since I was four,” said Chiang.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet that this could be my last year of swimming. It has definitely been a good run. Even though it is a hard sport to get yourself to do sometimes, I have definitely enjoyed it a lot.”

IN TUNE: Princeton High boys’ swimming star Avery Soong heads to victory in the backstroke last Thursday as top-seeded PHS rolled past eighth-seeded Ocean Township 123-47 in the quarterfinals of state Public B Central Jersey sectional. Senior star Soong, who is in his first season with PHS after transferring to the school in 2012, helped the Little Tigers top fourth-seeded Hopewell 109-61 last Monday in the sectional semis to advance to the championship meet on February 14 at Neptune High against second-seeded Lawrence. PHS, which won the Public B state title in 2012, will be going for the program’s sixth straight Central Jersey title in the meet on Friday.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN TUNE: Princeton High boys’ swimming star Avery Soong heads to victory in the backstroke last Thursday as top-seeded PHS rolled past eighth-seeded Ocean Township 123-47 in the quarterfinals of state Public B Central Jersey sectional. Senior star Soong, who is in his first season with PHS after transferring to the school in 2012, helped the Little Tigers top fourth-seeded Hopewell 109-61 last Monday in the sectional semis to advance to the championship meet on February 14 at Neptune High against second-seeded Lawrence. PHS, which won the Public B state title in 2012, will be going for the program’s sixth straight Central Jersey title in the meet on Friday. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Swimming star Avery Soong moved to Princeton last year from Pennsylvania but focused his efforts on club swimming rather than join the Princeton High boys’ squad for his junior season.

This winter, though, Soong has joined forces with PHS for his senior campaign and is happy to be part of the squad.

“I have been cleared to join this team so we can make a run,” said Soong. “It feels so good. I swim with Will Stange and Gabe Bar-Cohen everyday with the Piranhas so that has been a help.”

Last Thursday, the trio of Soong, Stange, and Bar-Cohen came up big as top-seeded PHS rolled past eighth-seeded Ocean Township 123-47 in the quarterfinals of state Public Public B Central Jersey sectional.

Soong won the 100-yard backstroke and took second in the 200 freestyle while senior Stange won the 200 free and freshman Bar-Cohen placed first in the 100 butterfly.

For Soong, battling Stange in the 200 free was a highlight of the meet. “I saw Will at the end,” said Soong, who made a furious rally and ended up second by less than a second. “I go to get every win but he out-touched me.”

In Soong’s view, the PHS performance against Ocean was a good first step in what the Little Tigers hope is going to be a run to a state title.

“This is a meet for preparation and seeing what it feels like with the short schedule and to get it going in the states,” said Soong.

PHS head coach Greg Hand liked the way his team took care of business in the victory over Ocean.

“We didn’t have to swim our fastest lineup; we gave different tasks to everybody and it was nice to see kids handle that,” said Hand, whose team showed its speed on Monday when it topped fourth-seeded Hopewell 109-61 in the sectional semis to advance to the championship meet on February 14 where it will be going for the program’s sixth straight Central Jersey title.

“It was nice to see Matt Tams swim an IM (individual medley) at the end of the year. He hasn’t had too many chances to do that in his career. It was great to see him as a breaststroker working real well through the first half of his race and coming back in the breaststroke leg and really looking solid, reflecting how well he has trained throughout the season. There were a lot of races like that and then other ones where guys were trying to hit target times or work on something specific.”

It has been nice for the Little Tigers to add Soong to their lineup.

“We are very lucky to have him; he has contributed a lot to the team,” said Hand, whose squad improved to 11-0 with the win over HoVal.

“He clearly enjoys being a part of this very tight senior class. To add one solid swimmer to that bunch in a year like this is real good for the team.”

Another newcomer, Bar-Cohen, has emerged as a key contributor for the Little Tigers.

“Gabe had a terrific counties and before that, a great meet against Notre Dame at the end of the regular season so he has been coming along steadily,” said Hand.

“He hasn’t been a club swimmer for very long. He swims on the Piranhas where he is flourishing. I get the impression that every time he is just going to go out and give his best, already at his young age he is reconciled to the fact that the only thing you can do is his best job in his own lane. I think that rubs off on other people.”

PHS displayed a good mindset across the lanes on Thursday. “It was a fairly quiet deck in this meet but I don’t think that mattered at all,” said Hand.

“I thought everybody was paying attention and supporting each other well and that’s just we wanted.”

Soong, for his part, wants to end his only season for PHS with a bang.

“We have got to go fast, we have to bring our best or it will be lost,” said Soong.

“This is one of our strongest senior classes in a long time and we are willing to make it worth it.”

And adding Soong has made that senior group even stronger.

TON OF HEART: Princeton Day School guard Langston Glaude, right, dribbles around a defender in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, senior standout Glaude scored 17 points in a losing effort as the sixth-seeded Panthers fell 56-55 at No. 3 Montclair Kimberley in the opening round of the state Prep B tournament. The Panthers, who dropped to 5-12 with the defeat, will compete in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) to wrap up its season. PDS, a semifinalist in the 2013 MCT, is seeded 14th and will play at No. 3 Ewing on February 18 in a first round game.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TON OF HEART: Princeton Day School guard Langston Glaude, right, dribbles around a defender in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, senior standout Glaude scored 17 points in a losing effort as the sixth-seeded Panthers fell 56-55 at No. 3 Montclair Kimberley in the opening round of the state Prep B tournament. The Panthers, who dropped to 5-12 with the defeat, will compete in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) to wrap up its season. PDS, a semifinalist in the 2013 MCT, is seeded 14th and will play at No. 3 Ewing on February 18 in a first round game. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After a stirring run to the championship in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament last winter, the Hun School boys’ basketball team fell short of an encore performance at this year’s competition last weekend at the Hill School.

In opening round action on Friday, the fifth-seeded Raiders topped fourth seeded Lawrenceville 58-48 as senior star Josh McGilvray led the way with 12 points. A day later, the Raiders couldn’t get their offense going as they lost 49-31 to the host, top-seeded Hill, in the semis.

Hun, now 8-12, will start play in the state Prep A tourney this week where it is seeded fourth and is slated to host No. 5 Lawrenceville on February 12 in a first round contest.

Erica Dwyer and Johnnah Johnson starred for the Hun girls’ squad as it advanced the MAPL semis. In an opening round contest on Friday, junior guard Dwyer and senior center Johnson each scored 15 points as fourth-seeded Hun routed  No. 5 Hill 67-41. In the semis, the Raiders fell 69-49 to top-seeded Blair. Hun did enjoy a major highlight as Robert Morris-bound Johnson hit the 1,000-point milestone in her Raider career during the contest.

The Raiders, now 9-9, will wrap up their season by taking part in the state Prep A tournament this week. Hun is seeded fourth in the tourney and will host No. 5 Kent Place on February 12 in an opening round matchup.

———

A year after advancing to the state Prep B title game, the Princeton Day School boys basketball team didn’t make it out of the first round this winter.

The sixth-seeded Panthers fell 56-55 at No. 3 Montclair Kimberley last Sunday in an opening round contest. Senior guards Deante Cole and Langston Glaude played their hearts out in a losing cause with Cole scoring 18 points and Glaude chipping in 17. Senior forward Ford Schneider also starred for PDS, picking up a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

The Panthers, who dropped to 5-13 with the defeat, will take part in the Mercer County Tournament to wrap up its season. PDS, a semifinalist in the 2013 MCT, is seeded 14th and will play at No. 3 Ewing on February 18 in a first round game.

The PDS girls’ squad, which features freshmen and sophomores, absorbed an important learning experience as they got a taste of postseason action. The seventh-seeded Panthers fell 61-9 at No. 2 Rutgers Prep last Saturday in the opening round of the state Prep B tourney. Freshman guard Alexis Davis led the way for the Panthers, scoring eight points.

PDS rebounded with a 65-34 win over King’s Christian School on Monday in a regular season contest in improving to 2-11. In upcoming action, the Panthers will be competing in the Mercer County Tournament where they are seeded 14th and will play at No. 3 Allentown on February 18 in the first round.

Another young team, Stuart, fought hard in dropping in the Prep B opener. The fifth-seeded Tartans lost 41-26 at No. 4 Pennington last Sunday. Stuart trailed just 28-23 after three quarters before Pennington pulled away to the win. Junior Harlyn Bell and senior Maggie Walsh each scored six points to lead Stuart, which fell to 7-7 with the defeat.

In upcoming action, the Tartans play at David Brearley High on February 13 and at Bound Brook on February 14 before hosting King’s Christian on February 18.

FIRED UP: Connor Walker guards the net during his career as a star goalie for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team. This winter, Walker, a 2013 PDS alum, is honing his skills by playing for the Phoenix Firebirds, a high-powered Tier 1 travel program. Walker posted a 3.21 goals against average in his first 21 appearances for the Firebirds.                                             (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FIRED UP: Connor Walker guards the net during his career as a star goalie for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team. This winter, Walker, a 2013 PDS alum, is honing his skills by playing for the Phoenix Firebirds, a high-powered Tier 1 travel program. Walker posted a 3.21 goals against average in his first 21 appearances for the Firebirds. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Connor Walker started last summer planning to study business at the University of Massachusetts by the time September rolled around.

But when the former star goalie for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team was offered the opportunity in August to play for the Phoenix Firebirds, a high-powered Tier 1 travel program, and learned that he could defer his freshman year at UMass, he ended up in Arizona this fall rather than in New England.

As Walker reflects on his time in Phoenix, he believes the experience has helped him grow up a lot.

“Almost all of the kids on the team are from the area, I am the only kid from the east,” said Walker.

“I was the odd kid in, it is working out well now. I am hanging out with them. The team finds a family within the organization and I live with them. I am working full time at a jewelry company boxing up jewelry in a warehouse. I feel independent. I wake up every day at 6 in the morning to go to work. I have a lot more responsibility.”

Walker has been working harder on the ice for the Midget U18 AAA team. “We are in the North American Prospect League (NAPL),” said Walker.

“We practice Sunday through Wednesday and often do dry land training after the practice. I would say the level of play is similar to high school but the teams are more consistent. There is no drop off from the first line to the third line. In high school, the first line might be good but there is a drop off.”

As the season has gone on, Walker is getting up to speed with his new team.

“At PDS, I played with some of the same guys for four years so things were more consistent,” said the 5’8, 180-pound Walker, who posted a goals against average of 3.21 in his first 21 appearances for the Firebirds.

“No one knows me out here, it took a while for us to figure each other out. It is much faster, I had to adapt. I am much faster than I was before. I am a small goalie so I need to be fast.”

Former Princeton University goalie Craig Fiander, who was worked with Walker in several clinics, believes that the young netminder can handle himself.

“Connor is agile, quick, and technically sound,” said Fiander, who has been running his Textbook Goaltending summer camps in the area for more than 15 years. “He has a great demeanor.”

Noting that Walker served as a guest counselor for Textbook Goaltending last summer, Fiander said the goalie inspired the campers.

“I have worked with a guy like Kalemba [former Princeton University goalie and New Jersey native Zane Kalemba] and it was good having another Jersey local kid like Connor on the ice for a couple of sessions,” said Fiander.

“It is great for the kids to see what he has done. It is important for the kids to know his story and have some one to look up and aspire to.”

In Fiander’s view, Walker should aspire to keep playing the game.

“At the end of the day, I think he has the skills to play at a higher level, like D-III college or juniors,” said Fiander. “If he gets an opportunity, he will really, really shine.”

While Walker has enjoyed his time in Phoenix, he is looking for opportunities closer to home. “I met with the coach here two weeks ago and he said there was a possibility I could play tier 2 juniors,” said Walker.

“I am going to try to find a team out east in the EHL or the USHL. I want to try to play as long as possible.”

February 6, 2014
VALUABLE ASSET: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Will Stange heads to victory in a 500 freestyle race earlier this season. Last Saturday at the Mercer County Swimming Championships, senior star and Cornell-bound Stange earned Most Valuable Swimmer honors, setting both meet and school records in the winning 200-meter individual medley and 100 backstroke. Stange’s heroics helped power PHS to a fourth straight county crown.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

VALUABLE ASSET: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Will Stange heads to victory in a 500 freestyle race earlier this season. Last Saturday at the Mercer County Swimming Championships, senior star and Cornell-bound Stange earned Most Valuable Swimmer honors, setting both meet and school records in the winning 200-meter individual medley and 100 backstroke. Stange’s heroics helped power PHS to a fourth straight county crown. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Mercer County Swimming Championships having ended about a half hour earlier and the WW/P-N pool going quiet with the exit of the competitors and spectators, there was a solitary figure in the water pounding out lap after lap.

Fittingly, that swimmer was Princeton High senior star Will Stange, who had spent most of the day alone at the head of the pack, setting both meet and school records in the winning 200-meter individual medley and 100 backstroke as he helped power PHS to a fourth straight county crown.

Stange, who also helped PHS win the 200 medley relay and take second in the 400 free relay, was named as the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer. For Stange, earning the individual accolade was important in the context of the impact it could have on the team.

“It was great; it sets me up personally and gets me excited for the rest of the season,” said Stange. “Hopefully it psyches everybody else up coming out of this meet.”

In addition to Stange’s heroics, PHS got wins from senior star Peter Kalibat in the 200 and 400 freestyle races while classmate Colburn Yu won the 100 breaststroke.

The Little Tigers needed those wins as they were pushed hard by Notre Dame, piling up 277 points to hold off the Fighting Irish who came in at 239.

After helping PHS open the meet with a solid victory in the 200 medley relay, Stange was psyched up to go for a record in the 200 IM.

“I was thinking about it; they told me last night that it was 2:08 and I went 2:11 in the preliminary,” said Stange, who finished nearly half a lap ahead of teammate and fellow senior Colburn Yu in clocking a time of 2:07.42.

“I figured it wasn’t going to mess me up for the 100 back so I will go for it. I am in my own lane, nobody else affects me.”

Later, in the backstroke final, Stange messed with the competition as he broke a record he had set a night earlier in the preliminaries.

“I was trying to go a little bit faster to be honest,” said Stange, who posted a time of 56.85, more than four seconds ahead of runner-up Aly Sayed of WW/P-S. “I was hoping for a 56 low but 56.8 is really nice.”

It was very nice for PHS to win a fourth straight county crown. “It couldn’t be any better,” said Stange, reflecting on the four-peat. “You never enter a meet without trying to win so for us to be able to do that really means a lot.”

For PHS head coach Greg Hand, Stange and his classmates have shown they know what it takes to win when the chips are down.

“We have got a senior class that, more than anything, has established a track record of being guys who step up when the pressure is the greatest,” said Hand.

“I am thinking of great semifinals and finals meets in states in the last few years, county environments, and the toughest of the dual meets. These guys love the sport and they are definitely at their best in the toughest conditions.”

Stange saved one of his greatest performances for his last county meet. “This was a brilliant meet for Will,” said Hand of Stange, who has committed to swim at Cornell next season.

“Since freshman year, we have asked for perhaps more versatility from him than anybody. In this meet, it seemed to be the time to allow him to swim the IM and show the kind of mastery he has of all the strokes and also to go 200 yards for us instead of the constant 100s. He showed the depth of his training, his endurance, and his will to compete with everything he has got.”

The Little Tigers also got a superb competitive effort from Kalibat. “I would say Peter Kalibat was the swimmer who was most challenged today in his wins,” said Hand.

“Will was in a spot where he really had to race the clock and keep his discipline and  accomplish what he was in the water for. Pete was up against a guy who he knows pretty well [Hamilton’s Griffin Hutton] and is really talented and he dug deep, especially in his 200 win. He went out hard and said that he swam the last 75 or so feeling really tight. It is a real tribute to the fact that he has been there before and has felt that feeling 100s of times; that gives him the ability to recognize it and just swim through it.”

In Hand’s view, the county four-peat is a tribute to his swimmers’ mental and  physical gifts. “What four county titles means to me is that we are extremely fortunate to have the character and the talent of the kids that we have had,” said Hand.

Posting a 9-0 record in dual meet competition this winter and getting seeded first in the upcoming Public B Central Jersey sectional where it will host eighth-seeded Ocean Township High on February 6, PHS is poised to test its talent against anyone in the state.

“The guys are well positioned, I think we know who we are going to swim in sectionals,” said Hand, who has guided the program to five consecutive Public B Central Jersey titles and a state crown in 2012.

“We are going to have to get through a tough Hopewell team and a tough Lawrence team and that’s not simple.”

Stange and his teammates, for their part, will be taking a basic approach in the states as they look to add another title.

“We know where we have to improve going into states and we are going to adjust our lineup accordingly depending on the team we are against,” said Stange.

“We are going to push it one meet at a time, hopefully all the way to the state championship.”

 

ENCORE PERFORMANCE: Princeton High girls’ swimming star Madeleine Deardorff displays her freestyle form. Last Saturday, Deardorff placed first in the 200-meter individual medley and second in the 100 butterfly to help PHS win its second straight Mercer County Swimming Championships title.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ENCORE PERFORMANCE: Princeton High girls’ swimming star Madeleine Deardorff displays her freestyle form. Last Saturday, Deardorff placed first in the 200-meter individual medley and second in the 100 butterfly to help PHS win its second straight Mercer County Swimming Championships title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having broken through with its first-ever Mercer County Swimming Championships title last winter, the Princeton High girls’ swimming team was primed for an encore.

“I think we were all extremely motivated,” said PHS sophomore star Madeleine Deardorff, reflecting on the 2014 county meet which concluded last Saturday at WW/P-N. “We came in here with confidence.”

That confidence proved to be justified as PHS rolled to a second straight crown, piling up 222 points with Steinert second at 169 and WW/P-S taking third with 156.

Deardorff helped lead the way for the Little Tigers, taking first in the 200-meter individual medley and second in the 100 butterfly. Classmate Brianna Romaine set a meet record of 1:04.85 in winning the 100 backstroke and also placed third in the 100 freestyle. Freshman Melinda Tang won the 100 fly and took fourth in the 400 free.

Deardorff was all smiles as she reflected on PHS’s title repeat. “We did exactly what we wanted to do and I am really excited,” said Deardorff, who also helped PHS to wins in the 200 medley and 400 free relays.

“I think this team is so united and I think that we are all motivated towards each other. I think it is so great.”

“In winning the 200 IM, Deardorff enjoyed an exciting battle with Rabia Syed of WW/P-S, posting a winning time of 2:27.78 with Syed coming in at 2:29.13 as she earned her first individual county title.

“I came in and I just wanted to do my best,” said Deardorff. “Rabia and I are really good friends and I was really pumped. That was awesome, I was so happy with that.”

Although Deardorff placed second in the 100 fly, she was happy to duel with freshman teammate Tang.

“Melinda and I go on and off in that event,” said Deardorff. “It was really fun, I love racing her. She motivates me and I motivate her. I think it was really good.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand liked the way his swimmers raced hard from the beginning to the end of the meet.

“The thing that I am most proud of is that in the trials/finals format they did so much two days ago and then came back today and swam lights out,” said Hand.

“They really just rose to the demands of the situation. We had so many swims where kids really challenged themselves to go out hard and to trust their training and come back and get a result and it happened throughout the meet.”

In Hand’s view, Deardorff exemplified the squad’s mental toughness.

“Maddie is such a versatile swimmer, all of her strokes are solid,” said Hand.

“She has been dealing with meet pain throughout recent training when she swims breaststroke, nonetheless she swam a really good breast leg in prelims and finals. The great thing about her race is that she was willing to take out the real strong piece in the fly as fast as she needed to and it is so easy to waste yourself in that.”

Romaine produced one of the great races of the day in her record-breaking win in the 100 back.

“Brianna is a real fighter,” asserted Hand. “She is a role model for kids both older and younger than she is because she is utterly unabashed about trying to get the result that she wants as far as her own swim is concerned.”

One of PHS’s younger stars, freshman Tang, certainly came up with some big swims. “Melinda, at least outwardly, just lets stuff roll off her back,” said Hand, who also got good efforts from freshmen Jamie Liu and Mattie Whaley at the county meet.

“She gets in and goes after it. She is always a spark plug for keeping things cheerful and relaxed which is quite a benefit in an environment like this.”

With PHS having been seeded first in the Public B Central Jersey sectional, Hand is hopeful that his team can do well in the high-stakes environment of the state tournament.

“Before it begins my sense is we are positioned reasonably well but it is a real grind to keep it together, focused and to try to bring a better meet every time out,” said Hand, whose team is 9-0 in dual meet competition this season and is slated to host eighth-seeded Holmdel on February 6 in the sectional quarterfinals.

Deardorff, for her part, is confident that PHS can build on its effort in the counties as it looks to make a deep run in the state tourney.

“I think we have the potential to go very far this year and I am really excited about it,” said Deardorff.

“I just want to go in with a lot of confidence and do the best we can. I think that everybody needs to do their absolute best and do what we did coming into this.”

 

HOLDING THE FORT: Princeton High boys’ hockey goalie ­Sawyer Peck guards the net in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, freshman Peck make 35 saves to help PHS top Freehold 5-1. The Little Tigers, now 9-3-2, are slated to play at Jackson on February 7 and then face WW/P-N on February 10 at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HOLDING THE FORT: Princeton High boys’ hockey goalie ­Sawyer Peck guards the net in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, freshman Peck make 35 saves to help PHS top Freehold 5-1. The Little Tigers, now 9-3-2, are slated to play at Jackson on February 7 and then face WW/P-N on February 10 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High boys’ hockey team, getting outshot 36-19 last Wednesday by a Freehold High team that brought a 9-4-1 record into the contest at Baker Rink hardly seemed like a blueprint for success.

But with PHS freshman goalie Sawyer Peck producing his best game of the season with 35 saves and a balanced offense that featured four different goal scorers, the Little Tigers pulled away to a 5-1 win over the Patriots.

In the wake of his superb effort, Peck saw the evening as emblematic of why he thrives under the pressure that comes with playing goalie.

“I love having more responsibility; you can make or break some games,” said Peck. “It is hard mentally but it feels great when you have a game like this.”

While Freehold tried to break Peck down, he was up to the task. “They just tried to wear me down but our coach has put me through some tests to build some endurance,” said Peck.

In the second period, Peck was tested repeatedly as Freehold generated 15 shots and had a 5-on-3 power play in the waning minutes of the frame but was unable to find the back of the net.

“I was in a groove and I knew I really had to be on top of my game, especially when they got the 5-on-3,” said Peck, reflecting on the second period.

“I knew it was going to be pretty hard. It is always a momentum builder to stop those. That is where a team is most vulnerable and if we can still come through, that is a pretty big confidence booster.”

As Peck gets deeper into his debut campaign, he has gained more and more confidence.

“As a freshman, the coaches don’t have crazy expectations for me so they make me feel safe,” said Peck, who has been sharing time between the pipes with senior Robert Quinn.

“Our coaches have been working with me very, very hard. They have been working with everybody very hard. We do lots of skating at practice and lots of goalie drills.”

For Peck, being a goalie is something that is in his blood. “My dad played goalie in college and he wanted one of the sons to be a goalie like him and I guess I was the last one,” said Peck, whose oldest brother Griffin was a standout defenseman for PHS while his next oldest brother Kirby was a high-scoring forward.

“I started at around seven or eight years old. I played hybrid but by the time I hit middle school I went full on goalie.”

PHS first-year head coach Terence Miller saw Peck as the player of the game in the win over Freehold.

“As I told the team, Sawyer was by far the No. 1 star of the game,” said Miller, whose squad improved to 9-3-2 with the victory.

“He came up big for us. The turning point of the game, in my opinion, was the 5-on-3. Instead of the momentum shifting to them, we killed off the 5-on-3 and we killed off the 5-on-4 and we went into the locker room before the third, still up two. Our penalty kill came up huge tonight and Sawyer was the biggest part of that.”

In Miller’s view, Peck has been making big progress this winter.

“To come in as a freshman and play as well as he has speaks to his work ethic and his talent,” said Miller.

“He has been working on his stamina, getting  quicker and recovering a little faster off the initial shot. He has done a good job of that.”

The Little Tigers did a good job collectively in overcoming a tough Freehold squad.

“Freehold was a good team, that was one of the faster teams we have played all year,” said Miller.

“They play in a tough conference against some good shore teams and we knew it was going to be a tough battle tonight and I thought we answered the challenge well.”

PHS’s offensive balance was critical in the victory. “That is always a good sign when you get some depth scoring,” said Miller, who got two goals from Brendon McCormick with Connor McCormick, Spencer Reynolds, and Jackson Andres chipping in one apiece.

“I thought the goal to start the third period by Jackson was a big goal to push that lead out a little further.”

In addition to Peck, two other newcomers have helped bolster the Little Tigers around the blue line.

“I think the two freshmen defensemen, Tooker Callaway and Eamonn McDonald, have been holding their own,” said Miller, whose team is slated to play at Jackson on February 7 and then face WW/P-N on February 10 at Mercer County Park.

“They have been asked to carry a lot of the work load for us and they have done a nice job for us as freshmen, filling some big holes.”

Peck, for his part, is thrilled to be carrying on a family tradition by starring for PHS.

“When I watched my brothers, I thought I was ages away from playing,” said Peck, whose older sister, senior Merritt, plays for the PHS girls’ hockey team. “But now I am here and it feels incredible.”

 

TEARING IT UP: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Peter Mahotiere powers up the court in recent action. Last Thursday, senior forward Mahotiere scored 17 points to help PHS rally to a 69-59 win in overtime at Princeton Day School. The Little Tigers, who improved to 5-10 with a 69-53 victory over Hightstown last Friday, host Lawrence on February 8 before playing at Hamilton on February 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TEARING IT UP: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Peter Mahotiere powers up the court in recent action. Last Thursday, senior forward Mahotiere scored 17 points to help PHS rally to a 69-59 win in overtime at Princeton Day School. The Little Tigers, who improved to 5-10 with a 69-53 victory over Hightstown last Friday, host Lawrence on February 8 before playing at Hamilton on February 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Peter Mahotiere and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ basketball team weren’t fazed even though they trailed 20-6 at Princeton Day School last Thursday.

“We knew we couldn’t give up,” said senior forward Mahotiere. “Our fans were there and we knew we couldn’t disappoint them so we started playing like a team. We didn’t do one-on-one stuff, we did 5-on-5 basketball.”

PHS did claw back to knot the game at 38-38 in the third quarter only to fall behind 48-38 early in the fourth quarter.

Once again, the Little Tigers didn’t come apart. “We just banded together,” recalled Mahotiere.

“We were like OK, we need to rebound and box out and we can’t make a 15-point shot. We need to chip away, chip away and just keep on going.”

The teams went into overtime tied at 55-55 and PHS pulled away to a 69-59 triumph as Mahotiere took the team on his broad shoulders.

“I was just posting up and my teammates got me the ball,” said Mahotiere, who ended the evening with 17 points.

“They knew I had a mismatch and they wanted to utilize it. I just posted up, they got me the ball and I made post moves.”

After having lost close games to Notre Dame and Trenton in the last week before topping Hopewell Valley on January 28, the Little Tigers were hungry to make a statement.

“We are tired of close losses so we were like OK we are going to win now because we need a win and we are better than our record and we need to show it,” said Mahotiere.

“It is great to be close to good teams but a win is better and we are going to carry it over.”

Mahotiere aims to carry PHS, whether or not he is leading the offense. “I try to score but if I am not scoring, I don’t get down,” said Mahotiere. “I try to get rebounds. I try to get my team open shots. I try to get assists. I try to get us second, third, and fourth chance shots.”

PHS head coach Mark Shelley sees Mahotiere a vital cog for the PHS team.

“He is really a senior leader, I saw him this morning before our first exam and he just looked at me and said ‘I am ready,’” said Shelley.

“He doesn’t say a whole lot. Even when he is not scoring, he does so many other things. He hits the boards and he is tough for a big man to guard with the ball. He relieves pressure for our guards.”

PHS utilized Mahotiere’s inside presence to put the pressure on PDS in OT.

“Towards the end when they had some foul outs, they went with a real small lineup to try to spread the floor and try to beat our press,” said Shelley.

“We ran what we call thumbs down, it is basically our isolation set for our big man and we ran it four times in a row and I think Peter got one layup and he went to the line two other times. We said at beginning of overtime, we are fine, we have an advantage. I don’t think they can score enough to beat us and we are going to get Peter inside and the team agreed with that.”

Shelley likes the improvement he has seen from his players this season as they have bounced back from some tough losses.

“I am probably as proud of them as I have been of any team,” said Shelley, whose squad beat Hightstown 69-53 last Friday to improve to 5-10 as junior guard Kevin Kane led the way with 26 points.

“I’ve been fortunate through the years to have some really good teams and sometimes the most affirming are the ones that have struggled because you see the growth both individually and collectively. I feel like in the last week we have grown a lot; we played so well at Notre Dame and almost beat Trenton and really laid it on Hopewell in the second half.”

Coming across town to beat PDS was certainly an affirming experience for the Little Tigers.

“It is also important for these guys, no matter whether you win a state title or not, there are always one or two games you look back on as special,” said Shelley.

“These guys, may not appreciate it now but in five or 10 years this will be a game I think they will remember. I think as a coach that is what you want for them. You want a positive fulfilling athletic experience and this is part of that. It is a rivalry game and it was special to win.”

In Shelley’s view, the triumph should have plenty of impact on the short term as well.

“I think it means several things,” said Shelley, whose team hosts Lawrence on February 8 before playing at Hamilton on February 11.

“It continues to provide encouragement for their growth. They feel like what we are doing is working. It helps them trust each other and jell as a team. It gives us some important momentum. We feel like there were a lot of games that we should have won that we didn’t. We feel like we can beat anybody that we still play. We really believe that. We feel like if we play as a team, that will happen. We respect everybody we play because we certainly know that anybody can beat us.”

Mahotiere, for his part, is confident that some good things can happen as he wraps up his PHS career.

“There are eight seniors and I have been playing with all of them since sixth grade,” said Mahotiere.

“I want to end off with a bang, all of us do. I think we are going to start winning more games and even if we don’t make it to the playoffs, we are going to go out with a bang and do our best.”

 

With his Princeton High girls’ basketball team bringing a winless record into its game last Friday against Hightstown, Dan Van Hise threw down the gauntlet to his players.

“I went into the locker room before the game and said ‘girls this is it, I am expecting this one to be our first win,’” said first-year PHS head coach Van Hise.

“I don’t like to put pressure on them but I decided to handle this one differently.”

PHS handled the pressure with aplomb as it pulled out a 44-38 victory to get into the win column. Showing that nothing good comes easy, the Little Tigers had to hit six free throws in the last minute of regulation to overcome the Rams.

“We were up three in the last minute,” recalled Van Hise.

“Haley Bodden played great, she was rebounding well and playing aggressively. She got fouled and hit both to give us a five-point lead. They hit a 3-pointer and got within two. There were 25 seconds left and we knew they were going to foul and they fouled Catherine Curran-Groome and she hit two to put us up four. They missed a 3-pointer and Mary Sutton got fouled and hit two free throws to clinch it.”

For Van Hise, getting the first win as a head coach was a relief.

“I couldn’t take enough deep breaths and I could finally relax,” said Van Hise.

“You try and try and you get to finally exhale. Collectively we all could exhale. The girls were really excited.”

The girls actually helped Van Hise keep his cool in the frenetic waning moments of the contest.

“They were confident in the last minute, and they kept me calm,” said Van Hise, who got 12 points apiece in the victory from junior star Sutton and sophomore standout Julia Ryan.

“I was telling Clarence [assistant coach Clarence White] I didn’t think our first win would come in a close game in the last minute. I thought it would be a game that we won by 10 or 12. It was nice to see them hold it together and show that composure.”

A day later, the Little Tigers put together another nice effort as they gave perennial power Trenton a scare before losing 39-32 and dropping to 1-13.

“We should have won that game, we were up four points going into the fourth quarter,” said Van Hise.

“We had held them to 21 points through three quarters. We got in a lot of foul trouble in the fourth quarter. We have tried to play Bryanna Blue and Liz Jacobs together as much as we can and that was the best that they did together.”

Van Hise and his players are confident that their best basketball is ahead of them as the season heads into the homestretch.

“After the Hopewell loss [on January 28] I was searching for motivation and I told them we have seven games left and I asked them to write down on a piece of paper how many wins they thought we could get over the rest of the season,” said Van Hise, whose team plays at Princeton Day School on February 5 and at Nottingham on February 7 before hosting Hamilton on February 11.

“I told them to be realistic. I told them I would come up with the average number and that would be our goal. They came in at just below five so I made five the goal.”

 

LATE SHIFT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey star Mary Travers skates up the ice in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior forward Travers scored a third period goal for PDS’s only tally in a 4-1 loss to the Portledge School (N.Y.). The Panthers, 9-5-1, play at Lansdale Catholic on February 5 and then host Princeton High on February 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LATE SHIFT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey star Mary Travers skates up the ice in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior forward Travers scored a third period goal for PDS’s only tally in a 4-1 loss to the Portledge School (N.Y.). The Panthers, 9-5-1, play at Lansdale Catholic on February 5 and then host Princeton High on February 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Mary Travers realizes that her time on the ice is fleeting as the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team heads into the final weeks of the season.

PDS senior forward Travers, who will be playing field hockey at Tufts University this fall, is savoring her final weeks of ice hockey.

“It is different, not playing ice hockey is going to be so weird,” said Travers.

“I have been playing since I was four. I have been skating forever, much longer than field hockey. I am really trying to go into everything with the mentality that I only have x number of practices left so even if this practice is only a one-hour ice slot, it counts. I want to not only to do my best for myself but for my teammates who I care so much about and who support me so much.”

Travers and her teammates did their best last Wednesday as they hosted Portledge School (N.Y.). PDS trailed 1-0 after two periods and then fell behind 2-0 before Travers scored to make it 2-1 with 10:23 left in regulation.

While the Panthers put the pressure on Portledge, they couldn’t knot the contest and surrendered two late goals to fall 4-1 and drop to 9-5-1.

“We played completely with them; everyone stepped up,” said Travers.

“I was so proud of everyone; we were playing together and everyone was giving 110 percent.”

Coming into the third period, the Panthers were looking to play even harder.

“The message over the second period break was that everyone was giving 100 percent but there is always a little more to give,” said Travers.

After Portledge doubled its lead to 2-0, Travers found the back of the net on a power play.

“Our practice yesterday was basically all penalty kill, power play; that has been a big focus, knowing that if we can capitalize on the power plays we have a much better chance,” said Travers.

“They were definitely coming up on us. Normally, we try and do passes among Kristi [Serafin], Robin [Linzmayer], and I on the top to get them moving and draw them out but they were already up on us so those passes weren’t open. We have two great girls in front of the net in Emma and Mimi so if you can get a shot on net, you know they are going to be right there so that was what was I thinking.”

While PDS couldn’t get over the hump against Portledge last Wednesday, Travers is looking forward to having another shot at the Long Island team.

“We played the whole game and we finished it out so that is huge to me,” said Travers.

“Also we will play them in the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament so we are focused on that right now. We have proved to ourselves that we can play with them.”

The infusion of some key newcomers has helped PDS play better this winter.

“I think with such a strong freshman class it has really helped; they bring so much to the team,” said Travers.

“They are all playing club and they push everyone else to be better, even the seniors. I see them doing really well and I got to hustle in practice. They contribute so much, I think that’s  a huge amount of our success.”

This fall, Travers will try to emulate those freshmen as she joins the Tufts field hockey program.

“I am excited to work towards earning a spot and show the Tufts team who I am,” said Travers.

“We all have quotes in front of our lockers this winter and mine is the ‘will to prepare is more important that the will to win.’ I think that is so true. I really have that mentality. You don’t have to be the most skilled player, you just have to work the hardest and give it your all and hustle. That is what you have to do. There are such skilled girls on that team. I don’t even know if I am going to see the field but I know how hard I am going to work.”

In the meantime, Travers is going to work her hardest for PDS this winter as she enjoys her final moments on ice.

 

ON POINT: Stuart Country Day School basketball star Harley Guzman lines up a shot in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore point guard Guzman scored 10 points to help Stuart top Villa Victoria 39-14. The Tartans, now 7-5, are slated to play at Hightstown on February 5 before hosting Kings Christian School on February 6. In addition, the Tartans will start play in the state Prep B tournament with a quarterfinal contest scheduled for February 9.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON POINT: Stuart Country Day School basketball star Harley Guzman lines up a shot in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore point guard Guzman scored 10 points to help Stuart top Villa Victoria 39-14. The Tartans, now 7-5, are slated to play at Hightstown on February 5 before hosting Kings Christian School on February 6. In addition, the Tartans will start play in the state Prep B tournament with a quarterfinal contest scheduled for February 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Harley Guzman took some lumps last winter in her freshman season with the Stuart Country Day School basketball team as she assumed the point guard role.

“Last year, it was my first year playing on a high school team and it was really stressful, especially playing harder teams,” said Guzman.

After working on her ball-handling in the offseason, Guzman is feeling a comfort level this winter in running the Stuart offense.

“This year, I changed my mindset,” said Guzman. “I feel more confident with the ball this year.”

Last Friday, Guzman displayed her newfound confidence, starring as Stuart rolled to a 39-14 win over Villa Victoria.

“We just really knew what we were doing,” said Guzman. “Yesterday at practice we were really working on our plays and perfecting them so it really showed in tonight’s game.”

In addition to helping Stuart execute its plays, Guzman contributed 10 points, including two 3-pointers.

“That’s mostly due to the really good picks that my teammates were setting for me,” said Guzman. “They gave me a clear shot.”

Stuart head coach Dana Leary appreciated her team’s good effort against Villa Victoria as it improved to 7-5.

“I think we are really coming together as a team, offensively and defensively,” said Leary.

“The girls seem more confident when they are out on the court. We are executing and I would say that we are really progressing as team from the start of the season to now. You can definitely tell the difference.”

In Leary’s view, Guzman’s play has made a big difference for the Tartans.

“Harley really holds our team together offensively running the point,”

said Leary.

“That is a hard position and she is a leader on the floor for us. She is our floor leader. She has the ability to run the offense and hit big shots when we need them.”

Junior forward Harlyn Bell and senior center Maggie Walsh also made some big shots in the win over Villa Victoria.

“Harlyn is much more aggressive; she has been stepping up for us the last few games,” said Leary.

“She is looking to attack the basket more; she is looking for her shot. Maggie always works hard inside. Tonight she did a great job rebounding offensively with the put backs, following the shots.”

The team’s hard work collectively is paying dividends. “I am happy with our overall record,” said Leary, whose team is slated to play at Hightstown on February 5 before hosting Kings Christian School on February 6.

“As a team we are progressing. Next week we have three games and then Sunday we have the Prep B quarterfinals. We are just continuously preparing for the next game and what’s ahead of us.”

Guzman, for her part, sees good things ahead for the Tartans. “I just feel like we work better together,” said Guzman.

“Last year, we got frustrated more often. We are all friends here; we are more comfortable with each other. We are around the same age because we are a younger team.”

 

January 29, 2014
SOCHI EXPRESS: Jamie Greubel, left, pilots a bobsled in a recent World Cup race. Greubel, a 2002 Hun School alum, was named as one of the three bobsled drivers for the U.S. squad to compete in the upcoming 2104 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.(Photo by Charlie Booker, Courtesy of USA Bobsledding)

SOCHI EXPRESS: Jamie Greubel, left, pilots a bobsled in a recent World Cup race. Greubel, a 2002 Hun School alum, was named as one of the three bobsled drivers for the U.S. squad to compete in the upcoming 2104 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Charlie Booker, Courtesy of USA Bobsledding)

During the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, Jamie Greubel was on the outside looking in as an alternate brakeman for the U.S. women’s bobsledding team.

“The other alternates and I watched the split times from the Olympic Training center on Colorado Springs,” said Greubel, a former Hun School standout who went on to star at Cornell in track.

“That was disappointing but gave me more motivation. It was a stepping stone for me to get even more serous about doing what I need to do to get to the Olympics. It was special to be part of a national team in an Olympic year, being with the team every week, pushing, and traveling with them.”

Pushing hard over the last four years, Greubel, 30, has booked a spot in the upcoming Winter Games as she was named as one of the three bobsled drivers for the U.S. squad.

“I knew based on my world ranking that I was in a good position to make the team,” said Greubel, who is currently in third place in women’s bobsled standings.

“It was definitely a big relief to finally make the team. I have been in the sport for six years. It is incredible. I never thought I would come this far. It has been a lot of growth.”

Greubel’s growth into an Olympian started during her sports career at Hun.

“I played field hockey and did track at Hun,” recalled Greubel, a 2002 Hun alum. “I have always been very competitive. My experience at Hun gave me the motivation and skill to develop into an elite athlete at track.”

Hun assistant director of athletics Kathy Quirk remembers Greubel making a big impression on and off the field during her high school years.

“Jamie was a great kid and a determined athlete; she was always trying to better herself,” said Quirk.

“She was known as an all-around athlete. She was a good field hockey player. She was quick and had a lot of speed. Jamie was driven to do her best in whatever she did. She was a model scholar-athlete; she did very well academically.”

While Quirk saw greatness in Greubel, she is surprised to see her excelling in sledding.

“She was a D-I athlete; I never thought I would see her in the bobsled,” said Quirk,  noting that the two other Hun alums, star rowers Jason Read and Paul Teti, have also competed at the Olympics.

“It is a great honor for Hun and it is a great honor for her. I am looking forward to watching her at the Olympics.”

When Greubel thought of competing at the Olympics during her Cornell career, she hoped it would be in the Summer Games as she developed into a champion heptathlete.

“The coach at Cornell saw that I competed in a lot of events at Hun and that I had the potential to be good at the heptathlon,” said Greubel, who won four Ivy League Heptagonal championships and holds the school record in the heptathlon (outdoor) and pentathlon (indoor).

“It was very challenging to pick up. I made my biggest gains as a senior. I would do better at each competition; one meet my hurdles time would be better and the next meet it would be my shot put. I made it to the NCAAs. I didn’t have the outstanding performance that I wanted. I finished 13th and I was not satisfied with the result. I didn’t know how far I could go. I had only been doing it for four years. At the end of college, no one encouraged me to continue in the heptathlon.”

After graduating from Cornell in 2006, Greubel did get some encouragement to take up sledding.

“I was applying to grad school and one of my older teammates at Cornell who had joined the U.S. men’s bobsled team told me I would be a good fit for the women’s team,” said Greubel, who holds a masters’s degree in elementary education.

“I went to Lake Placid and did a training run. It was pretty shocking to my system. It was not the roller-coaster ride that I had imagined. I was still looking for a competitive outlet.”

Overcoming her initial fears, Greubel became a bobsled competitor. “One of the girls needed a brakeman and she asked me to come to Park City to compete with her,” said Greubel, who joined the U.S. bobsled team in the 2007-08 season.

“I got to go on a different course and I got to compete. It was really exciting; it brought in the competitive notion and I was hooked. I was encouraged; people were telling me that I could be good at this. It made me start thinking seriously about it and I decided to pursue it full time.”

Once she made that decision, Greubel faced a challenging road in mastering her new pursuit.

“It is hard picking up the sport late in life, plus I was paying for grad school and I had to pay to compete,” said Greubel, who has worked as a waitress to help finance her new passion.

“You don’t get expenses covered until you are on the national team and I had grad school debts. The speed I had from track helped. I had to gain 20 pounds to compete; that was a lot of weight to put on for a female and I had to buy a whole new wardrobe.”

After the Vancouver Games, Greubel took on a new role in the sport as she made the switch to driver from brakeman.

“I could take control of my destiny and be in control of the races,” said the 5’9, 170-pound Greubel in explaining the change of position.

“Being a brakeman helped my transition. There are so many things to know about the sport, it is quirky. You are the mechanics of your equipment. Being in the driver’s position gives a new perspective. You have more responsibility in the sled and for the team. You are financing your team.”

Injuring her knee in 2012 helped sharpen Greubel’s perspective. “That was a huge setback, I was making progress,” said Greubel, who was injured playing soccer during a team bonding exercise at a national team camp.

“It really made me think how bad I wanted it. Four months after the ACL, I went to Europe and competed. I had surgery in July and I was racing on November 14. I was learning the other courses. I am glad I did it. It was really important to get that experience.”

While Greubel doesn’t have as much experience as many of the other drivers, she has emerged as one of the top performers in her sport. “As a new driver, I have a steep learning curve,” said Greubel.

“I am in my third full season and some of the drivers are in their 13th season. We have such a competitive push. We have a sled project with BMW. We are up to date technically and competitive. Putting all those things together has been the recipe to success.”

The competitive Greubel is confident that she will experience success in Sochi.

“I like the course; it is definitely challenging; it is a good course for us because we get a strong start no matter who the brakeman is,” said Greubel, whose event is slated for February 18-19.

“There are three uphill sections that are tough for a drive. It is easy to get down but hard to go fast. We will have to try different lines. I am excited to go for a medal. I have been in the medal hunt every week in the world cup races. I feel strong about my chances. It is about being consistent and having consistent races. I am focusing on the present and enjoying this experience.”

PINNING IT DOWN: Princeton High wrestler Thomas Miers, right, takes control in a match earlier this season. Junior star Miers has emerged as a force this winter at 132 pounds, going 20-2 with six pins. This weekend, Miers will be looking to pick up more wins as PHS competes in the Mercer County Tournament at Robbinsville.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PINNING IT DOWN: Princeton High wrestler Thomas Miers, right, takes control in a match earlier this season. Junior star Miers has emerged as a force this winter at 132 pounds, going 20-2 with six pins. This weekend, Miers will be looking to pick up more wins as PHS competes in the Mercer County Tournament at Robbinsville. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Thomas Miers, attending the region wrestling championships at the end of his freshman season in 2012 left him imagining one day wearing the black Princeton High singlet in a postseason match with everything on the line.

“I remember going to the region tournament and thinking ‘wow some day I could be here, this is really exciting,” recalled Miers.

Miers was inspired to step up his training that summer ‘to just be like those guys’ and after an up-and-down sophomore season last winter, he has emerged as a force in the 132-pound weight class, compiling an outstanding 20-2 mark with six pins so far in the 2013-14 campaign.

Taking up wrestling in the fourth grade after deciding that he didn’t love basketball, Miers has developed a passion for his sport.

“During middle school, it was just something I did during the winter but once I got into high school it became more of a year-round thing,” said Miers.

At Princeton High, Miers burst onto the scene wrestling varsity as a freshman at 106 pounds, fighting his way to a respectable 11-16 record. After the season, PHS head coach Rashone Johnson gave his class the ‘Tiger Blueprint For Success,’ a list of team and individual goals that explains what you need to do to accomplish those goals.

Miers immediately took to the blueprint and set out on the course Johnson had intended when he developed the approach early in his coaching career, lifting and drilling three times a week and dedicating himself to the sport like never before.

But his summer workouts did not pay immediate dividends on the mat last winter, as Miers went 12-15 in his sophomore campaign.

“I thought I was a lot better than my record showed, it was a tough year,” said Miers, reflecting on the 2012-13 season.

Using the disappointing record as additional motivation, Miers entered last summer focused on making the jump from average to the elite. Along with the standard intense weight lifting program geared towards muscle endurance, Miers began a cardio program, running up to eight miles a day in the heat as he tried to improve his match stamina. He also honed his technique in tournaments at Rider University and in Monroe and North Hunterdon.

“Summer lifting was really tough, we had a circuit lift where we went from one exercise right to the next with very little break was tough, it strengthened us mentally knowing it was a hard lift but we had to push through it,” said Miers.

“That to me is what wrestling is; you just have to be more confident and more mentally tough to know that you can go out there on a mat and break a guy. When it’s a tight match, and you’re tired and he’s tired, and to know that you put in the extra work and you’re able to push through, it’s a big confidence booster.”

Miers credited the offseason work with giving him a new swagger on the mat. “All the preparation and drilling and weight lifting made me a lot more confident in what I was doing,” asserted Miers.

Opening the season with a loss, Miers has won 20 of his last 21 contests and is currently riding a 12-match win streak.

In Miers’ view, the key to his success this season has been his self-confidence and belief that he is better than his competitor along with the heavy dose of endurance training.

“Running definitely has helped a lot, I’m not getting as tired as I used to during the match,” said Miers.

Miers attributes the Little Tigers’ practice habits with giving him a boost, noting that the training is harder than the matches.

“Our warm-up during practice is a lot of sprinting and interval training; we definitely have some of the best conditioning in the county,” said Miers.

With the Mercer County Tournament taking place this weekend at Robbinsville, Miers is as focused as ever.

“My goal is to win it,” asserted Miers, referring to the county tournament which is slated for January 31-February 1. “I’ve trained hard, I think I have the ability to win some of those tight matches. I don’t think people are picking me to win the weight class.”

With PHS having gotten off to a promising 8-8 start in dual meet action, Miers believes the team can turn some heads at the counties.

“I think we’re capable of surprising some people,” said Miers. “We have a strong core group of wrestlers who are experienced and help out the younger and/or less experienced guys with just working on technique and trying to sharpen up their moves. We really need everyone to contribute.”

If he continues to rack up wins, Miers may finally find himself in regions with a chance to make a name for himself just as he dreamed nearly two years ago.

“If I can get in the region tournament, there’s no one who I’ll be afraid to wrestle, I think I can definitely do some damage,” said Miers. “Anything can happen in regions. I’ll be wrestling loose and wrestling confident, everything is up for grabs.”

Buoyed by his superb campaign, Miers is already thinking about what he wants to accomplish in his summer workouts.

“I want to up the ante by making this next summer more difficult; it’s going to be my last shot so I want to go all out,” maintained Miers.

“Lifting with Johnson three days a week, running was big time for me, to know I have the endurance to go out and compete with a guy whether it’s double overtime or triple overtime.”

Miers will be attending The College of New Jersey wrestling camp, hoping to meet stiff competition as he prepares for his final season.

“This summer, his mission has to be to find the best guys and beat them and just stick to the formula,” added PHS head coach Johnson, a former TCNJ standout.

As for his future, Miers is looking into wrestling in college. “I wouldn’t let it necessarily dictate where I went to college but if it helped me get a better education then I would certainly do it,” said Miers. “I have to decide over the next couple of months as I start to look at colleges.”

Johnson certainly believes his junior standout has what it takes to wrestle at the next level.

“Definitely, he has the right attitude that you need to make it,” said Johnson. “You have to be very self-motivated to succeed at the college level.”

But for now,  Miers wants to emulate the wrestlers he saw at regions as a freshman. “I want to be talked about by everyone in the wrestling community,” said Miers.

MERRITT SYSTEM: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Merritt Peck, right, battles for the puck. Last Friday, senior forward Peck and her classmates came through in the program’s annual Senior Night as PHS topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 3-1. The Little Tigers, now 2-7, play  Pingry on January 29 at Baker Rink before playing Summit on February 1 at Bridgewater Arena.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MERRITT SYSTEM: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Merritt Peck, right, battles for the puck. Last Friday, senior forward Peck and her classmates came through in the program’s annual Senior Night as PHS topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 3-1. The Little Tigers, now 2-7, play Pingry on January 29 at Baker Rink before playing Summit on February 1 at Bridgewater Arena. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Merritt Peck, hitting the ice at Baker Rink around dawn to practice with the Princeton High girls’ hockey team is a highlight of her day.

“There is a camaraderie about being the only people awake in Princeton at 4:30 in the morning,” said PHS senior forward Peck.

“We all go to breakfast after together; we have built a lot of friendships in the morning. There is something nice about practicing then rather than being after school when everyone is thinking about school. In the morning, all that matters is us.”

Last Friday, however, Peck came to Baker on the night shift and enjoyed a nice evening on the ice as the program held its annual Senior Night and PHS topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 3-1.

“Right now, I am feeling great,” said Peck. “We had a lot of people come out to see us and we didn’t want to disappoint them. We also want to celebrate on this ice. We come here every day so early in the morning and it feels a lot better to be back here tonight and winning. It is worth it.”

The win in the Baker finale will leave Peck with one of her better PHS memories.

“It is pretty emotional,” said Peck, reflecting on the festivities which featured a pregame ceremony with the senior players and their parents and saw the rink decorated with posters of Peck and her six classmates taped to the glass across from PHS bench and a number of balloons hovering.

“It is exciting to get to say that I won my next to last game here. I am not going to have to look back and say we lost a close one. We won and we deserved to win.”

After having beaten ANC 4-2 on January 22, Peck and her teammates knew they were in for a battle in the rematch. The teams were knotted in a scoreless tie until senior star Lucy Herring found the back of the net with 2:40 left in the first period. Herring’s younger sister, freshman standout Maggie Herring, added a tally in both the second and third period to complete the scoring for the Little Tigers as they improved to 2-7.

“Once you get one, your momentum is really building up,” said Peck. “It also helped that they were getting very angry. A lot of times when people get angry, they lose control. We tried to keep it classy while they got angry. In the end, they were the ones getting the penalties and if we got angry back at them, it would only be hurting ourselves.”

In Peck’s view, the play of the Herring sisters gives PHS a big momentum boost. “I love playing with them; they have such a good dynamic,” said Peck.

“They love playing with each other. They get competitive with each other which is always good because they each want to beat each other but they also want to help each other. They celebrate so much together; their connections are always really clean and exciting.”

While PHS has struggled to get wins in recent years, that hasn’t dimmed the excitement for the players.

“Because we aren’t always expected to win, there is not as much pressure,” said Peck, who also plays field hockey for PHS and served as one of the team captains last fall.

“We are really having a good time and we are not worried about wow that was a really bad play. It is alright, on the next one we are going to get it.”

Peck has a good support network in older brothers Griffin and Kirby, who both starred for the PHS boys’ hockey team and are now at Boston College together.

“They are very excited for me whenever something like this happens,” said Peck, who is following her brothers to Boston College.

“They are really supportive. I always want to follow in their footsteps, so to speak. I like to be able to tell them that I won.”

PHS head coach Christian Herzog believes his senior class has set a really good example for the program’s younger players.

“They are a great group of girls; like they say, character is how you act when no one is watching and these girls have character,” said Herzog, whose group of seniors includes assistant captain Erin Forden, Bea Greenberg, Breanna Hegarty-Thorne, Molly O’Brien, captain Kate Sohn, and Oraya Zinder in addition to Peck.

“Day in, day out, they show up at practice. We take our defeats within the league but they are ready to come out the next day. They never make an excuse or say I don’t feel like coming to practice or we are going to lose again. I don’t have to deal with that type of attitude.”

The Little Tigers were ready to come out with a bang last Friday, lifted by a nice crowd turning up for Senior Night.

“It is the most well attended game of the year,” said Herzog. “We had a group over here and we had a crew of boys over there. We had the parents come and support us. It is good to see the kids in the program get supported by other people who don’t always come to hockey games.”

Herzog tipped his hat to the Herrings for giving the crowd plenty to cheer about.

“The Herring sisters feed off of each other; they almost have that telepathy or connection on the ice,” said Herzog.

“I would be lying if I said they don’t add a huge dynamic to the team. The team’s overall confidence increases when one of them scores. They are two of the fastest skaters on the team. They are close to being equal in terms of both of them having good hands. They both can shoot. It is just a matter of consistently hitting the net, the goals will come. They know that.”

Senior goalie Hegarty-Thorne had a good night in the net, holding ANC scoreless until giving up a goal with 6:22 left in the third period.

“We had a conversation the other day and I told her I need you to play really well and she said ‘yeah coach, feel free to pull me out if some weak goals go in, go for the win,’” said Herzog. “She is a team player. Somebody was watching over her because they had other opportunities, just like we did.”

With PHS hosting Pingry on January 29 at Baker Rink before playing Summit on February 1 at Bridgewater Arena, Herzog is hoping his team can build on the win over ANC.

“It is important in terms of trying to keep some momentum,” said Herzog.

“We have Pingry next Wednesday. I would like to see us have a better showing against them than the last time we played them.”

Peck, for her part, believes any more victories will be icing on the cake after Friday’s showing.

“Of course we would love to win more but we are not going to be disappointed in any way with how the season ends,” said Peck.

“If that doesn’t happen, we are completely satisfied with what has happened. At this point, we have had a lot of strong games and this will be all we need for the rest of the season if that is all we get.”

WILD ABOUT HARRY: Harry Rulon-Miller, far left, presents the trophy to the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team after it won the school’s invitational tournament in 2012, the year the event was renamed in Rulon-Miller’s honor. Pictured with Rulon-Miller, from left, are PDS head of School Paul Stellato along with former Panther stars Cody Triolo and Rob Colton. Earlier this month, Rulon-Miller formally retired from his position as coordinator of PDS hockey operations. Rulon-Miller joined the school’s faculty in 1961 and has been associated with its hockey program as a coach or rink administrator since 1965.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WILD ABOUT HARRY: Harry Rulon-Miller, far left, presents the trophy to the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team after it won the school’s invitational tournament in 2012, the year the event was renamed in Rulon-Miller’s honor. Pictured with Rulon-Miller, from left, are PDS head of School Paul Stellato along with former Panther stars Cody Triolo and Rob Colton. Earlier this month, Rulon-Miller formally retired from his position as coordinator of PDS hockey operations. Rulon-Miller joined the school’s faculty in 1961 and has been associated with its hockey program as a coach or rink administrator since 1965. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After graduating from Princeton University and serving in the Navy, Harry Rulon-Miller was looking to teach abroad as he headed into 1961.

But not having any solid prospects overseas, Rulon-Miller was steered to a teaching opening at his high school alma mater, the Princeton Country Day School (PCD).

Rulon-Miller took the opportunity and through the homecoming, found a permanent home.

While Rulon-Miller had some teaching stints in Greece and Colorado, he never left PCD as it merged with Miss Fine’s School to become the Princeton Day School. Rulon-Miller, a hockey star at both PCD and Princeton, added coaching to his portfolio.

After leaving teaching, Rulon-Miller stayed at PDS to run the newly opened McGraw Rink in 1998. He morphed into an “ambassador” of hockey as a constant presence at rink, keeping things running like clockwork and nurturing generations of hockey players. The homey atmosphere he helped create at the rink made it a favorite stop for skaters, hockey players, fans, and parents alike.

Earlier this month, Rulon-Miller, 78, left his hockey home in the hands of others as he formally retired from his position of coordinator of hockey operations.

Fittingly, Rulon-Miller was granted the honor of making a ceremonial puck drop before PDS hosted Lawrenceville on January 15, drawing cheers from a packed house at McGraw.

“Through the good auspices of the Lawrenceville presence of people, they just had to be there, and the good presence of us, it was just nice,” said Rulon-Miller, in his raspy voice, the product of a battle with throat cancer 10 years ago.

Rulon-Miller has been a constant presence for the PDS hockey program, serving as an assistant varsity coach from 1965-68 before becoming head coach. He guided the squad until 1982 when he turned it over the Buzz Woodworth. He then coached juniors and helped with other PDS teams. When the outdoor rink on campus was converted to the indoor McGraw Rink, he managed the rink as well as handling scheduling for all the PDS teams.

In the view of PDS Director of Athletics Tim Williams, the retirement of Rulon-Miller signals the end of an era.

“I don’t think you can sum it up in a few words, Harry basically is PDS hockey,” said Williams of Rulon-Miller, who graduated from PCD in 1951 when it only went through the ninth grade and is a 1958 Princeton alum.

“He is an institution. It is exciting to see him retire on one hand but it is also sad. It will be bittersweet to not have him around all the time. He has done everything at the rink from sharpening skates to driving the Zamboni to doing all the scheduling. He cares for the people who come here and he wants them to have a good experience.”

Williams, who came to PDS in 2011, credits Rulon-Miller with helping to ease his transition to the school.

“He has a great wealth of knowledge about the school and hockey,” said Williams. “He really helped me as a southern boy coming to New Jersey to learn about PDS, hockey, and the history of the school.”

Rulon-Miller’s eyes light up through his trademark horn-rimmed glasses when he starts talking about the history of PDS hockey.

“I took over in 1968 or 1969 and that first team was very, very unusual because it had probably some of the best kinds of kids who worked together nicely,” said Rulon-Miller, noting that the late Christopher Reeve ’70 was the goalie on the first team.

“We were invited to go up to the Milton Tournament in Boston in December, 1969, and this little old school from New Jersey, within 24 hours, walked away with the championship. We had a nice little crew of about 15 kids. We had three rotations that featured a defensive cluster of players who just were magnificent and had some forward lines that wouldn’t quit.”

A key step in the lore of the program was the founding of its annual 4-team invitational tournament in 1971.

“It was a very exciting time because it was the first years that we were going head-to-head against Lawrenceville,” said Rulon-Miller.

“For those years and many after that, PDS, Lawrenceville, and Hill were the main protagonists. We would invite other schools as well, sometimes it was a club or a team from Philadelphia or whatever.”

The event was renamed in Rulon-Miller’s honor in 2012. “I thought it was quite appropriate because I put my time in on it, number one, and I was there at the beginning,” said Rulon-Miller, reflecting on the honor. “I love to write the solicitation letters, I just hope I don’t repeat myself.”

For Rulon-Miller, putting in his time at the rink has been a labor of love.

“I know basically starting with spectators and going through officials, figure skaters, ice hockey teams, they love to come here,” said Rulon-Miller.

“Some of it is me and some is doing a lot of little things. The other hockey teams know that they don’t have to bring pucks along. I tell the opposing team’s coaches, especially if they have young kids, keep an eye on your players they are going to get lost on the benches because these are the biggest things you will ever see. You can even develop a hockey strategy of coming out one door and the other guy coming out the other. You are going to love the warming rooms. We feel offended if the opposing coach comes in and asks us for a broom to sweep out their locker room.”

It is going to be hard for Rulon-Miller to take his eye off the rink. “I think being a part of the world at the rink,” said Rulon-Miller, when asked what he will miss most in retirement.

“Whether it is the skaters at the skating club, the PDS programs, watching these little kids troop in or cheerleading our interscholastic teams. I rejoice in the fact that a girl who started hockey in the ninth grade ends up being a captain of the team by her senior year. I have been quietly proselytizing girls to join the ice hockey because it is such a fantastic sport. Boys and girls who are rookies have a chance to really have fun here.”

Working with his colleagues in handling the nuts and bolts of managing the rink has also been fun for Rulon-Miller.

“These people in the PE department and the facilities department which I have been especially close with over the last 15 years are supporters who are just cool,” said Rulon-Miller.  “I am going to miss them as being a part of whatever it is.”

Rulon-Miller has enjoyed the support of the coaches that have succeeded him in guiding the program.

“I have also gotten to know some different coaches who were very terrific in their own ways,” noted Rulon-Miller.

“From a Graham Craig who came to PDS and left in the early 70s. He was an NCAA champion with Michigan in 1954 and was courageous enough to come and coach our team at the varsity level when we needed him in the 80s. Chris Barcless is one of the best teachers of skating or hockey I have seen around. His biggest forte was preparing for a game. Then there is the present associate athletic director, Scott Bertoli, who has a phenomenal way with kids as kids, school as school, and sportsmen as sportsmen as anyone I have ever met. He may be the coach of hockey but his door is open in a special way to all athletes and their coaches.

Bertoli, for his part, has a special respect for Rulon-Miller. “In his 49 or 50 years with the school, Harry has been a huge part of the hockey program as a player, coach, and managing the rink,” said Bertoli.

“He is the face of the rink and the program. He has been a tremendous resource for me for the history of the program. He has helped me to get to know the alums. He has tremendous respect for the longstanding rivalries and their historical significance.”

Rulon-Miller’s example has inspired Bertoli and his players to go the extra mile to get better.

“There have been ups and downs and for us to rebuild it and have some very good seasons here recently is important to the coaching staff, players, and alums,” added Bertoli. “It has made Harry happy.”

Bertoli admires the manner in which Rulon-Miller dispenses important tips to the players.

“What I like is the way he gives kids advice, it is not so much about the Xs and Os, but carrying yourself the right way,” said Bertoli.

“It is all about representing your school in the right way, respecting the game and your opponent, and upholding the integrity of the game.”

As a result of Rulon-Miller’s desire to do things the right way, opponents view coming to McGraw Rink as a treat.

“We played Chatham, one of the top public programs in the state, last Friday,” recalled Bertoli.

“Even before the game, their coach came up to me and said he couldn’t thank us enough for the hospitality, people were pointing them in the right direction and being outgoing. He said they were really having a neat experience and that they would like to come here every year. That is all Harry. That is the atmosphere he wants and has created.”

As Rulon-Miller reflects on his decision to retire, one gets the sense that he  might make time to come back to McGraw on occasion to savor that atmosphere.

“I found out that I had been working too hard as a part-time employee,” said Rulon-Miller with a grin.

“I have a great sense of something being lifted off on one hand and a case of what do I do next. I am not the kind who can sit in a hammock.”

THE BOURKE IDENTITY: Hun School boys’ basketball player Michael Bourke passes the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, senior guard Bourke scored a game-high 22 points to help Hun defeat the Princeton Day School 71-39. Hun, which has won three of its last four games to improve to 6-8, hosts Lawrenceville on January 30, Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa) on February 1, and the Solebury School (Pa.) on February 3.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

THE BOURKE IDENTITY: Hun School boys’ basketball player Michael Bourke passes the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, senior guard Bourke scored a game-high 22 points to help Hun defeat the Princeton Day School 71-39. Hun, which has won three of its last four games to improve to 6-8, hosts Lawrenceville on January 30, Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa) on February 1, and the Solebury School (Pa.) on February 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Michael Bourke and his teammates on the Hun School boys’ basketball team didn’t waste any time asserting their dominance over Princeton Day School last Thursday in the meeting of cross-town rivals.

With senior guard Bourke pouring in 15 points and classmate Eric Williams chipping in nine on three 3-pointers, Hun jumped out to a 29-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.

“As a team we came out really strong; Eric and I both came out strong,” said Bourke.

“We haven’t played in a while so coming out here and getting a jump on them was really good for us.”

For Bourke, nailing a trio of three-pointers as part of his 15-point outburst felt good.

“I practice a lot so hopefully it pays off and it did tonight,” said Bourke. “I have had a half like that before; the last time we played Trenton Catholic, I had 18 in the first half.”

Hun enjoyed the rest of the night as it pulled away to a 71-39 win over the Panthers.

In assessing the victory, Bourke acknowledged that the Raiders need to play a more complete brand of hoops.

“I think our defense lacked a little bit; that was one thing that coach talked to us about after the game,” said Bourke, who ended the evening with a game-high 22 points. “A key for us is to keep the defensive mentality up the whole game.”

In Bourke’s view, Hun’s recent come-from-behind win over the Hill School (Pa.) could turn out to be a key moment for the squad.

“We started off really slow in that game and to come back to win was a big momentum boost for us,” said Bourke, reflecting on the January 11 game which saw Hun overcome a 17-5 first quarter deficit to pull out a 51-50 thriller. “After that, we knew we could beat anybody.”

With Hun having gone 3-1 in their last four games, Bourke believes the squad is coming on strong.

“I think now that we have Remi back, we are playing really well as a team,” said Bourke, referring to senior forward Remi Janicot who was sidelined due to a concussion. “Everyone is buying into the defensive mindset. We should be really good from here.”

Bourke has worked hard to be really good for the Raiders. “Over the summer, I was playing AAU and working on my ball-handling a lot,” said the 6’2, 155-pound Bourke.

“I am trying to be more of a point guard than a two guard. My size has really helped me a lot. It creates mismatches. I have been labeled as a shooter ever since I was young. It is not a bad thing growing up so I just keep getting shots up in the gym and working on my overall game.”

Hun head coach Jon Stone appreciates Bourke’s overall contribution to the Raiders.

“Michael gives us a lot in his ability to score the ball, his ability to pass the ball as well as his ability to get deflections and steals on the other end,” said Stone. “He is certainly a competitor and he means a lot to this team.”

Sharpshooting guard Williams is starting to mean more and more to Hun. “Eric is just continuing to get better all of the time and the more experience he gets is really helpful and beneficial to him,” said Stone.

“He was 5-of-6 from 3 today so he is really shooting the ball really well. It wasn’t a fluke; he is more than capable. He is a very good player.”

In Stone’s view, the Raiders are developing into a very good team. “We have made a lot of great strides; this team has made a lot of improvements,” said Stone, whose team is now 6-8.

“We still have some work to do but we have improved and that is the goal of any season that you keep improving as you go along. Our defense has come a long way since the beginning of the year. I think we are just jelling a little better; the chemistry is better and sometimes that just takes time. We are in the latter part of the season and that helps because we are more familiar with each other. We know what our strengths are.”

Like Bourke, Stone views the victory over Hill as a major stride forward. “That was a great win for us,” asserted Stone.

“It showed how much these guys can compete. There is no question that was a big win for us, especially being in the league and against a really good team. I definitely think that gave us some momentum.”

With Hun having made a great run last winter to win the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament, Stone believes the team can have a big postseason.

“We are not there yet but we are just getting started,” said Stone, whose team hosts Lawrenceville on January 30, Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa) on February 1, and the Solebury School (Pa.) on February 3. “I think we have yet to play our best basketball, that’s for sure.”

Bourke, for his part, is confident that Hun’s best basketball is ahead of it. “As long as we dig in defensively which we have been doing, I think we should be fine and have a great run in the MAPL tournament,” said Bourke. “Hopefully, we can go farther in the state tournament.”

BOUNCING BACK: Hun School girls basketball player Janelle Mullen dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Mullen scored 10 points to help Hun beat North Brunswick 53-35 as the Raiders posted their third straight win in rebounding from a two-game slide. Hun, which improved to 7-6 with the victory, plays at Germantown Friends (Pa.) on January 31 before hosting Padua (Del.) on February 1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BOUNCING BACK: Hun School girls basketball player Janelle Mullen dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Mullen scored 10 points to help Hun beat North Brunswick 53-35 as the Raiders posted their third straight win in rebounding from a two-game slide. Hun, which improved to 7-6 with the victory, plays at Germantown Friends (Pa.) on January 31 before hosting Padua (Del.) on February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bill Holup and his players on the Hun School girls’ basketball team have gotten a lesson in rolling with the punches this winter.

When senior star and dominant center Johnnah Johnson was sidelined in January, Hun head coach Holup was forced to reshuffle his lineup and his players had to adjust accordingly.

“We are still learning; it is tough without Johnnah who is a going to be a solid D-I player,” said Holup of Johnson, who has committed to play at Robert Morris and is out indefinitely.

“People are playing more minutes than they might have and they are getting thrown into the fire. People are taking different roles and everyone has stepped up.”

After suffering some losses right after Johnson’s injury, the Raiders have been stepping up collectively, having won three straight games over the last week, topping Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 57-22 on January 18, defeating Pingry 46-20 last Thursday, and then topping North Brunswick 53-35 on Saturday.

Holup pointed to the win over Pingry as an example of the team’s fortitude. “It was a good win; we were pretty sluggish because we didn’t have school or practice for two days,” said Holup, noting that Hun was closed last Tuesday and Wednesday due to the snowstorm that hit the area.

“It was a competitive game in the first half and then we came alive in the second half. We were not shooting well so it was good to see our defense do a really good job.”

The Raiders built on that performance with their win over North Brunswick.

“We lost to North Brunswick last year at their place; it was a very physical game,” said Holup who got 15 points from Erica Brown and 10 points from Clare Moloney in the win which lifted Hun to 7-6.

“It was a very physical game on Saturday. We were expecting to be physical and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. They are a Group IV team and they are tough. We were shooting much better than Thursday. Defensively we did a terrific job. We held them to 11 points in the first half. We hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and scored 22 points.”

Freshman Moloney has been doing a fine job in replacing Johnson at center. “Moloney has been coming into her own,” said Holup.

“She is getting more minutes and is getting more confident. Her teammates are getting more confident in her. She is only a freshman so we don’t want to put too much pressure on her.”

Senior star Brown, for her part, has been putting pressure on Hun’s foes all over the court.

“Brown has been relentless at both ends of the floor,” asserted Holup. “She is exhausted sometimes when we call timeouts because she is playing so hard. We are putting her on the opposing team’s best player. She can defend guards or forwards. She is playing bigger than she is and she has been doing a good job with that.”

Holup has been trying to get his players to look at the big picture. “I have been emphasizing three things with them,” noted Holup.

“I tell them they have to trust each other, they have to have confidence in themselves and their teammates, and they need to leave their egos outside the court. Once they are on the court, they have to play together.”

The Raiders appear to be responding to that message. “The girls have shown growth,” said Holup, whose team plays at Germantown Friends (Pa.) on January 31 before hosting Padua (Del.) on February 1.

“We still have enough talent to be really good. We are not going to be a pushover for anybody.”

January 22, 2014
DIPLOMATIC APPROACH: Lior Levy in action this winter for the Franklin and Marshall men’s basketball team. Former Princeton High star Levy has made five appearances off the bench so far this season for the Diplomats as he learns the ropes of college hoops.(Photo Courtesy of F & M’s Office of Athletic Communications)

DIPLOMATIC APPROACH: Lior Levy in action this winter for the Franklin and Marshall men’s basketball team. Former Princeton High star Levy has made five appearances off the bench so far this season for the Diplomats as he learns the ropes of college hoops. (Photo Courtesy of F & M’s Office of Athletic Communications)

It was a night to remember for the Franklin and Marshall men’s basketball team as it hosted Dickinson last February in the regular season finale.

F&M ended up routing up the Red Devils 64-34 to earn the first seed in the Centennial Conference tournament, much to the delight of the near-capacity crowd of 3,127 on hand at the Mayser Center.

For one of the fans in the gym that night, Lior Levy, the experience changed the course of his life.

“I went to see the last regular season game last year when they won the league,” recalled Levy, a former star for the Princeton High boys’ hoops team. “There was a huge crowd and that turned me on to the program.”

Having considered taking a post-graduate year and looking at some other Division III programs, Levy decided to come to F&M and play for the Diplomats.

This past November, the 6’7, 205-pound Levy made his debut at the Mayser Center as he got on the court for the waning moments of an F&M win over Johns Hopkins.

“It was pretty cool,” said Levy, reflecting on his debut. “I have been dreaming of playing college basketball all of my life.”

While things haven’t been dreamlike this winter for Levy as he has been paying his dues as a reserve, he understands the process.

“Everything is a lot more intense, the coaches expect more of you,” said Levy, whose father, Howard, starred at Princeton and is the head coach for the Mercer County Community College men’s hoops program.

“It is a lot tougher physically. Instead of a 6’2 person guarding me, I have 6’8 kids guarding me. Last year, I was one of the main players so coming off of that is a little tough.”

Levy is enjoying soaking in the wisdom of legendary F&M coach Glenn Robinson, the most victorious coach in NCAA Division III history with 863 wins.

“Coach Robinson has been around so long, he has got a system and he is a perfectionist,” said Levy. “He is a tough coach but when he is happy you know it.”

The team’s more experienced players have been helping Levy pick up Robinson’s system.

“We have a bunch of post players and they are good kids and they have taken me under their wing,” said Levy, who was exposed to some good players last summer when he helped the U.S. Junior Boys (ages 17-18) squad win the gold medal at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.

“The most dominant players on the team are in the post so I have been watching them carefully and picking things up from them.”

As the winter has gone on, Levy has been developing a comfort level. “I know what I need to work on to get better,” said Levy, who has made five appearances so far this season for the Diplomats and has a rebound and an assist in eight minutes of action.

“The coaches are excited about me, they have been giving me good feedback. Over the past few weeks, I have been feeling a lot more comfortable. During the winter break practices, I was playing well. I am getting more confident in my game.”

With the Diplomats having won eight of their last nine games to improve to 10-5 overall, Levy and his teammates are looking forward to some big games down the stretch.

“Everyone is confident,” said Levy. “We are still working hard because we don’t want to get overconfident.”

Levy, for his part, is dedicated to putting in the work to make himself a bigger contributor for F&M.

“The biggest thing for me is fighting for position in the post,” said Levy. “I need to move my feet better on defense. I need to get up and down the court quicker and guard better. I need to continue to lift and get stronger and faster. I have the basketball skills that are good enough to play.”

DOUBLE DUTY: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Matt Purdy powers to a win in the 200 freestyle last week as PHS topped Hightstown 105-65 on January 14. Senior star Purdy, who doubles as a star attackman for the PHS boys’ lacrosse team in the spring, also won the 100 breaststroke in the meet as the Little Tigers improved to 8-0. PHS will look to keep on the winning track as it swims at Nottingham on January 23 and then takes part in the Mercer County Championships from January 30 - February 1.                                                      (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DOUBLE DUTY: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Matt Purdy powers to a win in the 200 freestyle last week as PHS topped Hightstown 105-65 on January 14. Senior star Purdy, who doubles as a star attackman for the PHS boys’ lacrosse team in the spring, also won the 100 breaststroke in the meet as the Little Tigers improved to 8-0. PHS will look to keep on the winning track as it swims at Nottingham on January 23 and then takes part in the Mercer County Championships from January 30 – February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Matt Purdy specializes in sprint events but he was happy to branch out as the  Princeton High boys’ swimming team hosted Hightstown last week.

Earning wins in the 200 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke, senior star Purdy helped PHS post a 105-65 win over the Rams.

“I am a sprinter, swimming more in the 50 and the 100 freestyle,” said Purdy, whose heroics helped PHS improve to 8-0.

“I think that one thing coach [Greg Hand] has emphasized is to focus on all different lengths of races to build overall endurance. The initial game plan was to build through the first 100 and then the biggest thing was to maintain in the third 50 and then give whatever you have left in the fourth 50. For the breaststroke race here, it was really just keeping the elbows high and maintaining a good solid stroke, even after doing the 50 free on the 200 relay.”

Purdy’s versatility, fitness, and knack for mastering technique has allowed him to accomplish a rare athletic double as he also stars for the PHS boys’ lacrosse team.

“I bet that there are very few swimmers and lacrosse players,” said Purdy, a high-scoring attackman for the Little Tigers in the spring who keeps up his stick skills during swimming season by playing in a winter lax league and teaching at a youth clinic.

“I would say going into lacrosse season every year, I have much better endurance than most people. Even though it is not running-based, the overall swimming  anaerobic and aerobic exercise really helps me build my lungs and control my heart rate. With lacrosse, specifically in the fall where we do our captains practices, which I run, because of our cross of cardio and lifting, I build  a good sense of strength and and endurance going into the swimming season.”

Since Purdy is not a full-time swimmer, he has gravitated to the shorter events in the pool.

“True swimmers who swim all year long have much better endurance but for me with my overall athleticism and also strength with going to the weightroom, what works best for me is the sprinting,” said Purdy. “I have learned and trained my body to really give that hard emphasis of energy for that short 50 or 100 in a race.”

Purdy will be expending plenty of energy this fall as he heads off to Tufts University where he is hoping to compete in both swimming and lacrosse.

“I am technically recruited for swimming, for sprinting and freestyle,” said Purdy. “I have talked to the lacrosse coaches and they have guided me to use swimming. They know I want to be both a swimmer and a lacrosse player. I am going have to walk on for a spot on the lacrosse team because it is much more competitive. It is my dream to play both.”

Purdy liked the competitive fire that PHS showed when it beat previously undefeated Notre Dame 112-58 on January 10.

“We seldom have the chance to put a lineup together that can really show our talents so Notre Dame was a great meet just to show everyone how a meet is going to have to be run going forward,” said Purdy, who took second on both the 50 and 100 free in the win over the Irish.

“I would say that is a great foundation for what we have to do in sectionals, counties, and states. I think that meet, in particular, really set the tone for the overall atmosphere that we have to maintain for the rest of the year.”

Purdy and his fellow seniors have set the tone for the Little Tigers, as they have helped PHS win three straight county titles and advance to the state Public B final four each season, having won the state title in 2012.

“The great thing is that we have been very, very fortunate through our four years to really experience a winning team,” said Purdy, whose classmates include Will Stange, Peter Kalibat, Colburn Yu, Scott MacKenzie, Matthew Tam, Eric Zhang, and Avery Soong.

“I think ever since freshman year, we have learned to maintain a positive attitude and demeanor, even in races and meets that may not be the highest of emphasis. Just from our experiences we really do know what it takes and I think with last year’s meet against Summit [an 87-83 loss in the state Public B semifinals] we know and have a bitter taste of what has to be done. It really does show that every millisecond does matter.”

PHS head coach Hand knows that Purdy will give whatever it takes to help PHS win.

“Matt is such an honest athlete, you always get best effort from him,” said Hand.

“He is constructively self critical; he doesn’t get on his own case. He works on his technique from video of himself and substantial video study this year of other great freestylers. When we swim a set that is asking him to give everything he has got, he always gives it.”

Hand certainly liked the effort he got from his squad in the win over Notre Dame.

“Our objectives were to get a high power point total for state seeding and to see what kind of energy we could create on the deck,” said Hand noting that PHS got good efforts in the win from such up and coming performers as junior Matt Shanahan, sophomore Steven Kratzer,  sophomore Alex Bank, sophomore Christian Chiang,  sophomore Dave Cohen, and a trio of freshmen,  Gabriel Bar-Cohen, Will Kinney, and Alex Petruso.

Sure we wanted to compete with Notre Dame; I want us to have this  sense that wherever we go, regardless of the opponent, we understand the importance of  creating the right atmosphere for competing. We succeeded on both of those. The meet was fast, so we have done whatever we could to be top seed in our section and who knows what will be coming out of the other sections.”

The Little Tigers will be looking to do their best at the upcoming county meet as the boys’ program goes for a fourth straight title.

“We pretty much know what our lineup is at this point,” said Hand. “We always want to make sure that the kids who have swum with us the longest and spend the most time in the water and who are most committed to training get to look at it and comment on it and talk about it and get comfortable with it. We want them to feel like it was their lineup and it is their job to do their best when counties come. Over the next couple of days we will nail that down and hopefully get everybody focused.”

Purdy, for his part, is confident that PHS will show plenty of focus when it counts the most.

“With the veteran sense we have now it is like how the great athletes have learned from being in playoff situations all the time,” said Purdy.

“They have learned what it takes to be champions and not just to say I made it to this level. All of our seniors, and every other grade, seldom do any talking. What does our talking is our swimming.”

MAKING A SPLASH: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Taylor Chiang heads to victory in the 200 individual medley last week in a 123-47 win over Hightstown on January 14. Senior star Chiang also won the 100 breaststroke as PHS improved to 8-0. The Little Tigers are slated to swim at Nottingham on January 23 before competing in the Mercer County Championships from January 30 - February 1.                                (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING A SPLASH: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Taylor Chiang heads to victory in the 200 individual medley last week in a 123-47 win over Hightstown on January 14. Senior star Chiang also won the 100 breaststroke as PHS improved to 8-0. The Little Tigers are slated to swim at Nottingham on January 23 before competing in the Mercer County Championships from January 30 – February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Greg Hand has been doing some mixing and matching this winter with his Princeton High girls’ swim squad.

“It is a team where we have done a lot of experimenting,” said longtime PHS head coach Hand.

“We are well aware that we never compete in a single gender format in our league so we are not used to what state meets are going to bring to us. We want to prepare for the challenges of that format but we also want to make sure that we have fought through the spacing because what we can do now we may not be able to do very effectively when there isn’t an intervening boys’ meet.”

So far, Hand has found the right formula as PHS has gotten off to an 8-0 start.

“We have balance across the middle lane but we also have substantial amount of support from the ‘B’ lane and often the ‘C’ lane in a number of events,” said Hand.

“We are getting good second relays this year. The sense of purpose is evident, the focus on the postseason and what we are trying to do is growing.”

In a 123-47 win over Hightstown on January 14, the Little Tigers showed good focus as their supporting cast got to shine.

“Tonight’s meet was really fun because we got to see all the kids who are normally training here and having them handle the meet themselves,” said Hand.

“We wanted our club kids, those kids who would have an opportunity to be training tonight because there are so many dual meets that training gets fouled up.”

It has been fun for Hand to see how some of his experienced swimmers have progressed.

“We have seen a lot of great stuff recently from all of the kids who are veteran PHS swimmers, kids like Crystal An, Hannah Ash, Jessica Bai,” said Hand.

“Taylor Chiang is swimming club and she is swimming a lot of high school this year as well. She has done a great job and has made a steady contribution here on deck. Lindsey Lim is having a terrific year, shedding time and really has a racing  mentality this year. Cara Persico had a personal record at Notre Dame and had good swims tonight. Charlotte Singer is coming on really well in the breaststroke and she swam the 500 today.”

The team’s big four of sophomore Madeleine Deardorff, sophomore Brianna Romaine, freshman Jamie Liu and senior Belinda Liu, have all been having terrific seasons.

“Among the four kids who are the fastest group on our team, which is Madeleine, Brianna, Jamie and Belinda, it is an interesting challenge to think about what is best for them and for the team,” said Hand.

“One of the fun exercises is to look at the eight individual events in the county and the dual meet events and just look at the different ways to divide the kids.”

For Hand, dealing with the challenge of dividing up his swimmers makes him realize his good fortune in having so much talent at his disposal.

“We are just lucky that we are that the kids are so heavily into all of this,” added Hand.

“We are very fortunate to have had, for as many years as we have, the quality of swimmers we have had.”

PHS will be striving to produce even higher quality swims as it competes in the county championships from January 30 – February 1, looking for a second straight team title.

“It has been a terrific phase, the girls have power pointed a little

bit higher than last year already,” said Hand, whose team also has a regular season meet at Nottingham on January 23.

“We are building and having some new kids and having to search for the ways to make up for the really fine swimmers who graduated.  The girls are doing well, they are up a notch from where they have been.”

FOUR SCORE: Princeton High girls’ hockey star Lucy Herring heads up the ice in action last season. Last Wednesday, junior forward Herring scored all four goals as PHS topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 4-1 to earn its first win of the season. The Little Tigers, now 1-7, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on January 22 before hosting a rematch with ANC on January 24 at Baker Rink.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FOUR SCORE: Princeton High girls’ hockey star Lucy Herring heads up the ice in action last season. Last Wednesday, junior forward Herring scored all four goals as PHS topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 4-1 to earn its first win of the season. The Little Tigers, now 1-7, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on January 22 before hosting a rematch with ANC on January 24 at Baker Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Christian Herzog had the sense that his Princeton High girls’ hockey team was ready to take care of business as it played at Academy of New Church (Pa.) last Wednesday.

“I heard some chatter on the back of the bus with some of the players saying ‘girls we need to be serious with this,’” said Herzog, whose team entered the game with a 0-6 record.

“We had a close game with them last year, we pulled the goalie and they got a late goal.”

ANC, though, got an early goal to take a 1-0 lead on Wednesday, leaving Herzog with a bad feeling.

“When we fell behind, I was a little concerned,” said Herzog. “I was thinking are we going to let another one slip away.”

Instead, the sister act of Lucy and Maggie Herring triggered the offense as PHS seized the momentum and pulled away to a 4-1 victory. Junior star Lucy scored all four Little Tiger goals while freshman standout Maggie assisted on three of the tallies.

“The Herrings are really good about looking for each other,” said Herzog. “Lucy played incredibly; she has the skill set. I have been telling her to break more towards the center of the ice and she did that against ANC.”

The Herrings helped execute Herzog’s offensive strategy. “We were keeping it deep in their zone,” said Herzog, who got two assists from junior forward Isabelle Sohn in the victory with junior defenseman Julia DiTosto adding another helper as PHS outshot ANC 48-8.

“Once the Herrings realized one could go behind the net and they could play keep away, we really clicked.”

Herzog noted that sophomore forward Sophia Corrodi has been helping the PHS offense click.

“Corrodi is a figure skater and she is playing for Nassau,” said Herzog “She is getting the game, all credit to her. She is playing every other shift. While other girls are sucking wind, she is ready to go.”

Sophomore goalie Callie Urisko was ready for the challenge last Wednesday.

“Urisko played well, she has been coming out and playing the puck more,” said Herzog.

With PHS having not won a game against a varsity foe since December, 2011, the Little Tigers let loose with an outpouring of emotion when it was all over.

“After the game, the girls celebrated like they won the Stanley Cup,” said Herzog. “The gloves and sticks were flying.”

While PHS fell 9-1 to Summit on Friday, Herzog feels the breakthrough win will be a confidence builder for the Little Tigers.

“That’s the hope,” said Herzog. “The girls were so excited. We had a little bit of a letdown against Summit.”

Herzog believes his team will be up for another big effort when the Little Tigers host a rematch with ANC on January 24 at Baker Rink on the campus of Princeton University.

“We have senior night on Friday,” said Herzog, whose team also has a road game at the Hill School (Pa.) on January 22. “The girls are hoping for our biggest crowd in years.”

TOUGH GOING: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Callahan O’Meara looks to pass the ball in recent action. Last Friday, senior co-captain O’Meara scored a team-high 12 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 62-47 at WW/P-N. The Little Tigers, who dropped to 2-7 with the defeat, play at Nottingham on January 23 and at Notre Dame on January 25 before hosting Hopewell Valley on January 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TOUGH GOING: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Callahan O’Meara looks to pass the ball in recent action. Last Friday, senior co-captain O’Meara scored a team-high 12 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 62-47 at WW/P-N. The Little Tigers, who dropped to 2-7 with the defeat, play at Nottingham on January 23 and at Notre Dame on January 25 before hosting Hopewell Valley on January 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It looked all too familiar for Princeton High boys’ basketball head coach Mark Shelley as the clock ticked toward zero last Friday night at WW/P-N.

Playing its sixth game in nine days, his squad kept it close for the first 20 minutes but wilted down the stretch in a 62-47 loss to the Knights.

Once again, it was the mental errors and lack of execution that kept the Little Tigers from earning a victory, according to Shelley.

“We didn’t follow our scouting report well enough,” said Shelley, now in his second year at the helm of the program.

“Their kid who scored 24 points (Juwan Harrison), we talked about how he always goes right and we weren’t funneling him to his left so you know those little things that we call mental errors, we’re not good enough to beat people if we make too many mistakes like that.”

Harrison penetrated into the teeth of the Little Tigers defense all evening, converting on nine field goals with every bucket coming in the paint.

“One person not being in the right defensive alignment breaks down everything and we’re not talented enough to do that so we must have a cohesive five player effort,” added Shelley, whose team dropped to 2-7 with the loss.

With starting point guard Paul Murray nursing a separated shoulder and backup Max Tarter still fighting sickness, junior point guard J.C. Silva was inserted into the starting lineup for a second straight game and continued to play well in an expanded role. Silva gave the Little Tigers an early boost, knocking down two three-pointers in the opening quarter and bringing defensive pressure as PHS battled to a two-point halftime deficit, trailing 25-23 at the break.

“He’s grown up a lot,” said Shelley of Silva who scored a season-high 11 points in a 69-55 win at Leap Academy last Wednesday. “He’s scoring better; we had not been getting many points from the point guard position so that was good, we need that.”

Harrison’s breakaway dunk midway through the third quarter had the WW/P-N student crowd in an uproar but the Little Tigers stayed under control and a Peter Mahotiere layup cut North’s lead to 33-31. But the Little Tigers seemed to run out of gas late in the period, particularly on the defensive end, as the Knights closed the quarter on a 10-2 run to extend their lead to 43-33 heading into the final stanza.

WW-PN carried the momentum into the fourth quarter and pulled away for the victory.

“We cooled off (offensively). I don’t think we ball-faked real well,” Shelley said. “We were trying to go short corner, mid-post and overload a side but a lot of times we weren’t patient enough and rushed a shot before we let the cutters come through. When we did reverse the ball, we got good looks.”

Senior forward Callahan O’Meara led PHS in scoring for the second straight contest, notching 12 points and hitting the defensive glass for the Little Tigers. Two days earlier, he led five PHS players in double figures with 17 points in the victory at Leap Academy, which snapped a six-game losing skid for the Little Tigers.

“I feel like we get in certain funks and stretches during the game where we’re not playing well and the other team is taking advantage of it,” said co-captain O’Meara. “It’s a lot of little things we aren’t doing right which all adds up in the end.”

O’Meara can often be seen vigorously communicating with his teammates on the court and his intensity was on display in the loss to the Knights.

“I took it upon myself to be someone who’s not afraid to lay into other kids on the team,” said O’Meara, who scored five points as PHS opened the week with a hard fought 54-47 home loss to WW/P-S on January 14. “I’m just trying to get everyone to work their hardest and give 100 percent every second they’re on the floor.”

Despite the 2-7 record, O’Meara believes PHS can still turn it around if it comes together and plays as a team at all times.

“We need to work on chemistry as a team on offense,” asserted O’Meara. “Most of the games have turned into one-on-one stuff and there’s no moving off the ball and there’s no setting screens off the ball so I think that’s what we need to emphasize the most on. I think we can make a push and definitely make a run; hopefully we’ll be able to qualify for the state playoffs.”

The Little Tigers must turn it around quickly with seven more games on the horizon over the next two weeks.

“My biggest job as a coach right now is one, fundamentals, correcting what we can correct, improving both individually and collectively, and the second issue is the mental approach,” said Shelley, whose team plays at Nottingham on January 23 and at Notre Dame on January 25 before hosting Hopewell Valley on January 28.

“After a while you lose a couple close games, games you feel like  you should have won and then their heads get down so our job is to work on the attitude and momentum, keeping their heads up.”

RED LETTER DAY: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Sean Timmons moves the puck in recent action. Last Wednesday, Timmons chipped in a goal and two assists as PDS defeated Lawrenceville 6-3. It was the Panthers’ first win over the Big Red since the 2000-01 season. PDS, now 7-3-1, hosts LaSalle Prep (Pa.) on January 22 and Chatham High on January 24 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RED LETTER DAY: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Sean Timmons moves the puck in recent action. Last Wednesday, Timmons chipped in a goal and two assists as PDS defeated Lawrenceville 6-3. It was the Panthers’ first win over the Big Red since the 2000-01 season. PDS, now 7-3-1, hosts LaSalle Prep (Pa.) on January 22 and Chatham High on January 24 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Sean Timmons is the top sniper for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team but he has been misfiring since the calendar turned to January.

“It has been a while since I have scored,” said senior forward and team captain Timmons.

“Bert [PDS head coach Scott Bertoli] puts a lot of pressure on our top six forwards to put the puck into the net.”

With PDS mired in a two-game losing streak and hosting Lawrenceville last Wednesday, the Panthers knew that they had to put a lot of pucks in the net if they were going to get their first win over the Big Red since the 2000-01 season.

Timmons helped PDS put the pressure on Lawrenceville as he assisted on a Gabe Castagna goal that gave the Panthers an early 1-0 lead and got the packed house at McGraw Rink roaring.

Early in the second period, Timmons helped set up a Kyle Weller goal as PDS extended its lead to 3-1. Minutes later, Timmons took matters into his own hands, flying down the ice and blasting a one-timer into the top corner of the net.

“I couldn’t have asked for better timing and a better chance,” said Timmons reflecting on his tally.

“I had the whole top of the net. My teammates have been giving me grief the past three weeks, saying I can’t hit the net. If I had missed the net, I would have skated off the ice.”

Instead, Timmons skated over to the jammed PDS student section and pounded the glass in celebration.

“We don’t play for ourselves, we play for the crest on our jersey,” said Timmons.

“They are our biggest supporters so we have to make it fun for them because we are playing for our school.”

Timmons’ tally turned out to be the game-winner as PDS pulled away to a sweet 6-3 triumph over the Big Red, improving to 7-3-1 on the season.

For Timmons and his teammates, it was critical to get that early lead over the Big Red.

“Before the game, Bert said that in the past two years, they had scored in the first five minutes of the game so we took that to heart and we knew that the first goal definitely had to be ours,” said Timmons, noting that PDS had tied Lawrenceville two seasons ago before losing by one goal last year on a tally in the waning seconds of the contest. “Once that first one went in for us, we weren’t letting up.”

Timmons acknowledged that last year’s loss to the Big Red provided further motivation for the Panthers.

“We are a totally different team from last year and we have got to play 100 percent different from what we did last year,” said Timmons.

“Everyone who was in the locker room that was on the team last year still had that in them. All the new guys were at the game or they saw it on YouTube. Everyone knew what had to be done and we had to play 100 percent to beat them.”

PDS helped ensure a different outcome as they blitzed Lawrenceville in the second period, outscoring the Big Red 4-1.

“We came out great but there was a little doubt, there were jitters going everywhere,” said Timmons.

“Going into the second period up 2-1, we said in the locker room that we know how to beat this team. We have to just keep going and everyone rallied for each other.”

For Timmons and his fellow veterans, there was the sense that PDS’s winless streak against Lawrenceville was finally going to end.

“We were talking yesterday and I said to Bert, the guys that have been here have played them twice already and we have tied them and lost to them so we better win this time,” said Timmons.

“It is destiny, you just knew it had to happen and Bert said ‘exactly right, it is your time.’ When the schedule comes out, everyone circles this game on the calendar. It is the biggest game of the year and it means so much to both schools. We are so honored to finally have the ‘W’ on our side.”

In the the view of PDS head coach Bertoli, the big win came down to his players staying in the moment.

“I think our approach was a little different this year,” said Bertoli. “We talked about not worrying about the result at the end of the game and not getting so caught up in the environment and the atmosphere. We are not supposed to win this game. The pressure isn’t on us, we are a small little day school that happens to have a pretty good hockey program. We were the better team last year and we didn’t win the game and I think it was because we got out of synch and we kept watching the scoreboard and we were down. I think it was huge for us to get the first goal and play in front.”

While the Panthers’ opportunistic finishing drew the applause on Wednesday, Bertoli credited some tough defensive work with paving the way to victory.

“Their top line is very, very good, the best line we are going to play against all year,” said Bertoli.

“I am proud of the way that Connor Fletcher, John Egner,  Lewie Blackburn, C.J. Young,  and Andrew Clayton played. Those five guys were given the tall order of shutting those guys down and they were great in the 5-on-5.”

Bertoli enjoyed his team’s great second period effort, which ended with the PDS students gleefully chanting “domination, domination.”

“I think part of that is having them getting frustrated,” said Bertoli, who got goals from Egner, Blackburn, and Fletcher in addition to the tallies by Timmons, Castagna and Weller with Clayton chipping in four assists.

“We made it hard on them and not everyone is willing to battle through and fight through adversity and we made it a point to make it hard on their top line. They unraveled a little bit and took penalties and our power play cashed in.”

Over the last 18 minutes of the contest, the Panthers weathered a storm in holding off a desperate Big Red squad.

“Third periods have kind of been our achilles heels of late,” said Bertoli, who got 30 saves from freshman goalie Logan Kramsky. “We knew they were going to come out and score a goal and make a push and we responded. I thought we did a good job of matching that.”

After surviving the third period, the Panthers players mobbed each other on the ice as the student fans roared their approval.

“You can tell how excited those guys are, it was fun,” said Bertoli. “For these guys, it was about enjoying the moment and playing the game the right way and being responsible defensively and we did that.”

In Bertoli’s view, the breakthrough against Lawrenceville should give the Panthers some extra momentum as they head down the home stretch of their schedule.

“We are a good hockey team when we have everyone in the lineup,” asserted Bertoli, whose team hosts LaSalle Prep (Pa.) on January 22 and Chatham High on January 24 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 27.

“We have been  missing some key pieces for a while now. It is the first time we have had everyone back for six weeks. If we play like this, we are going to have a successful year.”

Timmons, for his part, echoed Bertoli’s analysis. “Going forward, Bert said this is the best team we are going to play,” said Timmons. “If we play like that every game, the sky is the limit honestly.”

KILLER BEES: Hun School boys’ hockey player Evan Barratt controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, freshman forward Barratt contributed three assists as Hun pulled out a 4-3 win over St. Joe’s (Pa.). Barratt’s linemates and fellow freshmen, Jon Bendorf and Blake Brown, each scored two goals in the win with Brown getting the game-winner in the last minute of the contest. Hun, now 11-5, plays at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on January 22 and at St. Augustine Prep on January 24 before facing Pennington on January 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KILLER BEES: Hun School boys’ hockey player Evan Barratt controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, freshman forward Barratt contributed three assists as Hun pulled out a 4-3 win over St. Joe’s (Pa.). Barratt’s linemates and fellow freshmen, Jon Bendorf and Blake Brown, each scored two goals in the win with Brown getting the game-winner in the last minute of the contest. Hun, now 11-5, plays at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on January 22 and at St. Augustine Prep on January 24 before facing Pennington on January 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It didn’t take long for freshmen Jon Bendorf and Evan Barratt to feel at home as they joined the Hun School boys’ hockey team this winter.

“They welcomed us right away,” said Bendorf, referring to the squad’s veteran players.

“I knew a couple of kids before coming in and they introduced me and Evan to everyone else on the team and we just bonded right away.”

On the ice, Bendorf, Barratt, and fellow freshman Blake Brown have bonded as they were put together on the same line in the preseason.

“It has been a lot of fun going to the Hun School and playing with Jon and Blake,” said Barratt,

“We were clicking right away; it was awesome. We have definitely brought the scoring.”

Last Friday, the trio of freshmen certainly brought the scoring as Hun pulled out a 4-3 win over St. Joe’s (Pa.).

Brown scored Hun’s first goal as the Raiders tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period. In the waning moments of the period, Bendorf tallied two shorthanded goals, the second assisted by Barratt, as Hun took a 3-1 lead into the final period.

In the third, St. Joe’s rallied to knot the game at 3-3 but with less than a minute left in regulation, Bendorf found Brown in the crease and the latter banged home the feed with 50 seconds left to give the Raiders a dramatic victory.

In Barratt’s view, Brown’s second period tally changed the tone of the contest.

“That was a huge goal for us, we weren’t getting very much in the first period,” said Barratt. “He puts it in and all the momentum goes toward us.”

Bendorf helped Hun build on that momentum as he turned a late penalty kill into his personal showcase. He scored with 2:34 left in the period when he stole the puck from the St. Joe’s goalie and calmly maneuvered his way into the crease and dumped the puck into the empty net.

“I was trying to cut off the angle for the goalie to pass the puck and he ended up putting it right on my tape and I got it in the net,” recalled Bendorf.

On the second shorthanded goal 30 seconds later, Bendorf deftly buried a feed from Barratt.

“I just saw Jon going hard to the net and I was trying to make the d-men make a move first and just slide it over and he put it in,” said Barratt.

On the game-winning goal, Bendorf became the playmaker, setting up Brown in the crease.

“It was a great pass by Evan to find me over there and then I just saw Blake coming around the net,” said Bendorf.

“I tried to get it over there and I knew he was going to finish right when I got it over to him.”

In Bendorf’s view, the dramatic finish could be a turning point for the Raiders.

“We have had some tough times with the tougher opponents that we have played against so that was a big win,” said Bendorf. “Hopefully it sparks something and we can roll a couple of wins here.”

Hun head coach Ian McNally knew his team was in for a tough test against St. Joe’s as the squads had met over the holiday season in the semifinals of the Purple Puck tournament in Washington D.C. with the Raiders prevailing in a shootout.

“We are pretty evenly matched I think, both games were very physical and a little mean-spirited,” said McNally, whose team improved to 11-5 with the victory in the rematch.

“Both teams were referencing the last game throughout this game so there was a carryover. We expected that. We were missing a couple of kids at the Purple Puck and I think they were too so this was a better, faster hockey game.”

The Raiders produced one of their better stretches of the season when Bendorf scored the two shorthanded goals within a 30-second span.

“We were kind of frustrated because that was our third penalty in a row and just to have a momentum blitz like that was great,” said McNally. “That penalty kill obviously changed the whole game.”

Adding the trio of Bendorf, Barratt, and Brown has changed things for the Raiders.

“In week two we put those three together and we have tinkered here or there with other ones but those three are here for good,” said McNally.

“They just move the puck very well and they knew each other and have played together before. They all just went to an all-star game together for their bantam league.”

While the freshmen may have been the offensive stars of the win, McNally tipped his hat to senior goalie Devin Cheifetz and senior defenseman Brad Stern.

“I think Devin played really well today; I think his best two games so far have been these guys in the tournament and then here today,” asserted McNally.

“It was good for him to show up in a big way. We have all of this dynamic offensive talent; it is going to come in spurts so what we need is for him to be able to hold the fort for 10 minutes. When he does that people feed off of it and we get going a little bit. I thought Brad Stern played really solid back there. He was a little more physical than he usually is. He helped save a couple of goals in the d-zone so that was good.”

In McNally’s view, the victory was a good preview for next month when the Raiders will be competing in three tournaments, the Independence Hockey League playoffs, the Mercer County Tournament, and the state Prep tourney.

“We talked about the difference today between learning how to lose and learning how to win,” said McNally, whose team plays at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on January 22 and at St. Augustine Prep on January 24 before facing Pennington on January 27.

“Any time we have been challenged, we have lost by a goal and that starts to become your mentality after a while so today was exactly what we were talking about. If we get in that situation and inevitably we did and we were able to actually learn how to win. Any time we are in a situation like this, we are practicing for February. We were in trouble and we were able to go through adversity.”

Bendorf, for his part, believes the Raiders could cause their foes a lot of trouble come tourney time.

“It is definitely going to be challenging,” said Bendorf. “I feel like we are getting better and by the time we get to the playoffs, we are going to be a really tough team to beat.”