DRAMATIC START: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Catherine Dyevich puts up a shot last Friday as PHS hosted Hopewell Valley in the season opener for both teams. Senior forward Dyevich came through in the clutch for the Little Tigers, hitting a three-pointer with 18 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and then draining another three-pointer at the buzzer in overtime to give PHS a dramatic 44-43 win. Last Monday, Dyevich tallied 16 points as the Little Tigers defeated South River 44-33 to improve to 2-0. PHS plays at East Brunswick on December 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Catherine Dyevich struggled offensively for the first 31 minutes of the game as the Princeton High girls’ basketball team hosted Hopewell Valley last Friday in the season opener.
PHS senior forward Dyevich had just four points as the contest headed in the final minute of regulation.
Finding her shooting touch at just the right time, Dyevich drained a three-pointer in the waning seconds of regulation to knot the game at 37-37 and force overtime. In the extra session, Dyevich came through again, lofting a three-pointer that swished through at the buzzer to give the Little Tigers a 44-43 win as she got mobbed by her teammates in the middle of the court.
Dyevich didn’t see her heroics coming since she was out of synch for most of the evening.
“I was off throughout the whole game, it was a very slow start,” said Dyevich. “It means a lot for me, I wasn’t expecting to bring it back. I had been trying to make it up on the defensive end and bring it there and get a lot of rebounds.”
With PHS trailing HoVal 37-34 in the last moments of regulation, Dyevich got the ball and knew she had to take a shot.
“At that point there were eight seconds left and I was wide open at the three,” said Dyevich. “I was thinking we are down by 3, I have got to shoot it.”
As overtime wound down, the Little Tigers found themselves in a 43-41 hole and instinct took over again for Dyevich.
“Even though it was less than a minute left, we still kept with it,” said Dyevich, who ended up with 10 points on the evening.
“I didn’t even realize how much time was left on the clock; Coach [Dave] Kosa yells from the bench, ‘look Cat.’ I got the ball and it was ‘I need to shoot this’ and I did. I didn’t think it was going in, and then I saw it. I had an inkling.”
As PHS hit the court for the opener, the team was shooting for a big night. “Going into it, we were so pumped, we were so ready to play,” said Dyevich, noting that this is her last season of basketball as she is headed to Cornell where she will compete for its women’s rowing program.
“Since we lost only one player, Taylor [Stone], I think we were ready to bring it. It is our senior season, the four captains. [Erin Devine, Anna and Olivia Intartaglia and Dyevich] and Ella [Kotsen] as well. We really wanted to bring it and win our home opener.”
In order to pull out the win, the Little Tigers had show resilience. “We just never gave up, that is something we are working on this year,” said Dyevich, who got 16 points as PHS topped South River 44-33 last Monday to improve to 2-0. “It is just staying confident and knowing what we are capable of and that we can do it if we believe in ourselves.”
PHS head coach Dave Kosa credited his team for maintaining its self belief.
“It was just a matter of us staying in it and making sure that we do the little things,” said Kosa.
“We had a couple of mistakes at the end. We put ourselves in a position where we are are up by two and all of a sudden they are up by two. We just had to respond and we just hit big shots.”
Kosa tipped his hat to Dyevich for making the big shots. “We have a couple of girls who can score that ball; today Catherine picked us up,” said Kosa, who got 12 points from Devine with Anna Intartaglia tallying six.
“She had a big shot to tie it in regulation and then the big shot at the end. It wasn’t how we drew it up, but we are just trusting one another.”
In Kosa’s view, PHS made a statement with the win over HoVal. “If we compete, we can do great things,” said Kosa, whose plays at East Brunswick on December 22.
“We are getting better. I was happy that we were opening up against Hopewell because it shows us where we are at. It is a tribute to the girls’ hard work and commitment. Now we have that first one under our belts. We are trying to elevate ourselves to a certain level. This is a good stepping stone to do that.”
Dyevich also views the triumph as a sign that the Little Tigers can take things to a higher level this winter.
“Usually we start our seasons out with a slower team that we think we are capable of beating,” said Dyevich.
“This was a test, especially as our first game. We won both of our scrimmages but we didn’t know how those teams were. It was an awesome win, I am so happy.”