February 4, 2015
READING THE GAME: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Reid controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior forward Reid enjoyed a big game on the program’s annual Senior Night, tallying four assists as PHS topped WW/P-N 10-3 to improve to 7-8-1. The Little Tigers play Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 28, 2015
INSIDE STUFF: Princeton University men’s basketball player Hans Brase goes up for a dunk last Sunday against visiting Rowan University. Junior forward Brase scored 13 points to help Princeton defeat Division III Rowan 96-48. The Tigers, now 8-9 overall, head into the thick of Ivy League play this weekend as they host Harvard on January 30 and Dartmouth on January 31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

INSIDE STUFF: Princeton University men’s basketball player Hans Brase goes up for a dunk last Sunday against visiting Rowan University. Junior forward Brase scored 13 points to help Princeton defeat Division III Rowan 96-48. The Tigers, now 8-9 overall, head into the thick of Ivy League play this weekend as they host Harvard on January 30 and Dartmouth on January 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Returning to action last Sunday after a 15-day exam break, the Princeton University men’s basketball team saw its game against visiting Rowan University as good prep for the Ivy League tests ahead.

“I feel like we had a really nice set of practices before we headed back into  the game,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, whose team last played on January 10 when it rallied to beat Penn 78-74 in its Ivy opener.

“It is just can we carry over what happened in the last few minutes against  Penn. That has been a big thing for us, our defense. We are glad to be back on the floor with an important week coming up.”

In cruising past the Profs on Sunday, Princeton displayed some stifling defense, going on a 26-4 run after Division III Rowan had taken an early 10-8 lead. The Tigers never looked back, cruising to a 96-48 win before a crowd of 1,774 at Jadwin Gym as they improved to 8-9 overall.

“I thought the group that came in and defended between the 14-minute mark and the five-minute mark did well, they were stuck at 10 for a little while and that is our defense,” said Henderson. “It is nice to get a win.”

Henderson got a nice offensive effort from freshman Aaron Young, who scored a career-high 15 points, going 5-of-6 from three-point range.

“Aaron is a very good shooter; I think we have a terrific shooting team and Aaron is right up there with the rest of them,” said Henderson, whose team hit on 16-of-35 three-pointers against Rowan.

“Between Clay (Wilson), Aaron, Khyan (Rayner) and Ben (Hazel), those guys are always competing for the top slot. I want Aaron to fill up the rest of the stat sheet because I think he can really shoot and now it is about doing the other things well too.”

Young, for his part, said his outburst was the product of being in the right place at the right time.

“My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open,” said Young, a 6’0, 180-pound native of Falls Church, Va., who was the Ivy Rookie of the Week for the last week of December.

“Coach always encourages us to step in and shoot the ball with confidence and that is what I tried to do.”

Like Henderson, Young saw the game against Rowan as a good opportunity to build confidence going into Ivy play.

“Any chance we get to come out and compete against somebody else is awesome for us and we love to take advantage of it,” said Young, whose previous career high was nine points.

Junior forward Hans Brase liked the way Tigers took care of business against the Profs.

“We try to treat every game the same,” said Brase, who tallied 13 points in the victory.

“For us, it is not a league game but it is another non-conference game that we get up for. We want to win every game.”

As Princeton, 1-0 Ivy, looks ahead to hosting defending league champ Harvard (11-5 overall, 1-1 Ivy) on Friday and improving Dartmouth (8-8 overall, 1-1 Ivy) a day later, Brase knows it is crucial to get the league campaign off on a winning note.

“One of the big things is that you can’t dig a hole early,” said Brase.  “Last year we started out 0-4 and it really just killed us for the whole Ivy season. Starting off with a win against Penn this year was great but now we have to keep going into Harvard and Dartmouth and just take it one game at time and we will be alright.”

Young, for his part, believes Princeton will be on its game. “I am very excited to get the league season going,” said Young. “I know it is a grind like all of the older guys have said. I think we are ready and I am looking forward to it.”

Noting that Dartmouth upset Harvard last Saturday, Henderson realizes that Princeton is looking at two big challenges in the Big Green and Crimson.

“It is a really tough weekend,” said Henderson. “Dartmouth had a huge win there yesterday. I told our guys, they are good and don’t think for a second that Harvard isn’t really good because they are. It is an important week but I think we have been making some big strides everyday in practice. This is a sum of the parts team. These guys have been getting tired of me saying it but they have to be so focused on each other’s success. As long as we keep doing that, we have a chance.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 21, 2015
SCORING SURGE: Cheeky Herr (No. 20) heads to goal in a recent game for the Trinity College women’s hockey team. Princeton resident Herr has emerged as one of the top scorers in Division III women’s hockey. The junior forward has piled up 13 goals and 13 assists through Trinity’s first 13 games. She is the leading scorer in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is fifth in the nation in total points among Division III players. Coming off a week which saw her score five goals and get six assists in three Trinity wins, Herr was named the NESCAC Player of the Week.(Photo Courtesy of Trinity Sports Communications)

SCORING SURGE: Cheeky Herr (No. 20) heads to goal in a recent game for the Trinity College women’s hockey team. Princeton resident Herr has emerged as one of the top scorers in Division III women’s hockey. The junior forward has piled up 13 goals and 13 assists through Trinity’s first 13 games. She is the leading scorer in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is fifth in the nation in total points among Division III players. Coming off a week which saw her score five goals and get six assists in three Trinity wins, Herr was named the NESCAC Player of the Week. (Photo Courtesy of Trinity Sports Communications)

After tallying five goals as a freshman for the Trinity College (Conn.) women’s hockey team in the 2012-13 campaign, Cheeky Herr didn’t view herself as a go-to scorer.

But late last January, the Princeton native scored two goals in a 4-1 win over Colby and started to see things in a different light.

“Going in as a freshman, you are the new kid on the block and you don’t want to step on toes,” said Herr.

“A lot of it was having confidence in having your skills and ability to be a goal scorer. About halfway through the season in the Colby game, something started to click. I felt so confident. I told myself I am a good player, I can score goals. It was all mental.”

Things are clicking on all cylinders this winter for Herr as the junior forward has piled up 13 goals and 13 assists through Trinity’s first 13 games. She is the leading scorer in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is fifth in the nation in total points among Division III players.

Coming off a week which saw her score five goals and get six assists in three Trinity wins, Herr was named the NESCAC Player of the Week.

In reflecting on her scoring surge, Herr credits a change in the lineup with helping to trigger things.

“We flipped lines,” said Herr, who is combining with senior Lucy Robinson and fellow junior Emma Tani.

“The three of us work well together, we mesh, there is a flow. We find each other on the ice. We were put together in the two games before Christmas. Lucy is assisting me and I am assisting her. Emma is like a nice cherry on top of a sundae. She has the speed and stick skills that we don’t have.”

The 5’3 Herr worked hard in the offseason to get into top shape for her junior campaign.

“I am a small player so I get knocked around a lot,” said Herr, who ended up with 10 goals and nines assists as a sophomore.

“I get bruised and battered and end the weekend sore. I didn’t want to lose steam halfway through. I wanted to have extra energy. I wanted to be stronger, fitter, and faster. I had an internship in Stamford. I had a trainer there who had worked with NHL players; that was great. I was sport focused and one-on-one.”

Seeing the end of her college hockey career on the horizon, Herr brought a sense of urgency into this winter.

“You are a junior and you have to step up.” said Herr. “I have a month or two plus a season left. I want to enjoy every ounce of it. I love the sport. I want to play the best I can.”

Enjoying a special team spirit, Trinity is having a superb season as it improved to 9-3-1 overall after posting two wins over Sacred Heart last weekend.

“We have got a great dynamic this year, we are all friends, whether freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior,” said Herr.

“We look out for each other. It is a smaller team than in the past and there is less drama. We are all friends. We love each other and we love the game.”

Herr and the Bantams raised their game against Sacred Heart, posting a 9-0 win on Friday and then prevailing 5-1 a day later. Herr had a goal and a career-high five assists in Friday’s game and then added two goals on Saturday.

“We are playing at a high level, everyone was talking and working together in a cohesive manner,” said Herr. “This weekend was a real confidence booster; it showed us that we can really put the puck in the net.”

Herr is looking to keep putting the puck in the net as Trinity enters into the thick of NESCAC play, sitting in the middle of the pack with a 2-3-1 league mark.

“I have moved to wing after playing center all of my life,” said Herr. “I need to be sharper on the breakout and work on getting open. We need to get more shots. You can’t put the puck in the net if you don’t shoot.

The work that Herr has put in on conditioning has her confident that she can produce a big finish.

“Usually at this point, I hit a wall, I am gassed and tired,” said Herr. “I have managed to find extra stuff in the tank at the end of shifts. I do the cardio year round.”

While Herr is excited by her development into a top scorer this year, she is quick to point out that it is a group effort.

“I have great teammates, great coaches, and the most supportive family ever,” said Herr, whose older sister, Sarah, starred for the Williams College women’s hockey program. “They have always been there. My dad has been telling me for years this is what I could do.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 14, 2015
GRAND SLAM: Princeton University women’s basketball player Blake Dietrick looks for an opening last Saturday as Princeton hosted Penn. Senior captain and star guard Dietrick scored a game-high 25 points to help the Tigers roll to an 83-54 victory in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Dietrick, who passed the 1,000-point mark in her career during the first half, was later named the Co-Ivy Player of the Week along with Cornell’s Nia Marshall. No. 19 Princeton, which improved to 17-0 overall and 1-0 Ivy with the victory, is currently on exam break and will return to action later this month when it heads north to play at Harvard on January 30, and Dartmouth on January 31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GRAND SLAM: Princeton University women’s basketball player Blake Dietrick looks for an opening last Saturday as Princeton hosted Penn. Senior captain and star guard Dietrick scored a game-high 25 points to help the Tigers roll to an 83-54 victory in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Dietrick, who passed the 1,000-point mark in her career during the first half, was later named the Co-Ivy Player of the Week along with Cornell’s Nia Marshall. No. 19 Princeton, which improved to 17-0 overall and 1-0 Ivy with the victory, is currently on exam break and will return to action later this month when it heads north to play at Harvard on January 30, and Dartmouth on January 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While Blake Dietrick was thrilled to help the Princeton University women’s basketball team roll to an 83-54 win over Penn last Saturday in the Ivy League opener for both teams, the senior guard knows that the resounding victory doesn’t really prove anything.

“I think we definitely did make a statement but I think we take it with a grain of salt because of what happened last year,” said Dietrick, referring to the homestretch in 2013-14 which saw the Quakers defeat Princeton 80-64 in the regular season finale to win the Ivy title after the Tigers had posted an 84-53 win at Penn earlier in the season.

“We won by 30 at Penn, which arguably is a greater feat than what we did today. So I think we know that game in March is going to be just as important as this one. It is great to start out on a nice solid win.”

The Tigers used the loss to Penn last season to fuel its fire coming into the game on Saturday.

“We did bring it up in the locker room before we went out,” said Dietrick, who scored a game-high 25 points in the win Saturday which improved 19th-ranked Princeton to 17-0 overall and 1-0 Ivy.

“It was just — remember that feeling, remember what we have been working for this whole offseason and this preseason and don’t let one team stand in our way.”

Junior forward Annie Tarakchian, who grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds in the win over the Quakers, wasn’t about to let Penn stand in her way.

“We just talked about how it felt last year and how we wanted to avoid that 100 percent and prove that we are the tougher team,” said Tarakchian, whose left eye was black due to her tough play in a 75-63 win over Hampton on January 5. “I think we came out and really proved that today.”

While Tarakchian and her teammates savored the feeling of being 17-0, they are not getting ahead of themselves.

“I think our goal is just to win the next game every time,” said Tarakchian. “Being 17-0 is really cool but at the end of the day it is just focusing on the next game and getting the next one and getting to the NCAA tournament.”

Dietrick, for her part, enjoyed a cool moment in the first half as she passed the 1,000-point mark in her career, becoming the 22nd player in program history to hit that milestone

“I am just so grateful that I got to do it with this group of people,” said the 5’10 Dietrick, a native of Wellesley, Mass.

“My team is so amazing and they pick me up when I have bad games and they motivate me to be better. I am just so happy that it happened at home; I think that is a nice treat.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart was very happy with how the team performed against Penn.

“We were just really excited to start league play; there has been a lot of talk in preseason and non conference,” said Banghart.

“We felt like we have really developed into a pretty good team at both ends of the floor. It was an opportunity to showcase that in the league and play a really good Penn team. That is what Ivy League basketball is about, it was a great environment. I thought our kids were the better team today and I hope they continue to be.”

Banghart knows that she has a great kid in Dietrick, a first-team All-Ivy selection last year, who is leading Princeton with 15.8 points and 5.6 assists a game.

“I think Blake is a really special example of our program,” asserted Banghart.

“She came in and bleeds Princeton from the beginning and she just trusts the process. It wasn’t always easy playing behind Lauren Polansky. Blake hasn’t wasted a minute. She has used her off terms for academic pursuits but she never loses sight of the gym and the development she has needed. She is a better player than she was last year. Whenever your senior leader is a great representation of what the program is about, all the numbers and all of that is just the gravy. She has done things the right way and it is fun to watch her have so much success this season.”

It was fun for Banghart to see her team hold Penn’s star center Sydney Stipanovich to two points on 1-of-11 shooting.

“We challenged our post before the game and said how do you want to deal with the post game,” said Banghart.

“Do you want the guards to help out on it or do you want to do it on your own. Alex Wheatley said I want to guard her on my own, don’t send a guard. So as much credit as I would like to take, I can’t. Alex Wheatley really did a great job on her and everybody else that came in played with high hands. I think they were really dialed into the scout. We broke down how she could hurt us and I thought we took those things away. We felt like we let her do whatever she wanted in our gym last year and that is not what this program is about.”

While the 17-0 start says a lot about the Tiger program, Banghart sees her players as being more immersed in the process than the record.

“It is a really special thing and I don’t think the kids will understand that entirely until they have some perspective,” said Banghart.

“It is the idea that these kids are so focused on the process and the progress of our program. I am excited to be back in the gym with them. We are going to give them a few days off because they have some coursework but when we get back there on Wednesday, we will have a really hungry group. They will know that next up is Harvard/Dartmouth in that order. This isn’t a group that needs a pep talk, they need a scout. They need to understand what players do and understand what the team does and then they need to be rested because they practice so hard. It is more about managing more Xs and Os than pep talks with this group.”

With Princeton currently on exam break before it heads north for the games at Harvard on January 30 and Dartmouth on January 31, Banghart is determined to make sure that her players remain hungry to improve.

“It is recognizing that we have to be playing our best basketball in March, we just have to be,” said Banghart.

“I don’t want to limp in any way. We were kind of limping last year, losing to Brown and then to Penn. We lost two of our last four games. We want to be playing our best basketball in March so I have to figure out how to make sure that happens. We’ll make sure that the kids are truly better in March than they are now. I think they will be.”

Dietrick, for her part, believes Princeton has a good chance of running the table as long as it keeps its focus.

“The Ivy League process is a grueling schedule; it is back-to-back with some long travel, especially Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell, that kind of thing,” said Dietrick.

“I think we have the mental toughness and the physical fitness to push through. We are really deep this year so I think that playing back to back isn’t going to be that much of a struggle but it is something we have to remember and be conscious of and not take anything for granted. We equate every game in the Ivy League schedule because each one is a stepping stone to get to the tournament. We have ingrained that already in our underclassmen. They understand that every day and every practice is one step towards our goal.”

OH HENRY: Princeton University men’s basketball player ­Henry Caruso drives to the hoop in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Caruso came off the bench to score a game-high and career-best 23 points in 28 minutes as Princeton rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to top Penn 78-74 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers, who improved to 7-9 overall and 1-0 with victory, are on exam break and will return to action when they host Rowan on January 25.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OH HENRY: Princeton University men’s basketball player ­Henry Caruso drives to the hoop in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Caruso came off the bench to score a game-high and career-best 23 points in 28 minutes as Princeton rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to top Penn 78-74 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers, who improved to 7-9 overall and 1-0 with victory, are on exam break and will return to action when they host Rowan on January 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

His coach likens him to a cartoon character but Princeton University men’s basketball player Henry Caruso certainly didn’t leave Penn laughing last Saturday.

When asked about sophomore Caruso in the wake of his career-best and game-high 23-point performance off the bench in Princeton’s come-from-behind 78-74 win over Penn before a crowd of 2,473 at Jadwin Gym, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson quipped that the energetic Caruso reminded him of the Tasmanian Devil character.

“He played the same way in high school, I call him the whirling dervish,” said Henderson. “I am beginning to think if you opened him up you would see that his heart is a little bigger than most people. He is a 6’4 power forward.”

Penn coach Jerome Allen certainly took notice of the heart displayed by Caruso, who came into the evening averaging 3.7 points a game in 8.4 minutes.

“He played a 4, he played a 2, he defended at the top of 1-3-1, he defended a 5,” said Allen. “I give him all the credit in the world, I have nothing  but utmost respect for how he approached it because his game was pretty much that he was just tougher than everybody else on the floor.”

Princeton displayed a lot of mental toughness collectively as it battled back from a 58-43 deficit with 13:35 left in regulation to pull out the victory in the Ivy League opener for both teams.

“We were fortunate to get a win, I am proud of our guys for not going away and staying with the plan,” said Henderson, whose team improved to 7-9 overall and 1-0 Ivy League with the win.

“We tried about five different defenses; we could not stop (Darien) Nelson-Henry and then all of a sudden we got stops. The nice thing was that we continued to score and we were going to the free throw line which kept us in the game. We were about to get run out of the gym so I think this was a helluva win for us.”

Henderson credited Caruso with triggering the run as he ended up going 14-of-16 from the free throw line.

“Henry was terrific and for two games in a row; we have been missing Steve (Cook), he’s been under the weather,” said Henderson.

“It is nice to have someone coming off the bench that gives you the attacking the basket mentality, which is what this game called for all the way. We had to go inside; we had to be physical going to the rim because that is the way the game was going.”

Caruso, for his part, was ready to mix it up inside. “I think just being aggressive was the key and just going up strong,” said the 6’4, 190-pound Caruso, a native of San Mateo, Calif. who was later named Ivy Player of the week.

“Penn has got those big guys down low with Nelson-Henry and (Greg) Louis. I think my teammates were finding me really well and that was effective. By staying aggressive it allowed us to play tough and strong. I think that is what this game really needed.”

Senior Ben Hazel, who began the year as a starter but has been mired to the bench recently, showed good aggressiveness when he got a shot to play.

“Ben has a lot of reasons to be upset at the coach but I thought he handled himself like a senior and a true professional tonight,” said Henderson. “He made a huge three in front of our bench and then made his free throws and got some really big steals when we needed him.”

Hazel wasn’t thinking about his lack of playing time when he hit the court.

“You always have to be ready, that’s how it has been this year,” said Hazel, who contributed seven points and three steals in 16 minutes of action.

“Coach always says next man up. In the end, you are out there and it is basketball. It is us versus Penn, you have got to stop (Tony) Hicks and have got to do different things. That is pretty much all you think about when you are out on the court.”

Sophomore guard Spencer Weisz, who contributed 20 points, said that Hazel’s play changed the tone of the contest.

“To be honest, it was Ben, when he came in,” said Weisz. “Coach always mentions having a teeth to our defense and when Ben came in, he got one early steal and you could tell the momentum swung so heavy in our favor. They wanted no part of him and once that kind of gets going, it is contagious. We stuck with man throughout the whole game. When Ben came in the game it just swung in our favor.”

With his team going on exam break and not returning to action until hosting Rowan on January 25, Henderson believes the win over Penn was particularly important.

“We are going into a really long break,” said Henderson. “We have been on both ends of it, we have lost our first game. Going into this break, we are in a good position here, just being 1-0.”

Although his players will be preoccupied with their studies over the next two weeks, Henderson believes the team can sill make progress during the hiatus.

“The guys, after all, are going to a good school and they have got exams and those exams are important,” added Henderson, a 1998 Princeton alum and former Tiger men’s basketball star.

“The main thing is that when you are up there, you study and when you come down here, you make shots and get rebounds.”

Starting its final weekend before a 17-day exam hiatus, the Princeton University men’s hockey team came out fighting as it hosted defending national champion Union last Friday.

Princeton battled the Dutchmen tooth-and-nail as the ECAC Hockey rivals played to a scoreless stalemate in the first period.

“We were playing hard, our kind of hockey, 5-on-5 down low, two-man attack, getting shots, throwing everything we can to the net,” said Princeton senior forward Tucker Brockett.

“I think we came out strong and played well in our defensive zone, our first period was solid.”

But things went downhill in the second period as Union scored two unanswered goals.

Brockett acknowledged that he was partially at fault for the Tigers’ woes in the period.

“We started getting penalties,” said Brockett. “I was the leader of that, I got three penalties. It is just unacceptable. You put a team on the power play seven times in the first two periods, you are not going to win the game.”

After Union increased its lead to 4-0 with 13:53 left in the third period, Princeton showed more fight as it scored two straight goals to cut the Dutchmen lead in half.

“We are treating every game like it is our last now,” said Brockett. “We are never going to be out of the fight. We showed that putting two quick goals in, they ended up getting another one. I think it is something to build on for tomorrow.”

Brockett notched the second Tiger goal midway through the period, fighting hard in the crease to convert a feed from Aaron Ave.

“They made a mistake, they didn’t get it out of the zone,” recalled Brockett.

“Aaron Ave was coming in and he looked like he was going to shoot it. There was just one defenseman between me and him so I just sagged off a little bit to the side. He shot for my stick and I tipped it in.”

It was the first goal for Brockett in 41 games and he was happy to get back in the book.

“I got the monkey off my back finally,” said Brockett, a 5’8, 165-pound native of Shaker Heights, Ohio who now has 17 points in his Princeton career on three goals and 14 assists.

“It doesn’t matter who scores, we have to put more goals in. At the end of the day, we need to score one more goal than the other team.”

In assessing his role on the Tigers, Brockett focuses on intensity rather than statistics.

“It is just energy, trying to get the guys going,” said Brockett. “It doesn’t matter if it is scoring goals, killing penalties, or blocking shots, just anything we can do to win games.”

Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty liked the way his team got things going in the game against Union. “We started well; we were being smart,” said Fogarty.

The Tigers, though, didn’t keep it up as they suffered some critical lapses.

“We were mentally soft, they had two easy goals, right in the slot,” said Fogarty.

“Our guys didn’t pick up, there was a lot of circling and no sense of urgency from a handful of players tonight.”

While Fogarty liked the urgency Brockett displayed in finding the back of the net, he noted that some of his energy was misguided.

“He is a little banged up but it is good for Tucker to get to net,” said Fogarty. “On the flip side, Tucker can’t take three penalties. He scored a goal but it doesn’t matter because it is 4-0 and we are taking soft holding, hooking penalties. Those are non-physical penalties that show that you are chasing the game.”

While Princeton ended up dropping its last game before its exam break as it fell 5-2 to Rensselaer on Saturday to move to 2-14-1 overall and 1-11 ECACH, Brockett believes the team can do well when it matters most.

“Things are quickly winding down, I think we have 11 regular season games left here,” said Brockett, who will look to get the Tigers on the winning track when it resumes play by hosting Army on January 27.

“Everyone makes the playoffs so as long as we are playing well going into the end of the season that is all you can ask for.”

HEALTHY RETURN: Princeton University women’s hockey player Molly Contini battles a foe from Yale last Friday. Sophomore forward Contini scored a goal and an assist in the game as Princeton prevailed 4-1. A day later, Contini, who was sidelined last year due to a hip operation,  tallied two goals and an assist to help the Tigers defeat Brown 5-1. Princeton, 10-9-1 overall and 8-6 ECAC Hockey, is currently on exam break and will return to action on January 26 when it plays at No. 1 Boston College.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HEALTHY RETURN: Princeton University women’s hockey player Molly Contini battles a foe from Yale last Friday. Sophomore forward Contini scored a goal and an assist in the game as Princeton prevailed 4-1. A day later, Contini, who was sidelined last year due to a hip operation, tallied two goals and an assist to help the Tigers defeat Brown 5-1. Princeton, 10-9-1 overall and 8-6 ECAC Hockey, is currently on exam break and will return to action on January 26 when it plays at No. 1 Boston College. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Molly Contini had to scuttle her first attempt at playing her sophomore season for the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

Hampered by a hip injury, Contini withdrew from Princeton before the start of the school year in 2013 and underwent surgery that October.

Contini started rehab two weeks after the operation and was skating by last January. Steadily progressing and focusing on improving her skating, the 5’8 forward from Arthur, Ontario came back at full strength for the Tigers this winter.

Understandably, Contini is thrilled to finally be getting a chance at her second campaign of college hockey.

“It is really nice being back,” said Contini. “I missed hockey for sure but I really missed being with the team and being on campus. I am really just so happy to be going to school and playing and being around everyone. I think after taking a year off and coming back you definitely appreciate what we have here a little more, having been away from it for a season.”

Expressing that appreciation by going on a scoring tear, Contini is leading Princeton with 12 goals through 20 games.

Last Friday against visiting Yale, Contini’s offensive prowess helped the Tigers post a 4-1 win as she assisted on the game’s first goal and then notched the final tally of the contest on a late empty-netter.

“Slow starts have troubled us all year but especially against Quinnipiac we didn’t have a very good first period,” said Contini, referring to Princeton’s 3-1 loss to Quinnipiac on January 6.

“We wanted to make sure that we came out and had a good start today and we were able to do that and that makes a big difference. I think we were dialed in right from the get-go. As soon as we were here, the atmosphere was good. Everyone was just focusing on the game and was ready to go and that showed in our play for sure, especially in the first 10 minutes of the first period.”

Contini and linemates Jaimie McDonell and Hilary Lloyd got things going for the Tigers, combining on the first goal just 2:15 into the contest.

“Lloyd was awesome all during the game making plays in the corner so she chipped it back to me and Jaimie was wide open in front of the net so I hit her and she buried it and made a really nice shot,” said Contini. “It was good to get that first one.”

Contini’s empty net tally in the last minute of the game had special meaning for her.

“Lloyd actually made a really nice pass,” said Contini. “When I was a freshman, Yale put us out of the playoffs that last weekend. It was really nice to come back and beat them today.”

The trio of Contini, McDonell, and Lloyd has gotten off to a really nice start as Contini is the team’s top scorer with 21 points (12 goals, 9 assists) with junior McDonell third at 18 (7 goals, 11 assists) and sophomore Lloyd fourth at 14 (4 goals, 10 assists).

“We all complement each other,” said Contini, who tallied two goals and an assist to help the Tigers defeat Brown 5-1 on Saturday and improve to 10-9-1 overall and 8-6 ECAC Hockey. “I think Jaimie and Lloyd are so solid in their own end, they get to a lot of pucks. We will work hard and try to win pucks down low. I would say my spot is to put pucks in the net.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal is thrilled with the production he is getting from his top line.

“They have been great all year,” asserted Kampersal, whose team is currently on exam break and will return to action on January 26 when it plays at No. 1 Boston College.

“Lloyd played gritty, Molly can finish, and Jaimie is a workhorse. Jaimie makes the whole thing go, she is probably one of the better two-way players in our whole league. She did a good job on our face-offs, she is a tough kid.”

Kampersal decided to tweak his team’s warm-up routine to get things going quicker.

“I usually never watch our warmups but when I was at Quinnipiac, the way the rink is set up, I had to watch their warmups through ours almost,” said Kampersal.

“I realized that one end looked a lot different than the other. Those kids were flying and our kids were like moseying around so we had to stitch that up. It is just a mindset and an attitude. We had them play it out with real scenarios, break a sweat so they are into it rather than just going through the motions. We want them to play the first period in warmups so we can start the first period as the second period almost, that is our mentality.”

In the win over Yale, Kampersal was happy to see some different players get into the scoring column as senior captain and defenseman Ali Pankowski and sophomore forward Cassidy Tucker each found the back of the net.

“It was good getting some of those other groups going, with even production by keeping the puck in the other end, wearing down teams, drawing penalties, they were able to do that,” added Kampersal.

The Tigers wore down Yale with some good defensive play. “It was great, they played really strong, the whole team,” said Kampersal, who got 31 saves from junior goalie Kimberly Newell in the victory.

“The core, the d-men played good but we had good block pressure and when we needed to block a shot at the point, we did that. We cleared out fairly well. Kim  was awesome so that helps. If we got scrambling, she helped us out. We did weather a couple of storms and when Kim is our best player we can beat pretty much anybody, I think.”

With Princeton heading into a 16-day exam break, Contini and her teammates were determined to scramble for as many points as possible last weekend.

“Yale was 4-4 in the league and we were 6-6 so this was a huge win for us today,” said Contini.

“We want to take it to Brown tomorrow to try and get as many points as we can because at this point these other teams are going to be playing and they are only going up and we are staying in the same spot. We really have to capitalize.”

SHOOTING HIGH: Princeton High girls’ basketball player ­Catherine Curran-Groome puts up a shot in recent action. Last Friday, senior guard Curran-Groome scored seven points and made some key assists to help PHS top Lawrence 44-24. The Little Tigers, who fell 45-29 to Steinert last Monday to move to 4-4, play at Nottingham on January 16 before hosting Notre Dame on January 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHOOTING HIGH: Princeton High girls’ basketball player ­Catherine Curran-Groome puts up a shot in recent action. Last Friday, senior guard Curran-Groome scored seven points and made some key assists to help PHS top Lawrence 44-24. The Little Tigers, who fell 45-29 to Steinert last Monday to move to 4-4, play at Nottingham on January 16 before hosting Notre Dame on January 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Princeton High girls’ basketball team having come off a tough loss to Ewing, Catherine Curran-Groome and her teammates were looking to bounce back last Friday night when they hosted Lawrence High.

“We know Ewing is always going to be a physical team; Lawrence came out pretty ready but we were able to fight back a little more this game,” said PHS senior guard Curran-Groome.

The Little Tigers came out fighting from the opening tip against Lawrence, as Curran-Groome produced a three-point play in the first minute to help PHS jump out to an early 9-2 lead on the way to building a 20-13 cushion at halftime.

“Sometimes we start off a little slow so this game was a start in the right direction,” said Curran-Groome. “It is always nice to get that first shot.”

PHS broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Cardinals 13-6 to build a 33-19 lead heading into the fourth.

“When we started off the second half, they got that first shot and coach (Dan Van Hise) called a timeout and said you cannot let this one get away from you,” said Curran-Groome.

“I think we just really stepped it up on our press which was great to see. We usually get our confidence getting turnovers and then turning that into points.”

Curran-Groome has stepped up her offensive game this season.

“I think I am definitely more confident on the offensive end this year,” said Curran-Groome, who scored seven points and made some key assists in the victory over Lawrence.

“I am getting a lot more opportunities. We are sharing the ball really well, it is more evened out.”

For Curran-Groome, sharing the ball is one of the best things about the game and she showed that by connecting several times down low to classmate Briana Blue leading to PHS baskets.

“Even though I am more of a shooting guard, I love to pass it around a lot,” said Curran-Groome.

“The assists are my favorite part, I love making good passes. Briana and I have played together a lot out of season and I think we have gotten to work together pretty well.”

PHS is working well as a team as the win over Lawrence marked its fourth victory of the season, already exceeding its total last season when it went 3-16.

“I think we just really came together a lot more than we have in the past,” said Curran-Groome.

“We share the ball so much better. We are looking for the best shot out there, it is not just people shooting for themselves. We still have problems with rushing on offense but overall it is better this year. I think everyone is really in it this year and really dedicated.”

PHS head coach Van Hise liked the way his squad was in it from the start against Lawrence.

“We have gotten off to really good starts this year; that has become one of our calling cards,” said Van Hise.

“We are not timid any more. We come right at you, which is good. I think that gives a leg up on some of the teams. I have been really, really impressed with how we have been able to come out.”

The Little Tigers came out hard in the third quarter as they seized control of the contest.

“I think it was five at one time but then we soared,” said Van Hise. “We know Lawrence is a respectable, good program and they are going to play their hearts out. It wasn’t going to be easy and I think our full court press helped a lot. Once it got back up into the teens, we really settled down and that was it.”

Van Hise credits Curran-Groome with keeping the team settled at the offensive end.

“She has been a godsend; she is probably our most consistent player,” said Van Hise.

“She does a little bit of everything and we need her scoring, to have her consistently at six to 10 points is great.”

Curran-Groome’s ability to find Blue in the post has become a key element of the PHS attack.

“She and Blue have that — we have been playing together forever — chemistry going on so we try to do a couple of things for them, pick and roll stuff,” said Van Hise. “We know that they have that connection and Briana finished tonight, that is huge for us.”

Senior Mia Levy also finished well against Lawrence, scoring five points off the bench in the second quarter.

“She could be our best finisher down low; she is so fundamentally sound,” said Van Hise. “She is nice to have on the middle of that zone because we know that she is usually going to do the right thing.”

The PHS defense has been sound most of the season. “We have preached toughness the whole year defensively, they buy into it for sure,” asserted Van Hise. “It is all team oriented too. You can’t really pick out who is the standout defender. Mira (Shane) is a hustler and we lean on Zoe (Tesone) for that too but I think the team defense has really stepped up this year.”

Van Hise is confident that his team will keep stepping up this winter, gaining confidence from having already passed last year’s win total.

“It just shows how much they have come together this season; having five seniors couldn’t make more of a difference than it has,” said Van Hise, whose squad fell 45-29 to Steinert last Monday to move to 4-4 and will play at Nottingham on January 16 before hosting Notre Dame on January 20.

“We have won the games I think we should have won. We haven’t tripped at all this year. We are still looking for that one win where everybody goes — oh man I didn’t know they could beat them. At the same time we have to be happy that we are beating the teams that we think we should be beating right now. If we keep going along the path that we are, we have to be shooting for states. To be able to say that this season, I couldn’t be happier.”

Curran-Groome, for her part, is happy with the way her final campaign is going.

“We definitely wanted to have a different season than our past three years, we haven’t hit .500 in these past three years,” said Curran-Groome.

“We are looking to go to states this year, we moved up a division so we are playing some higher quality teams. We are looking to take on Trenton, Notre Dame, and Ewing again. We want to make those real games, not just how they have been in the past.”

STEPPING UP: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Chase Lewis heads upcourt last Thursday against Pennsauken Tech. Sophomore guard Lewis scored a game-high 25 points in the contest but it wasn’t enough as PDS dropped a 39-36 nailbiter. Last Monday, Lewis and the Panthers topped Morrisville (Pa.) 44-38 to improve to 3-7. PDS plays at South Brunswick on January 15 and at Steinert on January 17.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STEPPING UP: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Chase Lewis heads upcourt last Thursday against Pennsauken Tech. Sophomore guard Lewis scored a game-high 25 points in the contest but it wasn’t enough as PDS dropped a 39-36 nailbiter. Last Monday, Lewis and the Panthers topped Morrisville (Pa.) 44-38 to improve to 3-7. PDS plays at South Brunswick on January 15 and at Steinert on January 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although he is just a sophomore, Chase Lewis has a lot on his shoulders this winter for the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team.

As the lead guard and one of just three returning players on the PDS roster, Lewis does the bulk of the ball handling and scoring for the Panthers.

While such responsibility may be daunting for such a young player, Lewis is relishing the opportunity.

“You would think it is a lot of pressure but I don’t really feel the pressure because I am usually a leader,” said Lewis. “It is easy for me.”

Last Thursday against Pennsauken Tech, Lewis led the way for the Panthers, scoring 25 points in a losing cause as PDS dropped a 39-36 nailbiter.

Coming into the game, Lewis was looking to be more aggressive.

“I get a lot of openings but usually I am a little passive,” said Lewis. “Today I just tried to attack the basket more and put my team in the best position.”

PDS was in position to win against Pennsauken Tech as it trailed by just 31-27 entering the fourth quarter and then narrowed the gap to 36-34 on a basket by Lewis with 1:28 remaining in regulation.

“I would say our defense was on point; our offense wasn’t but we still battled to the basket and got some strong shots,” Lewis. “Our effort was better than usual.”

Lewis put in a lot of effort to make himself a better all-around player. “My jump shot got a little better,” said Lewis “My ballhanding and my on-ball defense is also better.”

With PDS featuring a number of inexperienced players in the wake of heavy graduation losses, Lewis is seeing collective progress.

“We have a lot of people who are new to basketball so they have improved a lot from the beginning of the season to right now,” said Lewis.

PDS head coach Paris McLean was pleased with Lewis’ effort against Pennsauken Tech, noting that his basketball skills were on full display.

“Chase has been outstanding; this is a game where his talents were really showcased,” said McLean.

“He was able to drive to the cup, he was able to finish at the rim. He was facilitating well. He is not a selfish player, he sees the floor well and when someone collapses on him, someone else is open. He is hitting those guys and they are going to start knocking down their shots. It was a great effort by him. He was very active. He has a motor, he can go all day.”

Senior J.P. Radvany gave the Panthers a great effort in the paint. “It doesn’t show up in the box score,” said McLean. “I thought he had at least 10 rebounds and he picked up a lot of charges, he does a lot of the dirty work. It is not glamorous, it is not going to be on the back page of the paper but it is going to be what you need to win ball games.”

McLean thought PDS was going to get the win against Pennsauken Tech. “It was a fantastic effort; they have worked hard all year, the coaching has worked hard all year,” said McLean, whose team did get a victory as it defeated Morrisville  (Pa.) 44-38 last Monday to improve to 3-7.

“We put ourselves in a position to win. I really felt like we were going to pull that out. Coach McKinley said it best, we easily left 16, 20 points out on the court on actually missed layups, not contested layups. These are the types of games we have to win, especially at home. We just said this is the difference between being a .500 ball club and being sub .500.”

In McLean’s view, his squad’s defensive intensity is making a difference.

“We just have to keep competing everyday,” said McLean, whose team plays at South Brunswick on January 15 and at Steinert on January 17.

“Our defense is good. We held another team to under 40 points, that is what our litmus is. We have got to get defensive runs. Teams talk about going on offensive runs, we need consecutive stops on consecutive possessions.”

Although the Panthers are taking their lumps, McLean believes the team’s competitive spirit hasn’t waned.

“They are enjoying the game, there is a lot of learning going on,” said McLean. “There is a lot of coaching on the fly, a lot of coaching in practice. They are great teammates, picking each other up.”

Lewis, for his part, is confident that PDS will continue bringing a great effort.

“We just have to give our all,” said Lewis. “We are not a very skilled team so we are going to have to give twice as much effort as other teams.”

RAISING KANE: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Bridget Kane brings the ball up the court in recent action. Last week, freshman point guard Kane scored 10 points in a losing cause as PDS fell 48-42 to Moorestown Friends. The Panthers, who fell 53-28 to Morrisville (Pa.) in moving to 2-7, host Stuart Country Day on January 14 before playing at Villa Victoria on January 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RAISING KANE: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Bridget Kane brings the ball up the court in recent action. Last week, freshman point guard Kane scored 10 points in a losing cause as PDS fell 48-42 to Moorestown Friends. The Panthers, who fell 53-28 to Morrisville (Pa.) in moving to 2-7, host Stuart Country Day on January 14 before playing at Villa Victoria on January 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bridget Kane has been around basketball a long time for someone who is only a freshman in high school.

As the daughter of longtime Lawrenceville School boys’ hoops head coach Ron Kane, she took up the game at an early age.

“I started playing when I was in second grade,” said Kane, a point guard for the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team. “I use to play CYO and for my private school team.”

Last week, Kane showed her court skill and savvy, scoring 10 points as PDS fell 48-42 to Moorestown Friends.

Kane started the game by hitting a long three-pointer and later added another basket to help the Panthers jump out to a 23-13 halftime lead.

“We really worked together and came out as a team in the first half,” said Kane, reflecting on PDS’s promising start.

Moorestown, though, outscored the Panthers 20-9 in the third quarter and scored the first five points of the fourth to go ahead 38-32. PDS kept battling with Kane hitting another three-pointer to narrow the gap to 40-39 with 3:40 remaining in regulation.

While PDS never got closer than that, Kane liked how the team never quit on itself.

“I think we all realized that the score was getting really close and we wanted to win so bad,” said Kane. “We worked really hard throughout the game and I think we pushed as hard through the end. “

In Kane’s view, that work ethic and character bodes well for the future. “I think the team can take just coming back from a tough third quarter to the fourth and saying we are not going to lose this,” said Kane. “We are going to fight.”

As Kane gets acclimated to high school ball, she has been fighting to hold her own against bigger players.

“I think it is mostly height, keeping up with all of the tall girls,” said Kane. “I manage it, so it is fun.”

Having spent her life around Lawrenceville, Kane is excited to be blazing a new trail.

“I just wanted a change and I wanted to be my own person,” said Kane. “I  have lived at Lawrenceville my whole life and I wanted my own school.”

It hasn’t taken Kane long to to find a new home with the Panther team. “I feel like we are all just good friends,” said Kane. “In the hallway, we say hi and we will eat lunch together. We all work really well together and are friends outside the game so that’s really important.”

PDS head coach Kamau Bailey credited Kane with making an important contribution to the Panthers.

“Bridget hit some big shots,” said Bailey. “She has great composure to be a freshman and hit big shots. She has been doing that throughout the year for us.”

Bailey acknowledged that his team needs to show more composure down the stretch.

“We got off to a great start but I think we ran out of gas towards the end,” said Bailey,” noting it was the team’s first game after a lengthy holiday break.

“We have had a couple of games this year where we have had some pretty decent leads. We just have to work on scoring some points late in the game when we are tired and being a little more effective late in the game.”

PDS is developing an effective inside game with the one-two punch of juniors Izzy Meyercord and Helen Healey.

“It was Izzy Meyercord’s first game back; she has been hurt for a while,” said Bailey.

“They (Meyercord and Healey) give me a nice little down low game. We have to work on it at practice. We have really just touched upon that, with her having come back.”

As PDS heads into the second half of the season, Bailey is looking for his players to more fully reach their potential.

“The challenge is bringing out the best in everybody and that’s my job as a coach,” said Bailey.

“We are working at that and I have seen a lot of progress. I think we are going to finish pretty strong here based on what I have seen. I called some plays tonight and we were able to execute a couple of back doors. I am looking forward to what the rest of the season holds.”

Kane, for her part, believes that the team’s best basketball is to come. “I think we had a little bit of a rough start,” said Kane. “It is a pretty young team but I think we are all pulling it together and we have really improved game after game. I think that is really important throughout the season.”

FIRING AWAY: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Kristi Serafin fires the puck up the ice in recent action. Last Thursday, sophomore defenseman Serafin contributed a goal as PDS defeated Mater Dei 4-1 to improve to 6-4. The Panthers play at Morristown-Beard on January 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FIRING AWAY: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Kristi Serafin fires the puck up the ice in recent action. Last Thursday, sophomore defenseman Serafin contributed a goal as PDS defeated Mater Dei 4-1 to improve to 6-4. The Panthers play at Morristown-Beard on January 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team found itself shorthanded as it hosted the Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday but it had nothing to do with players being sent to the penalty box.

Instead, due to injuries and last-minute schedule conflicts, PDS had only seven skaters, including senior captain and goalie Katie Alden, who played out to give the team some depth.

While the squad may have dreaded the prospect of a grueling night, the Panthers were unfazed.

“Before the game, they seemed to be in pretty good spirits, looking to make the most of the opportunity,” said PDS head coach Lorna Cook.

“We tried to look at it as more of an opportunity than a deficit, just looking at it like players that don’t get to play as much are going to get to play and get some time to try to get better.”

For 24 minutes, the Panthers held the fort as the teams were deadlocked at 0-0. Hill broke through, tallying a goal with 6:04 left in the second period and then tacked on two more unanswered goals in the third to earn a 3-0 win.

“It was disappointing that it was scoreless after one and we did what we needed to do through the first period,” said Cook, who got a big game from sophomore goalie Annika Asplundh as she ended up with 45 saves. “We just couldn’t keep it together. They adjusted to take advantage of our situation.”

Cook likes the way her players have adjusted to different roles as freshman Malia Leveson, sophomore Kiely French, and junior Emma Stillwaggon have displayed versatility.

“You look at our d-corps and our centers; I just recently moved Malia to forward and put Emma back on defense,” said Cook, who was happy to see her team top Mater Dei 4-1 last Thursday as Stillwaggon got two goals with Ashley Cavuto adding a goal and an assist, Kristi Serafin chipping in a goal, and Alden making 13 saves in earning the victory.

“I have been happy with how our players that are usually forwards have moved back to defense and have responded to that new responsibility and are playing well. It is still a learning process, everybody is getting better at picking their heads up and looking for the right play.”

In Cook’s view, the Panthers are headed in the right direction. “We are playing more aggressively; we are battling a little bit better and getting a better understanding of where to chip the puck,” said Cook, whose team is currently 6-4 and plays at Morristown-Beard on January 15.

“We still have to figure out how to be more productive in terms of generating more chances and then capitalizing on the chances.”

ON THE BALL: Hun School boys’ basketball player ­Dominic Robb goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, post-graduate Robb contributed 15 points to help Hun defeat the Academy of New Church (Pa.) 62-42. On Saturday, he tallied a game-high 11 points as the Raiders topped the Hill School (Pa.) 45-43 in overtime. Hun, now 5-6, hosts the Blair Academy on January 14 and Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 17 before playing at Lawrenceville on January 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE BALL: Hun School boys’ basketball player ­Dominic Robb goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, post-graduate Robb contributed 15 points to help Hun defeat the Academy of New Church (Pa.) 62-42. On Saturday, he tallied a game-high 11 points as the Raiders topped the Hill School (Pa.) 45-43 in overtime. Hun, now 5-6, hosts the Blair Academy on January 14 and Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 17 before playing at Lawrenceville on January 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After enjoying a fine career for the North Catholic High boys’ hoops team in Pittsburgh, Dominic Robb came to the Hun School this year as a post-graduate to mature as a person and a basketball player.

“I wanted to get another year in high school because I am young for my grade,” said Robb.

“I just really wanted to prepare for college completely and this has been a really good experience for me. It has been a very good transition basketball-wise and school-wise, taking everything in and being away from home a little is good.”

Last Wednesday, the 6’7 Robb looked very good, scoring 15 points to help Hun defeat the Academy of New Church 62-42 in its first action since the holiday break.

“I was definitely looking for the inside shot, it is the highest percentage shot,” said Robb. “If it is the thing that is open, it is a good shot.”

Robb was an inside force on the defensive end, making several blocked shots and grabbing some key rebounds.

“We know that defense wins games and that offense will come to us,” said Robb.

“We have the talent. If we just keep the effort up on defense, we should beat any team we play.”

In Robb’s view, coming to Hun has helped him refine his talent. “My touch around the basket has no doubt improved; my jumper has improved,” said Robb, who scored a game-high 11 points last Saturday as Hun edged the Hill School (Pa.) 45-43 in overtime to improve to 5-6. “I lifted all summer and we just trained really hard and prepared a lot for this season.”

Hun head coach Jon Stone has been pleased with Robb’s hard work this season. “Dominic has been doing that for us all year long,” said Stone.

“He defends, he rebounds. I think he had three or four blocked shots in the first two minutes of the game and that sets a tone for us defensively. He can do multiple things for us, he is a huge asset. Every game he gets better and he is only going to get better still. He has got a very high ceiling.”

The Raiders produced one of their better defensive efforts of the year against ANC, holding the Lions scoreless for the first five minutes of the contest and limiting them to nine points in the first quarter and eight points in the third.

“I think our defensive intensity picked up a little bit,” said Stone. “We didn’t have a great practice yesterday and the guys know it and they improved on it today.”

Hun got another great effort in the victory over ANC from senior guard Eric Williams as he scored a game-high 16 points. “That is just what he does, he can shoot as well as anybody,” said Stone. “He is confident. His shot selection is fantastic and he makes shots.”

The play of senior Tucker Stevenson and sophomore Austin Hutcherson off the bench gave Hun a shot in the arm as Stevenson contributed four points and some good hustle plays while Hutcherson tallied 10 points.

“Tucker did everything I asked him to do in the game, he was perfect,” said Stone. “Hutcherson came in and played hard and made some shots, he is improving every day too.”

With Hun having dropped its last four games before its holiday break, Stone saw the performance against ANC as an improvement.

“Any time you can get a win after two weeks off, that is a good thing,” said Stone, whose team hosts the Blair Academy on January 14 and Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 17 before playing at Lawrenceville on January 20.

“We lost four in a row unfortunately so we need wins at this point. Our next four games are league games so to get a win before league play is always great.”

Robb, for his part, believes Hun can do some good things as the winter unfolds.

“This win is definitely a confidence builder,” said Robb. “When the playoffs start, we want to win every single game.”