March 22, 2017

With Young Players Gaining Valuable Experience, PHS Girls’ Hoops Laid Groundwork for the Future

MAKING A POINT: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Anna Intartaglia calls out instructions in a game this winter. Sophomore point guard Intartaglia’s floor leadership was a big plus for PHS this season as it went 6-20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High girls’ basketball team, defeating Princeton Day School in a Mercer County Tournament consolation game in the final week of the season reflected how much progress it had made this winter.

After losing 38-32 to crosstown rival PDS in early January, PHS cruised to a 50-27 win in the rematch in late February.

“That was great, thank god that came along,” said PHS first-year head coach Steve Hennessy.

“It was one of our best games after playing one of our worst games the first time. It was different, you can tell by the score.”

While PHS ended the season by falling in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional tournament as the 15th-seeded Little Tigers lost 56-25 to second-seeded South Brunswick, Hennessy saw the defeat as a positive learning experience.

“It was a great ending to the season, just the vibe that we got and the feeling that we had even though we got beat,” said Hennessy.

“Our heads were up and everyone was feeling good. They had one girl who beat us up pretty good. I think that they enjoyed the experience. We played a lot of the young girls in that game at the end.”

Despite posting a final record of 6-20, Hennessy believes the program laid the groundwork for a promising future by showcasing its group of sophomores.

“As far as wins and losses, we did get seven wins the last couple of years and there was a lot of talk about us taking a step back with all of these young girls,” said Hennessy.

“I think they kind of surprised us a little bit. I was happy with the way they played all year long. We had just a couple of games that just barely slipped by and we had some serious injuries.”

Sophomore forwards Catherine Dyevich and Erin Devine emerged as key scoring threats for the Little Tigers this winter.

“Dyevich had a terrific year; she improved over the year from just being an outside shooter in the beginning,” said Hennessy.

“She learned to shoot quickly. She learned to take two dribbles inside the three point line and take that shot. She really learned to rebound. Devine learned to go to the basket. She really started going hard with really good balance, good moves, and good finishing.”

The tandem of sophomore twins, Olivia and Anna Intartaglia, gave PHS some good work at guard.

“They were definitely our backcourt,” said Hennessy. “Olivia is just a strong driver; she can really go to the basket. Anna is the ballhandler.”

The squad’s quartet of seniors, Zoe Tesone, Jamaica Ponder, Sydney Dubin, and Ines Arroyo, each made a strong impact.

“They all taught me something, this being my first year as a head coach,” said Hennessy. “I felt like each one of them was just phenomenal in their own way.”

Hennessy is confident that juniors, Zoe Alcott and Taylor Stone, will follow that example.

“We are 100 percent counting on Stone and Alcott to be a big part of our team next year,” said Hennessy.

“I am sure they sat a little more than they wanted to but the way they kept it together and kept trying was just phenomenal. They are team players and sportsmanlike.”

For Hennessy, taking the helm of the program proved to be a phenomenal experience.

“It was different than all the other coaching I have done; not only is it the head coaching job but it is the girls’ basketball program,” said Hennessy.

“You are so close to the court and so involved in the game. There is a lot more involved than just Xs and Os. I am just so thankful that these girls were as great as they were.”