December 18, 2019

PHS Girls’ Hoops Starting From Scratch, Dealing with Dramatic Roster Turnover

COACH’S CHALLENGE: Princeton High basketball head coach coach Dave Kosa instructs his players during a game last winter. With a nearly complete roster turnover from a squad that went 18-8 last season, Kosa will be presiding over a youth movement by necessity this winter. PHS tips off the 2019-20 season by playing at Hightstown on December 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As Dave Kosa looks ahead to the upcoming season for his Princeton High girls’ basketball team, he acknowledges that he is essentially starting from scratch.

Losing six players to graduation from a squad that went 18-8 last winter and with two other seniors opting not to play this winter,  Kosa will be presiding over a youth movement by necessity.

“We are very young, we lost everybody from last year; it is all sophomores and juniors with one freshman,” said Kosa. “We have hardly anything back, no points, no rebounds, or anything.”

Kosa is relying on a pair of juniors Ashley Tumpowski and Brynne Hennessy to lead the way.

“Ashley didn’t play last year because she had knee trouble; she is one of our captains and she is going to be our starting point guard,” said Kosa, whose team tips off its 2019-20 campaign by playing at Hightstown on December 20. “Brynne is another tri-captain. She is a shooting guard coming up from JV.”

The team’s third captain, sophomore Molly Brown, should provide some good work at forward.

“Molly has shown tremendous leadership,” said Kosa. “She is an athlete, she is the starting shortstop on the softball team. She is a really hard worker.”

The younger sister of one of last year’s senior stars Erin Devine, sophomore Nora Devine, is starting to shine in the paint.

“Nora will be our center; she can shoot it from 15 feet and is still working on her low post game,” said Kosa, noting that sophomore Sofia Aguayo, sophomore Moji Ayodele, and freshman Rachel Luo will also be seeing time.

“She has potential. She went up against two tall girls from Manalapan in a scrimmage and held her own. She blocked some shots and got some rebounds. She is going to help us.”

With his young players getting the chance to see so much action, Kosa is hoping that experience will yield dividends as the winter unfolds.

“We tell the girls, you look at a regular Group 4 team, you are going to have seniors, you are going to be 12 deep,” said Kosa.

“This year you are going to be getting a lot of playing time. Our motto is that we are going to try to keep getting better each day and grow up a little bit throughout the course of the year.”

Kosa believes that his team can eventually grow into something special as it meshes its talents.

“Each girl has her strengths; Ashley is very smart on the floor so she is our point guard and Brynne is a shooter who has worked really hard during the offseason,” added Kosa.

“Molly is a gritty kid that will do anything. You see her on the floor for loose balls. Hopefully she can get a couple of rebounds, a couple of assists and some points each game. Moji is very athletic so if she works hard on the basics and the fundamentals she could really help. She can grab some rebounds and with her athleticism get some stuff around the basket. Nora has a good shot, she has been our leading scorer in the scrimmages.”

Employing a deliberate style, PHS will look to stay competitive as it works on mastering the basics.

“Our style is going to be slow the ball down; the last couple of years that is what we have done,” said Kosa.

“Last year I think we led the CVC in the defense, we gave up 40 and scored 43 or 44. They are used to that and I am used to coaching that. We are going to be staying with the same formula – play good defense, try to make the other team take low percentage shots and on offense, work the ball around for a high percentage shot. We are hoping to give up 30 points a game; if that is the case, that will keep us in games. That is what I want us to be known for  as a program for every year that I am there, playing really sound defense.”