February 9, 2022

RIDE OF A LIFETIME: Kelly Curtis gets ready to compete in a skeleton race this winter on the World Cup circuit. Curtis, a former star athlete for Princeton High, will be competing for the U.S. this week in the women’s skeleton at the Beijing Winter Games as she makes her Olympic debut. Heats one and two of the event are slated for February 10 (Eastern Time) with heats three and four to take place on February 12. (Photo provided by Kelly Curtis)

By Bill Alden

Throughout her athletic career, Kelly Curtis has displayed a penchant for rising to the occasion.

In her years at Princeton High, Curtis, a 2007 PHS alumna was known for sinking clutch free throws on the basketball court  and flying high on the track, making the Meet of Champions in the long jump.

Doing a post-graduate year at the Lawrenceville School, Curtis racked up Prep A titles on the track, competing in the long jump, high jump, hurdles, and javelin and still holds the school record in the triple jump.

At Springfield College, Curtis came through on one of the biggest stages in collegiate track, winning the heptathlon at the 2011 Penn Relays.

After getting a graduate degree from St. Lawrence University while helping to coach its track team, Curtis got the itch to compete again and was encouraged to head over to nearby Lake Placid to take part in a bobsled combine to see if she had a future in winter sports. Excelling in the fitness tests — which included 5-meter sprints, shot puts, and standing long jumps along with squats and power cleans in the weight room — Curtis was invited to join the bobsled program. more

RAMBLING ROSE: Princeton High wrestler Cole Rose, top, controls a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, freshman Rose won the 106-pound title at the Mercer County Tournament. Rose’s heroics helped PHS finish fourth in the team standings at the MCT with Robbinsville taking first. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

While the pandemic limited wrestling opportunities for plenty, Cole Rose just headed to his basement to get in bonus work.

“Over COVID, when a lot of wrestling programs were shut down, my dad, sister, and brother, really helped me,” said Rose.

“My dad bought a wrestling mat, and he brought it into our basement. We did private workouts watching videos and going through moves. I would partner up with my sister and my brother. We’d do that for an hour and an hour and a half. It showed me a lot of new moves, a lot of new techniques that helped me improve.”

That work with junior sister Ava and sixth-grade brother Forest had the Princeton High freshman primed for his first season at the varsity level. Rose remained unbeaten on his way to the 106-pound division title at the Mercer County Tournament last Saturday to join 150-pounder Aaron Munford as individual champions for the Tigers. more

BRINGING IT: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Zammit brings the puck up the ice in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior star forward and assistant captain Zammit tallied two goals and three assists as PHS defeated the West Windsor/Plainsboro Hockey Co-op 10-0. On Friday, Zammit contributed a goal and an assist to help PHS defeat Paul VI 9-5. The Tigers, who lost 7-3 to Gov. Livingston last Saturday to move to 14-3-3, play Paul VI on February 11 at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

John Zammit and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ hockey team brought some extra fire to the ice as they faced the West Windsor/Plainsboro Hockey Co-op last Wednesday.

Coming off a week which saw a shorthanded PHS squad suffer a 2-1 loss to Robbinsville-Allentown on January 26 and tie Hopewell Valley 4-4 on January 25, the Tigers were primed to reassert their dominance.

“It was a shock to us, we wanted to make a statement,” said senior forward and assistant captain Zammit, referring to the defeat to Robbinsville-Allentown.

“We are still the undisputed No. 1 in the CVC so we had to make sure that is clear.”

In the game against WW/P, Zammit got things going, tallying a goal 1:42 into the contest on an assist by Cooper Zullo.

“Me and Zullo have really been developing our chemistry,” said Zammit. “I was just coming down the wing and I saw an open spot so I took the shot and it went in.” more

TITLE CHASE: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Lauren Chase, right, goes after the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, junior defenseman Chase scored a goal to help fourth-seeded PDS edge top-seeded Morristown-Beard 3-2 in the state Prep semis. Two days later, Chase tallied two goals and two assists to help the Panthers defeat Holton Arms (Md.) 11-1 in a regular season contest and improve to 9-4. PDS was slated to go for the title by playing at second-seeded Oak Knoll on February 8. PDS will also host Princeton High on February 10 and Madison High on February 11 in regular season action. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming into this winter, Lauren Chase was determined to be a more well-rounded player on defense for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team.

“When I started playing for this team, I was going in thinking I was going to be scoring a lot,” said PDS junior defenseman Chase.

“I have learned to play a more defensive game, covering the blue line better. I always think that is important for a defenseman to be both offensive and defensive. If you are just standing back and playing defense the whole game, then the forwards don’t have a lot of help in the offensive zone. You need all five players there.”

Displaying that versatility last Thursday, Chase tallied a goal and helped spark a stingy defense as fourth-seeded PDS upset top-seeded Morristown-Beard 3-2 in the state Prep semis.

“Our seniors were talking that as long as they were here we had never beaten Mo-Beard so it was a really big win for us to beat a team that we hadn’t beaten in a while,” said Chase. more

ON POINT: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Leila Washington dribbles upcourt in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, sophomore Washington scored 25 points to help fourth-seeded Stuart defeat fifth-seeded Princeton Day School 46-36 in the opening round of the state Prep B tournament. The Tartans, who moved to 7-5 with the win, host Randolph on February 10 and then resume action in the Prep B tourney by playing at top-seeded Pennington on February 12 in the semifinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Leila Washington was part of the supporting cast last season for a Stuart Country Day School basketball team that featured a core of senior standouts.

Learning some important lessons from those veterans, sophomore guard Washington has stepped into a leadership role this winter for Stuart.

“We had four D-1 players last year, so I had a lot to learn and to soak in,” said Washington. “I am trying to be a leader for the team and just trying my best. I just try to keep the positivity up. Whether we are up 50 or down 50, you want to stay in that same game mode, always imagine that is it 0-0.”

Last Sunday, Washington displayed her leadership and skill, tallying 25 points as fourth-seeded Stuart defeated fifth-seeded Princeton Day School 46-36 in the opening round of the state Prep B tournament. The Tartans, who moved to 7-5 with the win, will play at top-seeded Pennington in the Prep B semis on February 12.

With Stuart having won three straight state Prep B titles from 2018-20 before the tourney was canceled last year due to COVID-19  concerns, the Tartan players were excited to be back in postseason play.

“It was a great experience,” said Washington. “We definitely wanted to take the opportunity and try our best. It was really fun.” more

February 2, 2022

CORE VALUE: Princeton University men’s hockey player Corey Andonovski, left, goes after the puck in recent action. Last Friday, senior forward Andonovski contributed a goal and an assist as Princeton defeated Brown 6-1. The Tigers, now 5-11-2 overall and 4-6-1 ECAC Hockey, host RPI on February 4 and Union on February 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Hosting Brown last Friday afternoon for a rare 1 p.m. matinee contest, the Princeton University men’s hockey team took a while to get into a rhythm.

The foes were knotted in a scoreless tie after the first period with Princeton looking sluggish in the offensive end.

Getting untracked in the second period, Princeton jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Adam Robbins and Spencer Kersten. After Brown responded with a goal late in the second, Princeton exploded for four unanswered goals in the third period on the way to a 6-1 triumph.

Princeton senior forward Corey Andonovski, who chipped in a goal and an assist on the day as the Tigers moved to 5-11-2 overall and 4-6-1 ECAC Hockey, acknowledged that it took a little time for the Tigers to get going.

“Those early games, we are not necessarily used to it, routines get disrupted a little bit; that is part of being an athlete and D-I hockey player,” said Andonovski, a 6’1, 195-pound native of Uxbridge, Ontario. more

DOGFIGHT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ryan Langborg, right, battles for the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, junior guard Langborg tallied 10 points with three rebounds and three steals but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 80-74 to Yale. The loss to the Bulldogs, which dropped Princeton to 15-4 overall and 5-1 Ivy League, snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Tigers. Princeton will look to get back on the winning track when it plays at Cornell on February 4 and at Columbia on February 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming into its game against visiting Yale last Saturday, the Princeton University men’s basketball team had displayed a propensity in its Ivy League campaign for overcoming halftime deficits and pulling out victories.

Princeton had trailed Columbia (45-33 on January 7), Cornell (39-25 on January 8), and Brown (42-41 on January 15) at the half before rallying to win each of those games on the way to a 5-0 start in Ivy play.

Against Yale, the Tigers appeared to be following the same blueprint. After finding itself down 43-26 at intermission, Princeton clawed back to get within 76-74 and had possession with 28.8 seconds left in regulation. Tiger star Tosan Evboumwan looked to produce another fantastic finish, driving to the basket and putting up a twisting layup. The shot, though, bounced off the rim and Yale got the rebound and proceeded to hold on for an 80-74 win, snapping Princeton’s 10-game winning streak as the Tigers dropped to 15-4 overall and 5-1 Ivy.

While Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson liked the way his players battled, he wants to see how they will bounce back from the setback.

“It was a hell of a comeback, I am proud of the guys,” said Henderson. “We put ourselves in a really deep hole and fighting back like that is really difficult against a very solid Yale team. We are disappointed. We have been on an elevator on the way up to the penthouse all season for a while now. It is a great opportunity to see how we can rebound here and respond.” more

SWEEPING THROUGH: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Daniel Baytin displays his breaststroke form in a meet earlier this year. Last Monday, junior star Baytin won both the 50 and 100 freestyle races at the Mercer County Swimming Championships to help PHS win the boys’ team title. The PHS girls’ squad also took first at the meet. It marked the first county crown for the boys since 2014 and the first for the girls since 2016. It was the first county title sweep for the Tigers since 2014. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the finals of the Mercer County Swimming Championships were moved to Monday from Saturday due to the snowstorm that walloped the area over the weekend, it simply delayed the inevitable.

With the Princeton High boys’ and girls’ squads having both gone undefeated this winter in dual meets and having excelled in the preliminary sessions last Thursday and Friday, they continued their dominance on Monday by sweeping the team titles.

The PHS boys piled up 265 points to top runner-up WW/P-North by 40 points while the Tiger girls had a score of 336 with Pennington taking second at 254 in the meet held at WW/P-North. It marked the first county crown for the boys since 2014 and the first for the girls since 2016. It was the first county title sweep for the Tigers since 2014.

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz, who guides both squads, knew that her swimmers were seen as the favorites coming into the meet.

“My message to them is that the target is on our back,  everyone is coming for us, everyone is coming for Princeton,” said Misiewicz.

“They want to beat us. You love to be the ones hunting down. It is also a little thrilling to a certain extent to know that we are the top dogs and people are coming to take us.” more

WILLING TO HELP: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Will Doran goes in for a layup in recent action. Last week, senior Doran, who also stars for the PHS boys’ lacrosse team, tallied nine points to help the Tigers defeat WW/P-South 52-36. PHS, which lost 68-46 to Ridge last Monday to move to 4-8, plays at Ewing on February 4 and at Hightstown on February 5 before hosting Notre Dame on February 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the last two years, Will Doran emerged as the go-to scorer for the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team.

This past spring, Doran enjoyed a huge junior lax campaign, leading PHS in points (91), goals (51), and assists (40).

But coming into his senior year, Doran felt an athletic void. After having played JV basketball as a freshman and then taking two years away from hoops to focus on lacrosse, Doran was itching to get back on the hardwood one more season.

“I just really didn’t want to have any regrets; my brother Tommy played on the team, he graduated in 2018,” said Doran.

“He loved playing for coach [Pat] Noone and coach [Rob] McMahon. That wasn’t something I wanted to miss out being a part of.”

Doran decided to join the squad this winter and has enjoyed the challenges of playing at the varsity level and teaming up with some of his buddies.

“I would say the speed of the game, I haven’t played high intensity basketball like this,” said Doran in reflecting on his return to the court. more

SISTER ACT: Hun School girls’ basketball player Erin Maguire dribbles to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Monday, postgraduate guard Maguire scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds, five assists, and six steals to help Hun defeat St. Benedict’s 51-43 and improve to 10-6. Maguire, a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is the third Maguire sister to play for the Raiders. Hun, which has won seven of its last eight games, will look to keep on the winning track when it plays at Hightstown on February 3, at the Hill School (Pa.) on February, at the Pingry School on February 7, and then hosts the Life Center Academy on February 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the last several years, two Maguire sisters, Anna and then Enya, came from Belfast, Northern Ireland, to star for the Hun School girls’ basketball program.

They both established themselves as standout point guards for the Raiders, and are now playing on the college level for Houston Baptist.

Following in their footsteps, a third Maguire sister, Erin, has joined the Hun squad this season and is relishing the experience.

“I was so excited, they both told me that it was one of the best years of their life easily,” said post-graduate Maguire, who has played for Ireland’s U-20 team.

“I love Hun and I love America. It is the land of opportunity as people say.”

Last Friday against Stuart Country Day, Maguire took advantage of opportunity, tallying 23 points with seven rebounds, five steals, and three assists as the Raiders pulled away to a 56-27 win.

Coming off a tough 76-48 loss at Blair two days earlier, Hun was looking to set the tone and jumped out to a 21-7 lead.

“We wanted to come out firing, we didn’t want to come out slow,” said Maguire.

“That is our issue, we come out flat at times. It was let’s make a point, let’s not come out flat, let’s run and get in transition. That was the plan, just get out hard and play tough defense and talk.” more

CREASE CONTROL: Hun School boys’ hockey goalie Jack Borek guards the crease in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior captain Borek made 36 saves in a losing cause as Hun fell 4-1 to the Hill School (Pa.) in its first action since December 15. A day later, Borek made 15 saves to help the Raiders defeat the Pingry School 10-2. Hun, now 6-6, plays at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on February 3, at St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.) on February 4 and at Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on February 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jack Borek could have been rusty as the Hun School boys’ hockey team hosted the Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday at the Ice Land Rink.

Hun hadn’t played since December 15 as it went on holiday break and then had its first four games of 2022 called off due to COVID-19 concerns.

But senior goalie Borek was sharp from the opening face-off when the Raiders battled a powerhouse Hill squad, making 12 saves in the first period as Hun trailed 1-0.

While Hill eventually wore down the Raiders as the game unfolded, Borek stood tall, ending up with 36 saves in a 4-1 defeat.

In assessing his performance, Borek was proud of the way he hung in against the Blues.

“I felt like on some of  the rebounds, I didn’t do the best with those,” said Borek. more

January 26, 2022

TRIPLE PLAY: Princeton High girls’ track star Ada Metaxas displays the medal she earned for placing first in the triple jump at the Mercer County Championships last Friday. Senior Metaxas, who also took fourth in the long jump and sixth in the 55-meter hurdles at the meet, helped PHS place fourth in the team standings with 47 1/3 points, just two points behind third-place West Windsor-Plainsboro High North.

By Justin Feil

Ada Metaxas proved you’re never too old to learn.

Metaxas may be a senior in her second year as one of the Princeton High track and field team’s sprints and jumps captains, but she felt the pressure of her expectations and challenges outside of her control in a fourth-place showing in the girls’ long jump at the Mercer County Championships on Friday at Lawrenceville School. She responded barely a half-hour later to record a personal-record 34’11 to win the county girls’ triple jump title.

“It meant a lot,” said Metaxas. “I was surprised. Not that I didn’t expect it, but it wasn’t the event I thought I would win. I thought I would win long jump. My previous meets, that was my best event. A lot of it had to do with my mindset.”

Metaxas, who was put off by the cold temperatures at Lawrenceville’s indoor track, didn’t feel fully warmed up and loose, or as comfortable on the jumps runway as at some meets. She jumped 15’10½, a foot off her personal best, to finish behind three other competitors she thought she was confident that she could beat.

“I think I’ve had an expectation like that before,” said Metaxas. “Coming into it, it’s one of the first meets in the season, so I guess it was just a lot. I think having a more positive mentality going in, and just focusing on enjoying it, that’s what I need to focus on. By turning around that mentality, I was able to win the triple jump. That was a positive end to the night.” more

RAY OF HOPE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Rachel Luo heads to the hoop in a game last season. Last Saturday, junior star Luo scored a team-high 13 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 53-31 to Montgomery. The Tigers, who moved to 5-4 with the defeat, play at Allentown on January 28 and then host Trenton Central on February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As Rachel Luo went through her pregame paces for the Princeton High girls’ basketball team when it hosted Robbinsville last week, she was hot from the perimeter.

“During warmups, I was feeling pretty good with my 3s,” said junior guard/forward Luo.

That feeling was a harbinger of things to come as Luo hit a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter. “I found I was open and I just shot it,” recalled Luo.

Despite Luo’s hot shooting, PHS found itself trailing the Ravens 18-8 at the end of the first quarter.

“We were rushing, especially under a lot of pressure,” said Luo.

“We were just not making good decisions. A lot of offensive plays that we ran in practice, we didn’t really go into.”

Facing a 36-14 deficit after three quarters, the Tigers showed some fight down the stretch, outscoring Robbinsville 10-7 in the fourth on the way to a 43-24 loss.

“A couple of our players were being more aggressive, we were just going all out, trying to get back a little bit,” said Luo, who ended up with 10 points in the game.

“That definitely helped a little bit once we got a few fouls and made a few shots and ran a few offensive plays.”

Luo has gone all out to improve as a player. “During the offseason, I just played,” said Luo, who scored a team 13 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 53-31 to Montgomery last Saturday to move to 5-4. more

LIGHTING IT UP: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Jen Lightman dribbles upcourt in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore guard Lightman scored 14 points to help PDS edge Doane Academy 36-33. The Panthers, who moved to 4-4 with the win, play at WW/P-North on January 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After opting out of her freshman season with the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team last winter due to COVID-19 concerns, Jen Lightman is back on the court and having a ball.

“Now that I am finally able to play, it is really nice just to be with the team environment and be around all of these people,” said Lightman.

“I love playing with them so much, it is great playing with them all.”

Lightman found herself in an exciting environment last Friday as the Panthers hosted Doane Academy with a raucous crowd on hand in the PDS Athletic Center. With the Panthers clinging to a 34-33 lead with 23.7 seconds left in regulation, Lightman went to the foul line and drained a free throw to give PDS some breathing room on the way to a 36-33 victory.

“I was so nervous going to the free throw line,” said Lightman, who ended up with 14 points in the win.

“The environment was really nerve-wracking because you have all of these people around you. It was really exciting for us.”

In the early stages, the Panthers jumped out to a 20-4 lead with some exciting play at the offensive end. more

FLYING HIGH: Hun School boys’ swimmer Gabe Huang displays his butterfly form in a race this season. Senior captain Huang has helped Hun get off to a 5-0-1 start this season. The Raiders will be competing in the Mercer County Championships from January 27-29 at WW/P-North. (Photo by Jamie McKee/The Hun School)

By Bill Alden

It may have been a tie, but it represented a triumphant moment for the Hun School boys’ swimming team.

Competing against nemesis Pennington, Hun dueled its foe to an 84-84 deadlock last Wednesday.

“It was very exciting, we had the lead going into the last relay,” said Hun head coach Joan Nuse, whose team moved to 5-0-1 with the tie.

“It was a little disappointing for the kids but they asked is this still historic and I said yes. I don’t think we had ever come close to them. As far as I am aware, we have never beaten them.”

In the meet against Pennington, junior Nick Danko placed first in both the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke while senior Gabe Huang won the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke and senior Tom Goritschnig prevailed in the 200 free.

Danko has emerged and solidified his status as a key performer for the Raiders this winter.

“Nick is a great swimmer, he has always done whatever he could do,” said Nuse.

“He has big shoes to fill in terms of being Abbie’s  (former Hun star and current Bates College swimmer Abbie Danko) little brother. When we had our normal season right before the pandemic, he qualified for Easterns. He is a good swimmer. It is great for him to have a regular kind of season and get to going back to having counties this year.” more

SEEING RED: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Will Brown skates up the ice in recent action. Last Wednesday, junior defenseman Brown and the Panthers battled hard but came up short in a 4-0 loss to Lawrenceville as they resumed their rivalry with the Rig Red. PDS, which moved to 5-4-2 with a 4-2 defeat to Seton Hall last Friday, hosts St. Joe’s Montvale on January 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After a hiatus of two years, the heated rivalry between the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team and Lawrenceville, its neighbor five miles to the south down Route 206, was back on the ice last Wednesday evening.

While there were some attendance limitations at McGraw Rink, the sights and sounds were familiar.

A throng of PDS students arrived early and packed one end of the rink, many wearing Panther hockey jerseys and some holding up handwritten signs with some unfriendly messages for the visiting Big Red.

There was a buzz in the air as the players swirled through their warmups, banging pucks off the glass and whirring around the ice.

Once the opening whistle blew, the rivals went at each other with their traditional verve, delivering bone-crunching hits into the boards and producing end-to-end action.

After a period, the foes were knotted in a scoreless tie. “The first period went better than I could have dictated,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli. “Timmy [Miller] played great in goal.” more

January 19, 2022

GOING TO THE MATT: Princeton High wrestler Matt Ellsworth, top, controls a foe in recent action. Senior Ellsworth has gone 9-2 at 165 pounds this season, helping PHS produce a 7-0 start. In upcoming action, the Tigers have a match at Collingswood High on January 19 and a quad at Robbinsville on January 22 before hosting Allentown on January 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Matt Ellsworth has transformed himself into an outstanding wrestler and team leader for the Princeton High squad over his career.

Senior Ellsworth is off to his best start at 9-2 at 165 pounds. He wasn’t in the varsity lineup as a freshmen, then posted an 11-21 season in his first year in the lineup as a sophomore. In the COVID-19 pandemic shortened season last year, he was 4-6.

“I think I’ve been doing well,” said Ellsworth. “I think I’ve improved a lot from years previous. I’m happy how things are going.”

Ellsworth is even happier with the way things have gone for the team. He is one of four seniors setting the tone for the Tigers, who are unbeaten through seven matches. PHS swept Notre Dame (52-24), Hamilton (57-18), and Hopatcong (65-6) in a quad on Saturday.

“New guys have stepped up which has helped us fill up the whole lineup,” said Ellsworth, who went 2-1 on the day.

“Every single day everyone in the room is pushing each other hard and feeding off each other’s energy. You’ll see at all the matches our bench is very lively cheering for other people on the team when they’re wrestling. The team is built like a strong, tight-knit community. It allows us to push each other and that’s reflected on the mat when we’re wrestling.” more

GETTING AFTER IT: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Rosheen Nissangaratchie, right, goes after the puck last Wednesday against Bergen Catholic. Junior forward Nissangaratchie tallied a goal to help PDS tie the Crusaders 1-1. The Panthers, who defeated St. Joseph (Montvale) 2-0 last Thursday to move to 5-2-2, host Lawrenceville on January 19 and Seton Hall on January 22 before playing at St. Peter’s on January 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Rosheen Nissangaratchie is making up for lost time as he has finally hit the ice for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team after transferring from the Delbarton School.

Sitting out for the first 30 days of the season under New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) rules, Nissangaratchie made his debut for PDS on January 3 against Pope John and picked up an assist as the Panthers prevailed 4-1.

Last Thursday, Nissangaratchie notched his first goal for the Panthers as PDS skated to a hard-fought 1-1 tie against visiting Bergen Catholic.

“I was just practicing,” said Nissangaratchie. “It felt so good to finally play a game at Pope John and then today, my first home game.”

Nissangaratchie’s tally came late in the first period as he got loose on a 3-on-2 rush.

“Will Brown made a nice pass,” recalled Nissangaratchie. “He pulled both defensemen and slides it over and I put it short side.” more

HALL PASS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Jaden Hall fires a pass in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Hall scored a team-high 12 points in a losing cause as PDS fell 54-42 to Hopewell Valley. The Panthers, now 1-5, are slated to host the Doane Academy on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Before Jaden Hall took the court for the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team against the Solebury School (Pa.) last week, he got some words of wisdom from his father.

“My dad told me to be aggressive and get your own shot,” said PDS junior guard Hall.

Following that advice, Hall tallied a career-high 18 points to provide a highlight as the Panthers fell 70-47 to Solebury in the January 11 contest.

After scoring four points in the first half, Hall tallied eight points in the third quarter and added six in the fourth.

“We were driving and kicking for threes,” said Hall, reflecting on his outburst. “We trusted our shooters and we trusted our ball handlers and started knocking down shots. I found my rhythm.”

Coming into this winter, Hall was looking to be more of a factor for the Panthers.

“Last year as a sophomore, I didn’t have that much of a role,” said Hall. “I have been working on my game to become a different type of player. Last year I was a catch and shoot type of guy so I am trying to focus on my ball-handling, being strong with the ball and cutting down on those turnovers. I started becoming more of a point guard type player.”

This past summer, Hall put in extra work to hone his skills.

“I played a lot of AAU ball,” said Hall. “I went to Baltimore to a MADE Hoops camp and got some good advice from a whole bunch of different coaches around Jersey and Pennsylvania. I started working out over the summer to get better as a player and help this team win.” more

STICKING WITH IT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Natalie Celso controls the puck in game last season. Last Friday, senior defenseman Celso scored two goals to help PDS defeat Princeton High 11-1. The Panthers, who moved to 3-2 with the win, host the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 19 and Morristown Beard on January 21 before playing at Trinity Hall on January 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Natalie Celso is looking to be more assertive this winter in her senior season for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team.

“I have been used to being a pretty quiet person on the team, I am trying to fill this big role,” said defensemen Celso.

“It is my first year really being in a leadership role for any team I have played with and it is big shoes to fill. It is fun and I think it is really helping me build confidence in myself and my own skills.”

Last Friday evening, Celso displayed her skills, tallying two goals to help PDS defeat crosstown rival Princeton High 11-1 at the Ice Land Rink and improve to 3-2.

“I was just able to keep my head straight and hold on to it,” said Celso. “I am working on trying not to panic with the puck.”

Coming off a frustrating 2-1 defeat to Summit on January 11, the Panthers were focused on finding the back of the net against PHS.

“We really wanted to work on scoring more,” said Celso. “We got stuck on the last game or so; we just had trouble putting the puck in the net. We definitely worked better together today than we have in the past games. When there is not as much pressure, it is really easy to start working on the things we have been struggling with.” more

THORNY SITUATION: Hun School boys’ basketball player Toby Thornburg puts up a shot in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, senior forward Thornburg hit a three-pointer with 23.7 seconds left in the game to give Hun a 42-40 win over the Shipley School (Pa.) as it overcame a 40-34 deficit in the final minute of play. The Raiders, who defeated Trenton Catholic Prep 54-47 on Monday to improve to 7-6, host the Peddie School on January 19 and Germantown Academy (Pa.) on January 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Toby Thornburg struggled with his outside shooting as the Hun School boys’ basketball team hosted the Shipley School (Pa.) last Thursday evening.

Hun senior forward Thornburg was 0-for-6 from three-point range and had just a layup and a free throw as the contest headed into the final minute of regulation.

But with Hun trailing by 40-39 and 23.7 seconds left, Thornburg finally found the range, draining a three-pointer that proved to be the margin of victory as the Raiders pulled out a dramatic 42-40 win.

“It was a little hectic; Dan [Vessey] got a real good steal, somebody got a real good offensive rebound and it ended up with me,” said Thornburg.

“I was open so I was able to take it and make it. I don’t shoot it if I don’t feel like it is in.”

Thornburg’s shot culminated a frantic rally as Hun trailed 40-34 with 1:11 left in regulation and narrowed the gap as Dan Vessey made a put back after his steal and then Jack Scott hit a three-pointer to make it 40-39.

With Hun having rallied to beat Academy of New Church (Pa.) 89-88 on December 16 as Scott hit a buzzer beater, the Raiders weren’t fazed by the late deficit. more

January 12, 2022

NO BACKING DOWN: Princeton High girls’ swimming star Beatrice Cai displayed her backstroke form in a 200 individual medley race earlier this season. Last Thursday, junior Cai placed first in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke as PHS defeated WW/P-South 125-45 to improve to 7-0. The team has now won 19 straight dual meets since losing in the Central Jersey Group B sectional semifinals in 2020. In upcoming action, the Tigers host Trenton on January 13 and Nottingham on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After going through a season last winter where it could only compete virtually, swimming separately at its pool and then sharing times with foes to calculate meet scores, the Princeton High girls’ swim team was excited for a face-to-face battle at WW/P-South last Thursday.

With both squads bringing undefeated records into the clash of rivals at the WW/P-S bubble, there was plenty of emotion on the deck.

“The energy is totally different when we are all cheering, we get more motivated and faster compared to last year when it was just us,” said PHS junior star Beatrice Cai.

“It felt like we were racing against each other instead of another school. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know which school you were going against.”

Against WW/P-S, the Tigers showed plenty of energy, winning all eight individual races and the three relays in posting a 125-45 win and improving to 7-0.

“We were really pumped up for South,” said Cai, who placed first in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke against the Pirates.

“We have been hyping up this meet for a little bit and we did really well. All our teammates tried our best, we did great. The team spirit was really great as well.” more

FREE AND CLEAR: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Julian Velazquez powers to victory in a 200 freestyle race this season. Last week, junior standout Velazquez helped PHS defeat Notre Dame 115-55 on January 4 and then post a 111-69 win over WW/P-S last Thursday. The Tigers have won 20 straight dual meets since losing in the Central Jersey Group B sectional final in 2020. PHS, now 8-0, hosts Trenton on January 13 and Nottingham on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was rivalry week for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team as it faced two of its historically toughest foes, Notre Dame and WW/P-South, in a three-day period.

Displaying its depth and talent, PHS passed both tests with flying colors, routing Notre Dame 115-55 on January 4 and then rolling to an impressive 111-69 win over WW/P-S last Thursday as it improved to 8-0.

Tiger sophomore star Alvin Tien and his teammates were fired up for the big week.

“We were very anxious against Notre Dame because they were known for being really good,” said Tien.

“When we faced them, everybody put in all their effort to push through and win. It was the same thing with South. These are the hardest meets and our whole team put in the effort and beat them.”

Against South, Tien took first in the 50 freestyle in 23.68 and the 100 backstroke in 1:00.00.

“It goes quickly, I felt I could have done better,” said Tien in assessing the 50 free race. more

SHOOTING STAR: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Jaxon Petrone puts up a shot against WW/P-North last week. Senior guard Petrine scored a team-high 17 points in the January 4 game as PHS pulled out a 48-45 win. Last Friday, Petrone scored 20 points in a losing cause as the Tigers fell 67-61 to Nottingham to move to 1-2. In upcoming action, PHS hosts Hopewell Valley on January 14 and then plays at North Brunswick on January 15 and at Robbinsville on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jaxon Petrone and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ basketball team were pumped to be hitting the court at WW/P-North last week to finally play their second game of the season after a two-week layoff.

PHS had its season opener at Hightstown on December 17 postponed, fell 54-33 to Hamilton on December 21, and then had another game postponed and a holiday tournament canceled.

“We were very excited to get out here, it stunk being at home,” said senior guard Petrone. “There were some nerves out there.”

Trailing 26-22 at intermission, PHS discussed blocking out the nerves and staying in the moment.

“We had a good talk out in the hallway at halftime,’ said Petrone. “It was, ‘we have just got to play, keep your head, no turnovers, get the ball, put it up and get it in the hoop.’”

Responding to that talk, the Tigers outscored WW/P-North 18-9 in the third quarter.

“We came out and hit a couple of shots and got hot,” recalled Petrone. “We settled in during the third quarter.”

Things got dicey down the stretch for PHS as it built a 44-35 lead only to see the Northern Knights respond with a 10-0 run. more

ON THE STICK: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Cooper Zullo, left, controls the puck in recent action. Junior forward Zullo scored three goals to help PHS defeat Lawrence 10-0 last Wednesday. The Tigers, who improved to 9-1-1 with the win, are scheduled to face the WWP Co-op on January 14 and the Hamilton Co-op on January 17 with both games to take place at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Cooper Zullo wasn’t expecting to be installed as the captain of the Princeton High boys’ hockey team this winter as a junior.

“I was talking to Dave (PHS head coach Dave Hansen) at the beginning of the year and he said he wanted me to have the captaincy,” said star forward Zullo.

“I am just trying to do as much as I can for the boys to be a leader. I have next year too, so I am pretty excited about that.”

Zullo’s leadership came in handy last week as PHS skated to a pair of victories, rallying from a 2-0 second period deficit to defeat Robbinsville-Allentown 5-4 on January 3 and then rolling to a 10-0 win over Lawrence last Wednesday.

In Zullo’s view, PHS showed its skill and character as it overcame a slow start to edge Robbinsville-Allentown.

“It was our first game after winter break so there was definitely a little bit of rust on our part. Coach [Dan] Bergan does a good job with them and they are a good team,” said Zullo, who scored a goal in the win.

“I think they wanted it more than we did but we came out in the end. It was definitely a good game by the boys and Johnny [O’Donnell] had the big goal at the end. It was definitely a good game to get back in the swing of things for 2022.”

In the Lawrence game, Zullo got things going for the Tigers, scoring a goal 42 seconds into the contest and then assisting on two others as PHS built a 3-0 first period lead and cruised from there.

“It was the same old, same old, we didn’t know much about them,” said Zullo, who ended up with three goals in the victory. “We tried to move the puck as much as we could.” more