Barnegat Leader Winter Sports Previews

Barnegat Girls Basketball Team Hopes to Rebound From Loss of Star

Dec 17, 2018

The 2017-18 Barnegat High School girls basketball team didn’t have just a great season, it had its best season in the history of the school, which opened in 2004 but didn’t have its full complement of four grades of students until 2007.

Coach Tammy Nicolini’s squad went 18-10, the best mark in history, and, more importantly, not only qualified for the Shore Conference Tournament for the second straight year (teams must have a .500 record or better by a certain date), but also took home its first-ever SCT victory when the 20th-seeded girls beat 13th-seeded Long Branch, 47-38. Even more impressively, Barnegat reached the semifinals of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association South Jersey Group 2 Tournament. The seventh-seeded Bengals held home court with a 56-45 win over 10th-seeded Willingboro in the opening round and then shocked second-seeded Cinnaminson, 47-46, in the quarterfinals.

Alas, Haddonfield, the tourney’s third seed, ended Barnegat’s dream season in the semis with a 48-27 win. Still, it was a heady winter for the Bengals.

The team may settle back to earth in 2018-19. Three senior starters graduated, including Shannon McCoy, whom Nicolini said “will be tough to replace.”

That’s an understatement. McCoy scored more points than any other girl in the program’s history. But the feisty guard wasn’t simply a scoring machine. At 5-feet-9-inches, she could also mix it up on the boards. McCoy hit for 25 points in her team’s Shore Conference Tournament win over Long Branch but also recorded 16 rebounds. She added 20 points – including two free throws with .1 second left on the clock that salted the upset away – and nine rebounds in the game against Cinnaminson.

But the leading rebounder in that classic game wasn’t McCoy, but a 5-10 junior, Jada Baker, who had 11, along with five blocks. Which brings us to this season’s team.

“Jada Baker will play a key role to our team’s success this year,” said Nicolini, now in her sixth year as Barnegat’s head coach.

Baker and another 5-10 senior forward, Sydney Boyer, will give Barnegat strength under the boards.

Nicolini’s team will also have experience in the backcourt, with guards Nikki Lozito, a senior, and Ashley Pringle, a sophomore with varsity experience. Interestingly, another guard, 5-10 freshman Kya Joseph, could help both on the boards and on the dribble – Nicolini called her an “immediate impact player.”

Rounding out the roster are senior guards Sam Soccodato and Kiersten Breyta, senior forward Sam Holler, sophomore guards Kaya Foy and Erin Breyta and freshman guard Bianca Savoy.

Despite losing McCoy, Nicolini is upbeat when looking forward to this season’s campaign. Her goals this year are qualifying for the Shore Conference Tournament for the third straight year and going deep once again in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 Tournament. —R.M.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.