Basketball Report

Katie McGrotty Delivers Big Shots as Pinelands Regional Girls Hoops Team Bounces Barnegat

Jan 16, 2019
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

During the high school basketball offseason, Katie McGrotty worked on her outside shooting, mainly to benefit the offense for the new AAU team she had joined. That work helped the Pinelands Regional girls basketball team on Jan. 14.

“With my new AAU team, the coach wanted all five players on the court to be able to shoot from the outside, so I started getting better with that,” said McGrotty, whose three-pointer with 4:41 to go ultimately ended up as the winning bucket during a 44-35 victory over Barnegat. “I shoot when I’m open, and if it doesn’t go in, I just try again.”

McGrotty knocked the wind out of the Bengals’ sail twice during a fourth quarter in which the Wildcats (5-7) took control, scoring all of her nine points to help lead Pinelands to its fifth victory of the season.

Pinelands jumped out to a 13-3, first-quarter lead only to go flat with its scoring in the second, allowing Barnegat to go on a 9-0 run to pull within a point. Leading 13-12 going into the third quarter, the Wildcats pushed their lead back to five points with 5:11 to go in the quarter when Bridget Dudas completed a three-point play to make it 19-14.

Dudas’ trey from the right corner with 3:27 left in the third made it a 25-15 contest, but the Bengals chipped away, as Kya Joseph buried a pair of fouls shots, followed by a short runner and two more foul shots from Sydney Boyer, trimming the deficit to six, 27-21, as the teams went into the final eight minutes.

Just over a minute into the last quarter, McGrotty drained the first of her two trifectas  to push the lead back to nine points, 30-21, but Barnegat still managed to stay within striking distance, particularly after Jada Baker completed a three-point play with 4:58 to go and cut the lead to seven, 33-26.

Only 17 seconds later, McGrotty buried her second trey, which ultimately buried the Bengals as the game transitioned into a back-and-forth foul-shooting contest for the last 4:15. McGrotty capped Pinelands’ scoring with two of her three free throws with 24.5 seconds to go.

“Our first quarter, we were really confident; then we kind of shut down in the second quarter,” she said. “But we got our attitude back for the third quarter, and everybody was more involved on both offense and defense. In the fourth quarter, I was very confident in our foul shooting.”

While Dudas led the way with 14 points and D’Anna Capriotti added nine points, it was the play of senior Alyssa Vitiello that seemed to be a catalyst on both sides of the floor. The point guard said the otherwise young Wildcats have finally figured out who they are and are playing with more zeal after starting the season 2-6.

“We found our heart and our hunger,” she said. “We have a lot of young girls, and I think we were playing timid for a while. Now that we’ve started coming together and getting a better feel for the game and each other, we’re starting to get after the ball more, dive for more loose balls, box out more and really battle.”

Through the contest Monday, it was Pinelands’ 2-3 matchup zone that wreaked havoc on the Bengals, who were led by Joseph’s 12 points and Baker’s 11.

“We couldn’t get a rhythm,” said coach Tammy Nicolini, whose Bengals are 6-7. “We couldn’t move the ball on their 2-3 zone, and our shooting percentage was terrible. We were able to penetrate the zone, but we missed at least 15 shots. We were out of sync. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get it together tonight.”

On Jan. 12, Pinelands knocked off Ocean Township, 35-30, going on a 12-4, fourth-quarter run to score the victory. Dudas led the charge with 11 points, while Calyn Conway, Capriotti and Skylar Callahan each tallied six points. Prior to a 51-37 loss to Lacey on Jan. 11, the Wildcats edged Point Pleasant, 41-40, on Jan. 8, during which Sunni DiElmo and Callahan each hit for 10 points, while Dudas added nine.

“We have to keep being hungry,” Vitiello said. “We may not be the best team on the floor every game, but we’re going to work harder. We have to keep up that fire.”

Southern Girls Squad
Wins Two of Last Three

The Southern Regional girls basketball team went on a 19-8, first-quarter run and ultimately made that lead stick against Brick, scoring a 50-37 victory on Jan. 14. The Rams rook a 29-14 lead into the half. Kaela Curtin led the Rams with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Jacqueline Ward hit for 11 points and dished out 10 assists, and Sam Del Rio contributed 12 points.

Prior to a 45-37 loss to Jackson Memorial on Jan. 11, Southern (6-6) grabbed its fifth win of the season with a 48-36 victory over Manalapan on Jan. 10. Using 13-9 and 17-5 outbursts during the first two quarters, the Rams took control and cruised from there. Curtin scored 15 points and snatched 11 boards, while Ward also recorded 15 points, and Del Rio tallied 10 points.

Pinelands Boys Oust Barnegat
To Get Back on Track

After starting off 5-0, the Pinelands Regional boys hoops team went through a bit of a funk and lost three of its next four games – the only victory a 60-40 blowout against Shore Conference Class B South foe Lacey. However, the Wildcats got back on a winning track Monday with a 42-32 victory over Barnegat, which had won two straight.

The Wildcats (7-3) went on a 12-7 spurt in the first quarter and capped the contest with an 11-6 run in the fourth, as they maintained their top spot in the division at 5-2. Andrew Schulz scored 22 points to lead Pinelands, while Anthony Diaz contributed 10 points and seven assists, and Luke Wiatrowski added eight points and eight rebounds. Barnegat (4-6) was led by Nick Revello with 11 points, while Brian Finucan tallied eight points, followed by Brendan Revello and Sean Morris with seven and six points, respectively.

On Jan. 12, Pinelands dropped its third loss of the season, a 47-46 decision against Ocean Township. Schulz led the way with 14 points, while Wiatrowski managed 12 points and Diaz added 11 points to go with five steals. Ryan Skeie snagged 10 boards. In the rout against Lacey a day earlier, Diaz and Schulz each tallied 16 points, and Wiatrowski delivered for 12 points.

As for Barnegat, the Bengals scored a pair of big wins last week – a 50-46 triumph over Manchester on Jan. 8, followed by a 49-37 victory over Point Pleasant two days later. Against the Panthers, Finucan was the catalyst, burying four three-pointers en route to a 20-point effort, while Nick Revello hit for 15 points. While holding off the Hawks, the Bengals were led by Nick Revello’s 12 points, as Morris and Brendan Revello scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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