Tuckerton Leader

Opening Road Games Will Test Pinelands’ Young Team in Girls Basketball

Dec 01, 2017

The Pinelands Regional High School girls basketball team will have some veteran leadership this season in senior guard Jessie Rising, who averaged 9.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last year, and senior forward Jackie Peschko, who recorded 4.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in the 2016-17 campaign. But coach Keith Lowe’s 2017-18 team is loaded with youngsters.

Four juniors are on the roster: forward Katie McGrotty, guard Alyssa Vitiello and forwards D’Anna Capriotti and Calyn Conway. But only McGrotty (7.2 ppg and 4.4 reb/pg) and Vitiello (3.1 assists per game) were major contributors last year.

Key newcomers are sophomore forward Alyssa Breese and a slew of freshmen, including forward Maddie Stein, forward Emily Fence, guard Sunni DiElmo and guard Morgan Mueller.

Still, Lowe says he expects his team to “be competitive in B South, with aspirations of qualifying for the state (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association South Jersey Group 3) and Shore Conference tournaments.” That’s remarkably similar to what he said at the beginning of last season: “I am expecting this team to be competitive in B South and qualify for state and Shore Conference tournaments.”

It may be difficult for Pinelands to match its 2016-17 record of 10-15 (4-10 in B South play). After all, the team lost two key players in graduated seniors Ellie Sorrentino and Madison Dancisin. And last season the Wildcats got off to a 5-2 start, probably helped by playing five of its first seven games at home. This time around, Pinelands will play its first four regular season games on the road and, of course, will have to take to the bus to play any holiday tournaments. That could make it tough for the young Pinelands team to gel early in the season.

Pinelands will kick off its season on Friday, Dec. 15, when it visits Barnegat for a game set to tip off at 5:15 p.m.

The one good thing in the Wildcats’ schedule is that they won’t have to face Manchester until Jan. 16, and will get the Hawks at home to boot. Lowe expects Manchester, along with Donovan Catholic, to be the class of B South this year, which isn’t surprising since the Hawks finished their 2016-17 season with a 24-6 record, 13-1 in B South.

— Rick Mellerup

rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

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