Stafford Leader Winter Sports Previews

Southern Regional Girls Basketball Team Is Rebuilding Once Again

Dec 14, 2018

The Southern Regional High School girls basketball team is yet another of the many local athletic squads that is in a rebuilding mode this winter.

Fifth-year head coach Tom Bucci, Jr. saw his 2017-2018 team go 17-10 overall last year, up from 14-13 the year before. The team’s record could have been much better if Toms River had been hit by a zombie apocalypse – four of the team’s losses came against North (twice), East (by just one point) and South (41-49 after beating the Indians 61-38 earlier in the season).

Last year’s team, though, was led by a trio of senior veterans in Colleen Brady, Lauren Cruse and Makayla Nicolini. Who can replace them?

Jacqueline Ward will have a lot of weight on her shoulders. The guard is likely to be the only senior in the starting lineup.

Ward established herself as a scoring threat late last season, hitting double figures in five out of her team’s last seven games, including a team-high 15 in the next to last contest of the regular season, and 11, behind only Cruse, in Southern’s 40-47 loss to Shawnee in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association South Jersey Group 4 Tournament.

But who else is going to put the ball through the net? It’s an open question because none of the other potential starters – juniors Kaela Curtin, Alex Mattner, Sam Del Rio and Jordan Frangipani – played significant varsity minutes last season, stuck as they were behind a senior-dominated starting lineup.

The same is true of Southern’s bench, which will include seniors Christina D’Amodio, Nicole Conroy and Kyleigh Bell, juniors Taylor Tancredi and Catherine Walker, and sophomores Molly Cilaberto, Corrine Spina, Ashley Altman and Kylie Conner.

Then again, Southern has a proud girls basketball tradition, and Bucci has a 85-40 career record. So maybe one or more of the girls will step up big time under his tutelage.

Southern will have a chance to get some revenge early in the season. The Rams will open on the road at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 14 against Toms River South and will kick off their home season at 6:30 on Dec. 18 when they host Toms River East. —R.M.

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