Stafford Leader

Veteran Girls Squad Renews Southern Aim for Basketball A South Title

Dec 08, 2017

The Southern Regional High School girls basketball team last season had its first off campaign in quite a few years. The team had a respectable record, going 14-13 and 9-5 in A South play, but that was a dip from 2015-16 when it went 19-8 and 13-1 in A South, and also from the 20-6 squad of 2014-15 and the 22-5 team of 2013-14.

Those three squads were A South champs. Can the Rams return to that level this season?

Senior swing players (guard/forward) Colleen Brady and Lauren Cruse are back. They were consistently among the team’s high scorers last year. In the opening round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association South Jersey Group IV Tournament, for example, Cruse scored 19 points while Brady contributed 11. The duo therefore accounted for more than half of their team’s points in a 59-62 loss to Clearview.

So fourth-year head coach Tom Bucci has two pillars on his team this year, and he knows it.

“Lauren Cruse and Colleen Brady had very solid junior seasons as our leaders in many categories,” said Bucci. “They will be looked upon to do the same, and more, this coming season.”

And he has many more veterans returning, including senior guard/forward Makayla Nicolini, senior center/forward Amy Titus, junior guard Jaqueline Ward, sophomore swing Priscilla Nicolini and sophomore guards Sam Del Rio, Jordan Frangipani and Alex Mattner. Key newcomers include a gaggle of seniors, all swings – Rhys Hagen, Haliegh Gutierrez, Stefanie Ibanez and Shannon Lytle.

Bucci gave a pretty standard answer when asked about his team’s outlook.

“We are hoping to be competitive in the division and to make the SCT and state tournament,” said the coach.

Perhaps, though, he has his sights set on another A South crown. When asked what the teams to beat were in his division, he answered “All of them.” If his girls were able to do that, they would indeed be A South champs once again. —R.M.

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