Before I descend into full-on madness on the boys side among the 8,000 tournaments that are going on during Saturday, here’s some quick extras from Friday’s WOBM Classic quarterfinals and thoughts on some of the other girls tournament action.
- Conditioning is going to be absolutely huge for Southern this season. Head coach Kathy Snyder did not make one substitution in the game until it was out of reach in the fourth quarter against Ocean. Not only that, Southern pushed the ball at every opportunity, so it’s not like the Rams were walking it up the floor and catching their breath. With two players who can seal off the defensive backboards in Kristen Sharkey and Avery Hodgson, it allows the guards to run out frequently and get easy points, so a fast tempo translated into some easy looks on Sunday. I guess we’ll find out if the Rams can maintain a fast pace for a whole season while only primarily using five players.
- Kathryn Campbell‘s game looks more and more polished for Wall, as she has the ability to create her own shot off the dribble and pull up for mid-range jumpers. Also, sophomore Jessica Nevins showed the ability to hit some big shots from the field and the free throw line in the fourth quarter of a big game against Shore on Friday, which bodes well for the future. One of Wall’s top interior players, junior Ashley Noble, is also starting to get back in the swing of things after missing most of the preseason with illness, according to Wall coach Tom Westen. If Noble can become a consistent scoring threat off the lob in the paint, that opens everything up for Campbell, Nevins and the rest of Wall’s guards.
- If Manchester ever puts it all together, look out. The Hawks couldn’t get a free throw to drop to save their lives, yet still hung on to beat Raritan. The big key is simply finishing around the rim because Manchester creates a lot of turnovers, and if it could just convert more of those into points by finishing lay-ups in traffic and hitting short jumpers, it would be very tough. Camille and Gabrielle Valmon have the ability to take defenders off the dribble at will, but sometimes dribble too much into thickets of defenders. A very underrated player is forward Ariele Parrish, who quietly goes about her business but does a solid job of finishing inside when one of the Valmons dumps it to her after drawing the defense. She also finishes well with people in her face. The one player who never really got rolling and is a big part of Manchester’s offense is guard Precious Allen, one of the best 3-point shooters in the Shore Conference. Raritan did a nice job of not allowing her to get any room behind the arc. As for the Rockets, Alexa Ryan played her best game of the season, draining threes and also scoring in the paint on her way to 23 points. Point guard Nicole Lentine also forced the issue offensively with success. Raritan just couldn’t get a key jumper to fall in the last two minutes or so and got baited into playing out of its element and playing at Manchester’s frenetic pace too many times.
- I didn’t see most of the Rumson win over Toms River North, but it looked like typical Rumson. Occasional rough patches offensively, and stifling defense constantly. I kind of like the contrast in styles between Rumson and Manchester in the semifinals, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rumson actually run a little more than usual because the Bulldogs have some finishers and have some 3-point shooters for kickouts in transition. It’s not hard to imagine Kate Miller pulling up for foul line jumpers in transition until the cows come home.
As for some other tournament stuff from Friday, not a whole lot of earth-shaking stuff, although Monsignor Donovan did pick up a nice win over Lacey in the WOBM consolations that opened a few eyes. Congrats to Matawan, which gave new coach John Kaye his first win with a 37-30 victory over Hightstown in its respective holiday tournament. Also, it’s clear that Manalapan has improved, as we’re only a week into the season and it has already surpassed its win total from last season by picking up its third victory with a win over Red Bank. St. Rose and St. John Vianney just continue to drill teams by 40 or 50 every time out, and I hope that those two end up meeting in the final of their Christmas tournament up north for a great early-season match-up.
Also, real quick on the boys side, Henry Hudson gave new coach Doug Brustman his first win by knocking off rival Keansburg in the South Amboy Holiday Classic.