By Gabriella Sorrentino, Staff Writer
The basketball team began their season on Dec. 14 with a brand new starting lineup and coaching staff. They have been working hard to jell together so that they can continue to compete against high-ranked teams. The varsity team is headed by new head coach Matthew McCarthy and new assistant coach Taryn Scinto and led by captains senior Colleen Cusat, senior Grace Kenney, junior Colleen Kelly and junior Caitlin Wingertzahn.
Under the leadership of returning starter Cusat, freshman Haven Dora, Kelly, junior Maggie Ward and Wingertzahn filled the starting positions left by last year’s graduating senior players, matching the previous team in dedication and determination. “We’ve really upped our intensity on defense, and our work ethic has been really good in practice,” Cusat said.
According to Cusat, McCarthy and Scinto have also played an instrumental role in developing the team. “Coach McCarthy knows every little thing about basketball you can think of and he helps you improve so much for your game… Coach Scinto is really our biggest supporter but also our biggest critic. If you make a mistake, she’ll always tell you what you did wrong and how to improve it, and she helps you with every little thing you have during a game… Having her and Coach McCarthy together, they’re like the perfect ingredients for the recipe of this team,” Cusat said.
As of Jan. 19, the team holds a 7-5 record. Though they began their season with two consecutive losses, the team came together for their third game against Asbury Park and dominated their opponent, leading to a final score of 70-23.
“Everything’s really new, but I think we did a really good job banding together and fighting through our first two tough games. I believe [those games] made us stronger and we’ve learned from them,” Kelly said.
They followed their game against Asbury Park with another major event of the season, the Stewart Invitational Tournament. Over the course of the holiday break, the team played against schools from around the state and ended the tournament with a loss against Trenton Catholic Academy, a loss against Randolph High School and a win against West Windsor-Plainsboro North. “We learned from last minute game situations that we need to pull through in the end,” Kelly said.
Since then the Monarchs have lost to Wall and Holmdel, but added wins against Keyport, Mater Dei, Keansburg and Ranney, outscoring their opponents 214-86 in those four victories.
“It’s just been cool seeing how we all come together as a team and how Coach McCarthy and Coach Scinto help us work together and figure out how we’re going to go about this season… I think we’re doing a really great job, and it’s really exciting,” Wingertzahn said.