Whether home or away, girls basketball teams enjoy holiday wins

The Trenton Catholic Academy girls basketball team proudly displays their trophy after ending Franklin Township’s 37-game winning streak and winning the ESCIT Tournament on their own home court. Rich Fisher photo

FROM THE MONITOR

By Rich Fisher | Contributing Editor

Some teams stayed home, others traveled great distances, but either way the results were successful in girls basketball over the holidays.

Two of the most impressive performances came from Trenton Catholic Academy and St. Rose of Belmar. TCA won the ESCIT Tournament, which it hosted at the Iron Palace. And while defending NJSIAA Non-Public Group A champion St. Rose did not win its tournament, the Purple Roses looked good in finishing fifth at the high-caliber Naples Holiday Shootout in Florida.

Also winning a title was Holy Cross Preparatory Academy at the Boardwalk Classic in Wildwood, while St. John Vianney won both of its games in the Lady Lancers round robin tournament in Holmdel. Red Bank Catholic won two of three at the Diamond State Classic in Wilmington, Del., while Donovan Catholic did likewise at the WOBM Classic in Toms River. Notre Dame won its consolation game at the Bill DeFazio Classic in Marist.

TCA (3-0) came into the season with some solid veterans and promising freshmen, and they all did their part in the ESCIT championship game. Freshman Zoe Brooks won tournament MVP honors, while senior Giana Boulden-Hernandez put the team on her back in the final four minutes as TCA took a 64-42 victory over defending Tournament of Champions champ Franklin Township. The Iron Mikes snapped Franklin’s 37-game win streak, as the Warriors’ last loss was in the 2018 TOC finals.

“It’s our home tournament,” Boulden-Hernandez said. “We want to show everybody our love and how hard we work.”

Brooks scored 20 points and helped the Mikes to a 43-23 lead. When Franklin cut the deficit to 48-41, Boulden-Hernandez scored two straight buckets to regain a double-digit lead and help TCA pull away. She finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Aaylah Del Rosario added 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Maya Custis had 10 points and Ciara Bailey had eight points and eight rebounds.

Looking to toughen itself for another state title run, St. Rose got strong competition in a Naples tournament that featured several nationally ranked schools.

“We had a great schedule down there,” coach Mary Beth Chambers said. “All three teams had two players who were at least 6-2, and our tallest player is not even six foot.”

The Roses (4-1) lost their opener to Bradley Central of Tennessee, 57-49, in a game that they trailed by three with two minutes remaining.

“We made some mistakes down the stretch, but it was a great game for us just for the competition,” Chambers said.

Next up was Fort Myers (Fla.), who had a 6-foot-4 center. St. Rose took a 71-57 victory, getting 21 points from Abigail Antognoli and 17 each from Brynn Farrell and Makayla Andrews.

“Their big girl was just very dominant,” Chambers said. “That’s when everybody played so well. We just got it together and everyone shared the ball. We got scoring from Abi, Brynn and Makayla, and Maureen Stapleton and Maria Tedesco just did so many little things well that you won’t see in the stat sheet. It was a complete game for us.”

The Roses capped their visit with a 62-44 win over Rock Bridge, Mo., as Farrell exploded for 26, Andrews had 17 and Tedesco 12.

“Both those wins were closer than the score indicated,” Chambers said. “We had to fight every possession. It was a great learning lesson. It was hard, and they had to play to the end of each game to pull out these wins. We could have easily gone 0-3. We were happy we made the trip.”

The tournament gave Chambers a chance to get a read on her team heading into Shore Conference play and beyond.

“We lost three starters, Abi and Brynn are the two starters back,” she said. “Makayla missed half a year last year. And Maria and Maureen didn’t get that many minutes last year so we’re developing that. Layla Laws and Kitty Murphy are coming off the bench, and freshman Maggie Cavanaugh is a good player. They’re slowly getting into the rotation and getting valuable experience. By the end of the year, we hope we have a good rotation going and are ready to take on all challenges.”

In winning the John Carlson Memorial Bracket of the Boardwalk Classic, Delran’s Holy Cross (3-1) opened with a 42-19 win over Millville and defeated St. Dominic, 47-36 in the title game.

Kyla Treadwell led the way against Millville with 25 points, while Ava Taylor had eight points, 10 rebounds and three assists and Natalie Schultz added six points and 12 rebounds. Taylor had a monster game in the finals, collecting 22 points and 14 rebounds while Treadwell added 16 points and seven boards.

St. John Vianney improved to 3-0 by defeating Staten Island Academy, 74-45, and Gill St. Bernards, 52-40. Rumson-Fairhaven defeated the same two teams as each finished 2-0 in the tournament.

In the Staten Island win, Madison St. Rose collected 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Katie Hill had 14 points and six rebounds. Megan Cahalan and Ashley O’Connor each chipped in with eight points. Emma Bruen tallied 13 points against Gill St. Bernards, Hill had 12 points and six assists, Christina Whitehead added nine points and six rebounds and St. Rose had nine points and five boards as the Lancers got a strong team effort throughout the tournament.

Down in Delaware, Red Bank Catholic (4-1) fell in its opener to Long Island Luther, 61-51, despite 17 points from Fabienne Eggenschwiler and 13 from Ally Carman. Shaelyn Sabino had 14 in a 62-39 win over Seminaire St. Francois of Canada, while Justine Pissott hit six 3-pointers en route to 20 points in a 58-45 win over Roland Park of Maryland. Carman added 16 and Sophia Sabino 10 against Roland Park.

Playing at the RWJ Barnabas Arena, Donovan Catholic (3-1) lost its first-round game, 42-39, to Toms River North before bouncing back to beat Central, 42-30, and Ewing, 62-53. Jordyn Keating had 13, Olivia Conroy 12 and Tatjana Tatar 10 against Central, and Keating erupted for 26 against Ewing while Conroy added 11.

In its DeFazio Classic opener, Notre Dame (2-2) made a huge fourth-quarter push only to fall short, 66-63, to Moore Catholic of New York. Erika Porter had 26 points and 10 rebounds while Madison McCauley had 15 points. In the consolation game, the Irish took a 64-56 win over Notre Dame of New York, as Porter (13 points), Niccol Villalta-Barrantes (12) and McCauley (10) led the way.

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