YESTERDAY’S SJV GAME I ASKED A FRIEND TO BLOG ABOUT THE GAME… I WILL TRY TO DO MORE OF THIS IN THE COMING WEEKS….
Victory Grind for SJV
In a battle of two Top 10 Metro NYC teams, the hosts #2 St John Vianney emerged victorious over #6 Christ the King (Queens, NY) 61-56. It was a long night in Holmdel as a combination of an earlier Frosh OT game and overzealous officiating resulted in the Varsity’s ‘6:30‘ game to end after 9pm. Nonetheless the Lady Lancers did the Shore proud indeed. Non-stop pressure D, big time clutch 3 point shots, and smart coaching were the keys to the home team’s victory over a CTK team that looked to have 5-7 DI players.
SJV got off to a very quick start with Kelly Crouch burying 2 long distance shots in the first few minutes of the game forcing CTK to call a timeout. The momentum gradually shifted to the visitors as the 1Q ended, and that energy continued into the 2Q as CTK outscored SJV 19-11 resulting in a 27-24 lead over the Lancers at halftime.
In the 3Q there were times that CTK looked like they were going to run away with the game, only to have SJV claw their way back, and eventually take the lead back 39-37 at the end of 3. The 4Q was a long drawn out affair as the aforementioned whistle blowers behaved as if they were getting paid overtime wages. Despite not hitting their usual insanely high percentage of FT’s in the 4Q, SJV made enough of them to score 22 points in the quarter to pull out a tremendous team victory.
On paper CTK looks daunting. Their PG Zambrotta reminded me of a female version of Brandon Jennings, left handed, great handle, deceptive, very high basketball IQ. Their leading scorer Toussaint is a skilful, extremely strong guard who burned her defender numerous times with an indefensible, hanging, pull up jumper from the elbow area. The small forward Kinder is uber athletic with a non-stop motor, but she did get into some foul trouble. A guard off the bench, Dawling, was arguably CTK’s best player last night as she was at times dominant on defense while adding 8 clutch points. Finally, their Center, Howell (also off the bench) is a 6’3 space eater who shot 8-10 from the FT line keeping her Royals team in the game in the 4th quarter. Each of these girls, and, perhaps 1 or 2 more not mentioned, are undoubtedly Division I players; not maybe, but definitely.
So how did the Lancers win? I know it sounds old, but they won as a team. Kelly Campbell’s ability to handle the ball versus intense physical defense was a key all night. Her play at both ends of the floor was integral to the win, and appeared to be the glue that kept her team from losing composure. Kelly Crouch was a cold blooded sniper when given the look from 3, while also feeding the post efficiently. Kimi Evans had a superb game early, aggressively attacking the basket off post passes. Her sprint and subsequent block of a Dawling break away lay-up was certainly one of the evening’s highlights. Gigi Caponegro was a beast on defense using her length and anticipation to constantly force CTK into turnovers and bad decisions, and also grabbed many important rebounds. Courtney Dobrzynski was a force on defense as she matched up with the skilled guards of CTK all night. Her intensity and communication on D was contagious.
Off the bench came sniper #2 Tina Lebron whose 3 pointer late in the 4th quarter iced the game for the hosts; it just doesn’t get more clutch than that. Add Zoe Pero whose high energy played a crucial role during many parts of the game, and obviously motivated her teammates to compete as hard.
Coach Karpell was rock solid in her strategies. Her move to a 2-3 zone in the later stages of the game was pure genius as SJV forced an attacking, athletic NYC team to become a long distance shooting team. While this zone did give up plenty of offensive rebounds, it also frustrated the freewheeling offense of the Royals.
If I knew nothing about either team and opined based simply on warm-ups, I believe I would have said CTK wins by 20. But the ‘never say die’ mantra of the SJV program shone through brightly last night. SJV’s mental toughness is beyond impressive to this viewer, and explains why, when they travel to Maryland or New York or anywhere, they always compete and often win.