I have long said the key to becoming the best basketball player you can be is to challenge yourself. I always said the best teams play the best competition. Well Raritan High school is alive and in the state tournament because of this exact reason. Yesterday they beat South River High School to advance in the state tournament.
Raritan plays in the toughest high school division in New Jersey…. A CENTRAL is a whose, who of girls basketball. This season the division had 5 teams ranked in the Top 20. Raritan had to play those teams twice this year. Their so called easy divisional games were against the likes of Holmdel who beat RBC and Shore Reg. In other words Raritan every night was looking up hill. There were nights where they took the ceremonial beating. But there were also nights Raritan put up the good fight. It was these up and downs during the season that prepared them for what we are seeing now… THE RARITAN RUN and it’s a big one.
There are teams with better records than Raritan who played in the state tournament. There were teams with higher seeds than RARITAN who played in the State Tournament. But many of those teams are gone now, done. It’s a wrap for them and it’s wait till next year. Many of those teams could not get over the hump this season. Many played soft schedules and piled up wins. But those teams seemed to never get over the hump. They were never truly battled tested. The state tournament exposes such indiscretions. Raritan is the total opposite of those teams. They have developed a competitive nature as a group and are beyond battle tested. It’s why, it is they who are still standing while many of those teams with the pretty rankings, higher seeding and cute records are now home wondering where it all went wrong. While Raritan keeps showing how A CENTRAL and it’s competition was just right.
Anthony Vona is coaching varsity basketball for the first time. This is his first high school coaching job. He has spent the past few years preparing for his moment at a Hazlet Middle School. He clearly has learned his lessons well. Because when you play in a division where you can lose games by 40 and 50 points. You can easily lose a team early. But Coach Vona got his team to win little battles against powerhouse programs. Things like win a quarter, win a half. Get more loose balls, hold a team under there average, where the goals some nights. Coach Vona was getting his team ready. His team quietly feasted on non conference teams and made it into the states. They blew out non divisional opponents. Coach Vona was smart and played his hand close to the vest. He didn’t let on that he knew his team could do damage in the states. Coach Vona Is a shrewd operator.
Raritan has come to live by the motto of “next girl up next”. Lucy Alberici is there star. She has been fantastic all year. The walking double/double was terrific again last night with 17 points and 12 rebounds. But when she got into foul trouble and started to struggle. Joei Tarrazi who had two big three’s in the first half, took over with 3 straight three’s in the 2nd half half. She had 5 bombs on the night. She did what she has done all year, step up big! ..with 15 points. Sarah O’leary had 6 points and 6 rebounds while battling a 6’2” post player,who she made a non factor. Senior Julia Reasoner has stepped up and seized her opportunity, especially in the states due to the leg injury suffered by starter Grace Smith. Julia has been heaven sent. All year Raritan has given away strength and size in A CENTRAL. But those disadvantages are advantages now. Because now they rebound as a team and are a physical bunch. CARMELA PETRIGNANI will not be a household name. But every loose ball has seemed to have her name on it and ever intangible needed, she has delivered on all season. Megan Casey has been a maestro in conducting the Raritan offense. She has been the player that Raritan has counted on to keep order on the court. The thought of not having her around is too scary of a though to even contemplate. The Raritan Run has been a total team effort.
Raritan learned from playing against the best competition in the state, they needed to play as one unit. They learned they had to make the extra pass. They now are a defensive juggernaut because they have played against some of the best offensive players in the state. The coaches were forced to match wits with some of the best high schools coaches not only in the state but the country as well. Raritan was forced to adjust or get crushed. They have adjusted rather than fold, it’s why they are still playing. Raritan will try to keep there run alive vs RUMSON Saturday. It’s almost surreal that they can’t shake “A CENTRAL”. But RARITAN has been getting over the hump all year. They’ve been piling up program win after program win. They have played as a team. They don’t care who scores or gets credit. They are just trying to continue to bring there competitive nature to the court each night. … and on Saturday, they hope to keep the ...RARITAN RUN MOVING