By Wayne Witkowski
Allentown High School girls basketball team is in a must-win situation over the next three games if it is to repeat as Colonial Valley Conference (CVC) Freedom Division champion.
The Redbirds (12-5) suffered their second division loss Feb. 2 when Ewing High School scored a 63-58 victory. They meet again Feb. 15 after Allentown looked to avenge its other division loss to Hopewell Valley Central High School in a Feb. 8 rematch. They played Lawrence High School, which is winless in the division, the following day.
Coach Linda Weise said the good thing is that all three games are at home.
“It’s nice to be playing at home. I think we’ve had 13 games on the road [so far] this season,” said Weise, whose team took an especially long road trip Feb. 6 and lost to Long Island Lutheran, 68-39.
Ryan Weise led the way with 11 points.
Ewing, which is unbeaten in the division, handed Hopewell Valley its second division loss, 47-45, Feb. 5. Ewing plays two scheduled games against a struggling Robbinsville High School team before the rematch with Allentown. The Redbirds beat Robbinsville, 80-52, Feb. 4. Ryan Weise scored 23.
“I think we can bounce back,” the coach said. “We have to play together and play defense and hit our free throws. We struggled on defense in the second half against Ewing and missed 11 free throws.”
Ewing sealed that victory over Allentown with a 23-16, fourth-quarter surge.
Ryan Weise scored 21 points, Bianca Santos fired in 15 and Kali Hartshorn scored 14 against Ewing. Weise leads the team in scoring, averaging 12.9 points a game, and has a team-best 36 3-pointers. Santos follows at 12.5 points per game, and Hartshorn has an average of 11.3 points. Backup forward Katie White is the top rebounder at 6.2 per game, followed closely by Santos. Hartshorn has just under six assists a game.
Hadley Borkowski, who had been sidelined recovering from an injury, is cleared to play this week, but Hope Narozniak is out for at least this week with an injury.
Allentown (12-7), the No. 5 seed, travels to No. 4-seed Cranford High School in its first trip to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III sectionals in three years.
“That’s a tough match. Cranford’s seed is misleading because it won matches against teams from outside of the state, which doesn’t count on the seeding,” Allentown coach Mitch Nock said. “From 160 pounds on up will be the key for us.”
The winner advances to the semifinals Feb. 10.
A showdown against Robbinsville in a matchup of CVC Patriot Division leaders was moved to an undetermined date because many wrestlers were suffering a skin infection, and Allentown’s Senior Night meet Feb. 5 against Lawrence was snowed out and rescheduled to Feb. 16.
Allentown split a tri-meet Feb. 6, beating Ewing, 44-24, and losing to a 17-3 Pennsville Memorial High School team, 34-30. Zach Turner (26-2) won both of his matches at 182 pounds and his pin wrapped up the Ewing victory. Jordan Rugo returned to the lineup and picked up two more victories to remain unbeaten at 160. John Kuchar (14-11) picked up two victories at 152.
After the state sectionals, Allentown prepares for the District 5 tournament next weekend. It finished in second place last year.
Allentown (8-8) lost to division powerhouse Ewing, 70-52, for its fourth loss in five games. Peyton Jackson sank five 3-point baskets, as he and Nahshon Taylor each scored 16 points and Tristan Millett fired in 12. But Bekim Nikovic and Hunter Gerling, who have had a number of double-figure games, were allowed only two points each.
Allentown had games scheduled against Hopewell Valley Feb. 8 and Lawrence Feb. 9 as it looked to bounce back in time for the state tournament.
The Allentown-Robbinsville Ravens (10-7-3) rallied back for a pair of ties behind clutch scoring by Josh Rosenbaum.
Rosenbaum scored his second goal of the game off passes from John Martin and Ryan VanDuren when the Ravens played to a 3-3 tie with Princeton High School (9-6-4) Feb. 2. Joey Nolan made 40 saves in goal at Mercer County Rink in West Windsor.
Rosenbaum also assisted on a goal by Shawn Camisa for a 2-1 Ravens lead going into the third period.
A day earlier at the same rink, Allentown struck for three straight goals from late in the second period before Monroe Township High School (6-5-6) drilled home a goal with 32 seconds left for a 4-4 tie. Rosenbaum scored two of the goals and Camisa had the other in the comeback. John Martin scored the other goal and John Francis had three assists. Nolan made 30 saves.