By Warren Rappleyea
Old Bridge High School’s girls basketball team completed its winter season with a 9-15 mark. But with plenty of players returning, optimism is high for next season.
Coach Dan DiMino’s team was a bit more competitive than its record might otherwise indicate. Old Bridge had a solid game against top-seeded East Brunswick High School in the opening round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV tournament. Amanda Carney led the effort with 16 points, but the 16th-seeded Lady Knights eventually fell, 39-29. Point guard Meaghan Dowdell added nine points.
Old Bridge also scored a 57-35 victory against John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in the play-in round of Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament Feb. 15, as Carney poured in a season-high 28 points. She added 18 points in the Lady Knights’ loss to South Brunswick High School in the next round.
Carney averaged 17 points to lead Old Bridge in scoring. The junior guard scored in double figures in all but two games and topped the 20-point mark in four games. She also drained 49 3-pointers along the way.
“Amanda really stepped it up this season,” DiMino said. “She was often being double-covered and she still found ways to score points. She’s just getting better and better.”
Carney’s fine season overshadowed an equally fine performance by point guard Dowdell, who led the Lady Knights with 51 3-pointers. Dowdell has proved to be poised on the floor, playing good defense and averaging 10.5 points.
Several younger players have also made their mark this winter. Sophomore guards Haley Donoghue and Morgan Gracia showed plenty of promise and gained more playing time as the season progressed.
Jessica Ahearn, a sophomore forward, has a bright future as well, showing her form with a 12-point performance in a late-season win over Spotswood High School. Freshmen Abigail Zimmerlink and Alexis Zimmerlink will likely have expanded roles next season as well.
“Our younger players got a lot of experience and that should help next season,” said DiMino, whose team added four wins to last year’s total. “We were in most of our games and the girls generally played well. That will put us in a better position to win next year.”
The Lady Knights will lose guards Tara Durstewitz, Madison Kellemueler and Sheridan Casserly to graduation. All logged plenty of minutes, and Durstewitz averaged about six points, while Kellemueler and Casserly averaged about four points each.
“We’re going to miss the seniors,” DiMino said. “We do have younger players who can step up.”