Bombers off to strong start to girls’ hoops season

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By Warren Rappleyea

Sayreville War Memorial High School’s girls’ basketball team is off to a blistering 4-0 start, including an impressive victory over Central Regional High School in the opening round of the WOBM Classic Dec. 17.

The Bombers jumped ahead to a 21-6 edge in the first quarter against Central Regional, then had to rally from a 46-42 deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter to win. Senior guard Isi Enahoro led the way with 21 points and an incredible 13 steals. Ryane Brush pitched in with 19 points.

Coach Janet Cook, whose team was scheduled to meet Toms River High school North in the WOBM quarterfinals Dec. 26 in Toms River, said the victory against Central Regional is an important early-season milestone.

Last winter, Sayreville won 19 games for the second successive year but could not get past the quarterfinals in either the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) or NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV tournaments. With an experienced lineup sprinkled with talented newcomers, things may be different this season.

The Blue and Gray has been nothing short of dominant in winning its three GMC White Division games against North Brunswick Township High School, John F. Kennedy Memorial High School and Colonia High School. Sayreville showed plenty of offensive firepower while holding all three to under 22 points.

Cook’s balanced guard-oriented attack is difficult to defend. Enahoro, who averaged 12.8 points and hit 29 3-pointers a year ago, can take the ball to the basket and hit mid- to long-range jumpers as well. Brush, a 5-foot-11 senior guard who averaged 7.5 points, has the ability to carry the team when she gets hot.

Morenike Akinrefon averaged nearly 10 points a year ago while establishing herself under the basket. Patrice Harding, another guard, averaged 12 points, canned 48 3-pointers and made nearly 60 steals last season. She has hit for double figures in three of the Bombers’ first four contests. Guard Katie Esposito averaged 7.1 points. Both Harding and Esposito are seniors.

“Any one of them can have a big game,” said Cook, who is in her third season on the Sayreville bench. “Last year, different girls came up big for us all season and I expect the same thing to happen. All of our players can score.”

Jasmine Van Note, a 5-foot-11 junior forward, averaged just under six points and will likely be higher this year. Sophomore guard Lyssandra Delacosta will see playing time, and freshman guard Jackie Ventricelli showed her ability with an 11-point outing against Colonia. Freshmen guard Jaci Jurkiewicz and 5-foot-11 forward Janeva Holland may see varsity minutes as well.

“The girls know how good they can be,” Cook said. “They’ve been disappointed by not getting to Rutgers [University for the GMC finals], and they’re hungry. They also know they can make their mark outside of the GMC.”