Redbirds post winning record; have high expectations for 2022-23


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ALLENTOWN – The 2021-22 season came to an end for the Allentown High School girls basketball team on March 3 in the quarterfinal round of the Central Jersey Group III state sectional tournament against Wall High School in Wall Township.

A full season on the court – following a 2020-21 campaign that was abbreviated by the coronavirus pandemic – saw the Redbirds go 14-11 and most importantly, showed some strong play that has Coach Dana Wells excited for the future of the program.

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“We have some kids who are hungry and ready to have that spotlight on them,” Wells said.

The duo of junior Caitlin Landgraf and freshman Molly McCrea were a force in the frontcourt for the Redbirds.

Landgraf led Allentown in points (244), rebounds (186) and blocked shots (41). McCrea suited up in all 25 games and averaged more than nine points and five rebounds per game, which contributing 34 steals.

The tandem of Landgraf and McCrea on the blocks will mesh with the talent the Redbirds expect to have in the backcourt next season, led by Kayla McCrea.

McCrea, who is a junior, missed six games with injury, but was a key contributor when she was able to suit up. She averaged more than nine points per game and led the Redbirds in assists (72) and steals (47).

Sophomores Bella Conti and Chloe Conti played well in the backcourt this winter.

“I think each player has grown from the start of the season to the end of the season,” Wells said. “They have learned to trust each other and to work together.”

While Allentown expects to have talented players returning in 2022-23, Wells complimented the play of seniors Brianna Schweitzer and Emily Pellegrino. The coach praised the senior leadership both young women brought to the team this season.

Schweitzer led the Redbirds with 55 three-point field goals and scored 200 points during her senior campaign. Pellegrino provided a spark off the bench. She scored a season-high 17 points on Jan. 21 to help the Redbirds defeat West Windsor-Plainsboro South, 58-25.

“They are tremendous girls,” Wells said of Schweitzer and Pellegrino.

Allentown’s 2021-22 season came to an end with a 56-42 loss to Wall High School in the state sectional tournament quarterfinals. The No. 6 seed Redbirds gave the No. 3 seed Crimson Knights all they could handle early and led 10-8 heading into the second quarter.

The Crimson Knights found their range in the second quarter and led 31-26 at halftime.

The Redbirds kept battling after the break until the Crimson Knights broke away in the fourth quarter with a 14-6 run to finish the game and end the Redbirds’ season.

Sophomore Alexa Cruz led Allentown with 11 points off the bench. Kayla McCrea tallied 10 points in the season finale.

After going through a pandemic-shortened season a year ago, Wells was happy to get to experience a full season with her players and see them compete in the state sectional tournament.

“It is always an exciting time to play in a state tournament,” Wells said. “We kind of struggled throughout the year of having everyone healthy. Our biggest battle this year was every game missing someone for one reason or another. When we were all together and healthy we were a force to be reckoned with.”

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