Allentown girls’ basketball team learning from its losses

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By Wayne Witkowski

Allentown High School girls’ basketball coach Linda Weise believes things can be learned from losing that can benefit many teams later in the season.

She believed that for her team after its seven-game unbeaten steak was snapped by Red Bank Catholic High School, 63-30, Jan. 9.

“It was an eye-opening experience, but I’m happy we played there,” Weise said, as Katie White led the way with seven points. “It will help us down the road for the Mercer County and state tournaments. The girls never before saw [an offense] stretched on screens where the post player hedges out. It’s something they’re not used to. That game will make us better.”

Weise said she found it reassuring for her team seeing what Red Bank Catholic did against Middletown High School South Jan. 13, beating the two-time state finalist that had three starters back by a 70-18 score.

“And Middletown South went in ranked No. 14 in the state,” Weise said.

Allentown bounced back with a vengeance, beating Robbinsville High School, 60-38, the following day. Sarina Campanella led the way with 20 points and Lauren Coiante fired in 15, while Ryan Weise scored nine. Allentown raced to a 22-10 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.

The Redbirds followed it with a 50-18 rout of Hamilton High School West Jan. 13 to raise their Colonial Valley Conference Valley Division record to 2-0, as the same three players each scored nine points to lead the way. Hadley Borkowski followed with eight points. Allentown led, 17-0, after the first quarter and 32-3 at halftime.

“Balanced scoring — that’s the kind of effort we need, playing unselfishly with the ball,” Weise said.

“Playing a good team like Red Bank Catholic after playing some pretty bad teams will help us at tournament time,” Campanella said. “We realized we need to throw better passes and that everything has to be crisp.”

After a Jan. 17 division game at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, the Redbirds travel to Princeton High School Jan. 20 and host Ewing High School Jan. 24.

Boys’ basketball

Allentown (4-6) dropped two games last week, including a gritty 44-34 matchup at Eastside High School (Paterson) Jan. 14, and needs to get back on the winning track with tournament cutoffs looming.

“This is a very important week for us,” coach Jay Graber said.

Allentown played at West Windsor-Plainsboro North Jan. 17 and has games scheduled at home Jan. 20 against Princeton and Jan. 21 against Manchester Township High School for a 2:30 p.m. tipoff in a showcase at Central Regional High School.

“I think our consistency needs to improve,” Graber said. “In some games, we are playing well on offense but not on defense and in other games, our defense is good but our offense isn’t going as well.”

Graber praised his team’s defense and its hustle on both ends, but it struggled scoring against Eastside. Nahshon Taylor led the way with 11 points. Taylor also scored 11 points and Elijah Kelly added nine for Allentown in a 69-49 loss Jan. 13 to Hamilton West, which raced to a 32-14 lead that increased to a 24-point margin entering the final quarter.

Allentown lost to Robbinsville, 49-40, Jan. 10. Taylor scored 16 points, and Anthony Alexander dropped in 11.

Ice hockey

The Robbinsville-Allentown Ravens co-op ice hockey team (10-4) improved to 5-0 in 2017 when it rallied late for victories over Notre Dame High School, 4-3, at Mercer County Park Jan. 13 and Red Bank Regional High School, 4-2, Jan. 11 in Bristol, Pennsylvania.

Josh Rosenbaum scored all three goals when Allentown erased a 3-1 deficit to Notre Dame midway through the third period. Joe Pontrelli fired in the other goal and Liam Hartmann had two assists. Nick Koch made 32 saves.

Shawn Camisa also had a hat trick against Red Bank Regional, with one of his goals snapping a 1-1 tie in the second period. Noah Duggan put in the other goal. Justin Cooper made 21 saves in goal for the Ravens, who were scheduled to play at Hopewell Valley Central High School Jan. 16 and are at Princeton Jan. 18 in a pair of Colonial Valley Conference Colonial Division games.

Rosenbaum leads the Ravens with 28 goals, followed by Camisa with 20.

Wrestling

Allentown continued to perform well, in victory as well as in defeat, as it prepares for the district and possibly the section meet again this season.

The Redbirds come into the week 5-6 after splitting a pair of meets Jan. 14, winning, 34-31, over Matawan Regional High School (4-5) and losing, 36-35, to Ocean Township High School (9-2) when Jake Benner pinned the Redbirds’ 152-pounder John Kuchar in the final bout.

Against Matawan, Allentown trailed, 31-20, when it won the last four weight classes. Drew Romein at 138 pounds and Isaiah Saiz at 145 pulled out decisions in the closing seconds, Kuchar won his bout on a 9-4 decision and Nolan Pecci got the clincher at 160 pounds on a technical fall at 4:08 as he built a 15-0 lead.

“A lot of times, it has come down to our last four guys to win a match,” coach Mitch Nock said. “It’s a young team that has gotten a lot better each day. Where we were in December is not where we are now, as we’ve gotten tougher and are competing with good teams.”

Saiz, with a 9-4 record, and Pecci at 9-5 are part of that winning trend that is led by freshman Joe Lamparelli, who is 14-1 at 106 pounds. All four won their two bouts Jan. 14, as did heavyweight Harrison Hill, who is back from an injury and pinned both opponents, and Nicholas Campbell at 182 pounds.

Anthony Heinz also pinned his Ocean Township opponent at 132 pounds. Liam McDermott, who is 7-3 at 170 pounds, and Matt Paglia, with 10 victories at 126 pounds, continue to be out of the lineup with injuries and were expected to still be sidelined this week when Allentown hosted Hamilton West on Jan. 17 and traveled to Hopewell Valley Jan. 18. The Redbirds also have a quad meet Jan. 21 at Pemberton Township High School with Seneca High School and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South.

Allentown rebounded from a 47-18 loss to Howell High School Jan. 11 by rolling over Notre Dame High School, 49-27, Jan. 13.

The team was powered by pins from Nicholas Golden (22 seconds) at 113 pounds, Romein (1:30) at 1:38 and Pecci (28 seconds) at 160. Campbell scored a 15-4 major decision at 182 and Hill won a 3-1 decision.

Lamparelli continued his winning ways, coming out on top by forfeit against Notre Dame and scoring a 3-1 decision over Howell’s 106-pounder. Heinz pinned his Howell opponent at 5:55 at 132 pounds, while Golden, Campbell and Gino Giacolona at 120 pounds won their respective bouts by decision.