Weise focused on leading Redbirds against next season

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By Wayne Witkowski

Allentown High School girls’ basketball standout Ryan Weise figures to be working harder than ever in the months ahead after the Redbirds were eliminated from the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III semifinals by Neptune High School earlier this month.

“I think we had a memorable season. We had so much fun together,” Weise said.

The junior guard led the way for Allentown’s fourth consecutive 20-win season at 21-6, a trip to the Mercer County Tournament semifinals for the third time in four years and an unbeaten run through the Colonial Valley Conference Valley Division.

It also was special for Weise, as her mom and coach, Linda, got her 300th career coaching victory this season.

“Coming back from losing so many players [to graduation] off the previous season, this season was pretty spectacular,” Linda Weise said. “The girls shared the ball and played together as a team. It was so much fun to coach. The girls played hard and got along well.”

Ryan Weise, who reached the 1,000-point career scoring mark this past season, will start for her fourth season next winter. She led Allentown with 18.9 points per game and 64 3-pointers. She also led the Redbirds with 119 assists and 111 steals.

She wants the Redbirds to play for tournament championships next season for the sake of her teammates, her school and her coach. Sarina Campanella will be a significant loss to graduation for next season, but everyone else returns.

“I think off the season we had, we can be exactly the same next year. We’re so capable of winning the state championship and the county title next season,” the younger Weise said.

“We have everybody back but Sarina, which is a big loss because she was such a great captain, a great leader,” Linda Weise said. “Many of the girls really stepped up. Lauren Coiante improved tremendously as the season went on, doing a great job of taking over the point. And we asked Marin [Hartshorn] to learn to play as a forward under the basket but still to be able to play as a guard at times. She can do a lot of things.

“Hadley [Borkowski] and Katie [White] don’t always get the credit, but they do the dirty work — rebounding, boxing out, running the floor. Ryan led our team in scoring, and we’ll look for her to do the same next year.”

The coach said she also wants a larger role for 5-foot-11 forward Caralyn Caine. Other prospects from a junior varsity team that lost only two games and from what is expected to be a strong incoming freshman class will further strengthen the bench.

“I’ve put so much time and effort in the offseasons to be where I want to be,” Ryan Weise said.

Both Ryan Weise and her mom agreed that she’ll emphasize her ballhandling and taking the ball hard to the basket to complement her reliable shooting. Ryan Weise will play again this spring and summer with the New Jersey Belles out of Manasquan, with trips planned to showcases in Indianapolis, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Virginia.

“That’s when I’ll start deciding on colleges,” the younger Weise of her next career step. “Right now, it’s wide open. I’m looking around and won’t be making a decision any time soon.”

Ryan Weise and her Allentown teammates will play again in the Northeast Summer League, with Allentown hosting games at its gym. Many, like Weise, will end their careers at Allentown next season.

“I don’t know that it’s pressure, but it’s winning and doing more than what I’ve done,” she said.

Senior Night, an emotional time at every school, will have some extra tears shed by Allentown’s coach and daughter when that day comes next season.

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