Despite losses, Eagles not in rebuilding mode

first_img BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer A slew of younger players will get their chances this season as the Middletown High School South girls basketball team looks to bounce back after losing three starters who accounted for about 65 percent of its offense. Coach Tom Brennan’s team went 13-11 a year ago and he believes the Eagles will be competitive. The first test promised to be difficult as St. John Vianney came to visit on Friday. “Some people might consider this a rebuilding year, but we’re setting the bar higher,” Brennan said. “We have plenty of talent and I expect they’ll win a lot of games.” Fortunately Middletown South has a few solid veterans back, including center Jenna Cancillieri and shooting guard Brianne Moran. Cancillieri, a senior, averaged eight points and 4.5 rebounds last season, while Moran, a junior who played the point last winter, averaged nine points and three assists. “They’re key players for us,” Brennan said. “Cancillieri gives us a real strong presence underneath and Moran is a three-point threat. We’re counting on them.” The Eagles will, however, be without sophomore guard Michele Whalen, who played well in limited time last season. Whalen, who underwent ACL surgery in August, is expected to return in mid-January. Junior Karra Cancillieri should provide help with the rebounding, along with Cara DiCicco, another junior, and senior Erin Cullen. Junior Tara Pauley will swing between the guard and small forward posts. Brennan plans to give four freshmen plenty of playing time. Brittany Hoffman, whom the coach termed an “excellent passer with good court vision who can shoot,” will play the point. Shealyn Taggart, Christina Longo and Courtney Herring are promising forwards. Taggart is 5-9, while Longo and Herring are both 5-7. In addition, sophomore guard Caitlin Kenah will be in the mix. “One of the keys for us will be controlling the boards, and that means committing to boxing out and making good outlet passes,” Brennan said. “Another will be the ability of our freshmen to play with discipline at both ends of the floor. That’s something that should improve with each game.” The coach said his team will play a “slashing” style and will occasionally try to run. Defensively, the Eagles play man-to-man, but do employ a zone press from time to time. Following Friday’s game, Middletown South will compete in the Point Pleasant Beach Holiday Jubilee and return to regular-season action against Raritan at home on Jan. 2. Middletown South girls team expects to remain competitive BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer last_img

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