Eagles soared behind team chemistry, seniors

first_img Middletown South’s girls basketball team had another great season to remember, going 19-6 against a brutal schedule and reaching the NJSIAA Group III Central Jersey finals before losing to Neptune for the second straight year, 48-29. But it was the leadership and determination of senior captains Kerry Healy and Kelly Scheurer that set the tone for a program that has gone 77-25 the last four years combined. “I like these seniors who came through the program,” said Tom Brennan, who has coached there the past 14 seasons. “They’ve been there from when we started this run that included a division championship in 2006-07, and being part of our legacy of reaching the sectional semifinals for the past four years.” Junior guard Meghan McGuinness, another captain, led the team in scoring at 16 points per game. Kerri Kinsella, a junior who was the tallest starter at 5-8, had the second best scoring average at 8.5 points per game (ppg), and junior point guard Kelly Haspeth showed poise with the ball in rounding out the lineup, scoring 11 against Neptune’s high-pressure defense that turned around the sectional championship game. But it was the leadership of seniors and best friends Healy and Scheurer that got the team through the challenging times. “I think it was just great team chemistry,” said Healy. “It kept us believing in each other.” And no one showed greater faith than Scheurer, who tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a game against Middletown North midway through her junior season. “I was on the sidelines and had to be a leader [there],” she said. “I didn’t know if I would come back and then I got so much support.” Not only did Scheurer come back, but she also drew the toughest defensive assignment on the team this season, consistently playing against taller players and often the best player on the opposing team. “I just got stronger,” said Scheurer. “This year, I put my body on the line. I think everyone saw I was little but I still have the forward’s mentality. I knew I could have the forward’s mentality. I knew I could body up against bigger girls and that someone on the team would have my back.” “She’s a 5-foot-4 [inch] forward, a special kid who just willed things to happen,” said Brennan. “I knew she was a little overmatched physically and athletically but it was her desire. She shut down bigger players, which allowed our other players to get to the outside on defense.” It impressed Scheurer’s best friend, Healy, who often had her back, as she put it. “I think she was playing great against girls bigger and stronger and she did whatever she could to help the team,” said Healy. Healy likewise impressed her coach who said she “has a motor, an enormous passion getting after a loose ball.” Both players felt the team likewise achieved more than was expected against tough odds, finishing second in the division behind Colts Neck. A victory over Rumson- Fair Haven for the second straight year again was a turning point and showed last year’s surprising victory over Rumson was no fluke, they said. “I think we went above everybody’s expectations,” said Scheurer. “People did not expect us to beat Rumson again.” People other than the Eagles according to Healy. “I don’t think what we did this season was surprising,” said Healy. “We just made it fun and kept going. A lot of people doubted us.” With five losses coming to teams ranked in the top 10 in the state polls at the time, Middletown South certainly proved itself and Brennan attributed the success to the team’s being “pretty steady defensively” all season, holding Neptune to its season-low points as well as holding Holmdel to its season low in a 37-29 victory in the state section semifinals. “I was proud of our team even though we didn’t score much,” said Brennan. “We hunkered down on the defensive side of the ball.” And there is a bright future with only one other senior graduating off this team in guard Nicole Trapasso. Three freshmen also were in the rotation, including guards Carissa Gray and Kiera Gannon, who measured 5-8, and forward Jackie Dlhui, who is 5-9. “The freshmen were more like juniors but they were not used to playing so many minutes,” said Brennan. “They hit the wall for that like many young players do and broke through it and played better at the end.” If the young players can show the determination of the graduating seniors like Scheurer, Middletown South can continue to enjoy successfully long seasons. BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Staff Writer last_img

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