Sunday, April 14, 2024

Pope John Girls’ Basketball Will Build on Season’s Wins for 2024

Mia Washington going up for a layup during a game last season. Photo by A. Nowel.

The Pope John Lions girls’ basketball program continued their success last season with a finishing record of 21-9, nearly winning the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex tournament championship and nearly winning the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Non-Public Group A tournament. After losing a couple of key players, the Lions look to continue the success with the skills that those who graduated have left them.

The Lions lost two prominent seniors from last year coming into this season. Graduates Kylie Squier and Maddie Rento both were great leaders on and off the court who helped to score points and lead the team offensively and defensively. Senior Maddie Miller transferred to Morris Catholic High School, leaving the Lions without an older and experienced presence on the team.

Behind the junior leadership of Katie O’Keefe, Alex Arbore, Arianna Childs, Marisa Captoni and Maddie Tybur, the Lions are ready to do even better and exceed last season’s numbers.

“I know we lost a lot of girls this season, but I am still super excited for the new season,” said O’Keefe last week. “It’s a whole different environment and everyone has been working so hard. Since there are no seniors, we are always helping each other, cheering each other on, and just sticking together since we are playing together for the next two years with no girls leaving.”

The Lions were led in scoring by freshman Addy Platt last season, and she hopes to continue the dominant start of her high school career with her sophomore season beginning this week.

“Coming off last year’s freshman season, I want to give my best to the team by contributing as much as I can on both sides of the court for the next three years,” said Platt last week. “I am excited for what will hopefully be a very successful and exciting season.

Platt finished last season with 380 points, 303 rebounds, 100 assists, 90 blocks and 95 steals in 30 games played. She hopes that the skills that Squier and Rento left her and the team can carry them to 21 wins once again and to surpass that number.

“My main expectation this year is going to be to exceed what we did last year,” said Platt. “In addition, [I want] to build a new culture with the girls in our program. Although we lost some players we had last year, I am feeling very confident that our team will be more than capable to play the game the way it needs to be played in order to win.”

The Lions enter the new season with a new face as the head coach of the team. Peter Torres had coached the Randolph Rams the previous season, earning 119 wins with the Rams with an impressive 119-55 record with them.

He is very excited to take over the head coaching job at Pope John and continue the success that the team has been building over the last couple of seasons. O’Keefe and the team are very excited themselves to have Coach Torres lead them to victory.

“[Coach Torres] is really great,” said O’Keefe. “He pushes us to be the best versions of ourselves and is preparing us for the times where it matters the most.”

The Lions opened their 2023-2024 season with a scrimmage recently against the Pingry Blue Bears and open their regular season schedule on December 14 against the Morristown Colonials at home.

Andrew Nowel, Contributing Sportswriter
Contributing Sportswriter

Currently enrolled at Canisius University in Buffalo, New York, Andrew Nowel is an up-and-coming journalist/photographer and broadcaster. He wrote sports' articles for his high school, Pope John XXIII Regional High School. Andrew has worked with Morris Sussex Sports in sports broadcasting and analyzes professional sports in his free time. Andrew and his friend Ryan have a podcast that talks about professional sports and Canisius Athletics. Andrew also runs his own website about Canisius Athletics. He strives to inform the people about local sports and the young athletes of our communities from Buffalo to New Jersey and everywhere.

Andrew has provided previous and remarkable sports stories and photographs for the Ridge View Echo since he was 16 and enrolled at Pope John High School.