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Basketball

Sparta's dream comes true with title

TOMS RIVER _ Cathy Wille experienced the ultimate high school sports thrill in 1985 with the Sparta girls basketball team - being on a state-title winning team and going undefeated. As a junior, Wille led the Spartans past formidable Middle Township, earning MVP honors for her electrifying all-around effort. At the conclusion of the final, Wille was on the top of the world, well, actually, the shoulders of her teammates, and rightfully so. For the last 10 seasons, Wille, who replaced the legendary Fred Geffken, has guided the Spartans from the sideline. On Sunday, March 13, Wille and Sparta reveled…

Defense seals the deal for Madison

HACKETTSTOWN _ The scar under Madison's Gabby Mariani right eyebrow is an old one but tells much about her intensity and willingness to do what it takes to benefit her team. As a third grader, Mariani, playing pesty, all-out defense for her recreation league squad, sustained a "scratch" from an opposing player. The wound required 20 stitches yet did not deter her desire to provide tenacious "D." The high school freshman version of Mariani is very much like the elementary school one: Willing to accept a challenge. Persistent. Unyielding. On Tuesday, March 8, Mariani's intense defensive style was on display…

Rebuilding? Cougars secure another sectional

CHATHAM _ The Chatham girls basketball team needed the high-level play of freshman Ella Kreuzer. Coach Joe Gaba, too, wanted to see Kreuzer, who entered the North Jersey Section 2, Group III title game with 11 double-figures scoring efforts, "get more engaged" in the second half after recording only two points in the opening half. Kreuzer wasted no time obliging. Chatham, behind 20-16 at the break, received a pair of free throws from Kreuzer five seconds into the second half to pull in front, 22-20. Later in the period, she added two more foul shots to widen the Cougars' lead…

Morris Catholic nabs 13th MCT crown

RANDOLPH _ Morris Catholic's Mia Pauldo began the day by sleeping in and concluded it with a Morris County Tournament title. Pauldo, one of four freshmen starters for the Crusaders, relished the chance to get extra rest - she stayed in bed until 11 a.m. - and didn't feel that the inclement weather, responsible for school closings, would prevent her and her teammates from taking to the court. Everything went off as scheduled and top-seeded Morris Catholic, which had four starters in double figures, defeated second-seeded Morristown in the MCT final, 63-35, on Friday, Feb. 25 at County College of…

MCT semis: Colonials, Crusaders prevail

RANDOLPH _ As a sixth grader, Olivia Schubiger entered the gym at County College of Morris and was in awe of the cavernous facility. Schubiger was at CCM to see older sister, Abby, play for Morristown in the semifinals and title game of the Morris County Girls Basketball Tournament. On Friday, Feb. 18, Schubiger, now a high school senior, returned to CCM under different circumstances - to compete on that coveted hardwood for the Colonials in the MCT Final Four. “This feels so amazing,” said Schubiger after Morristown’s 49-40 win over Montville, the 2020 champion. “I always watched my sister…

MCT: Chatham moves on; Panthers challenge MC

DENVILLE _ Chatham's Carly Frohnapfel, never a prominent scorer, figured she probably finished with more than 10 points. "I didn't know," said Frohnapfel, a 5-foot-11 senior forward, of her 19-point career-high effort. "I don't count and didn't realize it. I lost track." Frohnapfel, obviously, just plays and looks to contribute but when the Cougars went up against Jefferson in a Morris County Girls Basketball Tournament quarterfinal on Saturday, Feb. 12, she had the ball in her hands an excessive amount of time. Very much in a laser-focused zone, Frohnapfel also took down 12 rebounds for fifth-seeded Chatham, which defeated the…

MCT: Mustangs nip Rams; Colonials win

DENVILLE _ Montville's Jackie Cinella, battling for the ball with two Randolph players near halfcourt, sought help from her teammates, specifically Grace Kowalski or Kate Gorski. It was the ultimate pressure situation: At the time, the sixth-seeded Mustangs held a one-point lead over the third-seeded Rams with only 15 seconds remaining in a Morris County Girls Basketball Tournament quarterfinal. The fight for the ball likely felt like an eternity as Cinella and the opposing players attempted to take control. An official's whistle ended the struggle and a foul was called. Cinella, a sophomore guard, went to the free throw line…

Balanced Jefferson ousts MK in MCT

JEFFERSON _ Ivana Tisma never perceived scoring as a burden. Instead, Tisma, Jefferson's senior point guard, viewed it as a necessity because her teammates were reluctant, inexperienced or more skilled in other areas. This season, Tisma isn't squaring up to shoot as often or weaving through defenders. She's handling the ball and playing the much more welcome role of architect for the Falcons. On Saturday, Feb. 5, Tisma and the fourth-seeded Falcons continued to thrive with balanced scoring as she finished with eight points and Emily Poulas had 10 to highlight a 52-28 victory over No. 13 Morris Knolls in…

Crusaders race to win over Morristown

DENVILLE _ Morris Catholic's Natalie Stoupakis would receive an A+ for her use of alliteration had she been in English class. Stoupakis, though, was describing the Crusaders' fast-paced attack when she said that "the ball was barely bouncing." Opponents know well what it's like when Morris Catholic's offense is humming. "It was transition, 3s and running. A lot of running," Stoupakis said. "It was pass, pass, pass, pass." That assessment was absolutely correct and resulted in a 67-37 victory for the Crusaders over Morristown in a NJAC-Liberty Division game on Tuesday, Feb. 1. Morris Catholic, playing without Mya Pauldo, sidelined…

Jenisch takes charge, spurs Rams

RANDOLPH _ Madison Jenisch was completely in control as Randolph's game against West Morris wore on. The Rams' junior point guard made excellent decisions and was deliberate. Jenisch was at her best early in the fourth quarter when Randolph held a one-point lead after the Wolfpack's Peyton Gjelsvik netted a 3-pointer for her lone basket of the game. From there, Jenisch made a pair of significant field goals - a nifty hook shot from mid key and a layup - to give the Rams, who went on to register a 43-33 victory over the Wolfpack in the NJAC-American Division game…