WEST ORANGE, NJ - “Coaching at West Orange has been a great experience,” first-year head coach Caniece Montague said. The 2014 Lady Mountaineers concluded one of their better seasons with a 9-15 record.
Decisive victories over schools like Newark Vocational, Kent Place, Irvington, Caldwell, Montclair-Kimberley and Millburn gained West Orange High School a lot of positive notice.
With the end of this season comes an end of an era for many seniors.The team consists of six seniors: Emily DeBarbarbieri, Gerardine Jean-Baptiste, Taylor Rowland, Alexandra Schneider, Sabrina Solemon, and leading scorer Jahnaya Howard, who closed her final WOHS season with 135 points.
On every team, seniors are always essential. "The seniors were a huge part of the team and their leadership and athletic contributions will be missed," said Coach Montague. "The up and coming players have huge roles to fill, but the girls will be working extremely hard in the off-season to return as improved players," she noted.
Additionally, key players will be returning and as a team, the Lady Mountaineers plan to return well-adjusted to the new culture being built by Coach Montague at West Orange High School. The team consists of many powerhouses including sophomore Sidney Gordon with 196 points, sophomore Kaylx Lewis with 97 points, and freshman Jewell Burnet with 68 points.
The team, overall, improved from previous years, “We watched a lot of film this year which allowed them to understand their strengths and weaknesses and how to improve in specific areas,” Montague explained.
She continued, “Education is something I take pride in and my goal is for each player to consider themselves student athletes.”
For this reason, the coaches implemented study hall sessions after practice to ensure that the athletes were successful not only on the courts, but in the classroom as well. These strategies and hard work from the girls led the team to the first round of states. However, the Mountaineers fell to Wayne Valley in the first round of competition.
Montague also credits effective communication for a successful season. As a team, the West Orange Girls Basketball team is very close on and off the court. The team eats lunch with Coach Montague, also a teacher at West Orange High School, every day.
Coach Montague believes, “this allows for team building outside of the gym, which is important to be successful in the gym.”