HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Once again, the Hasbrouck Heights girls basketball team will be young. That does not mean that they are inexperienced.
The Lady Aviators will have just one senior on the team. Of course, it is one more than last year’s 12-14 team had, as last year’s team was one of the youngest teams in the league, struggling at times due to inexperience as they had just two players who had experience on the varsity level return.
Both of those players, juniors Paige McGuire and Devon Sonzogni, stepped up, and were the Lady Aviators top two scorers, and were almost identical statically.
McGuire, was the Lady Aviators leading scorer, averaging 10 points per game for Hasbrouck Heights in 2019-20 while being named to the NJIC First Team All Meadowlands team. McGuire was a standout in soccer for the Lady Aviators, being named first team All Meadowlands after being Hasbrouck Heights leading scorer.
“Paige is one of our leaders," said head coach Mike Kilgallen, notiing that “the success she just had this past fall in soccer should help her lead this young team again.”
Sonzogni was right behind her, scoring seven fewer points on the season, averaging 9.9 points per game, and was named to the All Meadowlands Second team. Sonzogni also had a big fall season, being named First Team All Division in Girls Tennis as the Lady Aviators’ starter at First Singles.
“Devon has been one of our leading scorers for the past two years,” Kilgallen stated. “She will be looked upon for her ball handling skills and ability to distribute and create for others as well.”
Both were the focus of opponents’ defenses a season ago, as the primary scorers and ball-handlers. Additional scoring options need to step up on a consistent basis if the Lady Aviators are going to be successful in 2021.
Hasbrouck Heights plays a defensive style of basketball, which keeps scores down, but Kilgallen acknowledged that one of the team’s goals is to be improved offense. The Lady Aviators scored just 34.1 per game a season ago.
“Our goal is to be more balanced scoring, and we are extremely excited by the progress our players have made,” Kilgallen stated. “We expect to be more balanced offensively which has the potential to be a real problem for teams. It’s all about the off-season, individual work that the players put in. Our style hasn’t changed all that much, so as each player has shown improvement, we should be a better team as a result. “
"It’s all about the off-season, individual work that the players put in. Our style hasn’t changed all that much, so as each player has shown improvement, we should be a better team as a result," he said.
Senior Veronica Legaspi will start the season at the other guard spot, helping handle the ball and playing good defense. Scoring just 29 points a season ago, she is being looked at to contribute more scoring this season. “Her shooting ability will be an asset in stretching defenses, “Kilgallen stated.
Gaby Solis controls the boards for the Lady Aviators. The junior averaged 9.0 rebounds per as a sophomore in her first shot at varsity action. She averaged 3.9 points per game in 2020.
“(Gaby) gained great experience and her patience helps a ton in breaking pressure and in her developing post game,” according to Kilgallen.
She will be joined in the starting lineup by Krystal Kelly. Kelly provides defense and is who, according to Kilgallen, “is our vocal and emotional leader and a solid rebounder even though she's a bit undersized.”
Sophomore Sam Lahullier is the first player off the bench for the Lady Aviators. She was the team’s third leading scorer (3.8 ppg) and third in rebounds (4.1) as a freshman, who improved as the season went on. She also blocked a team high 25 shots.
“Sam is a tremendous athlete," Kilgallen stated. "She is a great rebounder and her offensive game is developing."
Kilgallen has a deep roster of younger players who are fighting for time on the varsity roster, with varying degrees. Juniors Victoria Mateo and Chiara Alvarez both saw minutes last year, and each comes into the season with a chance to increase their playing time.
“Victoria played in the fall and developed her offensive game, Kilgallen stated. “She is another great vocal leader for our team. Chiara played her best basketball late in the season and is a defensive stopper.“
Other players in the mix are sophomore forward Jenna O’Malley (“a very tough rebounder who stretches the floors because of her great shooting touch") ; Meghan Stellhorn who led the JV team in scoring a season: Dea Jera “a defensive specialist” and a pair of freshmen contending for varsity minutes, Sam Russo and Elliot Eddy.
Russo is fighting for major minutes at and can impact the game at both ends of the court immediately, while Eddy is another guard who will push for time in already crowded backcourt said Kilgallen.
Junior guard Maria Shafik and sophomore forward Maria Manis will also compete for varsity time, but are expected to contribute at the junior varsity level. They will be joined on the JV by Lexi Samperi, Ines Turner, Katelyn Kane, Lexi Gonzalez, and Marissa Mucci.
Kilgallen talked about the state of his program heading into the season.
“We will be very competitive this year,” Kilgallen stated. “With all of our players returning, and the addition of some talented freshmen, we will certainly be improved from last year.”
“The chemistry on this team has been the best part of coaching in Hasbrouck Heights," Kilgallen continued. "The girls care about each other, root for one another, and practices are so energizing because of it. When this transfers over into game action, while this still-young team continues to gain experience, we will really start to reach our potential."
|Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021||6:00PM||Wallington||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Friday, Jan 29, 2021||6:00PM||Becton||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Wednesday, Feb 3, 2021||4:00PM||Saint Mary's||Saint Mary High School|
|Friday, Feb 5, 2021||4:00PM||Wood-Ridge||Wood-Ridge High School|
|Monday, Feb 8, 2021||4:00PM||Saddle Brook||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021||4:00PM||Lodi High School||Lodi High School|
|Friday, Feb 12, 2021||4:00PM||Bergen Charter||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Wednesday, Feb 17, 2021||4:00PM||Wallington||Wallington High School|
|Friday, Feb 19, 2021||4:00PM||Becton||Becton Regional High School|
|Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021||6:00PM||Saint Mary's||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Friday, Feb 26, 2021||6:00PM||Wood-Ridge||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Monday, Mar 1, 2021||4:00PM||Bergen Charter||Bergen Charter School|
|Wednesday, Mar 3, 2021||4:15PM||New Milford||New Milford High School|