SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The 2017-18 basketball season has been an exciting one for Spotswood High School girls varsity basketball head coach, Jill Hetzler and this week it got even better. Spotswood was named Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division co-champs along with Middlesex High School. Both teams only have one division loss this season and it was to each other, making for two competitive games for the conference rivals.
"I am so proud of this group of girls," Hetzler said. "We have such a passionate and hardworking team. It felt great to be able to beat Middlesex in their gym the second time around to have a chance for the co-championship."
The Chargers previously claimed the Blue Division title back in 2014. Hetzler was at the helm for that team as well.
"That was another impressive team," Hetzler said of her 2014 team. "They had a fire to win and compete and just leave it all on the court."
Hetzler has been behind the bench for the Chargers for the past seven seasons, missing the 2015-16 campaign due to a maternity leave. The veteran physical education teacher and former Charger claimed her 100th victory as head coach on January 27. The Milltown native also served as an assistant for the program for five years before becoming head coach.
Spotswood has a 16-6 overall record and is 13-1 in Blue Division play. Middlesex has a 14-1 conference record. Since each team's only division loss was to one another, Spotswood and Middlesex are the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division co-champions.
"This years team is very balanced in ability and contribution," Hetzler said when asked of the key to this team's success. "Everyone is important to the win. We have scoring coming out of different positions and leading scorers change nightly, which is a great testament to unselfish play and really finding the open women. Part of the balance is also having strong inside presence both on the glass and with defensive blocks and shooters on the outside. The other great advantage is how well the team gets along. They truly care about one another and spend time together as friends and not just teammates."
Spotswood lost Friday's home outing against Edison High School, 51-38. Edison's Lourdes Marasigan netted 20 points. Erin Malin was Spotswood's top scorer with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Chargers will now turn their attention to the upcoming county and state tournaments. Spotswood is the seventh seed in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament that begins this week. The Chargers have a bye and will not see any action until the first round. Spotswood will host the first round game on Valentine's Day with a 6 p.m tip off. The team's opponent will depend on the victors in the play-in and preliminary rounds.
Spotswood is the fifth seed in the upcoming NJSIAA Central Jersey Group Two Tournament. First round play begins on February 27. The Chargers will take on their chief court rival, South River High School. The Rams are seeded 12th.
With the Chargers' on-court success this season. Hetzler has high expectations for the team in tournament play.
"Our goal is to get a nice seed in both tournaments and try and get a little run going with some wins," Hetzler said. "I have high expectations for sure."