PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Hoops season is back.
The Piscataway High School boys and girls basketball teams are both in the midst of preseason practice as the Chiefs and Lady Chiefs are preparing for the upcoming winter campaign.
Third-year head coach Chris Puder’s girls squad will look a lot different than a year ago when the girls went 12-12 including 10-2 in the Greater Middlesex Conference - Red Division with appearances in the quarterfinals of the GMCT and the first round of the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 state tournament.
In the recent past, Piscataway was able to feed the post and dominate in the paint, but the likes of LaNiya Miller, Saniya Myers, and Ariel Jenkins -- all double-double machines with size -- are now gone. Miller is two years removed from graduation, Myers is now at Montclair State, and Jenkins has transferred to Stuart Day. So this season, expect the Lady Chiefs to play with more pace thanks to a bevy of guards available.
Puder will lean on junior point guard Tori Fisher and junior forward Kaelonn Wilson this season. Among the returners, Fisher is the top scorer at 10.4 points per game to go along with her 2.95 assists per game. Wilson averaged 5.95 points per game a year ago and brought down 5.4 rebounds.
Other key members that are back are Rha-Khia Mack, Julia Stewart, Megan Santhumayor, Maya Lee, and Jania Neelon. Two promising newcomers include Yalani Miguela and Mia Rose.
Expect some growing pains early on, Puder said, but there’s optimism that Piscataway can be more competitive as the year goes on.
“The girls are working hard. We are hopeful that Kaelonn’s and Tori’s experience will help lead this year’s team,” Puder said. “It’s a good group. Should see lots of improvement as the year progresses.”
As for the boys, they went 18-11 in 2018-19 and 9-5 in the GMC Red. The Chiefs made it to the GMCT final where they fell to St. Joseph (Metuchen) in a close game and the semifinals of the N2G4 state tournament as well to Elizabeth. Antonio Chandler was an All-Conference pick as he averaged 17.8 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game while leading the team in 3-pointers made. He scored over 20 points 10 times. Tyree Barba-Bey and Andre Emden were two top contributors as well, but all three of the aforementioned players have since moved on.
In turn, much like the girls, the boys are in a bit of a transition. Piscataway lost 12 varsity members from the roster a year ago and only three who saw limited action, Keshawn Peterson, Johnathan Livingston and Khalief Walker, are back.
Fourth-year head coach Darius Griffin, who played at Rutgers from 1978-82, inherit’s 11 first year varsity members and one transfer from East Brunswick, Danzel Taylor, a senior. According to NJ.com, he played in 21 games and automatically becomes the Chefs’ most experienced player.
Piscataway’s full roster will feature seven seniors, Peterson, Taylor, Livingston, Angel Laporte, Walker, Dylan Washington, and D’Andre Randolph, six juniors, and two young sophomores.
As of now, Peterson (6-foot-2 guard/forward), Taylor (6-foot-1 guard), Livingston (6-foot gard, Walker (6-foot-3 forward/center, and William Corley (6-foot guard) are the expected starters.
To start the 2019-20 season, the Lady Chiefs are home to Perth Amboy on Friday, Dec. 20 at 5:30 p.m. while the boys are away at Perth Amboy at 7:00 p.m.
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