The South Plainfield High School girls basketball team is back and ready to get going on the hardwood.
South Plainfield went 15-12 a year ago, getting back to its consistent, winning ways after a 10-16 campaign two years ago. It won its preliminary round game of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament and earned a spot in the Central Jersey, Group 2 state tournament.
Coach Geoffrey Corisdeo, who is in his fourth season at the helm of the Tigers, returns alongside standouts such as senior Deleaney Born, junior Brianna Harris, and sophomore Sara McNelly, though he will have to replace four-year starter Mackenzie O’Brien, who is now at Rowan. She was a point-scoring and rebounding machine who had over 1,000 each for South Plainfield who did it all.
Julianne Ferraro is also a big loss as is Tori Euston.
A year ago, Harris tallied 154 points, 67 rebounds, 23 assists, and 34 steals. McNelly recorded 128 points, 110 rebounds, 29 assists, and 49 steals. Born, who made 20 3-pointers, 88 points, 58 rebounds, 55 assists, and 39 steals. Sydney Loiacono, a junior, is also back after she saw brief action in 2019-20.
McNelly, whose main sport is softball, started every game as a freshman. She’s athletic, can play defense, and can score. She has a chance along with Born and Harris to be All-White Division players within the GMC.
“She’s somebody from day one that just works really, really hard. If there’s a loose ball she’ll give up her body for the team,” Corisdeo said of McNelly last January after she scored a game-high 12 points in a win over Woodbridge. “The girls have gravitated for her and she helps set the tone.”
Like McNelly a year ago, there are a number of newcomers who are slated to make an impact this season including junior Anastasia Cesareo, sophomore Anyi Ramirez, and freshmen Alyna Hosein, Lindsay Oller, and Madison Flanagan.
The Tigers lost eight players from last season’s roster. With so many new and young players, there will likely be growing pains.
Born, Harris, McNelly, Cesareo, Hosein, Oller, and Flanagan are all guards and with just two forwards by trade in Loiacono and Ramirez and without a dominant paint presence in O’Brien from a year ago, expect South Plainfield to utilize a smaller lineup across the board while getting up and down the court and playing tight defense.
South Plainfield’s schedule right now has 13 games. There is no GMCT or state postseason tournament. There will, however, be a chance to play a pair of extra contests afterwards in a four team pod to get to 15 total games, health permitting.
Currently, its first game is on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at Iselin Kennedy at 4:00 p.m. The Tigers home opener is two days later on Jan. 28 at 4:00 p.m. against J.P. Stevens.
No spectators are allowed per New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order 196 in November. limiting indoor gatherings.
This season, there are many new rules such as essentially no visiting locker room usage, social distancing and mask wearing on the bench, and other distancing guidelines for the scorers table and more for COVID-19 safety.
Take a look at the ever-changing slate here.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisNalwasky.