SPRINGFIELD, NJ – When the season ended, Jonathan Dayton’s girls varsity basketball team had a 22-4 record. It was the most wins of any girls varsity basketball team since they first played in 1972.
This year’s team had most of its players back from last season’s team that had a 17-9 record. Four of those players started every game last year and played almost every game this year. Not returning from last year’s team was their center, Ebere Chukwuyem, because of a move.
Most of the juniors and seniors on the played basketball together for seven years. Initially, they played in the recreation league, then middle school and then together of the varsity team. A few also played together in the AAU program.
For the Head Coach, David Rennie, this was his 21st year coaching the team. At the beginning of the season, he said, “The players have set a solid foundation going into the season because of their work ethic, athletic ability, comradery and chemistry.”
That foundation helped the team post its 17th straight winning season. They also won the Joe Pepe Tournament and were Union County Conference Valley Division Champions. They made it to the quarterfinals of the Union County Conference Tournament and the semifinals of the NJSIAA North 2 Group 1 Sectional Tournament.
Their victories almost always began with tenacious team defense and usually ended up being lopsided. Only two of the 22 wins were by less than ten points. The average margin of victory was 26 points and seven of the wins were by a margin of more than 30 points.
As a team, the players made 171 three-point shots, more than any team in the last five years and probably ever.
There were also individual achievements and already some recognition.
Two players passed the 1,000-career point mark during the season. Senior Captain Amanda Lau did it during the Joe Pepe Tournament and junior Sayre Brandstatter did it during the first game of the NJSIAA tournament. They are two of only 13 players to pass that mark. Lau has the fifth highest scoring total of any Dayton varsity girls basketball player with 1,353 points.
Sophomore Michelle Bellino was named one of the top 50 girls basketball players in New Jersey.
During her career, Captain Nicolette Angelo pulled down 524 rebounds and blocked 62 shots.
Graduating from this year’s team are Captains Amanda Lau and Nicolette Angelo, starter Melanie Schickler, Zoe Frei and Gabriella Petruzzella.
Next year, juniors Sayre Brandstatter and Caitlynn McTernan will be Captains. They should be joined by Michelle Bellino, juniors Maggie Phillips and Julia Cohen, and sophomores Lily Dvorchik and Haeley Santos.