VERONA, NJ - The Verona girls basketball team is hoping that its versatility will result in continued success this season.

    “It's not always an easy transition for players to have all at once…this season is definitely going to be a battle, but with all the changes that the girls have been faced with thus far this group of players have given the team such focus and have adapted to all those changes,” said Head Coach Samantha Battista.

    Battista has taken over in the interim as Jessica Schomaker is out on maternity leave and will miss the season. The change has been a struggle at times to adapt to a new style, and voice, but the squad has adjusted well. 

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    “Everybody is really eager to do their part and contribute to the team,” said Battista.

    This year's group will be made up of just 11 players in total. The group is comprised of three seniors, four juniors and four underclassmen looking to make an impact. 

    “We have such a solid group of girls who are really great at performing and showing their strengths together that it really doesn’t matter who I put in as the starting five because they all can get the job done,” said Battista

    Senior Maddie Gallagher will return to the squad this year as one of the varsity veterans. Gallagher is a solid presence in the post who will often help facilitate the offense due to her high basketball IQ. 

    “[Gallagher] has shown an incredible ability to read what the defense is giving her, which in turn opens up a lot of opportunities for us as a team and for her on the floor,” said Battista

    Fellow senior Maggie Lonsinger will also play a key role in the squads focus this year. The forward will look to expand on part-time success from last year in the front court that saw her fill up the points and rebounds categories on a semi-consistent basis.

    “[Lonsinger] is an incredible athlete, she’s really strong so it’s an asset to have her down low for us and her hustle is 110% all the time which is going to help us go far,” said Battista.

    Rounding out the senior class for Verona will be Maddie Leonard. Leonard is a pesky defender who looks to create a number of turnovers with her aggressive play.

    “[Leonard] works so hard, she’s great and likes to take a lot of chances on the floor, which opens up a lot on the floor due to those chances,” said Battista.

    Junior Melanie Naeris returns after a solid showing last year as a sophomore. The junior averaged nearly eight points per game last year and often was a presence on defense around the perimeter.

    “[Naeris] is an incredible athlete, she is scrappy on both offense and defense so she’ll be an asset for us to have,” said Battista. 

    A key role player for Verona will be junior Nia Chesney. Chesney was a solid backup last year who saw significant minutes at guard. She will float around in various positions to maximize her skill set. 

    “[Chesney] is another really hard worker, she’s been able to help us lead on the floor as a point guard at times…she’s another versatile player on the court for us as well this season,” said Battista.

    As opening night draws closer the group is hoping to iron out the final details to kick off the season right. 

    “[We’re working on] a lot of the little things, the little things are going to be what gets us going and give us a lot of success this year.  They’re simple things like communication, working hard on defense, making sure we’re boxing out on defense….my big goal is to focus on a lot of the little things that will result in the big successes,” said Battista. 

    The hope is that through perfecting the intricacies of the game the group will be a force to be reckoned with. 

    “I’m really optimistic about this season, we’ve been working really hard and we’re going to be a team to battle against,” said Battista.

    Verona will open the season on Friday against Newark Academy looking to get off on the right foot. 

    “It would be great to get the first game of the season with a win, we’ve got to go out and do those little things and if we do those little things I’m confident we can come out with a win,” said Battista.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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