BCC women thinking championship this winter

Blues are 5-0
in GSAC play

Staff Writer

Blues are 5-0
in GSAC play
Staff Writer

Brookdale Community College’s women’s basketball team isn’t overwhelming teams with numbers as much as with team chemistry.

The Jersey Blues may be down to just eight players because of injuries, yet they are undefeated in the Garden State Athletic Conference (5-0) and playing winning basketball (9-4 overall).

"The kids have just jelled together," said Marianne Campacci, co-head coach with Joanne Cobb. "I’m very happy with that. The girls like each other."

The eligibility of Middletown North grad Danielle Vitalone came just in time for the Blues. Since she joined, the team the Blues have been better on the offensive end

"She just fit right in into the starting lineup," said Campacci. "It was a nice transition.

"She’s an aggressive player who drives the ball to the basket," she added.

That penetration opening up the outside game had been missing from the offense.

Amy Gaudious from Long Branch has provided a steady force in the paint for the Jersey Blues. She has been hitting a double-double every night, and adding six or seven blocked shots. Add to that her ability to shoot from three-point range, and she has been a difficult matchup for teams.

Rounding out the starting five are point guard Becky Piper, and forwards Stephanie Gobbo and Kelly Kalinowski.

Piper, from Colts Neck, and Vitalone are a nice match in the backcourt. Both are very good ball handlers, which makes it difficult for teams to press the Blues.

They are also outstanding three-point shooters.

Brookdale has been very strong on the boards with Kalinowski, a Central Regional grad, and Gobbo, from Southern Regional, joining Gaudious.

A recent pickup, standout goalie Tammy Woods of Old Bridge, has been nice addition to the forward line, providing Campacci and Cobb with flexibility there.

Spotswood’s Nicole Catenacci, who is nursing a sprained ankle, is a superb rebounder on both ends of the floor.

Katelyn Moriarty, also from Spotswood, is a swing player who can play guard or forward and the first player off the bench when the team needs defense.

On the subject of defense, the Blues have discovered that they have a very good man-to-man, full-court press. The Blues had settled back in a zone defense this year and were playing it well.

However, in game earlier this month against Gloucester, the zone wasn’t very effective and the Blues found themselves down by double figures.

Campacci and Cobb put on the full-court press, and it produced remarkable results. It turned a would-be loss into a 72-61 victory. The full-court press is now integral part of the Jersey Blues defense.

Playing a tough non-conference schedule early in the campaign on has paid off, according the Brookdale’s coach.

"It definitely helped us," said Campacci.

"It showed us our weaknesses, and we’ve been working on them."

At 5-0, the Blues are thinking Garden State Athletic Conference championship. They are tied for first place with Passaic and have two games to play with them that will probably determine the GSAC regular season champion.

The Blues will host Passaic on Tuesday night (7 p.m.) and the return game is Feb. 14 in Passaic (1 p.m.).

If Brookdale Community College can protect home court over the next two weeks, the Blues have a chance to signifi­cantly improve their won-lost record and improve their GSAC chances.

Starting Saturday when they host Burlington (noon), five of the team’s next seven games will be in Lincroft. In addition to Passaic on Tuesday, they have Ocean on Jan. 29 (5 p.m.) before hitting the road for Raritan Valley, Jan. 31 (2 p.m.), and Middlesex, Feb. 3 (6 p.m.). Then they re­turn to Lincroft for three straight.

The home stand starts with the Feb. 5 tilt with Lackawanna, Pa., (7 p.m.) and in­cludes Salem on Feb. 7 (1 p.m.) and Mer­cer on Feb. 10 (7 p.m.).

Campacci believes her team has a re­alistic opportunity to not only win the GSAC this year, but Region XIX as well.

"We think we can win it (Region XIX)," said Campacci.

This year’s Region XIX Tournament starts with first-round games at the home court of the higher seed, then will move to Salem Community College, Carney’s Point, on Feb. 26 and 28 for the semifi­nals and final.

The Region winner goes on the Junior College Athletic Association’s Division III championships in Corning, N.Y., starting March 11.