Senior night can’t save Monroe from loss

By: Carolyn M. Hartko
   This past Tuesday was senior appreciation night for the Monroe High School girls’ varsity basketball squad. Before the game with Colonia, the last home game for the 2003-2004 season, the seniors and their parents were thanked for all their hard work for the Lady Falcon program.
   The underclassmen presented seniors Laura Gibbons, Laurie Costello and Katie Lederman with a bouquet of irises, balloons and a personalized basketball signed by their teammates.
   All three of this year’s seniors are four-year players who have watched this ceremony three times before, looking forward to their turn.
   "It’s just a good end to the season, and a way to wish us good luck in college," Costello said. "It’s a way to wrap up the season."
   "Those three kids have been great," Falcon head coach Keith Hudak said. "They’ve been great kids to be around."
   Unfortunately, the ceremony didn’t miraculously bestow accurate shooting ability on the Falcon seniors, or anyone else on the team. Monroe hit just 14-of-42 attempts from the floor in dropping a 62-37 decision.
   Colonia scored the first basket of the game 20 seconds in, and they just kept widening the margin. By half time, the Falcons were down 33-14, and Colonia continued to pull away.
   "They had some good shooters," Costello said. "It was a little hard for us to stop them, but we tried our best."
   The loss dropped Monroe to 7-11. Junior Ali Baumlin was the top scorer for Monroe, posting 18 points, and she had four blocked shots. All three seniors started against Colonia and each saw a lot of court time.
   Gibbons, who finished with eight points, was 4-for-5 from the floor, Costello had five rebounds and three points, and Lederman registered four points, two boards and a steal. Junior Emma Bossard netted four points, and pulled down four rebounds.
   "The kids hung in there and they played hard right to the end," Hudak said. "They keep battling all the way through. Unfortunately, we’re going back through that cycle again where we’re playing some pretty good basketball teams. We played Carteret on Friday night and got beaten down there. South Plainfield and Middlesex are left to go."
   The outcome of this week’s games will help to determine the seeding for this year’s Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament which begins next Monday. Last year, the Falcons were ranked 20th, and played Highland Park in the opening round. Hudak expects his team to be in approximately the same spot this year.
   "There have been some games that will turn out to be big losses for us, and we didn’t even play in them," the coach said. "But teams like Spotswood, which beat us, just got beat by Edison the other day. (Edison) is in the Red Division, and they’re around 3-15. Now, according to the rules, the way it works is that Edison’s going to have to get in there before Spotswood, and Spotswood has to get in before us. There’s been two or three of those games so far."
   Since Monroe did not make states this year, the GMCT will be their last hurrah, and the seniors expect to make the most of the last chance to extend their season.
   "We’re hoping to at least make it though the first round, and go on, see what we can do," Costello said. "Maybe we can get some upsets."