Lady Mustangs recover from setback

Team ends four-game skid

By: John E. Powers
   Maybe Sussex Tech was the best team the Manville High School girls could have met four days after such an agonizing loss on the basketball court.
   The Lady Mustangs bounced back from their Somerset County Tournament loss to Bound Brook – a loss that also knocked them out of the Central Jersey Group 1 playoff race – with a 51-31 win in Sparta against Sussex Tech last Monday.
   Manville finished the week with a 1-2 record, losing to Mountain Valley Conference Sky Division rivals A.L. Johnson of Clark and Hillside, but playing better than it did the first time around. Manville is scheduled to play at Jonathan Dayton in Springfield Thursday afternoon to finish the season.
   Manville, at one time 8-5 before losing four straight, now can’t finish with a .500 record. The best the Lady Mustangs can do is 10-11. Dayton plays in the Valley Division of the Mountain Valley Conference and is the No. 2 seed behind Middlesex in the upcoming Central Jersey Group 1 tournament, so the season finale won’t be an easy one for the Manville girls.
   "I had a meeting with the girls and I told them that Dayton is an outstanding team and it is going to be a difficult game," said Manville head coach Kyle Rehrig, a teacher at Roosevelt Middle School. "I’m not saying we can’t win it, I’m not giving up on that idea. The kids, especially the seniors, have to leave a mark on this game.
   "This is what a lot of people will remember you for, your last game. For the underclassmen, it will be an opportunity to set the tone for next year. We have to have everybody give their all."
   With the memory of losing to Bound Brook 39-36 still fresh in their minds, the MHS girls easily beat Sussex Tech, which is 3-10. Junior forward Katy Walinchus had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Mustangs, who stopped a four-game losing streak. Eleven different Manville girls scored, with senior guard Alicia Weaver contributing eight points.
   "Going into the game we knew we could win by just seeing the games they played," Rehrig said. "It seemed like one we could win if we approached it the right way and forgot about the other losses. A lot of kids played, stepped up and got more minutes."
   Foul trouble, which severely hurt Manville in the last few games — especially in the loss to Bound Brook — was limited for a change. Manville was called for 14; Sussex Tech for 11.
   "It wasn’t much of an issue," Rehrig said.
   Though Manville lost to Johnson, it played much better than in an ugly 58-18 setback in Clark last month. Manville lost 49-35, outscoring the 14-4 Crusaders 23-18 in the second half. Junior guard Dana Delesky had nine points to lead the team in the Sky Division match. Jamilee Pflug, who scored 16 points in the January game, had all 12 of her points in the first half.
   "We more aggressive on offense and defense," Rehrig said.
   The third game of the week came against a very talented Hillside club, which is 14-4 and the No. 3 seed in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 tournament. Kateemah McClean led the Comets with 25 points, 12 coming in the second quarter when the Union County club built a 26-12 lead.
   Katy Walinchus had six points and nine rebounds for Manville. Delesky hit three 3-pointers to lead Manville with nine points.
   "Amy and Katy did a good job on their center," Rehrig said. "We held her pretty well and we played some good defense on them, but McClean was tough. She is so quick that even when you are right up on her she’s going to get her points."