Hawks win school’s first-ever sectional title

Stevens girls dominate Columbia to bring home hardware

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

EDISON — The J.P. Stevens girls basketball team won its first sectional title in school history with a 77-57 win over Columbia High School in the NJSIAA Group IV Section 2 Championship game last week.

The sectional title is the first basketball title won by an Edison school.

"Winning the sectional title was a big highlight," Stevens basketball coach Andy Eng said. "The city of Edison had never won a basketball sectional, and we share this with everyone of Edison."

The road to the Hawks’ title began with a 50-30 victory over Perth Amboy. Senior guard Stephanie Marciano paced the Hawks with 14 points and junior guard Tania Kennedy poured in 14 of her own.

In the semifinal matchup with Bridgewater-Raritan, Marciano and Kennedy continued to roll as Marciano scored 13 and Kennedy led the team with 14 in the 41-36 win.

"The Bridgewater game was a classic boxing match," Eng said. "Both teams were feeling each other out for a while, and we were able to wear them down. It was a real physical game."

In the title game against Columbia, Marciano and Kennedy took their games to new levels in the lopsided win. Marciano scored 19 and Kennedy dominated the action with 31.

"The team played their best game of the season against Columbia," Eng said. "It was another physical game, but we made the open shots and played solid defense to maintain the early lead."

Senior Ayana Way scored 13 in the title game and junior forward Amy Bonk contributed eight, and the Hawks advanced to the NJSIAA Group IV North Jersey Championship game

In the Group IV title game against Eastside, the Hawks came up short in the 54-40 loss. Despite the season-ending loss, the Hawks added a Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division title, the Elizabeth Christmas Tournament Championship, a NJSIAA Sectional title, and defended their GMC Tournament title.

With one of the county’s most outstanding players returning next season, the Hawks should be tough to beat once again.

"We will probably see the best of Tania next season," Eng said. "She will carry more of the load next year, and she should be one of the county’s top players again."

Not surprising, considering her 15.7 points per game led the Hawks this sea­son. Look for her average to increase with the loss of a bevy of talented seniors.

Marciano will take her 1,328 career points and her 236 career assists to Yale University next year. The Hawks all-time leading rebounder with 738, Lindsay James, is off to the University of Delaware to play soccer and Way is con­sidering a hoop career at Centenary Col­lege.

"I will certainly miss Stephanie’s lead­ership." Eng said. "She was like having another coach to pass along what I wanted done on the floor. Lindsay always stepped up to take on a defensive chal­lenge and Ayana is a very talented young lady. We will miss their experience. When I came here four years ago, these three were the basic foundation that we built this program around."

Also departing in June are Lauren Mordecai and Rona Song. Mordecai was a two-year varsity member and Song played at the varsity level for three sea­sons.

"Lauren and Rona provided additional depth during the course of the season," Eng said. "They were a positive influence for the other girls."

A trio of freshman girls saw plenty of action this season and will be needed if the Hawks can make another title run next season. Brittany Mullings, Kathryn Ruhno and Caitlin Seamster combined to average nearly nine points this season. Their contribution this season should give them added confidence next year to help the Hawks stay atop the GMC.