Lawrence girls fall to Collins, Steinert

Lawrence girls basketball

By: Jim Green
   The score might not indicate it, but Lawrence High School girls basketball coach Gregg Zenerovitz thought his team played some of its best basketball of the season Friday in a 54-24 road loss to Steinert.
   Ashley Russo led Lawrence with eight points, followed by Courtney Smith (six) and Maria Eldridge (five), while Steinert point guard Arielle Collins poured in 22 points to pace the Spartans. The Cardinals trailed by just four points after the first quarter but were outscored 28-7 over the second and third periods.
   Lawrence guard Krista Regan did a strong job of defending Collins early, helping keep the game close. But Regan sprained her ankle at the end of the second quarter and had to leave the game. In the third quarter, Collins exploded for 13 points as Steinert (6-2) put the game away.
   "Arielle Collins is a very talented player," Zenerovitz said. "She kind of got going in the second half. The first quarter was probably our best quarter of the year. We did a nice job on her. Krista and the whole team played very good defense on Arielle. In the third, Krista wasn’t on her, and we didn’t get through the screens the proper way. We weren’t as effective as we were in the first half against her. That kind of broke open the game."
   Zenerovitz was impressed with the play of Smith, who was making her first start of the season. Still, he is waiting for players to step up so he can establish a set rotation.
   "We’re kind of in a situation where we have a bunch of girls who are similar in ability," he said. "We’re eight games into the season now. We still haven’t found that rotation I’m comfortable with. Everyone’s getting a chance to play and showing me what they can do out there. We’ve got 13 girls who can play. There’s a group of them, and no one’s separated themselves from the pack. I’m hoping that occurs."
   On Jan. 3, Lawrence dropped a 50-33 home decision to Ewing. Krista Regan was the top scorer with 10 points, while Russo and Reem Bichara each dropped in eight. Although the game was close early — the Cardinals were down 25-20 at halftime before being outscored 12-5 in the third quarter — Zenerovitz felt his team was much more impressive three days later against Steinert.
   "Ewing’s more of an up-tempo team," he said. "We tried to match that, which was not the game plan at all. We fed right into what they wanted us to do. We tried to match their tempo. That’s not the type of team we are. That was what was disturbing about the Ewing loss. We tried to force some passes. We didn’t play our offense. We didn’t look that organized out there. We’ve been watching a lot of tape. We’re breaking it down for the girls, and they’re learning. It looked better on Friday. At this point, we’re just trying to learn from our mistakes and improve on that."
   The Cardinals next will travel to Monroe for an out-of-conference game at 1 p.m. Saturday before playing host to Colonial Valley Conference and state-wide powerhouse Trenton at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
   "You’d like to get a little momentum going into Trenton," Zenerovitz said. "The two toughest games on our schedule are Trenton and West Windsor North. The rest of the teams are good, but they’re not anywhere near that level."