Colonia girls ready to start new hoops season

Patriots tip off season next weekend against Carteret


When the new season tips off for the Colonia High School girls basketball team Dec. 14 in Carteret, the Patriots will embark on the post-Stephanie McDaniel era. Most teams suffer key losses, but perhaps no team lost more than Colonia. After all, McDaniel departed the Patriots’ gym with over 1,100 points and 800 rebounds to become the school’s all-time leading scorer.

“Stephanie definitely did a lot for us,” Tom Chmiel said. “She finished as one of the best in school history, and she’ll be tough to replace.”

The good news is that the Patriots have several players with varsity experience and a wealth of talent. Heading the list is juniors Sasha Hall and Simone Smith. Hall returns to the starting lineup at the point guard position, with Smith moving from forward to fill the vacancy at center.

“I’m hoping Sasha will be an offensive leader for us this season,” Chmiel said. “Simone’s improvement has been tremendous. She’s developed a better shot, and her rebounding position is excellent.”

Senior Nicole Aquila returns to the team with varsity experience, and her leadership skills landed her team captain responsibilities.

“She’s a real nice mid-range shooter, and she can help Sasha with some of the ball handling,” Chmiel said. “Nicole has the maturity, and this could be her year to shine.”

Sophomore Chelsea Cimilluca saw some varsity minutes last season and is a likely candidate to see plenty of time as a starter at the power forward position. Evelina Ivasko appears poised to round out the starting five at the two-guard slot.

“We are a very young team, and many players are still learning how to play on the varsity level,” Chmiel said. “Many players are up from JV because they have shown us a lot so far.”

“Alexandra and Sarah did well in scrimmaging,” Chmiel said. “We don’t have a lot of size, and I’m hoping Alexandra can give us some time this year at forward.”

Scanlon and Cuffee give Colonia depth in the backcourt, with Cuffee potentially backing up Hall at point and Scanlon filling in at shooting guard.

“I’m hoping we can use team pressure more this year and try to utilize our quickness and run a bit more,” Chmiel said. “Sasha is so great in the open floor, so if we can push the ball up the floor, we should get some easy baskets.”

After opening the season on the road in Carteret, Colonia will host New Brunswick Dec. 18 for its home opener.

“Our goal this year is to finish over .500,” Chmiel said. “Although we lost some key players, we do have the tools to have a strong season.”