Vianney girls hoops off to less than stellar start

Traditional state power has a 2-2 record


With a starting lineup that usually includes two freshmen and five freshmen on the varsity roster, the St. John Vianney High School girl’s basketball team is nonetheless off to a 2-2 start.

The Lady Lancers opened the campaign with a victory over Rumson-Fair Haven and also scored a triumph over Manasquan. In between, SJV lost by five points to archrival Red Bank Catholic, despite forcing the Caseys into 25 turnovers. In Shore Conference Class A Central play, the Lancers are 2-1 as they look to defend their A Central Parochial crown.

SJV’s other loss came against Paterson Kennedy, 58-53, in the Marist Lady Knights Christmas Tournament. The Lancers were set to play a second-round game against Scotch Plains-Fanwood on Friday.

A year ago St. John Vianney went 20-6 (10-2 in conference play) and reached the semifinals of both the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Parochial A tourneys, before losing to RBC and Camden Catholic, respectively.

Only one starter is back from last year’s team, junior guard Kaitlyn Linney, who leads the team in the early going with a 14-point average. Senior Christyn Tempora, a 6-foot-0 center, and junior guard JenMulvey also saw significant minutes a year ago. Freshmen Jackie Keats, who plays the point, andMissy Repoli, a 5-foot- 10 forward, who is averaging 10 points, round out the Lancers’ starting lineup.

“Our team is very quick and we’re able to press when we need to,” coach Dawn Karpell said. “I’m pretty happy with the way we’re shooting and the work ethic has been good. The one area I’d like to see us improve upon is rebounding. We need to be a little stronger under the boards. They have to learn how to box out effectively at this level.”

Last season the Lancers often used the half-court set to take advantage of their height. This time around, Karpell is employing a more up-tempo attack- but the Lancers still have plenty of three-point firepower in Linney, Keats, Repoli and sophomore guard Theresa Mongraisso, who comes off the bench.

To maintain the fast pace, Karpell has been using a nine-10 player rotation that also includes junior forward KateWilverding and three freshmen: forwards Arron Zimmerman and Katie O’Reilly and Stacy Coyle.

“I’m very excited about this team,” Karpell said. “We have plenty of talent and they’re going to continue improving. The biggest issue is that we’re young and the girls don’t have a lot of varsity experience.

They’re learning as they go and their enthusiasm and energy has helped compensate for their inexperience.”

Following the holiday break, the Lancers will face a busy week that includes conference games against divisional foesRed Bank Regional and Raritan- a pair of key games for SJV as it seeks to defend its parochial title in the division.

“The key for us is to get better with each game,” Karpell said. “We have the talent to win games; the girls just need the confidence that they can get the job done. That will come.”