Jags prep for busy summer of hoops

BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent

Call it a summer school of sorts, but Jackson Memorial High School’s girls and boys basketball teams will be as busy over the summer months as they were toward the end of the 2009-10 basketball season in March.

“We’ve just started, and we’ve had a good turnout, anywhere from 19 to 24 kids from three different teams [freshman, junior varsity and varsity),” said Jaguars boys coach Joe Fagan.

Fagan loses Jimmy McDonnell, who is headed to the University of Massachusetts- Lowell, and Andrew Papis from last season’s team that had some high moments but struggled in the postseason.

Everyone else is expected to return, including Brandon McDonnell, Jimmy’s brother, who is already drawing interest from college recruiters as he heads into his senior season. McDonnell has a knack of getting rebounds with his 6-3 frame, and he has an accurate shooting touch when he steps outside.

Fagan said he is pleased with the efforts the returning players have put in as they prepare on their own for next season and are playing together in the Belmar League.

Jaguars girls coach Rachel Goodale is also pleased with her players’ offseason dedication. Her veteran team will be led by 6-3 senior-to-be Christa Evans, who led last year’s team in scoring and rebounds as a junior and who her coach said is “being recruited by colleges all over the country.”

“I’m pretty blessed with the kids I have,” said Goodale, who will lose two starters from last season’s 23-4 team that went unbeaten in Shore Conference A South Division play. “I really feel in my 10 years here, we have a basketball community. Ten of 15 players are playing just AAU basketball. It shows a commitment there. They believe in the system.”

Both coaches will host summer camps at the school in early July. Fagan, his staff and players will run a Jersey Shore Basketball Camp for boys July 6-9 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for a $145 fee. Registrants can send an email to coachjfagan@ aol.com. The camp will stress fundamentals and team play in a competitive games setting. Campers will receive a T-shirt, and awards will be presented to the top performers.

Goodale, assistant coach Abby Schrader and the Jaguars girls basketball players will conduct the Jackson Girls Basketball Camp that Goodale has held all 10 years she has coached. The camp will take place July 12- 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The camp costs $125, and registrants can send an email to rgoody11@comcast.net.

Also this summer, both Jackson Memorial hoop squads will attend the Princeton team camp. Jackson’s boys will attend on July 26-27 and the girls will be there Aug. 7-9. The boys will attend the Hoop Group Elite Camp in Neptune on Aug. 2-5.

Both of the Jaguars coaches are excited about their teams’ outlook for the 2010-11 season, and Goodale believes her team can measure up to the No. 11 state ranking it held at the end of the 2009-10 campaign.

“I think we’ll surprise people,” said Goodale, whose team lost in the Central Jersey Group IV state sectional tournament semifinals to eventual Group IV state champion Colts Neck and to St. Rose of Belmar in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals. “We lost one of the best backcourts in the Shore Conference. We have a lot of work to do, but we’ll be competitive and good.”

Goodale was referring to last season’s backcourt tandem of Dana Costello, who will play soccer at Monmouth University, and Caitlyn Testa, who is looking to walk on to East Stroudsburg University’s basketball team.

Goodale said her team went 6-1 at the Princeton team camp last year, which she believes set the tone for the 2009-10 varsity season that followed several months later.

Returning starter Kim Clemmer will be back for her senior year, and freshman Hannah Missry comes off a solid season as a freshman who broke into the lineup.

Also back are junior Shannon Evans, who is Christa’s sister, sophomore Tiffany Montagne, who Goodale said “is going to be a tough player, worth watching,” and freshman Stephanie Mason, who has been busy playing a lot of AAU basketball this spring. Most of those student-athletes will be playing fall sports, with the Evans sisters looking for a big season in volleyball.