56-and-counting for talented Spirit
Holy Spirit has won 56 consecutive National Division 1 games spanning seven seasons, according to coach Larry DiGiovanni. The Spartans welcome a transfer student, Hillary Drinovsky, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Barnegat. DiGiovanni said he thinks Drinovsky will make an immediate impact as a strong inside player.
The Panthers are a team on the rise in the Cape National. Last season, they made the playoffs for the first time in their three years under coach John Leahy.
This season, with depth to complement the starting five, the Panthers will challenge Holy Spirit for division and conference supremacy. Four of last season's top five scorers return.
Senior point guard Danielle Barber led the team with 13 points per game. She is on track to reach 1,000. Senior Rachel Mooers, a 5-9 forward, averaged 10 points a game and her younger sister, junior Jessie Mooers, a 6-0 center, averaged almost as much. Junior Abigail Logan, a junior forward/center, chipped in seven points and seven rebounds per game.
"We graduated four starters; we should be good again," said Red Raiders coach Paul Baruffi in a seeming non sequitur.
The defending National Division II champion Lions, who have won the division title five years in a row, have their most veteran team since 2005 when they won the NJSIAA Non-Public B state championship.
Point guard Kaity Lent, the only starting senior, is a gifted, lefthanded shooter and a rugged defender. Junior guard Ashley Durham is a two-year starter. She is coming off a season in which she averaged a league-best 19.8 points a game. Junior Nikki Conroy is a veteran forward.
Junior center Tyesha Simmonds and sophomore forward Leah Braidi should contribute.
Around the league.
Coaches from both conferences are picking Absegami to win the Cape-Atlantic League championship. Atlantic City and Egg Harbor Township will vie for second place in the American II division, while Millville and Vineland fight to stay out of last place. . . . In the American Division II, Ocean City, Mainland and Lower Cape May will battle for the title, as Hammonton and Oakcrest bring up the rear. . . . The National Conference's top teams are in Division I: Holy Spirit and Middle Township will be challenged by Pleasantville and Bridgeton, with Buena watching and waiting to improve. . . . Sacred Heart is alone at the top of the National II. Wildwood Catholic, Our Lady of Mercy, St. Joseph and Cape May Tech follow.
- Bill Iezzi