A new basketball team has joined the Cape-Atlantic League, and it is extraordinary.
Cedar Creek High School, which opened its doors in September, is fielding a girls' varsity hoops squad. That's unusual because a newly constructed school starting with freshmen and sophomores usually lets its athletes compete at the junior-varsity level.
However, in the case of the Cedar Creek girls' basketball team, five of the nine players have had a taste of varsity competition.
The other four are freshmen with fantastic potential. They are the Stefanski quadruplets from Mullica Township, which is in the Mays Landing area, where the school is located.
Sophomore guard Alyssa Lutgen attended Oakcrest, and sophomore forward Francesca Ruth went to Absegami. Overpopulation at those schools created the need for Cedar Creek, a third school in the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District.
The newcomers are ready to mix it up with their rivals in the National II Division, the conference, and the league.
"We have a really good chance to make the playoffs," said Kristine Miller, a 5-foot-11 forward with the most varsity experience on the team. "We know the game. We have been playing for a long time."
A sophomore, Miller last season scored 255 points and grabbed 199 rebounds for Oakcrest. She was named to the Cape-Atlantic first team.
"I had a choice [about transferring], and I decided to go to the new school because it is like a tech school for environmental science and engineering and I want to be an engineer," Miller said.
"I'm excited about making new records and creating history" on the hardwood.
Miller has played basketball competitively since the fifth grade and is a member of the D & M Panthers, an AAU team that played against another such team, the Tar Heels. That's where she met the quadruplets.
Freshmen Mikila, Mercina, Morgan, and Monique Stefanski have played basketball since kindergarten and are expected to make a big contribution to the Cedar Creek team.
"The four freshmen are one reason why we thought about going varsity," Cedar Creek athletic director Scott Parker said.
Their mother, Marian Stefanski, said the quads had led the Mullica Township Middle School to championships in seventh and eighth grade. She added that they were born on April Fools' Day of 1995.
"I was the one fooled," Marian Stefanski said. "I thought I was having boys."
That didn't bother Michael Stefanski. Wanting a sport in which he could interact with his four children, he set up a basketball net in the driveway. It grew with the girls.
Mikila is a 5-6 guard. Mercina and Monique are 5-5 guards, and Morgan is a 5-8 forward.
"All can dribble with both hands, and all are fundamentally sound," Creek coach Francine Raph said. "You're only as good as the talent you have, and we have talent."
The quads are on board with the coach and the program. They're used to winning and don't want to stop.
"I really think we can make the playoffs because we keep learning from Coach Raph and everyone on the team is committed," Mercina Stefanski said.