By Andy Loigu
Despite having her career cut short by an ACL injury in her junior season, senior Warren Hills guard Devyn Gara has become the sixth Blue Streak to reach 1,000 career points in girls basketball.
With a season-high 23-point game, she reached the milestone on Friday evening, leading her team to a 58-42 win over the visiting Bernards Mountaineers.
Topping the Blue Streaks’ scoring list is Katie Terhune (class of 2000) with 1,507 points. Dawn Webb (’85) totaled 1,417, Laura Flannery (’11) registered 1,368, Amber DeHaas (’05) tallied 1,141, and multi-sport standout Kerri Bakker (’97) notched 1,046. Gara is at 1,000 and counting.
Some social media trolls may scoff at women’s basketball, saying the tempo is slow and the game is played below the rim, but you’ll never hear such comments from anyone who has played the game on an organized level. The girls’ game has plenty of shot makers, and today’s players are faster, more athletic and skilled than ever. True ballers appreciate the way a Devyn Gara can create, Steph Curry-like, off the dribble. More teams get on the break now, with big, tough centers clearing the boards and throwing the outlet pass. Backdoor, pick and roll, give and go, today’s girls know how to play the game.
TIGER WRESTLING VIES FOR STATE SPOT
Winning three of their last four matches, the Hackettstown Tigers’ wrestling team is hoping to qualify for the sectional tournament. “We have five solid senior leaders,” said Frank Rodgers, who also coached the team in 2007 when it won a section title and reached the state Group 2 final and knows what it takes to get there. “We came into the season with a lot of freshmen, sophomores, and inexperienced juniors. I had to go asking guys in the halls to come out for the team, and we only have one guy for each weight class, meaning we’ve had to forfeit a bout here and there. but now we’re really coming around. I like what I see.”
In a 37-27 win over visiting Warren Hills on Jan. 25, Matt Castro’s pin in 43 seconds was the coup de grace in the 195-pound bout. “What a win, this place was really rocking,” Rodgers commented. “Since Warren Hills is a good Group 3 team, we got some needed power points.” Michael Sullivan (with a 12-0 major decision) and Sam Castner (a 9-2 winner) got Hackettstown rolling with decisive wins in the first two bouts, at 106 and 113 pounds.
In a quad meet at Hackettstown on Saturday, the Tigers won two of their three bouts. Although they lost to a strong Verona squad 39-33, the Tigers shined in a 48-16 win over Secaucus and a 38-25 win over Ramsey. The Tigers trailed the Rams 25-22 but finished with fire and fury (imagine THAT, using a phrase I’ve heard on the cable news networks).
Shawn Burke put the Tigers in front with a 15-6 major at 170 pounds. Alejandro and Matt Castro and Joe Andes then all won by fall, in 2:25, 4:13 and 5:18 respectively, in the 182, 195 and 285-pound weight divisions. Leading the Tigers’ late season charge are their veterans Andes and two-time state qualifier Alex Carida. Carida is the reigning Region 3 champion at 138 pounds and Andes was the regional silver medalist at 285 last March.
Also contributing to the Tigers’ success are Denison Blanco at 120, Eric Garcia at 125, Chris Bremer at 132, Zach Yanoff at 138, Tim Ervey at 152, Zeb Burke at 160, and Dan Olson at 220 pounds.
TRIBUTE TO MEL SMITH!
Also in Tiger sports, Mel Smith has now been on the scene for 1,000 consecutive Hackettstown boys’ basketball games. A wheelchair user, Smith has been a positive force in the Tigers’ mojo through the years, helping the team as an assistant trainer and inspirational motivator. His milestone has been recognized with a colorful banner in the school’s new gym.
INSTANT REPLAY FOR FOOTBALL?
Nobody is sure exactly how it will work, but the NJSIAA (the governing body of high school sports in New Jersey) has now formed a replay committee hoping to implement instant replay technology in football games next season.
While replays are available at sites like Rutgers and MetLife Stadium for sectional final games, replay reviews in the regular season may be problematic. The quality and availability of replay equipment and operators may vary greatly from site to site. At least it presents a great opportunity for young people coming out of college to showcase their videography skills applied to sports action. How much they will get paid for their services is a concern. Volunteers, anyone?
Will coaches get to challenge calls? Who cues up the video replay for the officials to look at? Will the referee carry an iPad to look at replays on the field? What if the wifi goes down? Welcome to 21st century high school football, sports fans.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.