By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Aristotle may not be all that familiar to the girls on the Egg Harbor Township basketball team. Maybe coach Danielle Brady will impart some of the ancient Greek philosopher’s wisdom on the Eagles at the next practice. Aristotle was well versed in many fields, including physics, biology and linguistics, and one of his most famous quotes was “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
The Eagles don’t have a dynamic scorer who can put up 20 points per game, but, collectively, they have proven to be a pretty tough outfit to beat this year. On Wednesday night, EHT got at least four points from six different players and notched a 51-42 win over Absegami to improve to 4-1. The Eagles’ only loss came a day after Christmas against West Windsor-Plainsboro North.
There’s always intensity when these two teams meet, Brady said, and Absegami answered most of EHT’s runs and trailed by nine with 2:25 to go, but the Eagles made enough free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
“It’s always the same way, this game — we could be 0-6 going into this game and still play incredible — it’s always just a fun game,” Brady said. “We do little goal sheets, and you’d be surprised how many girls say they want to beat Absegami. It’s a fun game, and it’s fun to win at home.”
EHT led just 14-10 midway through the second quarter, but stretched its lead to 10 points on a 3-pointer by Mya Pomatto and a pair of free throws by Liana Fiore. Absegami (3-4) was able to cut the deficit to 22-13 at the break, and climbed to within 28-20 on five straight points from Riya Khuller, which followed a 3-point play from Liz Picardi. The Eagles, however, were able to maintain about a 10-point lead the rest of the way by getting scoring from all over the floor. Fiore finished with a team-high 15 points, but Mikki Pomatto added 10, Mya Pomatto and Mackenzie Mahana six each, and Alyssa Reed and Lauren Baxter chipped in four apiece.
“We have a lot of freshmen who are stepping up and getting better. Mikki is getting better every game, and Lauren is just this solid kid who you wouldn’t think is a freshman. And we have Liana (a senior), who every time she shoots, I’m like, ‘it could go in.’ The first half was a little cold for her, but we don’t tell her to stop shooting, because her shots are good,” Brady said. “Madison (Israel) jumped right in and she does great for us, and we have another freshman, Natasha (Labal), she didn’t get in tonight, but she’s a freshman, too, so we have a lot of young talent.”
“Everyone comes in wanting to get better, and we push each other to have high energy the whole game. Throughout the whole game, that support is so important for our team to stay focused. We just remind each other that we’re a team, and if we work together we can do it,” said Mikki Pomatto. “We have a lot of girls who have different skills, and we can use each other to get better, go against each other (in practice) and work on different things. It comes down to how you work as a team.”
Brady got some key contributions from her more experienced players in the fourth quarter, with Reed hitting free throws and Mahana grabbing rebounds.
“Alyssa Reid at the end was big time,” Brady said. “Sierra (Hegh) was my point guard last year, but she grew six inches and I think she’s still going to grow. It’s fun, it’s a good group. The freshmen have played with each other since they were in fourth grade, and these girls who are a little bit older have played with them, so it’s really neat.”
The schedule gets significantly tougher for both EHT and Absegami soon, as the Eagles go on the road to Millville on Friday, and also face ACIT, Vineland, Hammonton and Atlantic City — twice — before the end of the month, while the Braves — who got 11 points from Haleigh Schafer and 10 from Picardi — host Oakcrest on Friday and have upcoming games against the likes of Holy Spirit, ACIT, Lower Cape May and Atlantic City, among others.
“The next two weeks are really rough. I think our conditioning is there, but we really just have to take it one game at a time. Because of the snow, that makes it tough because we have some back-to-back games, but we just have to take it one game at a time,” Brady said. “My kids are students (of the game), so we’re looking at Hudl, looking at tape — when I first took over this program we were teaching kids how to do layups, now I can work on game stuff, so that’s cool. And that has a lot to do with the players. The feeder program is back, this township is big — we should have a good basketball team.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays