The Monroe Township High School girls’ basketball team is on a mission. Last year, the Falcons finished 21-6 but dropped the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) title to Piscataway Township High School in the championship game and were eliminated by Marlboro High School in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV semifinals. Monroe is hoping the results will be different with the return of a seasoned cast of veterans that hopefully make up for graduation losses.
“We definitely have high expectations for this year, but we have big shoes to fill,” head coach Leigh Vogtman said. “I’m confident we understand the work that has to be put in each day in order to match or exceed the achievements we had last year. We had the opportunity to take our program to new heights over the last two seasons, so we are looking to build on that.”
The big shoes Vogtman references are the departures of point guard and outstanding ball-handler Erica Junquet, who is now at Trinity College, and forward Cindy Foresta, who was a strong presence in the pivot. However, there is an abundance of experienced talent that should make up for those graduation losses.
Senior Hannah Fisher and junior Casey Filiault are both capable guards with excellent ball skills who can assume the controls of quarterbacking the team. The Falcons will also have athletic depth in the paint with seniors Ashlyn Petersen, Erin Seppi and Grace Martini. Petersen is committed to Franklin & Marshall University to play basketball, Seppi is headed to the University of Maryland and will be a goaltender for the soccer team and Martini is committed to East Stroudsburg University to play field hockey.
Monroe’s talent, however, isn’t limited to its starters. A host of other veterans and newcomers are waiting to jump off the bench and get into the action.
Senior Kassidy Utheim showed her value in the pivot last year, and she will receive more touches this season. She is committed to Worcester Polytechnic Institute to play volleyball. The other senior expected to make an impact is Linda Wallentine, who missed her junior season due to an injury.
A pair of juniors, Kennedy Selby and Alexa Coyle, will also see increased minutes, especially since Monroe’s fast-paced tempo requires the rotation to get frequent rest.
“We have six seniors who have played together since fourth grade,” Vogtman said. “So we hope there’s a level of comfort with one another that will result in the team chemistry required to win big games.
“This is a tight-knit group. They are self-motivated and have demonstrated the excitement to take on the challenges of this season.”
Monroe was 3-0 with victories against South Plainfield High School and J.P. Stevens High School — two of the Falcons’ GMC White Division opponents — as well as a win against Plainfield High School Dec. 28 in the opening round of a holiday tournament. The Falcons faced Allentown High School Dec. 30 in the tournament finals.
The teams most likely to challenge Monroe for the division title are Bishop George Ahr High School and Sayreville War Memorial High School. Following a home game with New Brunswick High School Jan. 2, the Falcons will face Sayreville in their first encounter Jan. 5 at the Bombers’ court.