A year after winning the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament as the seventh seed, the Piscataway High School girls basketball team is back for more.
Reigning GMCT MVP Kiki Bynes is one of three seniors on a roster that is full of underclassmen eager to contribute as the Chiefs look to go back-to-back.
“Right now, we have a good foundation coming back from last year, but the focus is on Kiki and Meghan Wells. Those two are pivotal for our team this year and I really like the way Kiki is handling the point,” head coach Corey Floyd said. “Meghan is very important for us on defense and I think she could be our defensive stopper this season.”
The Chiefs upset top-seeded J.F. Kennedy 43-41 in the GMCT title game, as Bynes scored a layup with 42 seconds left for the final two of her 13 points in the game. She averaged 15.8 points per game in the GMCT, up from the 9.6 she averaged during the regular season.
Floyd said that Bynes is going to be someone he looks towards to lead on the court this season.
“She knows my system and all the girls respect her. With her on the floor, she’s a general and we should have good chemistry when she’s on the floor,” he said. “With her playing so many years on the level, she brings experience.”
With the three teams that finished ahead of them in the Red Division having graduated a majority of their rosters, Floyd knows that a divisional crown is within reach. But he was quick to say that his group won’t overlook anyone this season.
“Anybody can beat anyone on any night,” Floyd said. “There are a lot of good teams in this conference; we’ll take it game-by-game.”
Perth Amboy rolled along last season, using a strong collection of seniors to go 10-2 in conference play and win the Red Division. But the Panthers graduated eight seniors and all five starters, so head coach Mike Manfre knows that this season should be a bit of a rebuilding year.
J.F. Kennedy, who was a perfect 16-0 in conference games last year en route to winning the Blue Division, will also have work cut out for themselves. But Taylor Freeman is closing in on 1,000 career points and Jolie Tang should be a solid all-around player for the Mustangs. Finding complementary scoring and production from other sources is key if J.F. Kennedy is to stay at the top of the division.
The new season brings eight new coaches to the forefront, including three in the always-competitive Red Division. Keith Lane takes over at East Brunswick, Jeff Johnson does the same at South Brunswick and Bob Timinski is now in charge at Woodbridge. Also taking over new programs are Pat Mayo at Metuchen, Leigh Vogtman at Monroe and Keith Connery at Dunellen. Jeff Vella is now in charge at Perth Amboy Tech and Jo-Ann Zwiebel is at Mother Seton.
Edison High School will be collecting non-perishable food items for the Edison Food Pantry before and during Friday’s season opener against East Brunswick. Anyone that brings two or more items will receive free admission to the game, which tips off at 7 p.m. between the two Red Division rivals.