A lot has changed for the Monroe girls basketball team in a very short time. In their first season under coach Leigh Vogtman, the Falcons finished 22-5 and right in the hunt for the Greater Middlesex Conference White Division title. Now, there are expectations for Monroe to continue their rise.
Vogtman expects her team to improve as well and to compete, but doesn’t want to look too far ahead.
“We definitely have our goals laid out for us that we are working towards every day,” said Vogtman. “We can’t take anything for granted. We know we can’t and at this point we have a bullseye on our back, so we have to take the same approach as last year.”
Monroe sports a strong cast of upperclassmen led by senior Erica Junquet. The First Team All-Area guard averaged 14 point and 4.3 assists per game, managing the Falcon offense. Vogtman knows that Junquet will be an important part of the team’s success.
“Erica is definitely emerging as not only a stat leader, but a leader of the team. Overall she is quiet, but she is getting more experience, so things are becoming a little easier for her. It will be good for her to come out of her shell and be more of a vocal leader on the court and in the locker room,” said Vogtman.
Vogtman added, “As far as our rotation goes, we have the ability to change our rotation based on who we are playing because I have a lot of kids who have earned it. I feel like everybody can contribute in some way.”
Winning the White Division is certainly a goal as well as moving forward in the GMC Tournament. Monroe lost to Piscataway, the eventual champions in the semifinals. Vogtman knows that it will be difficult and wants her team to be all in and together.
“Everybody wants the same thing, but I think everybody has to be on the same page to work towards those goals every day. Regardless of how big or small your role is, it’s important,” said Vogtman.
Franklin stays strong
The Lady Warriors return their entire starting lineup and could have another great season in store. Senior guard Adreana Miller should lead Franklin in points and will try to duplicate the success of last year’s squad under fifth year coach Audrey Taylor. Look for Franklin to make another run at the North Jersey, Section 2, Group IV sectional title.
Rutgers Prep enters the Skyland Conference
Coach Mary Coyle Klinger will have her team competing in a tough conference, but has a talented squad that should make a lot of noise in their first season. A youth movement is taking place with a number of strong sophomores like Olivia Danby and Gabrielle Redden. Madison Stanley will also be a key factor to any success Rutgers Prep has this season.
Defending the Red Division
Piscataway will try to defend its GMC Red Division title, with some new faces on and off the court. David Kosa takes over as head coach and will try to make up for the losses from senior graduation. Wande Adeyemo and Tunde Adeyemo should provide the backbone that this team can lean on when things get tough, but this team should have plenty to be a force again this season.
Gold Division up for grabs
The Gold Division race will be a tight one as Dunellen, South River and Timothy Christian all vie for the top spot. South River could have an early leg up with a big returning class and some good experience after making it to the Central Group I final last year. Dunellen will try to combat that experience with athleticism and tough defense, while Timothy Christian will try to compete after losing some length in their lineup.
Home News Tribune Preseason Top 10
- Franklin (23-4)
- Monroe (22-5)
- Piscataway (21-5)
- East Brunswick (16-7)
- Rutgers Prep(13-10)
- Bishop Ahr (16-10)
- South Plainfield (19-9)
- Sayreville (16-9)
- J.F. Kennedy (21-4)
- Metuchen (19-10)