They may not have finished the season with a winning record, but be assured that the Kittatinny Regional High School girls basketball team competed as winners in practices and games alike.
The Cougars netted seven well-deserved victories this winter, a few of which truly stand out to head coach Joshua Reed.
“We had an extremely tough schedule this year which challenged us and pushed us to finish the season strong,’’ he said. “The contest that stands out the most to our basketball team is our first-round upset win over Saddle Brook.”
Kittatinny, the No. 13 seed, beat Saddle Brook, the No. 4 seed. The Cougars’ season record was 7-20, which put them in last place in the Freedom Division of the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference.
“Secondly, a really fun game that we won was Kinnelon (51-35 on Jan. 31) at home. We won this game as the second game of a boys/girls varsity double header. The last game that comes to mind was the beginning of winning four games in five days to secure a spot in the state (sectional) playoffs.’’
The Cougars upset Saddle Brook in the opening round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North 1 Group 1 Sectional Tournament on Feb. 20. They lost in the quarterfinals to Boonton on Feb. 22.
Leadership was in strong supply for the Cougars this season.
“Our lone captain was a senior, Riley Hough,’’ Reed said. “Riley emerged in many ways on and off the court. She had an incredible attitude, was always positive and loved by her teammates.
“She also stepped up on the court as our point guard (which was not her natural position) to help the team be the best it can be.’’
The Cougars made contributions across the roster.
“The rest of our rotation is returning besides two seniors, Riley Hough and Tanner Crawn,’’ the coach said. “As we entered the season, we had a lot of inexperience, but all of our players improved as individuals and as a team.
“The names of the other girls in our rotation were Taylor Hough, Hanna Olsen, Olivia Lombardo, Gianna Caruso, Laney Keates, Katie Sajdak and Holly Sajdak. We also received huge contributions throughout the season from Reese Redden, Ella Teta, Lina Hull and Abby DeFalco.’’
Kittatinny undoubtedly will miss the members of the Class of 2023, but the team is looking to a bright future.
“Almost our entire team is returning next year and our players have really awesome attitudes,’’ Reed said. “Even more than that, they love basketball, and I know that they will use their experience this year in the best way possible to springboard forward and show those learning experiences on and off the court next year.’’
We had an extremely tough schedule this year which challenged us and pushed us to finish the season strong.” - Joshua Reed, girls basketball head coach, Kittatinny Regional High School