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IN THE NEWS: Lions win basketball season opener

Jan 2, 2019
Published in The Progress

CALDWELL – The Mount Saint Dominic Academy basketball team had a breakout season last year and is looking to keep the momentum going.

The squad was 10-15, which was double the number of victories it had in the previous two seasons (five victories in each season).

The Lions currently are 1-5, winning their season opener against Shabazz, 51-17, on Dec. 14.

“Our basketball team has struggled, but our freshman class is getting valuable varsity experience this season,” said head coach David Mead. “Against Shabazz, Abby Garaban led all scorers with 19 points and freshman Alexa Murphy debuted with 10 points. Freshman Jade Larkin scored five points and grabbed 10 rebounds in her first game.”

The Lions fell to Verona, 42-40, on Dec. 18 and to Caldwell, 40-38, on Dec. 20.

“We lost a heart-breaker to Verona, when Brianna Horton made a layup with 1.5 seconds left,” Mead said. “Abby Garaban led all scorers with 14 points while junior Megan Robinson and senior Elena Matarazzo each scored nine points.

“We dropped another buzzer beater to Caldwell. Abby Garaban had eight points while Alexa Murphy and another freshman, Juliet Howell, both scored seven points.”

In the Mount Saint Dominic Festival, the Lions faced Red Bank Catholic, Rutgers Prep and Piscataway.

“We faced two of the state’s best teams in Red Bank Catholic and Rutgers Prep and defending Middlesex County champions Piscataway,” Mead said. “Senior Kayla Amelung scored 11 points in a 76-34 loss to Red Bank Catholic. Megan Robinson scored 11 points in a 67-28 loss to Rutgers Prep. The Mount actually finished the first quarter of that game winning, 15-11.

“Abby Garaban scored 17 points in a 60-47 loss to Piscataway. After being down 45-26 going in to the fourth quarter, we tried to make a comeback, outscoring them 22-14. Going against some of the best teams in the state really hardened the freshmen as they were battle-tested early in the season.”

Last season, the Lions earned the seventh seed in the NJSIAA Non-Public A North tournament and defeated 10th-seeded DePaul in the first round of the tournament.

“One of the highlights of the season was advancing in the state tournament by defeating DePaul,” Mead said. It was the first time that the Lions won a state tournament game since 2014.

While the team lost three seniors from last year’s team, it has three seniors returning.

“We have three seniors back: Abby Garaban, Elena Matarazzo, and Kayla Amelung,” Mead said. “Megan Robinson is back and has been a starter since her freshman year.”

The coach expects the captains to lead this year’s team.

“We hope to continue to improve. With a young team, there will be ups and downs. Abby Garaban is battle-tested and ready to compete in her senior year. She has been a stand-out player since she was a freshman. She is not afraid to take the big shots or make a play when the game is on the line,” Mead said.

“Elena Matarazzo has been a physical, defensive presence. With the loss of Gabby Radici, she will be expected to get a lot of rebounds this season. Kayla Amelung played major minutes last season after coming off of a torn ACL her sophomore year. She is expected to help out at both point guard and shooting guard.”

Mead said the team wants to keep improving. “We certainly want to be better than we were the year before,” he said. “We would like to be one of the teams aiming for a division title. We also want to make sure that the young players we have grow positively and have a successful first-year varsity experience.”

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