Tatiana Dorner goes up for the jump shot against Robbinsville High School. Photo by Michael A. Sabo
Jan. 16: For most basketball coaches, a big problem is getting their players to want to defend.
Kristin Jacobs has that part licked, as her Steinert girls basketball team is riding intense defensive efforts to its best start in nine seasons. A 73-40 victory over Robbinsville tonight gives the Spartans a six-game winning streak and 9-3 record, their best 12-game start since Bryan Rogers’ 2009-10 team opened 10-2.
“Every single person on the team has characteristics to just keep going and pushing through on defense,” said defensive ringleader Tatiana Dorner. “Jayda (Bing), Leila (Collazo), Nat(alie Mehl), Erika (Golik), Jordan (Jones), they all know what they’re doing.”
Nobody more than Dorner, whose night included 10 steals to go along with six points, five rebounds and 10 assists. The speedy senior tormented the Ravens with her first-half pilfers as Steinert scored the game’s first 10 points and held a 38-19 halftime lead. The game remained comfortable throughout, and was momentarily halted in the fourth quarter when Robbinsville’s Fiona Aromando scored her 1,000th point.
“Since freshman year, whether it’s basketball or soccer, anticipation was my thing and I always have speed,” Dorner said of her larceny. “I look for
what hand they come down with the ball. If they use their right I push them to their left, if they come down left, push to their right.”
Dorner pretty much does everything right but finish, as she has had all kind of troubles with open lay-ups but seems to score when someone is hanging on her.
“I know!” she exclaimed. “I just think too much when I’m by myself. I’m thinking ‘Oh my God, what if somebody is coming up on me” and then when somebody is coming up on me I make it.”
Fortunately for the Spartans, other people can fill it up. Particularly Mehl, who put on another shooting clinic against the Ravens. Mehl scored 21 points and shot 7-for-11, with every bucket being from behind the arc.
“That’s what she does,” coach Kristin Jacobs said. “She likes to do that. She’ll be like ‘I haven’t made one in a while, time to shoot.’ You know when she’s on. She makes a couple in that first quarter tonight and you know she’s feeling it.
“It wasn’t just her though. We had Tati cutting off the passing lanes, Jayda boxes out, the defense that we played to try to keep Fiona under the radar a little, all good and positive things.”
Bing finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Collazo had eight points, four assists, three rebounds and two points. Mehl also had six rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Emily “The Diz Kid” Diszler came off the bench for eight points on 4-for-5 shooting.
The balanced attack has the Spartans off to their best start in Jacobs’ six years.
“Everybody works together and knows one another and it’s more of a family this year,” said Dorner, one of the few seniors in the lineup. “And we have so much talent.”
Even more meaningful is that they like to put their talent to use defensively.
“That’s what we’ve been predicated on for the past few years,” Jacobs said. “It’s what I loved when I played and I hope to put a little bit of that on them. That’s evident when I’ve had my leading scorer (Mehl) come off the bench the last two years, because I had better defenders. And I’ve talked to her about it and that’s something she steadily improved over the summer in the course of AAU. She likes to say she leads our team in blocks, so she’s pretty proud of that.”
She’s not too bad at 3-pointers either.
Hightstown boys stun Nottingham with solid defensive effort
It had to happen sooner or later; and it happened tonight.
A feisty Hightstown boys team let the Winter Jo-Storm get their points; but shut down everybody else in taking a 66-63 victory over the visiting Northstars. It was the first loss for Nottingham (9-1), while the Rams improved to 7-2.
“The guys knew that to give ourselves a chance we had to play defense and keep them in the low 60s,” Rams coach Matt Durstewitz said. “We were locked in the whole game and knocked down some big free throws at the end of the game.”
Nottingham held 34-26 halftime lead before the Rams outscored the visitors 22-10 in the third quarter to take the lead and then hold it in the final quarter.
Darell Johnson led all scorers with 27, while Cliff Joseph had 18 and Richie Jones 14. But Nottingham got just four points from the rest of its players. Hightstown put nine in the scoring column and was led by Jamal Anderson (22), Jevon Shropshire-Sands (11) and Ben Simon (9).
The Stars’ 63 points were their second lowest output of the year and just the second time they scored under 70 this season. Nottingham entered play averaging over 82 points per game.
Hamilton West tops WW-P South for fifth straight triumph
The Hamilton West boys are quietly putting together a nice season as the Hornets took a 67-47 victory for their fifth straight victory.
Hamilton (6-3) blew it open early and led 27-7 after one quarter. Dane Riley led the way with 15 points, Javon Porter had 14 and Chris Charles 13.
“It was a fast start by us because of solid pressure defense,” coach Jay Malloy said. “We went up 12-0 early and had balanced scoring again. It was another solid team win with everyone contributing in some way on both ends of the floor.”
Diaz explodes as Nottingham girls get second victory in three games
Madison Diaz was a one-man wrecking crew as she scored a career-high 25 points in powering Nottingham’s girls to a 44-34 win over visiting Hightstown. The game was tied at 17-17 at halftime before the Stars took control with a 13-point third quarter.
Patricia Penix dominated on the boards with 10 rebounds, while Sara Haas scored eight points, Liz Kerekes added seven and Giuliana Pocino added four. It was the Northstars second win in three games as they improved to 4-6.
Spartans nearly get a win over new coach’s old team
Steinert returned to its first-year coach’s old stomping grounds and nearly gave Kyle Flanagan a huge win before dropping a 56-55 decision at Robbinsville. The Spartans led by a point entering the final quarter but the Ravens managed to pull it out behind Cory Bork’s 26 points and game-winning free throw.
Mario Mazur led Steinert (1-9) with 19 points while Lamont Morris added 18.
Hornet girls fall
Hamilton West fell to WW-P South, 41-35, despite 13 points by Gabbie Fonollosa.