MONMOUTH JCT. — With all of the inclement weather recently, the South Brunswick High School girls basketball team had not seen action other than practice in the preseason in weeks.
In fact, first-year head coach Jeff Johnson couldn’t remember exactly when they last took the court for a scrimmage against Bridgewater-Raritan.
It didn’t matter much to the Vikings on Friday in the season opener, though, as they ran away from Woodbridge, building on a 15-6 first-quarter advantage en route to a 58-28 victory.
“We had three scrimmages snowed out, so we were really antsy to play,” Johnson said. “I have to be honest: I didn’t know what we had still. So we were hoping for a lot of effort, which the girls gave and I’m very pleased that we were able to score as many points as we did.”
Led by freshman Amber Brown, the Vikings were able to capitalize on Woodbridge’s missed jumpers and sloppy passing, more than doubling their lead at halftime, 29-12. Brown was the only player in the game to reach double digits in scoring, pouring in 13 points and adding four rebounds.
South Brunswick gave Johnson his first victory as a head coach by spreading around the rest of the wealth, as five other players scored at least six points.
Jackie Harrison scored nine points and added eight rebounds and Jenna Mastronardi and Casey Savoth each chipped in seven points. Johnson was particularly happy with the play of Mastronardi, who stepped in and ran the point in the absence of Allyson Berger, who missed the game for family reasons.
“Jenna did a great job running the point the entire game and I think she played 27 or 28 minutes,” Johnson said. “I was worried that because we hadn’t played a lot recently that we wouldn’t be in great shape, but Jenna played great.”
Harrison and Mastronardi each scored five points in the second quarter, which ultimately did Woodbridge in. The Barrons committed three turnovers in the quarter, all of which led to South Brunswick baskets.
With a pair of freshmen on the floor for extended minutes, Johnson was anxious that his seniors might not integrate the younger players into the offense. But Brown and Natalia Louhisdon looked comfortable on the court and the results showed. Louhisdon scored eight points and pulled down four boards in her first taste of varsity action.
“I think there were first-game jitters on both sides and it looked like the two teams were the same in those first five or six minutes as we were just feeling each other out,” Johnson said. “I think the freshmen played well. That was the unknown coming into tonight and I’m really happy with how they all played themselves through it.”
Brielle Bannister and Brianna Valdes each scored eight points for Woodbridge, which was trying to get first-year head coach Bob Timinski his first win. The Barrons couldn’t get their jump shots to fall in the second half, as they were playing catch-up. Woodbridge will try again for its first win of the season Monday afternoon against Metuchen.
Having served as an assistant under previous head coach Beth Barrio, Johnson knows how important it is to get a Red Division win under his belt this early in the season.
“You want to win at home and you want to be undefeated here and make it a tough place to play,” he said. “This division that we’re going to be playing for over these next two months is tough, so every win is key. If you can get a lead and keep it and win, it’s very important.”