All-Area Player of the Year: Metuchen’s Cassie Smith

Cassie Smith of Metuchen has been named Home News Tribune All Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan

Cassie Smith of Metuchen has been named Home News Tribune All Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Photo by: Mark R. Sullivan

When Cassie Smith got to Metuchen High School four years ago, her main goal was to get to 1,000 career points. Midway through her junior season, that goal was obtained, but Smith didn’t stop there, embarking on an incredible senior campaign, becoming Metuchen’s all-time leader in career points — for boys or girls — along the way.

Smith averaged 27.9 points per game and led the state in both field goals and free throws made, helping Metuchen win the NJSIAA Central Group I Tournament. She is The Home News Tribune’s Player of the Year.

“I never thought that I’d set all of these records, considering I only set out to get to 1,000 career points, so as I saw the records adding up, it was a great feeling for me,” Smith said. “But I’ll remember winning the sectional title more than anything else.”

In the Bulldogs’ final game of the season, Smith passed Artie Flaherty in career points, giving her 2,062 for her illustrious career, to cap a year in which she surpassed former head coach Val Gazda to become the all-time leader for points scored by a schoolgirl in Metuchen history. Smith recorded 22 double-doubles in 29 games, averaging 13 rebounds per contest, and tied for the state-lead with 810 points scored. Her scoring average was the fifth-highest in the state.

She eclipsed 20 points in all by one game, scored 20 or more in 25 of 29 games, 30 or more in 13 different games and topped 40 points twice. Smith finished her career averaging 19.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest.

“She did so many things well,” Metuchen head coach Pat Mayo said. “She did it with humility and honor for her teammates. She was always encouraging her teammates to do better and when they did something well, she lauded them. It was one of the main reasons we were so successful.”

But as the records continued to pile up, Smith never focused on the numbers, instead keeping her eyes on the prize of winning the sectional tournament. She scored only 22 points in the final two games, both overtime victories over Shore and South River, but knew that her teammates would step up to deliver the crown.

“I just kept my eyes on the main goal to win the sectional,” she said. “It was exciting to win that game and the one before that in overtime; coach doesn’t like OT, but we liked to make it exciting.”

Smith’s entire season was exciting, as she adapted to playing for a new head coach in Mayo and upped her game all while facing constant double-teams and occasional triangle-and-two defenses.

“I don’t think I could have done anything I did this season without coach Mayo,” Smith said. “I owe it all to her; she was great in practices and in games and it helped having her this year.”

The Bentley University-bound star remained humble all season long, differing to teammates at times when her jump shot wasn’t going in, and she hopes that her name isn’t atop the record book forever.

“I hope someone works really hard and ends up breaking my records,” she said.

It won’t be easy, as Smith has set the bar incredibly high for any future Metuchen Bulldog to reach.

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