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2021-2022 Mendham Minutemen Girls Basketball Preview

By Emma Stark, 12/17/21, 1:00PM EST

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Photos by GamefacePhotos.org

The Mendham Girls Basketball opening game is tonight. Despite the shortened season last year, last season’s team went 12-1 and became Northwest Jersey Atlantic Conference (NJAC) National Division Champions. This 2021-2022 squad will have big shoes to fill to continue this momentum. The loss of ten seniors, including team leaders Leah Lattmann (127 points) and Ally Blackwell (17 steals), makes doing so even more crucial to their success this season but there is plenty of optimism in Minuteman Nation. 

Head coach Hillary Milner knows how substantial the loss of last year’s seniors will impact the team and what their plan of action is with the current players. The ten seniors “worked and grew with me as a coach,” she said. Their extensive knowledge of the game and relationship with Coach Milner made practices consistent. “This year it is a lot more breaking things down and going back to fundamentals and going back to teach what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.” 

Although Morris County is traditionally a highly competitive county for girls basketball, Coach Milner envisions the girls making counties and possibly getting a first-week bye, depending on their record, as well as states. She is confident in their ability to compete within their conference, commenting on their "young talent” and “good freshman class.” However, competing for a conference championship will depend on if the team can execute the new defensive strategy they are implementing in the preseason. Instead of playing a defense based on whether the team made or missed a basket, Coach Milner has decided to play one defense based on their change in personnel. 

Senior captains Eliana Eichman and Abby Kontely are entering their fourth year with the Mendham Girls Basketball program. Eichman’s ability to read the game will be a key asset to the team. Kontely, on the other hand, is an excellent shooter who Coach Milner is expecting to knock down 3's, especially when teams start to throw more pressure at sophomore Lia Manuel, Second Team All Conference last season. 

“We definitely need to work on rebounding and taking care of the ball. Those two things will clean up a lot of the issues that we saw in our scrimmage [against Jefferson]. If we can tackle those two things I think the rest will come,” she added. 

The team’s opening game will take place on 12/17 away at Morris Knolls, followed by a holiday tournament hosted at Mendham and 16 other regularly scheduled games. Fans should look out for juniors Sonja Zeepvat and Alexa Kupka. The two girls have a lot of fight in them. Kupka is always willing to take on a challenge, and Zeepvat is “unafraid to take the ball to the basket even if it's against someone 6’3”. 

Mendham’s go-to phrase this season is “heart-and-hustle”, encouraging the girls to play with both heart and hustle on the court. Their athleticism and speedy guards paired with their desire to take the ball to the basket strongly will ultimately make them a standout team this year. 

Last Year's Results

DATE    OPPONENT    RESULT     
1/27    @ Morris Knolls    W 42-31    
1/28    @ Parsippany Hills    W 38-24    
1/30    vs. Mount Olive    W 44-13    
2/5    @ Morris Hills    W 44-41    
2/6    @ West Morris    W 51-50    
2/11    vs. Morris Hills    W 38-28    
2/13    vs. Morris Knolls    W 43-17    
2/17    @ Morristown    L 43-16    
2/19    @ Roxbury    W 52-20    
2/20    vs. Parsippany Hills    W 42-8    
2/23    vs. West Morris    W 46-33    
2/25    vs. Roxbury    W 39-19    
2/27    @ Mount Olive    W 46-27    

Last Year's Team Stats

Name     2PT    3PT    FT    PTS    REB    AST    BLK    STL    GP
Jordyn Betlow Senior    13    6    3    47    26    8    2    9    12
Ally Blackwell Senior    11    —    4    26    61    5    2    17    13
Gianna Cataldo Senior    —    —    —    —    3    2    —    —    3
Eliana Eichman Junior    11    3    8    39    23    18    8    13    12
Caroline Githens Senior    5    —    2    12    17    4    1    8    6
Sophia Gugliemini Senior    4    1    —    11    10    1    —    1    8
Payton Johnson Sophomore    1    —    —    2    1    1    —    2    4
Lindsay Kupka Senior    2    —    —    4    13    1    —    6    8
Anna Lasorsa Senior    26    9    21    100    55    9    3    11    13
Leah Lattmann Senior    23    26    3    127    13    10    8    10    13
Lia Manuel Freshman    26    10    5    87    26    16    7    12    13
Lexie Naval Senior    8    4    7    35    28    16    2    13    10
Mackenzie Porter Senior    3    —    1    7    9    —    1    —    6
Sonja Zeepvat Sophomore    13    1    16    45    38    10    2    11    13
Total:    146    60    70    542    323    101    36    113    134