By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The Lyndhurst High School girls’ basketball team had a great season a year ago, winning 16 games and placing two players on the All-NJIC Meadowlands Division team.
With those two players back plus two other starters, Lyndhurst girls’ basketball head coach Perrin Mosca is confident that the Golden Bears will be a team to be reckoned with once again.
“With most of the team back, I’m counting on the seniors to be team leaders,” said Mosca, who began his third season as head coach with a loss to Dwight-Englewood last Friday. “We have a solid group back.”
Leading the way is senior center Camila Alonso. The 5-foot-10 center averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds per game last season, earning All- NJIC honors.
“We expect her to do more this season,” Mosca said. “She’s our go-to girl and our offense goes through her. She’s going to take us as far as we can go. She’s improved as a player. She’s handling the ball more and hitting the mid-range jumper. She looked really good in the preseason.”
Mosca is confident that Alonso can play at the collegiate level.
“She’s had a couple of looks,” Mosca said. “I think she can definitely play at the next level.”
The other All-NJIC honoree returning is 5-foot-3 senior point guard Dana Halligan.
“She’s a good ball handler and leader,” Mosca said of Halligan, who averaged eight points and six assists per game last year. “This is her third year starting for me, so I expect her to lead us on the floor and control the game.”
Lexus Lopez, the standout bowler headed to FDU, is also back to help the Golden Bears on the hardwood.
“She loves basketball and loves to play,” Mosca said of the 5-foot-6 swing player. “I expect better things from her and all the seniors who have been with me for three years.”
The fourth senior is Brittany Levario, a 5-foot-4 guard. “Brittany is our leading 3-point shooter,” Mosca said. “She has improved her range and can really stick the open shot.”
Junior forward Grace Tomko was injured most of last season, but the 5-foot-7 Tomko has returned to full health.
“She was probably our best all-around player when she was a freshman,” Mosca said of Tomko. “She does all the necessary little things well.”
Sophomore Gianna Di- Tonto is the first player off the bench.
“She has a nice balance inside with Camila,” Mosca said of the 5-foot-8 forward DiTonto. “She can also knock down big shots and she’s pretty good at rebounding.”
Three junior guards, namely 5-foot-4 Bianca Fata, 5-foot-4 Joelle Voza and 5-foot-4 Christie Zembryski, are all interchangeable and all do different things.
“We’re expecting these girls to step up and challenge a little this year,” Mosca said.
Mosca is also pleased with the play of 5-foot-8 freshman forward Cameron Halperin, who impressed him so much in the preseason that Mosca kept Halperin with the varsity.
“I didn’t think she’d be a varsity player this year, but she’s worked very hard and is ready to produce on this level,” Mosca said. “By the end of the year, I think she’s going to do some big things for us.”
Another key contributor is 5-foot-7 junior Cameron Georgs, who is the team’s resident jack-of-all-trades.
“She can play small forward or shooting guard,” Mosca said. “She’s one of our better shooters.”
Mosca is convinced that his team can compete for league honors this season.
“We absolutely can contend,” Mosca said. “We’ll be fine. The schedule is going to be a little tougher, but that’s fine. We’ll be there at the end.”
The Golden Bears will return to the Boardwalk Basketball Classic in Wildwood Dec. 29-30, a tournament that they managed to win last year.
“We’re hoping for the same result,” said Mosca, whose team faces Owen J. Roberts High School of Pottstown, PA in the opening round. “It’s a nice experience for the girls and they had fun last year. They get a chance to get away together for a couple days.”
The Golden Bears should be a solid team, as long as Alonso plays up to her capabilities.
“She’s the key,” Mosca said. “We need a big year from her. Our offense goes through her. If she doesn’t play well, I don’t know how we can play well. It would really affect us. I think she’ll have a good year.”
If that’s the case, then so will the Golden Bears once again.