Looking for revenge...
While last year was a huge success for Leilani Correa, The Argonauts had one team that was a thorn in their side all season. Rutgers Prep was ranked #1 in the state and was one game away from the state championship, when Franklin stepped in and stole their thunder. Correa has used that as fuel and went on a tear this summer, dominating the AAU scene for the NJ Sparks. Do to her stellar play Correa is ranked as a top 25 player in the class of 2019. It's only right that we paid homage and selected Correa as a diarist for us this year. Check back throughout the season as Leilani gives us an insider look at the life of a star student athlete playing basketball on the highest level in New Jersey.
As told to Christian Mordi / @thedribbledrop
Our first big challenge of the year was an early season matchup against Franklin. I would consider Franklin as one of our rivals. They were the only team we lost to last year and we wanted revenge for sure.
Franklin are the defending champs, led by Diamond Miller. Coach Klinger had a strong game plan in place for that one. We put Olivia Mullins on to start and we made sure as a group to show ourselves on defense every time she had the ball. Every time she looked at the rim we wanted her to see five white jerseys in front of her. Olivia did a great job on her and in spots I guarded Diamond as well. One thing that really grabbed my attention that game was that we have so many strong perimeter players that can guard. You have Olivia, the freshmen Isabella Pellechia, Jahsyni, myself, etc. It’s great having that type of depth defensively alongside you.
The game was a fast paced. A major reason we were able to come out with the win was everyone contributed when they got on the floor in some way. Everyone had some input in the outcome in the game.
The environment was amazing. To have so many parents, faculty members and students come out meant a lot to me. It was cool seeing coaches from so many big programs at the game as well also. Having them in the gym was another cool addition to the game environment. The energy in that gym was unreal. It got us pumped up and gave us the support and boost we needed to play well in a game of that magnitude.
Our next big game was the Christmas tournament at St. John Vianney. Our first matchup was against Rumson Fair Haven. They are led by Tori Hyduke. Tori is a phenomenal player. She has amazing ball handling and can really shoot the ball. Going into that game our main focus was slowing her down but she got hot early. At half we made adjustments to slow her down more and we started throwing multiple bodies at her. I think we settled down in the second half and played our game.
Defensively I saw a lot of different looks. When I started knocking down a couple they went to a hard deny. I adjusted to that and when I got the ball I started finding my teammates. Chiara Tibbitt had a really good game. She was hot from mid-range all game long. Olivia also did a great job attacking and getting to the rim as well. When I have to score I can get my own, but having that type of help around me is really good.
Our next game was against St. John Vianney. Coach did a good job preparing us for that one. One of the things she mentioned was for us to play our game and not let the environment throw us off. SJV was a very good team. They applied a lot of pressure on the ball and we adjusted to that as the game went on. SJV pulled out the win but collectively I think we learned a lot about that one. Practices have been strong. We are challenging each other pressure wise and we will be much better for our next big matchup.
One of our next big matchups is against Manasquan on Jan 28th. It’s the Coaches Choice Tournament Showcase. That will be a great game for sure.
On another note, I love to sing. I normally don’t sing in front of a lot of people, but when I’m with my close friends you can catch me singing sometimes. Right now my favorite movie out is “The Greatest Showman.” I’m in love with all of the songs on that playlist. That’s one of the main things I’m singing to right now.
'Til next time,