2018-2019 JWMS Winter Sports Season
JWMS Girls Basketball 2018-2019
The John Witherspoon Girls’ Basketball Team had a successful season under coaches Alicia Perrine and Justin Mathews. The team finished 8-6 with wins over Lawrence, Timberlane, Stuart, Thomas Grover, Cranbury, Kreps, Community, and PDS. The team was led by eighth graders Tiana Abdel-Rahman, Nandika Bhargava, Sophia Jaffe, Sophia Kearns, Rachel Luo, Samantha Renda, and Macayla Rodriguez. The top scorer for the team was Macayla Rodriguez with 160 points and 62 rebounds on the season. Macayla was also recognized as overall Most Valuable Player and “The Heart of the Team.” She was a leader on the stat sheet and an example to every player on the team and every player she competed against. Samantha Renda finished her third year with JW basketball collecting the most rebounds with 208 rebounds and 82 points on the season. Nandika Bhargava ended her three year membership on the team with an impressive 25 points and 80 rebounds. All three starting eighth graders will be missed. Other offensive leaders included Casey Serxner with 124 points and 27 rebounds, Riley Devlin with 31 points and 42 rebounds, and Sophia Jaffe with 20 points and 23 rebounds. Grace Li earned 6th grade “Rookie of the Year” honors for her ability to shot and drive to the basket. The highlight of the season was the 54-51 win against Kreps Middle School toward the end of the season. After an earlier loss to Kreps by 15 points, the girls demonstrated their growth as a group and managed to earn a win by outscoring Kreps 19-9 in the fourth quarter. We are very proud of the accomplishments of the girls and we look forward to more success next year. Good luck to our 8th graders as they prepare to enter PHS.
JWMS Wrestling 2018-2019
The John Witherspoon Middle School Wrestling Team had a successful season under coaches Kevin Homan and Benito González. The team finished the season with 4 wins, including victories over Kreps, Cranbury, and Sacred Heart. Our numbers have grown two years in a row, and we improved upon our 3-7 record from last year. Although we are losing many experienced wrestlers who performed very well this year, we are confident that our rising 7th and 8th graders will step up and continue to grow and develop as wrestlers. Thanks to increasing student interest, we are hopeful that we can build a stronger program that will feed into and support the high school program.
One of the highlights of our season was our county tournament at Robbinsville High School. Against teams from all over the county, we had six wrestlers enter the final round in their weight bracket (including three top-3 finishes!) The following wrestlers earned such honors…
● Cole Rose (3rd place)
● Marty Brophy (2nd place)
● Basil Reiger
● Harrison Ehee (2nd place)
● Tyler Ehee
● Max Franceschi
Out of thirteen teams at the county tournament, John Witherspoon Middle School placed sixth in total points. We are very proud of their accomplishments!
Overall, we were pleased with the team’s performance and growth this year. Good luck to our 8th grade wrestlers heading to the high school, and we look forward to continuing our work next year.
JWMS Swim Team 2018-2019
The JW middle school swim season ran from November 15, 2018 to January 18, 2019. There were approximately 75 swimmers on the team, and it was a co-ed team. We had four home meets, they were against Metuchen, Wilberforce, Stuart, and Elizabeth. The scores were as followed. We defeated Metuchen by a score of 138 to 32, Wilberforce by a score of 130 to 40, Stuart with a score of 132 to 38 and Elizabeth with a score of 127 to 43.
We had three weekly practices . Practices were held at the JW pool and ran from 7:15 to 8:15 in the morning. We find that having morning practices puts a real strain on the swimmers and their schedules and for that reason we only have 3 practices a week. Our practices were held on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. Only one practice had to be cancelled for inclement weather.
Our program also has a portion dedicated to adapted swimmers. One or two lanes are always set aside with special aides for each swimmer as well as “in the water” instructors. As far as I know this is the only Winter sports program that offers this, and the program should be commended for that. Also, the program should be recognized positively for being able to maintain such a large number of swimmers (75) when compared to the other winter sports teams. There are no cuts, this is an all-inclusive team. With this in mind where we lack in some areas, we certainly make up for them in other areas, like the above stated strengths.
JWMS Boys Basketball 2018-2019
Bram Reynolds and Jacques Bazile
Following a rigorous evaluation period of over 70 participants, which lasted three separate sessions, the final basketball roster was established for the 2018-2019 season. During the tryout process, participants were evaluated base on (but not limited to) Competitive Drills, Rebounding, Skill, Technique, Team Play, Shooting and Defense. Each participant not selected for the team was given a copy of their evaluation form, which summarized our comments on areas of improvement.
The 24-player roster was a mix of grade levels: (4) sixth graders, (10) seventh graders and (10) eighth graders.
Practices were (generally) 1.5-hour periods. Practices were typically comprised of three parts: Warm-Up, Skills & Drills and Practical instruction (learning offensive plays, defensive plays, game situations and scrimmages)
Games were (generally) organized by the “A” Team (First Game Team) and “B” Team (Second Game Team). The “A” Team was made up predominantly of seventh and eighth graders, while the “B” Team was made up of sixth, seventh and a couple of eighth graders.
Considering the winless season, the “A” Team continued to work hard in practices and games throughout the entire season. In order to improve their basketball IQ and skill levels, all players need to: a) join a club, recreation or AAU basketball team in order to gain more experience in competitive basketball games, b) become more proficient with overall basketball skill and knowledge of the game, c) increase their physical fitness and aerobic conditioning.
For the “B” Team, I would make the same recommendations as noted above, however, a few players on the “B” Team had a competitive drive which helped to compensate for a lack of skill or experience, which was nice to see.
Offensively, I thought the players, who had offensive skill, felt comfortable in the offensive sets and motion offense. It is key to the success of the team, for those individual scorers to be comfortable, and not hesitant, when in a game situation. I often reiterated to certain players that they should always take advantage of offensive opportunities, while playing within the structure of the offense. As the season progressed, the offensive contributions (by key contributors) became consistent and not sporadic (inconsistent offensive contributions), which is detrimental to the success of a team.
Defensively, both teams struggled with overall defensive effectiveness during games. Man-to-Man, Zone and (full-court) Press defensive principles were emphasized during practice, but execution during games was an issue throughout the entire season. More practice time was needed to become proficient with defensive principles. Several (A Team) games were lost during the final minutes/seconds because we did not make “stops” defensively. We allowed opposing players to attack the basketball goal and making uncontested shots, or we were late to the assignment, so we fouled the offensive player.
With the help of Coach Bazile, I thought the team was well organized. I have added samples of our documentation related to Tryouts, Letter to Parents, Team Rosters, Team Plays (shared with the team via Google Drive).
I believe the players learned a great deal by the end of the season. Some may take this experience and use for motivation, but some may be content with the current trajectory of their development. Everyone on the team needs to improve their overall skillset and in-game experience.
In closing, the team had a few key injuries this season. Three players who would have made considerable contributions for the team missed several games over the course of the season. As a result of the more experienced players missing games, this left areas of opportunity for younger players to move into roles on the “A” Team. I was pleased to see these player take full-advantage of the challenge and made impactful contributions.
by Coach Reynolds