Allentown High School is off to a 1-2 start to the girls’ basketball season.
The Redbirds lost to Steinert High School, 53-50, on Dec. 14, beat Hightstown High School, 48-38, on Dec. 18 and fell to Monroe Township High School, 60-45, on Dec. 20.
They have had no trouble coming out and taking control of games. In their victory over Highstown, the Redbirds raced to a 35-24 halftime lead.
In its two defeats, Allentown essentially did the same thing, building a seven-point third quarter lead versus Steinert and a 10-point second quarter advantage against Monroe. But in both games, Allentown’s opponents launched furious comebacks and held on to win.
With only one starter, Lauren Coiante, back from last year, Allentown is a talented but inexperienced team. The talent has shown itself early in games. The natural growing pains of inexperience have challenged the Redbirds late in contests.
But the potential is clearly there.
“To watch them come out with that energy, I could not be more proud of them. But the moment teams have gone on runs, we’ve lost hope,” said Allentown coach Dana Wells. “This is yet another lesson in our book. We’re going to turn the page and hopefully learn from it.”
The Redbirds are not far from thriving, especially since they often have the best player on the court. Coiante can do it all, and she did in the first half against Monroe, posting 14 points and five assists, having a hand in 24 of Allentown’s 28 points.
The senior has the balance of a guard and the size of a forward. She will give Allentown a chance in any game.
“Lauren is always going to be a leader for us. She’s the kind of kid who likes to take the team on her back,” Wells said. “Last year there wasn’t as much pressure on her to do so many things. But we’re finding that balance.”
Coiante usually looks to pass before she looks to shoot. It is just a matter of her teammates making shots.
They made plenty in Allentown’s victory over Hightstown. Coiante had six assists and five other Allentown players scored. Sophia Conti led the Redbirds in points with 16.
In the Redbirds’ loss to Steinert, Brianna Schweitzer stepped up to complement Coiante, dropping 15 points. The point guard has plenty of options around her.
“The inside presence has been big for us,” Wells said. “That really helped us out (against Hightstown).”
Wells’ team is trying to figure out how to play together and how to play consistent basketball. It is a process most young teams go through. But the coach is confident that her players, led by Coiante, will figure it out.
“We have to work on that mental toughness and learn to trust each other. Take it one stop at a time,” Wells said. “They have heart, desire and hustle. They played a great game against Steinert. They came out on fire against Monroe. So I want to commend them for their hard work.”
Allentown will get back in action on Dec. 29 at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. That game will start at 5 p.m.