Lauren Coiante can do it all on a girls’ basketball court.
Now, though, she doesn’t have to. And that has made all the difference for Allentown High School.
After a month of getting used to varsity basketball, allowing leads to vanish and staying under .500, Coiante’s teammates are stepping up alongside her. Allentown is 4-1 in its last five games, evening its record at 6-6.
On Jan. 18, Allentown beat Princeton High School, 40-30, winning the second half, 26-15. Princeton entered the game with a 9-3 record.
Coiante led the Redbirds with 16 points, seven on free throws. She scored most of her points in the second half.
In December, Coiante would tire in the second half. She couldn’t sustain her energy because she had to handle the ball and guard the ball handler on each possession.
But on Jan. 18, Coiante played off the ball for most of the first half. In the last month of 2018, this would have led to the Redbirds falling behind.
In the first month of 2019, though, Coiante’s teammates kept the Redbirds close. Allentown trailed by one point at halftime. Then, in the second half, a fresh Coiante took over. It was a successful formula for beating a good opponent.
“We started with a very young team. I stressed that the beginning of the year was about getting a chance to play together and jell,” said Allentown coach Dana Wells. “The girls are more confident now. They are solid together.”
“We’re just picking up the experience that we didn’t have in the beginning of the season. The four new starters are getting into the flow of things,” Coiante said. “I had confidence in them from the beginning. They all had potential and they can all play really well. They are fulfilling that.”
Coiante is not like other high school standouts. She actually prefers to pass rather than shoot.
The senior has been a point guard her whole life, going back 10 years. She also ran point for Allentown last winter, during the most successful season in program history. The Redbirds finished 24-4 and reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional tournament final, losing to Ewing High School, 67-57.
On that team, Coiante was the younger sister on a team full of seniors. It was easy to play a facilitator role.
On this year’s Allentown team, though, Coiante is the older sister. So, she had to bring her younger siblings along for a month. In December, they often weren’t even ready for her quick, no look passes.
But now they are ready for them, and Coiante has gone back to playing her natural role.
“I’ve been a point guard all my life. So I definitely like still doing that with them,” Coiante said. “All my life I’ve viewed it as pass first, but I definitely will look to score if my team needs.”
The senior has gotten plenty of help during Allentown’s winning stretch. In Allentown’s first victory in January, 63-34, over Hamilton High School West, Mackenzie Forman added 12 points. Erica Layman and Maddie McCrea pitched in eight tallies each.
On Jan. 14, in Allentown’s victory, 53-42, over Northern Burlington County Regional High School, McCrea actually led the Redbirds in scoring, dropping in 19 points.
Most importantly, everyone is an option. Five other players, McCrea, Isabella Dona, Brianna Schweitzer, Sophia Conti and Giovanna Carotenuto, scored in the Princeton victory.
Allentown is a team now, and a good one.
“We got the groove by just starting to mold together. We weren’t used to playing together,” Conti said. “Now we know who’s open and how people like to score. We just know each other.”
“We complement each other very well,” McCrea added. “It’s so much fun.”
It could get even more fun down the stretch.
“They are really capable of anything,” Wells said. “We can still be where we were last year.”