In a girls’ basketball game against Long Branch High School on Jan. 24, Hannah Orloff picked off a pass at mid court, raced toward the basket and laid the ball in. She also got fouled and made the free throw.
“Centers just don’t do that in high school basketball,” said Mike Stoia, Orloff’s coach at Freehold Township High School.
Last spring, in an NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament first-round clash with Marlboro High School, Orloff dropped a game high 22 points in a 76-42 Freehold Township defeat.
“Their coach (Brad Hagensen) was like, ‘Wow, she has potential,'” Stoia said.
Orloff, a sophomore at Freehold Township, is a center with guard skills and elite athleticism. This profile has turned her into a jaw dropping player.
The sophomore is averaging 17.5 points and 12.8 rebounds per game this winter. She has also led the Patriots to a 12-6 start to the season. Freehold Township did not win more than 10 games in any of the last three seasons.
“I don’t think anybody thought she’d do 17 and 12 as a sophomore,” Stoia said. “She’s off the charts this year. At 6-2, she’s long and can run. She’s athletic and really a problem for most teams we play.”
Orloff is a unicorn, and her potential is limitless.
“If she stays healthy and just gets a little better…wow,” Stoia said. “If she makes these jumps again the next two years, the sky is the limit for her.”
The Patriots fit the same description as a team. They are not just about Orloff. Sophomore twin sisters Kaylie and Tanya Elsbree are also thriving.
Kaylie Elsbree is an electric outside shooter, with 47 three pointers in 18 games. She is also the team’s second leading scorer at 12.3 points per contest.
Tanya Elsbree is Freehold Township’s creator. She can beat any defender off the dribble and finish with her right and left hands.
“It’s nice that they are not the same player,” Stoia said. “Tanya being able to finish with her left is really unique for a high school player.”
Freehold Township’s offense usually goes something like this: Tanya Elsbree starts with the ball and drives to the basket. If a defender blocks her path, she either hits a cutting Orloff or kicks out to her sister. Then, if someone misses, Orloff grabs the rebound and tries to put it back.
The trio has sound chemistry from playing travel basketball together for the Howell Hawks.
“I usually just drive and kick to Hannah,” said Tanya Elsbree. “We each are unselfish with the ball. We all get opportunities to shoot, score and make plays.”
“We’ve been playing together for a long time, so we know each other,” Orloff added. “This is no different from other years. The competition is just much higher.”
By winning more than 10 games, Freehold Township has already accomplished its goal for the year. But the Patriots do not plan on stopping there. Now, they also want to make the Shore Conference Tournament.
“Eleven wins are something to build on, but that’s still with games left,” Stoia said. “The Shore Conference Tournament is ridiculous. Hopefully we win a game or two so we can play a top team. It’s an opportunity to grow.”
Freehold Township is good now. It could be very good in the next couple years.
“We’re all still improving our chemistry,” Kaylie Elsbree said. “That will help in the years to come.”