Both rightfully and fortunately, the West Milford High School girls basketball program has earned the opportunity to compete on the court this winter.
The Highlanders are scheduled for two road games at Lakeland and Clifton on Jan. 28 and Jan, 30, respectively. They have two home contests slated for Feb. 4 and Feb. 6 versus Passaic and Pompton Lakes, respectively.
“We are obviously following all the COVID guidelines and parameters that have been set up, masks, social distancing, etc.,’’ West Milford head coach Ray LaCroix said. “It makes for an interesting year, but I know the girls are really happy to be playing this year.’’
Among the key returning student athletes with varsity level experienced for West Milford are:
Rory McCormick (senior, guard, Second Team All Conference and Honorable Mention All County in 2020);
Alex Buonanno (senior, forward, missed last season with a knee injury);
Amanda Gerold (senior, forward);
Brielle Hanley (senior, guard);
Mackenzie Dates (senior, guard);
Rachel Chandler (junior, point guard, First Team All Conference, Second Team All County in 2020);
Samantha Araujo (junior, forward,);
Rebecca DeTuro (junior, guard, missed last season with a shoulder injury);
Olivia Arciniega (junior, forward, missed half of last season with a wrist injury);
Jakki Galella (sophomore, forward); and
Maggie Spagnuolo (sophomore, guard).
Key newcomers hoping make a positive impression at the varsity level for the Highlanders include Avery Vacca (freshman, point guard) and Kailey Maskerines (freshman, guard).
‘Leadership and respect’
“Amanda Gerold, Alex Buonanno and Rory McCormick are my senior tri-captains this year,’’ LaCroix said. “They provide tremendous leadership and are respected within the program. They are ‘we not me’ players and set that example each day.’’
West Milford tallied nine victories and advanced to the NJSIAA North 1 Group 3 Sectional Tournament for the eighth straight time last season. They were defeated by top-seeded and eventual Sectional champion Ramapo last year.
“With the COVID restrictions, we have a 15-game season this year,’’ LaCroix said. “No County Tournament and no State Tournament. Our goal is simple, we want a winning season and I think that is something we can achieve. I think we are certainly a contender in the division this year. I return a lot of experience and talent and have a lot of girls back who were out with injury too last year. The team to beat is Wayne Valley. They are the defending division and County champs from last season.’’