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'Storm' season: local softball champs PAGE 2

AUG. 7-13, 2019



Summer League

Washington Township, Timber Creek each collect titles and look toward riding the momentum into the 2019-20 season By RYAN LAWRENCE Sports Editor

In the closing minutes of the final game of the Haddon Heights Summer League season, the last of three championship games inside a nearly full George A. Maier Jr. Memorial Gym, rising Timber Creek High School junior Austin Green corralled a loose ball near midcourt. While a Haddon Heights player gave chase – and managed to beat Green to the basket, too – Green had the advantage. The athletic, 6-foot-5 forward went airborne

and, on this night, there wasn’t anyone who could play on his level above the rim. When Green’s feet finally hit the ground, the dozen or so Chargers fans behind the basket bounced off the bleachers in celebration. It was an emphatic dunk and also an exclamation point on an exciting win. “I’ve never ‘postered’ somebody before, that was just my second dunk in a game,” Green said after the final buzzer. “We play hard and we play together, that’s the main thing. We didn’t force shots and we played hard.” Timber Creek was one of two varsity-level champions on the night, beating host Haddon Heights 55-50 to collect the Monday-Wednesday division Summer League title. Washington Township preceded the Chargers on the court on July 29 with a 58-41 win over Glassboro for the Tuesday-Thursday crown. The monthlong league includes 28 varsity please see CHAMPIONS, page 3 RYAN LAWRENCE/South Jersey Sports Weekly

Timber Creek’s Austin Green prepares for a foul shot.

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Storming to championships Mt. Laurel Storm softball collected two titles last month at USSSA Nationals

By RYAN LAWRENCE Sports Editor

Even without a farmer’s almanac at our disposal, we can say with a high degree of confidence that the forecast for the spring of 2024 is calling for a successful softball season at Lenape High School with a chance for a championship. How can anyone predict such a thing? Just look at the summer the Mt. Laurel Storm’s softball program has put together in 2019. please see STORM, page 4

Special to South Jersey Sports Weekly

The members of the Mt. Laurel Storm 10U softball team that collected a national championship last month include (front row) Alese Smith, Gabby Ferraro, Abi Bozarth, Mia Marino, Coco Serenbetz, Lauren Mullin, Alexis Krause, Vayda Pino, Erin Shannon, Bianca Henderson, Olivia Clark and Gabriella Maldonado. In the back row are, coaches Mike Marino, Tim Mullin and Todd Serenbetz.


CHAMPIONS continued from page 1

and 14 junior varsity high school teams from Camden, Burlington, Gloucester and Salem counties. “Our goal was to get to this game,” Timber Creek coach Rich Bolds said. “Obviously during the regular season we get close but not (quite) there. We just wanted to get these guys game experience. This summer we had a lot of guys that aren’t here, but the ones that are coming out at 6:30 to work out every morning, they’re producing. Like Austin, he couldn’t get in the rotation (last season) but now in the summer he’s playing his behind off and that’s a testament to what you can do.” Timber Creek was able to set the tone against Haddon Heights and fight off a late second-half comeback thanks to its team depth. The Chargers had a healthy mix of experienced guards and forwards chipping in throughout the game, a good sign for the upcoming 2019-20 season. “I think we’re going to be champions,” Green said of a Chargers team that went 16-11 (7-0 in Olympic Conference, Patriot Division play) last season. “Our team is better this year than we were last year and we lost in the third round (to eventual state champion Moorestown). I feel like we can definitely be champions.” While Timber Creek’s veteran roster used the summer in an effort to take the first step toward making history together this winter, Washington Township is hoping its own Summer League title will lay the foundation toward its program turning a corner. The Minutemen went 9-18 during the 2018-19 season and won just one

division game. But they showed off a tenacious, athletic style in their win over Glassboro, finding success both behind the arc and in attacking the rim. “We all had a role and we all executed it perfectly,” said Richard Santos. “We hustled every game,” added fellow rising senior Chase King of the high points of the summer season. “In close games I felt like we played well under pressure. … We’ve become more of a unit. And by working on plays, we can get it done in the regular season when it really matters.” Washington Township’s players were probably eager for some rest following their championship win. The Minutemen came into the night fresh off playing for three consecutive days at a weekend camp at Albright College in Reading, Pa. “I thought we’d be exhausted and not have much tonight, (but) our guys play hard, whenever they’re on the court they go after it,” said Washington Township coach Matt Kiser. “It’s a Summer League championship but it’s a building block for what we want to accomplish. These guys have been consistent, we’ve hardly had any guys miss practices and we share with football and soccer. They find the time. I’d be exhausted, but they go all day. It was a good summer.” Timber Creek’s coach concurred. “It’s the summer, you work on things to get better,” Bolds said. “We did that and I think their confidence has raised a little bit. We’ll see how they progress from now until the fall and then go from fall into the winter. But right now, it’s a good feeling for them.” ■

Timber Creek’s Justin Bladen converts a layup.

Washington Township’s Jack Chambers tries to finish off a lob pass.

Timber Creek’s Faizon Carter defends an inbounds pass.

Washington Township’s Richard Santos fights through traffic in the lane.

Washington Township basketball coach Matt Kiser talks with his players during a break in play.

Timber Creek’s Eric Benjamin fights through Haddon Heights defenders.

Timber Creek’s Eric Benjamin gets some help from teammate Austin Green.

Timber Creek’s bench takes in the action.


ALL PHOTOS: RYAN LAWRENCE/South Jersey Sports Weekly



Special to South Jersey Sports Weekly

The 12U Mt. Laurel Storm won a national championship last month in Virginia. The members of the team include (front row, from left) Sam Elk, Gianna Bayard, Sarah Buckley, Abbie Villanueva, Katie Vuong, Sydney Michener and (back row, from left) Trinity Saucier, Becca Taylor, Ella Michener, Charlena Fish, Olivia Smith, Maeve Shannon and Gracia Fish.


continued from page 2 Last month, the 10U and 12U Mt. Laurel Storm teams hopped on a bus for a 3 ½ hour drive to Leesburg, Va., and both returned home with new jewelry. And not the kind of jewelry you might find at souvenir shops. Championship jewelry. Both Storm teams were crowned champions of their age group tournaments at the USSSA Nationals. The 10U Storm edged the NEPA Shockwave (of Pennsylvania) 3-2 to collect their title, while the 12U team rebounded from a loss to the GC Lady Brawlers (of Gloucester City) to win the second matchup of the double-elimination tournament, 1-0, to capture their own championship. “I can’t believe it,” said Tim Mullin, the coach of the 10U Storm. “I went down there just wanting to survive and play on Saturday. … My fear was once Friday came, because it’s double elimination, I feared we’d be eliminated and the trip would be over. I never thought we’d go that far and play as great as we played. I’m immensely proud.” The Storm’s season began with high hopes but perhaps tempered expectations. The 10U

team got knocked out of a tournament in Yardley, Pa., early and moved a level up and struggled at a tournament in Cape May in June. But during that latter tournament, the team bounced back on the final day and rode that momentum into the rest of the summer. “What’s great is you could see the progress as we went along,” Mullin said. “During the course of the year we’d struggle in certain games and look really bad. To see them put it all together and go undefeated (in Virginia) — and there were some pretty good teams down there — it was unbelievable to see them do it.” While the program is currently holding tryouts for next year’s team, they’re going to bask in the glow of this year’s success before summer comes to an end. “We’re going to have a team party in a couple of weeks and I want to make sure I tell the girls that they’re going to remember that moment forever,” said the 48-year-old Mullin. “I still remember winning my Little League championship when I was 8 or 9 years old. To win a national championship like that, I hope that they stay connected. It’s something they’ll always remember.” ■

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