At the end of the 2021-22 season, Middletown South girls’ basketball Head Coach Tom Brennan announced he was stepping down, ending a 26-year stint at the helm. Meghan McGuinness Cranwell will be guiding the Eagles this season. The squad may have a bit of that “Brennanish” look as Cranwell played under the newly retired coach in the years 2008 to 2011 and served as his assistant coach the past four seasons.
Last year, the team posted a 19-8 record. They shared the A-North Division title with Marlboro and advanced to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 tournament final. However, more than 60 percent of that team’s offense production has been lost to graduation. Some retooling by the new head coach is required.
South does have a few returners who have seen varsity action. Cassidy Brown (Jr. G) scored 164 points last year. She drives the lane as well as the best and can shoot from the distance with 39 points coming from outside the arc. She duplicated those 39 points from the foul line and is a menacing element on defense with 33 steals last season.
Amanda Paterno (Sr. G) put up 114 points with 45 coming from three-point land. She swept the boards for 71 rebounds and was credited with 27 steals. She is the lone senior on the roster and has been named captain.
Erin Mayerhofer (Jr. G) put up 114 points last year. She can shoot the long ball well with 81 points coming from outside the arc.
Amanda Macgregor (So. G) scored 61 points in her frosh season. She also collected 52 rebounds and picked off 20 steals.
Expected to see action in rotation are Caitlin Whyte (So. G/F), Lizzie Tardy (So. C) and Nina Campitiello (So. G). “We are looking forward to these sophomores playing a bigger role at the varsity level this season,” Cranwell said.
South will be tackling a difficult schedule, playing Rumson-Fair Haven, Red Bank Catholic and Colts Neck twice each. The challenges will come quickly as RBC is slated as the second game on the schedule and RFH follows just three days later.
“We have some rebuilding to do this year after losing key players Renee Wells, Bella Orlando, Lara Brennan, Beth Rankin and Lauren Winant from last year’s squad,” Coach Cranwell said. “But we have a young, energetic and tenacious group of girls, and I think that we will surprise some teams with our toughness and our ability to compete.”
As a high school player, Cranwell reached the 1,000-point milestone. She went on play for the University of Niagara and professionally in Ireland.
Typically, clashes with perennial rival Middletown North draw capacity crowds. The Eagles host the Lions on Monday, Jan. 23.