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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Hammonton Girls Limping Into Postseason

THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. Hammonton’s Giada Palmieri (14) dribbles past Williamstown defender Tinu Bamgbose (15) late in last week’s game.

HAMMONTON—An up-and-down season took a downward turn for Hammonton High School’s girls basketball team last week, as the Blue Devils lost a key player and split four games as they head into this week’s Cape Atlantic League playoffs.

“It’s been a tough week with some tough breaks for us,” Hammonton coach Sarah Kinee said.

The Blue Devils opened the week with a big win at Holy Spirit, but that game proved costly, as senior forward Emma Peretti suffered a knee injury that will likely keep her off the court for the remainder of the season.

“I hurt it [the knee] against Holy Spirit, but I was able to finish the game. After they looked at it, they said it was injured and that the best course would be to sit out at least four weeks,” Peretti said.

With Peretti out of the lineup, the Blue Devils struggled in losses to Cedar Creek, Williamstown before beating Rancocas Valley last week.

Peretti is averaging 17.8 points and 13.8 rebounds per game this season.

“Obviously, losing Emma is tough for us. We have to find a way to replace her production and her rebounding,” Kinee said.

At Holy Spirit, Peretti helped Hammonton overcome an early 15-10 deficit to rally for a 53-49 win. She led the Blue Devils with 21 points and grabbed a game-high 21 rebounds. Ava Divello added 12 points, Kiley Kozlowski had nine and Giada Palmieri finished with eight points in the win.

“Emma [Peretti] had a great game, and everyone contributed. When we have balanced scoring like that, with everyone involved, that’s when we’re at our best,” Kinee said.

Playing without Peretti against Cedar Creek, Hammonton struggled offensively and lost 33-29 to the Pirates.

The Blue Devils fell behind 10-4 in the first quarter and an 11-6 fourth-quarter run helped close the gap but wasn’t enough to pull out a win.

Divello and Palmieri each scored 12 points to lead Hammonton, while Kozlowski added eight.

Williamstown used a 31-8 first quarter run to take control early and roll to a 70-32 win at Hammonton later in the week.

The Blue Devils were tentative on offense in the first half, leading to turnovers and easy baskets for the Braves, who also connected on seven 3-pointers in the game.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Palmieri scored nine second-half points to lead all Blue Devils scorers.

“Right now, we’re struggling and the girls are kind of down because Emma’s out. She means a lot to our team, but we need others to step up and fill that void right now. It’s disappointing to lose a great player, but we still have a lot to play for and the girls need to have the confidence that they can overcome it,” Kinee said.

Hammonton was able to bounce back from the back-to-back losses last weekend when it downed Rancocas Valley 48-35 at Eastern Regional in a South Jersey Invitational game.

Trailing by a point to start the second quarter, the Blue Devils took control of the game by outscoring the Red Devils 16-5 in period.

Divello led Hammonton with 19 points, while Kozlowski added 11 and Palmieri scored eight.

Hammonton earned the sixth seed in the Cape Atlantic League playoffs and will host 11th-seeded Absegami on February 9 at 5:30 p.m. The winner advances to the quarterfinal round on February 11.


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