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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

HHS winter teams played well

HAMMONTON—The 2021-22 winter sports season saw teams at Hammonton High School return to a full schedule of contests following a year interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Blue Devils made the most of their return to relative normalcy, turning in several strong campaigns during the winter.

Few Hammonton teams enjoyed as much success as the girls basketball squad, which finished the year with a 15-10 record and reached the quarterfinals of the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs.

“We did pretty well this season. Coming off a year where we were 6-7, to win 15 games is, I think, impressive. We competed in maybe the best division in the Cape Atlantic League and had some really good wins this year,” Hammonton coach Michael Velardi said.

The Blue Devils were led by All-South Jersey forward Emma Peretti, who averaged 19.6 points and 16 rebounds per game.

“Emma was excellent all season. She sets the tone for us,” Velardi said.

In addition to Peretti, Hammonton received strong play from guards Giada Palmieri (10.5 points per game) and Ava Divello (9.5). Shamaya Simola developed into a strong defender and rebounded during the season, and along with the team’s lone senior, Sophia Purvis, gave Hammonton a strong lineup each night.

On the boys side, Hammonton started the season well but faded down the stretch, dropping six of its last seven games and finishing with an 11-13 record. The Blue Devils reached the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs, but were ousted by Ocean City in the opening round of the tournament.

Seniors Jaron Hill and John Andaloro set the pace for the Blue Devils this season. Hill averaged more than 11 points per game and was one of the CAL’s top 3-point shooters. Andaloro earned all-star recognition around the region after a season that saw him score 13 points per game while averaging close to 10 rebounds per matchup.

Freshman guard Kenny Smith impressed in his first varsity season, leading the team in assists while averaging almost 12 points per game.

Adding depth to the roster this season were Tyler Lowe, a strong defender, Erik Pabon, whose clutch shooting sparked several victories, including one against rival St. Joseph, and Ta’vonne Barber, who provided late-season depth.

“Overall, I think we had a solid season. It didn’t end the way we wanted, but the guys all worked hard and we had some big wins against a really tough schedule. I think our division was the best in South Jersey, and we were able to compete every night,” Hammonton coach Joe Martino said.

Hammonton’s wrestlers were once again among the best teams in both the Cape Atlantic League and southern New Jersey, posting a 17-9 record that included a tough loss in the quarterfinals of the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs.

Hammonton featured a mix of veteran wrestlers and some inexperienced athletes, but was able to compete with a few of the top teams in the region throughout the season.

“I think we did well. We had a lot of young kids who were learning how to compete at the varsity level and they showed improvement as the year progressed,” coach Dave Mauriello said.

“Overall, I was happy with what we were able to accomplish this year and I think we’ve set a good foundation to build on next season,” Mauriello said.

Among the top performers for Hammonton this season was junior Anthony Evangelista, who earned his first trip to the state championships where he split four matches.

“Anthony had a great season and represented both himself and the program very well,” Mauriello said.

Evangelista was one of six Blue Devils to place at District 30. Senior Justin Flood earned a trip to regionals at 106 pounds, finishing the season with a 31-8 record.

Luca Giagunto, a freshman, enjoyed a stellar season for the Devils, posting a 34-5 mark and placing second in District 30.

Senior Aidan Fallon was second at districts and posted a 22-7 record at 144 pounds. Frank Italiano, wrestling at 120, earned third place in the district and finished the season with 19 wins. Billy Way sat out the season’s first 30 days after transferring to Hammonton, posted a 15-7 record and was third in District 30 at 157 pounds.

On the track, both Hammonton’s boys and girls teams performed well this winter, as several athletes set school record and personal-best marks in several events.

Senior Connor Wright became the first Blue Devil to compete at the Meet of Champions in three events, earning a fifth-place finish with a school-record long jump. He also competed in the high jump and triple jump. Junior Dom DeRose set records in the 400-meter dash and earned a trip to the state finals. DeRose was also a member of the 4x400 relay team, joining Fernando Flores, Brandon Martinez and Aaron Mull at the state championships.

Freshman C.J. Handy was among the Blue Devils who enjoyed strong seasons, earning a trip to nationals and setting several freshman records for the team.

On the girls side, freshman Caitlyn Fields earned a berth at the state finals in the 800, setting a new school record in the event.

Natalie Clauhs, Sierra Handy, Kaylie Ranere and Julianna Ruhf were among many Hammonton athletes who enjoyed strong seasons.

Hammonton’s boys bowlers finished a solid season with a 10-3-1 record. James Colasurdo was the team’s top scorer, while Michael Parker, Nicholas Stephan, Hayden Seiberlich, Tyler Puccio and Ryan Ulerick also had strong seasons.

For the girls bowling team, Hammonton was able to field a full roster for the first time since 2019, and the Blue Devils enjoyed a solid year, finishing with a 4-6-5 record.

Emily Stanziale and Violet Speakman were the top scorers for the Blue Devils, while Aubrey Smith, Riley Lancetta and Jayme Mazzocchi added depth.


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