• Dan Russoman

Peretti reaches 1,000 points


Hammonton High School’s girls basketball team celebrates after junior Emma Peretti (34) scored the 1,000th point of her career last week. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Emma Peretti became the newest member of the 1,000-point club at Hammonton High School, passing the milestone early in last week’s game against Absegami.


Needing just one point to reach 1,000 for her career, the junior forward reached the mark on the Blue Devils’ first possession of the game.


After controlling the opening tip, Hammonton guard Shamaya Simola fed the ball to Peretti on the right block. The 5-foot-11 junior took a dribble, squared up and hit a shot fall away shot to pass the 1,000-point mark, setting off a loud celebration with teammates, family and friends.


Peretti is the 10th Hammonton girl to reach 1,000 points. Her sister, Sarah, reached the milestone in 2018 and her father, Frank, was the first Hammonton player to ever top the mark.


“Coming into high school getting my name up on that banner with my dad’s and Sarah’s, that was my dream one of my goals. To be able to get it at home, it was emotional and it meant everything to me,” Peretti said.


After reaching the milestone, Peretti shed a few tears as she was presented with balloons and flowers at halfcourt.


“It hit me when I saw my dad. Tears came,” she said.


Both Peretti and Hammonton coach Mike Velardi were happy to pass the 1,000-point mark on the Blue Devils’ home floor.


“A few nights ago, we knew she needed 21 points, but we were on the road [at Pennsauken]. The plan was to pull her out with maybe 16 or 17 points, but she wanted to stay in the game. Once she reached 20, we took her out so she could get it at home,” Velardi said.


“That was important to me, to score it here [at Hammonton]. I know they [the coaches] were aware of how many I needed,” Peretti said.


Reaching 1,000 points is the latest achievement for Peretti, who has developed into one of the best players in South Jersey.


“It’s a tribute to how hard she’s worked. Emma is such a great player and a great teammate,” Velardi said.


Velardi said Peretti has handled the pressure of closing in on 1,000 points well, but that he thought it was on her mind as she came closer to the milestone.


“You could tell it was something she was thinking about. I think she kind of pressed a little the last few games, wanting to get there,” Velardi said.


Peretti agreed.


“I tried not to think about at the beginning of the season and I wasn’t really checking my points, but once it got to less than 100, it started to be on my mind. I was glad I only needed one point,” Peretti said.


And when she hit the shot to pass 1,000?


“It was a big relief. I’m glad it came that way. I didn’t want to get it at the foul line,” she said.


Despite Peretti’s big night, Hammonton fell short of a win against Absegami, losing 45-34 to the Braves, who last week advanced to the Cape Atlantic League semifinals.


Absegami used tight ball movement to set up some good shot opportunities and cruised to the win.


“They [Absegami] are a very good team. I kind of thought it might go this way for us tonight. But we hung in there and played hard,” Velardi said.


Peretti led Hammonton with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Ava Divello added eight in the loss.


Earlier in the week, Peretti had 20 points and 13 rebounds in a 52-31 win at Pennsauken. Simola added 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists.


The week ended with a 42-29 loss against Gloucester Catholic. Peretti scored 10 points and added 13 rebounds.


Earlier this week, Hammonton hosted Our Lady of Mercy Academy in a Cape Atlantic League consolation game that ended too late for this edition. On February 24, the Blue Devils will play at Atlantic County Institute of Technology at 4 p.m. and then visit Bridgeton the next day, also at 4 p.m.


Hammonton earned the seventh seed in the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs and will host Burlington Twp. at 4 p.m. on March 1.