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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

St. Joe girls win two

THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. St. Joseph’s Erica Paranzino (2) drives past Vineland’s Madison Fowlks (22) and Egypt Owens (3) early in last week’s Cape Atlantic League playoff game.

VINELAND—St. Joseph Academy’s girls basketball team lost its Cape Atlantic League playoff opener last week, falling at Vineland 84-27.

The Wildcats were never in the game, falling behind 17-10 in the first quarter before struggling to score the rest of the way.

“It wasn’t the best matchup for us, obviously,” St. Joe coach Ryan Staiger said.

“But it was good for our girls to get some experience in a playoff atmosphere. We’re rebuilding and any time we can play, even when it’s against a better team, it helps us,” Staiger said.

St. Joseph played mostly a junior varsity schedule last season, and this year, competing at the varsity level, the team has compiled an 8-10 record. The eight wins are the most for a St.

Joseph Academy or St. Joseph High School team since the Wildcats won 11 in 2015.

“It’s a process. We’ve played well against some teams and struggled against a few others.

But I’ve been happy with the progress we’ve made. We have a young team without a lot of experience and I’ve seen incredible improvement since the beginning of the season,” Staiger said.

Erica Paranzino scored 20 points in the loss to Vineland and has been a key player for St. Joseph since becoming eligible at midseason following a transfer from Washington Twp.

“She [Paranzino] handles the ball well and has helped us a lot, scoring and passing and she takes pressure off of Cass [Perri],” Staiger said.

Perri has been St. Joseph’s top scoring threat this season, averaging more than 16 points per game. Since joining the lineup, Paranzino has averaged 11.2 points per game.

Add in freshman Shyla McLean (10.3) and the Wildcats have three players who can make an impact on the offensive end of the court.

“When all three of them are hitting shots, we’re tough to defend,” Staiger said.

The loss to Vineland was the only blemish on a solid week for St. Joe that saw the Wildcats post wins against Oakcrest and Lakewood.

St. Joe broke open a close game against Oakcrest with a 19-3 third-quarter run that led to a 44-19 win.

Perri scored 23 points in the win, while Paranzino added 13 and McLean had eight.

Playing at Lakewood, St. Joe outscored the hosts 14-0 in the second quarter and rolled to a 39-10 win.

Perri, McLean and Paranzino each scored 11 points.

Earlier this week, the Wildcats played at LEAP Academy and also hosted Mastery Charter, but those games ended too late for this edition. On February 17, the Wildcats will visit Mastery Charter at 4 p.m.

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