It didn’t take very long at all for the confidence that head coach Earl Hornyak had in his Wallkill Valley High School girls basketball program to be justified this recently ended season.
“The most impressive contest was our second game of the season versus Weehawken at Weehawken,’’ Hornyak said. “We walked into the gym, looked up and saw their three banners displaying their last three years as Division champions. We also knew they made it to the (NJSIAA) State Sectional finals last year and were a favorite to win it this year. We played them tough from start to finish and beat them, 47-38.
“Weehawken finished their season winning their fourth division Title and were seeded second in their state sectional. That was one of our biggest program wins ever.’’
There were other memorable early season moments as well for the Rangers.
“Winning our Holiday Tournament and having Jamie Struble claim the MVP of the Tournament gave us a great start to the season,’’ Hornyak said. “Beating Kittatinny, Lenape Valley and Morris Tech in the (Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference) Freedom Division were big wins as well. We enjoyed success up to our second rematch with Colonial Division champs North Warren with us both going into the game with a record of 14-1.’’
A number of student athletes on the roster showed continual improvement on the court as the winter moved forward.
“Juniors Stephanie Hutnick and Angela Christmas came on strong for us this year both offensively and defensively and were major contributors to our success,’’ Hornyak said. “Freshmen Erin Anderson and Trinity Hartung developed quickly and are a great addition to our program and will continue to help us move in a positive direction.’’
Struble was unquestionably a solid leader for Wallkill Valley.
“Jamie was our team captain and leader,’’ Hornyak said. “Being a four year varsity player, she demonstrated leadership in her ability to keep the team focused and moving in a positive direction. Jamie scored her 1,000th point in a game against Vernon and ended the season with 1,182 points, becoming the third highest point scorer in Wallkill Valley girls basketball history.
“Juniors Samantha Opilla and Natalia Mianowski showed strength in scoring and defense, respectively. Both helped contribute to our success.’’
The Rangers finished with an overall record of 17-9 and they were 7-3 in the Colonial Division. They placed second behind only North Warren in the Colonial Division and advanced to the NJSIAA North 1 Group 1 Sectional Tournament where they were defeated by Pompton Lakes.
“Even though we are losing a tremendous player in Struble, we return the rest of the team.’’ Hornyak said. “Our freshmen group did a wonderful job throughout all of our levels and hopefully they can continue to make progress. There is an excitement about the Wallkill Valley girls basketball program in the school and in our community and we are excited to keep that moving forward.’’