TINTON FALLS – Last season, its first as a full-fledge member of the Shore Conference, Trinity Hall made quite a splash.
The Monarchs went 18-8 including a 14-2 record in the division which was good for second place in the Shore Conference Class B Central. Their only two divisional losses of the season were against perennial Shore Conference power St. Rose, who went on to win the Shore Conference Tournament championship before falling to Rutgers Prep in the Non-Public, B South semifinals.
Rutgers Prep advanced to the Tournament of Champions semifinals losing to eventual TOC champion Franklin, who beat Manasquan in the final for the title.
Trinity Hall qualified for their first-ever Shore Conference Tournament last season and made a respectable showing in their inaugural SCT game.
As the 20th seed, the Monarchs trailed No. 13 seed Holmdel, 30-19, at the half but went toe-to-toe with the Hornets in the second half even outscoring them, 13-12, in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough as they ended up losing, 54-43.
The Monarchs also qualified for their second straight state playoff appearance. As a No. 9 seed in the Non-Public, South A first round, Trinity Hall led, 12-10, after the first quarter against eighth-seeded Roselle Catholic and only trailed by seven points entering the fourth quarter before the Lions pulled away for a 70-51 win.
Although they came up short in both postseason games the Monarchs showed they belonged there and with their entire starting lineup and top bench players returning this season, expectations are running high.
“Now that everyone knows we’re in the Shore Conference and we’re a force to be reckoned with it will be a little different,” said senior forward Bridget Andree. “We just got to keep working hard, utilize our strengths as a team and I think we can have a good year.”
Trinity Hall’s basketball evolution has been a slow but steady progression but it was during the 2015-16 season that they really started to make inroads taking their program to the next level.
They went 13-9 overall that season with quality wins against the likes of Shore, Ocean, Freehold Twp., Long Branch, Union Catholic and Morristown-Beard. They also got their first taste of postseason play but took it on the chin losing to state power Patrick School, 73-34, in the Non-Public, South A first round.
“I think all we can really do is learn from it,” Andree said of their first-round exit in the state playoffs. “We made some mistakes that game and we just want to take hold of those mistakes and improve upon it this year. The experience of playing such tough competition can only help us.”
But this season is shaping up to be the one that really puts Trinity Hall on the Shore Conference map and it all starts with the 5-foot-10 Andree – younger sister of former CBA star Pat Andree, who is averaging 8.4 points and 4.3 rebounds for Lehigh this season.
Andree was a first team B Central selection last season after averaging 17.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists and is a preseason candidate for the Shore Conference Player of the Year award. She can do it all and is the Monarchs’ go-to player with the game on the line.
Senior Kathryn Kwapniewski is back at point guard and is one of the better floor leaders in the Shore after averaging 9.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists a year ago. She can distribute the ball, rebound and score with the best of them.
Junior guard Collen Cusat returns to the starting lineup and is another one of those Trinity Hall players that has multidimensional talents scoring 9.3 points per game while averaging 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assist a year ago.
And you can add senior forward Nicole Ventura to that list of all-around players that Trinity Hall seems to have the market on. Ventura is another returning starter and averaged a very respectable 7.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists last season.
The fifth returning starter to the Monarchs stacked lineup is senior Catherine Loder, who knocked down 5.2 points per game with 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Sophomore Caitlyn Wingertzahn (4.0 pts. 3.3 rebs.), junior Grace Kenny and sophomore Collen Kelly give Trinity Hall experience and depth off the bench.
“We’ve all been playing together since middle school so we have some chemistry,” said Andree. “This year I think our goal is to make it into the top 10 of the Shore Conference and prove ourselves that way. Just kind of keep working hard and doing the best we can do, especially for such a new program.”