PRINCETON — Kevin Hieronymus has been covering the Princeton girls basketball team for 26 years as sports editor of the Bureau County Republican. Now, he will have a different perspective. He will be coaching them.
Hieronymus takes over at the helm and inherits a squad that returns one starter from a team that finished 15-15 last year under the direction of Matt Huber, who resigned to spend more time with his young family. With a history of coaching the Princeton freshman boys basketball team and many years at the youth level, Hieronymus is up for the challenge.
“I’ve tapped into the minds of many area coaches that I’ve respected over the years, who have a wealth of basketball knowledge. They’ve all been very, very supportive, and their insights have been invaluable,” Hieronymus said. “I also have a great staff here at PHS to work with and continue to build our program where coach Huber left off.”
The first challenge will be to replace two scorers who averaged double figures last year.
“We graduated probably three-fourths of our scoring from last year in Jasmine Kunkel (13.3 ppg) and C.J. Rhodes (11.2 ppg),” said Hieronymus. “We will be a team that must rely on defense, hustle and desire. I believe we have the girls to get the job done.”
Senior Makenzey Wilson is the Tigresses lone returning starter from last year. At 5-6, she may be considered undersized to play the post position, but nobody inside the Princeton camp thinks so. Wilson (4.5 rpg, 4.2 ppg) earned All-BCR Third Team honors last season.
“She plays with a big heart and is full of desire,” said Hieronymus. “You couldn’t go wrong having five Makenzey Wilsons on the court playing for you.”
The rest of the starting lineup is still a work in progress, but the Tigresses will return three other players from last year who have experience. Emmalee Sears, a 5-9 senior, will play the post and classmates McCaela May and Lexi Marselle are capable three-point shooters from the guard position.
Sydney Hall is a senior transfer from the state of Michigan. She will be the primary ballhandler for PHS and is a “great fit with the team,” according to Hieronymus. He also sees a lot of potential in Zoe Mead, a 5-11 junior. Other additions to this year’s team are junior Kelly Schmidt (F/C) and senior Maddie Currie (C), who did not play last season.
With only eight upperclassmen on the roster, sophomores Abby Jaques (F), Danielle Hughes (G), and Ann Sims (G) will be called up to provide depth to the roster. They will, however, still see significant minutes on the sophomore squad, so they can build a cohesive unit.
Princeton will open the season Monday as the hosts of their own tournament which runs from Nov. 12-17.
“We’re looking to get off to a good start as we look to defend the championship of our tournament this week,” said Hieronymus. “I know the girls are raring to go, and so am I.”
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