Inside presence a must for CAL semifinal teams

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KristineMiller Cedar Creek's Kristine Miller looks for room inside against St. Joe's on Feb. 15 Guards drive the teams in the Cape-Atlantic League and without strong backcourt play, winning is an uphill battle. However, for teams in the CAL to really thrive, there must be a frontcourt presence as well. All of the teams competing in the CAL girls Final Four this year are powered by forwards/centers of distinction.

Kristine Miller of Cedar Creek, Kennedy Johnson of Sacred Heart, Julia Duggan of Ocean City and the tandem of Gina Lewis and Annie Wenz of Holy Spirit, epitomize what having a player who can alter shots and create havoc inside is all about. Without them, teams would be able to concentrate on pressuring the guards, not having to worry about the middle of the lane. It also would free up the paint for drives to the basket, not having a player who can possibly block or alter a layup.

Johnson of Sacred Heart and Lewis of Holy Spirit are cousins, and they will face each other in the CAL girls championship game on Saturday, Feb. 23 (noon) at Richard Stockton College.

Miller averages 20.7 points per game while Johnson leads the CAL with a 13.5 rebound per game average as well as scoring at a 19.7 clip per game. Duggan puts up 16.8 and 11.1 points and rebounds respectively, and the Lewis/Wenz team puts up 22 points and 18 rebounds per game on a regular basis.

Recent games include Johnson scoring 29, Lewis (her cousin) blocking five shots, Wenz grabbing 15 boards and Duggan being the steadying influence for the Lady Red Raiders. How valuable are they? Duggan recently injured an ankle and had to rest, while her team struggled for points. If any of the above-mentioned players get in foul trouble, their coaches have to change their game plans in mid-game, and we all know how they love having to do that.

All of these players are seniors save for Johnson who has another year to wreak havoc on the CAL. Her 43 blocked shots leads the league. The finals at Stockton College on Saturday will certainly provide a marquee matchup between Johnson and her cousin, Lewis, two of the league’s best inside players.

STAT LINE OF THE WEEK: Against Millville, junior guard Summer Crilley of Holy Spirit had 24 points, including 12-for-13 from the free throw line, 5 steals and four assists. In the same game, Wenz and Lewis combined for 24 points and 28 rebounds. It was a good thing, too, because they offset a 22-rebound effort from Millville’s Ashli Weems.

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