Newcomers lead Redbirds in 2021-22 basketball campaign
ALLENTOWN – Third-year coach Walter Kelly and his Allentown High School basketball players are thrilled with the opportunity to be back on the court and play a full season in the winter of 2021- 2022.
Allentown went 7-5 in 2020-21 in a season that was significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
A multitude of newcomers will lead the charge in 2021-2022. The Redbirds will build on juniors Ryan Kozlosky and Ray Gooley, both of whom return with college backgrounds. Kozlosky and Gooley each had over 5 points per game a year ago.
A year ago, Kozlosky had six three-point field goals, while adding 14 assists and 12 steals.
Joining Kozlosky and Gooley will be a group of juniors and sophomores who will be playing at the varsity level for the first time.
Walter Zhao, Leo Bassi, Danny Doran, Garrick Harrill and Slade Harrill have had some success in the team’s first three games.
âIt’s a young group,â Kelly said. âThe majority of them were junior college players last year. We only have two returning players with college experience. As a coach, I try to gain confidence and take things day to day.
In three games, the Redbirds were 1-2. After losing to Ewing High School in their season opener, the Redbirds defeated West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North on Dec. 21 in Allentown.
A 14-point performance from Bassi, supported by 13-point full games from Kozlosky and Gooley, led Allentown to a 63-56 victory over the Knights.
âWe were able to play well in the fourth quarter against Ewing,â said Kelly of the win over West Windsor-Plainsboro North. “We had very few turnovers and were getting a lot of rebounds.”
Kozlosky averaged over 14 points per game. through three games and added six assists. Gooley was playing well in the frontcourt and averaged 12 points per game. while adding 17 rebounds.
Allentown, who plays in the Colonial Valley Conference, was looking for a second straight victory when the Redbirds made the trip through Monmouth County to face Colts Neck High School of the Shore Conference in a non-conference game on December 22. .
Colts Neck started the game 12-2 in the first four minutes, but the Redbirds finished the first quarter 15-2 to take a 17-14 lead in the second. Allentown led 20-16 with 5:54 left in the second quarter.
END OF 1ST: Allentown finishes Q on a 15-2 course to take a 17-14 lead over Colts Neck. Walter Zhao with the bucket to complete the Q for the Redbirds. CC : @AHSRedbirdBBall @AtownRedbirds @central_jersey #NJHoops ?? pic.twitter.com/pHHCVaKEyR
– Steven Bassin (@SBassin_Sports) 22 December 2021
Kelly’s change with Zhao replacing Doran to play the point guard allowed Allentown to put more pressure on Colts Neck on the defense and forced the Cougars to make several misses and turnovers.
âWe played in a match-up zone and they missed a lot of shots and we were able to capitalize on that,â said Kelly.
Allentown led Colts Neck, 26-25, at halftime, but Colts Neck started the third quarter on a 10-2 run and never looked back en route to a 57-45 victory.
As the Redbirds prepare for their CVC competition, Kelly wants to see more of a “sense of urgency” from her players. The coach said that when players do things like boxing for a rebound and diving to the ground for a loose ball, those actions can help them win games.
âYou have to do the right things to win games,â Kelly said. âWe have a lot to work on. We have to believe and trust the process.
Allentown is scheduled to play Newark’s Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology as part of the Holiday Jubilee at Neptune High School on December 27.