Belleville HS girls’ basketball team has good mix of youth and experience

BELLEVILLE – The Belleville High School girls’ varsity basketball team, under fifth-year head coach Liz Ramirez, has a strong returning group looking to achieve a successful season.

The Bucs lost just two key players to graduation – guard Samantha Samaniego and point guard Arianna Douglas.

The following are returning players:

  • Sophomores: Jasmine Del Valle (G), Helena Dropic (G), Sydney Gomez (G), Emani Hill (F), and Maranisha Rivers (G).
  • Juniors: Gianna Benacquista (F), Najalis Gual (G), Vivian Ojeda (G), and Francesca Russo (G)
  • Seniors: Janae Bryant (F), Keila Garcia (G), and Priscilla Olivarria (F).

Ramirez also has high hopes for a few freshmen players. The following are Ramirez’s comments on those freshmen:

“Janelle Ramirez is a 5-foot-10 freshman forward, who has good shooting form, and is a tough defender. She is showing skills in the area of shot-blocking and rebounding.

“Jehann Dabon, our point guard, has an ideal shooting form, and can get her shots off very quickly. Dribbling the basketball is a strong point, and she can handle defensive pressure, with a fair amount of ease. Watching her scrimmage in practice, confirms that she has a natural talent and ability for the game.

“Ely Barbosa is expected to be solid contender for the shooting guard position. She has good form, and can see the floor extremely well, which results in good decisions and passes to her teammates.

“Yanyckza Flores is a 5-9 freshman who is a natural at the post. She can execute post moves in practice using the correct pivot foot and shooting hand.”

The Bucs’ go-to players are Jehann Dabon, with a natural talent for the point guard position, and Priscilla Olavarria, who can swing from playing the 3 position to the 4, and be just as effective either way, said Ramirez.

While the Bucs will look to take advantage of their size in the paint, they hope to improve on their shooting percentage.

“With the size that we have, we expect to capitalize on the inside game. However, one of the improvements we want to see this year, is to increase our field-goal percentage,” Ramirez said. “We are making a conscious effort, to provide the girls with one-on-one shooting instruction, with the coaches, on a daily basis.”

The Bucs hope to achieve a winning record and qualify for the county and state tournaments.

“We have freshmen and sophomores expected to receive a lot of varsity playing time,” said Ramirez. “We need to accelerate the learning curve with them, so that they have a solid understanding of the game, and our offensive and defensive strategy.”

The Bucs lost to Montclair Kimberley Academy, 57-21, in the season opener at BHS on Friday, Dec. 18.

“I think that we saw some good plays, and great passes, but we need some more time to gel as a team, and to establish more clearly, the roles that certain players will have,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez’s assistant coaches are Meghan Leonard (fifth year), Karen Smith (second year), and volunteer Lauren Callaghan (first year).