ORANGE, NJ — Pia Frazier has been the head coach of the Orange High School girls varsity basketball team since the 1998-99 season.
This season, she is on hiatus for medical reasons.
But the Tornadoes will be in good hands. Kim Blakney, who has served as Frazier’s assistant coach, will guide the team as the interim head coach. Blakney is entering her eighth season with the program.
The Tornadoes, who tip off the season Thursday, Dec. 19, at home against Weequahic at 6 p.m., have a good mix of youth and experience, looking to improve on last year’s two-win campaign.
“They want to work, they want to compete,” said Blakney of her team during a practice session on Monday, Dec. 9, at OHS. “I’m looking for some wins this year.”
Leading the way are three returning seniors: Lataijah Lovett, a point guard, Danika Barton, a forward and shooting guard Abril Jimenez.
Lovett, a four-year letterwinner, will spark the offense with her leadership and scoring ability.
“She shoots very well,” Blakney said. “I’m looking for her to be our main scorer.”
Junior forward Celine Jobson, a three-year letterwinner, is expected to be a strong contributor in the paint.
Blakney also has a group of promising freshmen who will make an impact.
The Tornadoes have reason to feel they can make a strong turnaround. Commitment, focus and hard work will go a long way toward achieving that goal, Blakney said.
The coach has faith that her team can be competitive.
“We can compete with our competition, because we are going to work as hard as everyone else,” Blakney said. “We’re going to run. I have some girls who can run. We’re going to compete, definitely.”
The Tornadoes, under Frazier, have won numerous conference and state sectional titles. In her second season in 1999-2000, Orange won the sectional title and finished as Group 3 state runner-up.
Dec. 19, Weequahic, 6 p.m.
Dec. 27-28, Morris Hills Christmas tournament
Jan. 3, at Central, 4 p.m.
Jan. 7, Shabazz, 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 9, Golda Och Academy, 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 11, at North Star Academy, noon
Jan. 14, at Irvington, 4 p.m.
Jan. 16, West Side, 6 p.m.
Jan. 20, West Side, 11 a.m.
Jan. 21, at Barringer, 4 p.m.
Jan. 23, at Weequahic, 4 p.m.
Jan. 28, Central, 6 p.m.
Feb. 4, at Shabazz, 4 p.m.
Feb. 6, at Golda Och Academy, 4 p.m.
Feb. 11, Irvington, 6 p.m.
Feb. 13, at West Side, 4 p.m.
Feb. 20, Barringer, 6 p.m.
Photos by Joe Ragozzino