Napolitoano Sets Record With 174 Career 3-Pointers
By Mike Ready
MIDDLETOWN – With 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter and the Saint Rose girl’s up by 17 points, 38-21, senior guard Cindy Napolitano did what she does best; nail a 3-pointer.
The basket presented St. Rose a commanding 20-point lead on the way to a 62-39 win, but the significance of that shot was much greater; Napolitano had just broken former St. Rose star Kim Hughes-Bennett’s school record for career 3-pointers.
The shot surpassed Hughes-Bennett’s 173 career 3-pointers, handing the record over to Napolitano. Hughes-Bennett broke the previous record during the 1999-2000 season while also being selected second team All-State that season. Last season Napolitano led the state in 3-pointers and set a new St. Rose single season record with 91.
“It’s a great feeling to break the record but it’s all about the team,” Napolitano said as she was surrounded by supporters. “We’re playing great as a team and we’re on a nice roll. We had a big win over Saint John Vianney and we’ve been rolling ever since. That was one of the greatest wins I’ve ever been part of. That gave us confidence because everyone doubted us going into the game.”
Napolitano sank four 3-pointers in the game, giving her 56 on the season, breaking the record on her fourth. She finished with 14 points after sitting out most the fourth quarter as the lead swelled to as high as 28 points.
“Cindy is one of the hardest working girls we have,” St. Rose coach Joe Whalen said. “She shoots the lights out of the ball. This year she added to her repertoire, she’s able to put the ball on the floor to get to the rim and she’s a very good defender and rebounder. She’s a really, really good high school player that could translate into a very good collegiate player.”
“This is a girl that’s almost embarrassed to have an accomplishment like this,” Whalen added. “The first thing she does is acknowledge her teammates in getting the record; she very humble and a great person.”
Junior point guard Kat Phipps led St. Rose in scoring with 17 points along with six rebounds (3 off.), and three steals. Junior Jess Louro dropped in 11 second-half points and pulled down 10 boards, including three off the offensive glass. Senior Sarah Kurtz was a workhorse in the paint, hauling down 10 rebounds (3 off.) while chipping in with four points. Rose White added seven rebounds (3 off.) and scored six points.
“We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we would like today,” Whalen said after the game. “Our defense was fine and we rebounded the ball pretty well. In the first half we weren’t getting a lot of 50-50 balls, which is not the norm for us. In the second half we were much better getting to the ball. We were a little tight in the beginning of the game. Once Cindy hit the three it was sort of a relief for all of us.”
St Rose (17-2) is ranked No.5 in the state and No.1 in the Shore Conference in the latest polls. Their only losses of the season came against Patterson Eastside (14-2) ranked No.4 in the state and Neptune (14-3) ranked No.9 in the state. They also had a huge win versus Franklin (13-2) ranked No.8 in the state.
“Our goal is to win it all,” Napolitano said. “We have everything we need to get there. Everyone on this team can score, rebound and pass. Teams can’t focus on taking one of us away because there’s always someone else to pick it up. What we lack in height we make up with toughness and power.”
“The 3-point shot is a big part of our game but we’re also very tough,” Whalen said. “We’re not very big and we don’t have a true post player but we rebound very well. Kurtz, Louro, White and even our point guard Kat Phipps are all tough under the basket; they hunt balls down. We’re a very confident team; we have six seniors. We added some depth and we have four good freshmen on varsity that make our practices very competitive. We’re winning games that we lost last year.”
St. Rose has three regular season games remaining, including Marina Mabrey’s Manasquan team ranked No.18 in the state and No.3 in the Shore, before the Shore Conference Tournament begins February 18.
“Our goals were to win a Christmas Tournament,” Whalen said. “Then to win the division, the Shore Conference Tournament and then the NJSIAA State Tournament; we have two to go.”
“I love this team,” Napolitano said. “Out of the 15 of us, their all my 15 best friends, and we have a great coach that makes it all work.”