The game is a challenge every year, even if long winning streaks have been the norm over the last decade or so.
When Bound Brook was down on the early 2010s – as in 0-23 down in 2013, the Crusaders were getting walloped by scores like 53-18.
Enter coach Jen Derevjanik, a stellar player on Staten Island in high school who later won a WNBA ring, and the tide turned, with Brook winning 8 straight from 2016 until Mount turned the tables last season with a 47-38 victory.
That should make tonight fun in Bound Brook, where the Crusaders and Lions will do battle.
Brook (15-5) – the Mountain Division champion six years running now – is led by a pair of experienced players who aren’t seniors, though one will be out tonight.
Junior Casey Miller leads the team with 13.4 points per game, a whopping 116 assists and 86 steals. But sophomore Brenae Jones, averaging a double-double of 10.7 points per game and a team-leading 11.4 board, won’t be available.
Derevjanik says she’s not injured, and should be back for the county tournament, in which Bound Brook picked up a 5th-seed last night and will open at home Saturday against either 13-seed Bridgewater-Raritan or 12-seed Somerville.
On the other side is a young Mount St. Mary team (12-7) which is in first-place in the Valley Division of the Skyland Conference by a half-game over Voorhees (a win over the Vikings on Feb. 24 would give them the title outright, lest they share it). Rachel Castela – whom Derevjanik coached in 7th-grade AAU ball – can hit the three, 50 of them to be exact, and leads the team with 13.6 points a game. She’s just a sophomore, and freshman Mia Gestosani is next up at 11.1 points a game.
Click below to hear from both coaches as they preview tonight’s game with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko: