Park Ridge's Shenloogian sparkles in season opening win

Junior Allie Shenloogian topped the 1,000-point mileston in Park Ridge's 56-28 win over Pompton Lakes on opening day.

PARK RIDGE – After a stellar sophomore campaign in which she led Park Ridge to the North 1, Group 1 section final, Allie Shenloogian has already solidified herself as one of North Jersey’s premier guards. As the new season began on Thursday Shenloogian stood just 10 points away from reaching the 1,000-point milestone and with a good crowd on hand, the junior wasted little time in picking up right where she left off.

Shenloogian showed off her diverse game both offensively and defensively and scored her 1,000th career point late in the first quarter to send the crowd into a frenzy. That was just the beginning of a dominant performance that included a career-high 35 points to go with 10 rebounds, six steals, and three assists as Park Ridge opened its 2023-2024 campaign with a win by doubling up Pompton Lakes, 56-28, at Park Ridge High School.

“Allie is one of the best to ever do it here. It’s great to have a kid like that stay at Park Ridge and be successful,” said Park Ridge head coach Ryan Dennis. “She leads just as much on the defensive end as she does on the offensive end. Allie grabbed a ton of rebounds and did a little bit of everything for us today. We’re really happy with the way she’s been playing and she’s only getting better.”

Pompton Lakes were dealt an unfortunate blow when starting point guard Krista Lilienthal suffered an injury in practice during the week and was unable to play. The Cardinals hung in there early behind athletic guard Mia Soto. However, the Owls kept coming in waves. Kate Broderick’s free-throw put them ahead to stay before Shenloogian heated up. With 18 seconds left in the first quarter, she calmly stepped to the foul line and knocked swished a free-throw for her 1,000th career point as her teammates poured onto the floor in celebration.

Mia Soto topped Pompton Lakes with 12 points.

“It was cool to reach (1,000 career points), but I just wanted to get it over with so we could back to focusing on the game,” said Shenloogian. “We wanted to force turnovers and turn those into easy buckets. We’re good at playing fast and getting out on the break.”

Although there was a delay for the celebration and pictures, nothing was going to slow down the standout junior. Have her running the point, she will find the open teammate. When she plays off the ball, she is equally as effective both as a driver and as a shooter. However, it is her ability to jump into passing lanes defensively that sets her apart. It is a skill that not only she possesses but one the entire Park Ridge team excels at. Mary Craffey and Juliana Barros at the top force the opposing team to make quick decisions. That allows Shenloogian and Abihail McManus to roam the passing lanes with Broderick hanging in the paint and ready to block anything that comes her way.

“Defense is something we hang our hat on, and we stress it every day in practice,” said Dennis. “This group knows that we have to work together on the defensive end to be successful. (Caffrey and Barros) set the tone at the top of our press. I’m very happy with the way we played defensively.”

After a 12-point first quarter, Shenloogian pumped in another 10 points in the second quarter. Late baskets from McManus and Rilie Fazio pushed the lead up to 20 by halftime, 31-11.

Mary Craffey finiahed with 8 points for Park Ridge.

Craffey and Broderick finished with eight and seven points, respectively for Park Ridge (1-0). Soto was the lone player to reach double-figures in the scoring column for Pompton Lakes (0-1) with 12 points.

The Owls will look to continue their winning ways against a tough opponent, Rutherford, on Saturday. With the first-game jitters and Shenloogian’s impending milestone in the rear-view mirror, the Owls are looking to build off of last season’s success to make this season one of the best in school history.

“We want to get back to the section final, that’s been our goal from day one,” said Shenloogian. “Getting our first win and playing as well as we did today gives a lot of confidence going into our game on Saturday. We hope to keep building confidence as the season goes on and see how far we can go.”