Ramsey's rebuild quickly turning into a reload

Sophomore Charlotte Auty finished with a game-high 18 points and is now avering 19 per game for Ramsey, which is off to a 3-0 start after a 49-35 win at West Milford.

WEST MILFORD – Having graduated the top two scorers and six key players from last year’s team that reached the North 1, Group 2 state sectional semfiinals Ramsey came into this season with two returning rotation players, starting point guard Hannah McGurr and Alana Chetaitis, and a whole lot of question marks.

Head coach Dan Royce has worked hard to build up the Ramsey program at all levels and the depth of has come together quicker than anyone could have realized with a trio of sophomores having made significant strides early in this season.

Charlotte Auty and Kylie Bahn, who did not play a minute of varsity as freshman, each scored in double-figures for the third straight game. Auty finished with a game-high 18 points with Bahn adding a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds as Ramsey stayed unbeaten with a 49-35 victory over West Milford on Tuesday afternoon at West Milford High School.

“We have great leaders on this team, and they’ve allowed the sophomores to step in and ease into their roles,” said Royce. “We have a balanced team and we’re putting the pieces in place to do a lot of good things. We have a lot of talent here. It’s going to get tougher as the season goes on, especially when we get into our league games. As long as we keep picking each other up and playing for each other, we’ll be in good shape.”

Addison Arciega's early bucket gave West Milford the lead.

West Milford has been a pleasant surprise during the first week of the season. The Highlanders were looking for their first 3-0 start in almost 20 years. Adison Arciniega opened the scoring with a free-throw. However, that would be the Highlanders’ only lead of the contest.

The third sophomore who has emerged for the Rams is lockdown defender Jules Pensari. The three-sport standout scored on a drive to give Ramsey the lead for good. Although the Rams led virtually the entire way, the game was still close late in the first half before the Rams turned it on.

Bahn scored late in the half on a nifty drive and Chetaitis added a pair of free-throws to bump the lead up to 9, 22-13, at the half. Ramsey carried that momentum all the way into the second half when it took just over a minute for them to break the game open.

On the first three possessions of the third quarter, McGurr hit a three-pointer, Auty followed with one of her own from the corner, and then Chetaitis converted a conventional three-point play. Auty worked diligently on her shot in the off-season, and it is paying dividends. She did not miss a shot in the period. Connecting on all three of her shots from the floor (two from three-point range) and all four free-throw attempts. Pensari capped the 18-0 run with a layup as Ramsey lead ballooned to 20 points.

“With the sophomores, we’ve thrown them into the fire and basically said ‘Ready, Set, go!’,” added Royce. “It’s going to be a battle every time out and we’ve prepared ourselves for that.”

Kylie Bahn's double-double was her second in a row for Ramsey.

Auty is now averaging a team-high 19 points per game for Ramsey (3-0). Bahn’s double-double was her second in a row. Pensari and Chetaitis added six points apiece and McGurr chipped in with five. Sarah Benowitz netted 14 points and Avery Vacca finished with 12 for West Milford (2-1).

With the team off to such a hot start, the season goals have changed for the Rams. Having already found long stretches of mid-season form less than two weeks into the season, this is a team that is eyeing a berth in the Bergen County Tournament and another deep run in the states.

“We really didn’t know exactly what to expect coming into this season, but we’ve grown quickly because of how well we work together,” said McGurr. “I think our team does a great job of communicating defensively and we have a lot of girls that can score too. I think we can get far; I really do. Our confidence is growing with every game.”