Emily Pasceri and Leah Williams, a pair of student-athletes who started their careers as third-graders, are team captains dedicated to Cape May County Technical High School's girls basketball program.
“Both of them have tremendously helped their very young team get to where we are now,’’ head coach Amber Waddington said. “They, individually, have stepped up their game so much this year.
"Emily is controlling the floor, regardless of what kind of individual performance she ends the game with. She is not only contributing with her ability to create and make shots, but she controls our tempo, offensively and defensively.
“Leah has been someone I’ve been waiting to see flourish within her role over the years. Standing at nearly 6-foot tall, and possibly possessing one of the most beautiful shots, she found how to put it all together this season. It’s been a beautiful thing to watch, and that confidence has helped her in all avenues of her game.’’
Both leaders have put up impressive statistics through January.
“They have collectively had some pretty big games this season,’’ Waddington said. “Emily is averaging 10.4 points per game, and Leah has had some key performances against Lower (12 points, 12 rebounds), Holy Spirit (16 points) and Atlantic Christian (16 points).’’
The numbers that Williams and Pasceri earn on the court are noteworthy, but their work in the classroom counts the most.
“They are both excellent students,’’ Waddington said. “Their senior year has been geared toward applying to colleges and awaiting their acceptances. They have both made me very proud of their classroom performances.
“Emily and Leah are both peer leaders, as well. Emily is in the National Honor Society and takes some demanding AP classes. Leah is maintaining all A’s and is going through the Police Academy, along with her Law and Public Safety CTE class.’’
Williams realized at an early age that her height could be an advantage in the sport, and she enjoys the strong bond she has built with her teammates.
“I believe I have a positive influence on the court, and always cheer people on and keep their heads up,’’ Williams said. “My shot is pretty good and something I am proud of. I would like to be more aggressive in the post and make more post moves, also get more rebounds.
“My team goals would be more wins, to work well together on the floor and to have a good team bond between everyone. Some of my major influences are my middle school coaches, as they helped me to keep playing the sport and to love it. Also, my current coach, coach Waddington, pushes me to be my best self, and, of course, my dad.”
Pasceri began playing basketball on her driveway under her father's guidance.
“I think some of my biggest strengths are my confidence and my mindset to never give up, even when I’m having a bad game,’’ Pasceri said. “I would like to improve my speed and quickness when it comes to beating a defender, as well as not being able to be beat on defense. I would also like to widen and advance my skills in every aspect, especially my ability to create my own shot.’’
Pasceri wants to put forth a full effort each time she steps on the court, continue to improve and see the Hawks reach the NJSIAA Sectionals.
“My number one influence in my career is my dad,’’ Pasceri said. “He’s never stopped pushing me to be the best I can be because he sees my love for the game, and how good I can be. He’s always offering up his advice and giving me new ideas for skills I can use in games.
“Another positive influence has been my coach, Amber Waddington. Even before she was head coach, she was always giving me constructive criticism and telling me how I can improve. Now that she is my head coach, the encouragement and continued constructive criticism has only increased, and I am extremely thankful to have her in my life, in and out of basketball.”
The Hawks will host Hammonton Feb. 20.
“Just being who they (the captains) are helps their team more than they know,’’ Waddington said. “We have learned how infectious positivity can be, and the importance of supporting each other through the good and bad times.
"It’s very easy to put your head down and give up. It’s hard work to be able to pick yourself up and keep going when things aren’t going our way.
“Leah and Emily fully embraced the importance of our team and putting others above ourselves. We have learned selflessness and unwavering support for one another, and I have to say, as a coach, it’s producing some good basketball. Above all, I’m proud of their growth as a family.’’
ED. NOTE: The individual statistics listed above were through the month of January.