"That's what I call them," Schlenger said. "They're probably the most athletic group we've ever had. And, they're very hard workers, too."
The Varsity Pacers lost for the only the sixth time this season, falling to Frederick Douglass of Manhattan, a team they had beaten before, in the final of the Selena Fulmore Memorial Tournament on Sunday, March 18 at Central Middle School.
The setback, of course, didn't change the way Schlenger and fellow coaches Frank Perrini, Cheyenne Fulmore and George Dredden feel about this squad, one of the most successful in the history of the program.
Not only did this team comprised of eighth graders possess all the aforementioned attributes, it was versatile. A number of the girls played - and excelled at - several positions.
On Friday night, March 16, the Pacers posted 67 points in a victory over Edison. They raced out to a 19-0 lead.
The Pacers have an excellent center in 6-foot Mikaela Dredden. Kennedy Whitehead, who stands 5-foot-10, can play at the 3, 4 and 5 spots. Samantha Denboske, also 5-10, is another tough inside player.
Nikki Johnson is the point guard while Rochelle Blair is the shooting guard. Erin Fulmore goes at either guard position. Julia Rossetto is a swing player, going between guard and forward.
Six more players see action and have been key contributors for the Pacers Varsity. They are Victoria Lombardi, Alana Ippolito, Tatiana Etienne, Karen Hilsinger, Shubha Kapuganti and Katie Kerrigan.
"These girls have been a lot of fun to be around," Schlenger said. "They're good kids and good students. We've had fun coaching them. When they came to us as third and fourth graders, they didn't know the game and had to learn it."
According to Schlenger, the Pacers didn't shoot very well in the final while Frederick Douglass did. In addition, Denboske was sidelined with a back injury.
"They were really hot and we didn't do what we were capable of," he said.
Dredden, Blair and Fulmore are among the players who will be attending Parsippany Hills High School. That pleases Schlenger because two former Pacers, Eni and Bimpe Fageyinbo, are at the helm of the Vikings program. Another former Pacer, Melanie Engfer, coached the girls at Brooklawn Middle School.
Denboske and Rossetto will attend Morris Catholic.