(WORTH MENTIONING is an ongoing feature from the South Jersey Glory Days staff in which we recognize a player, coach or team for doing something outstanding, give our thoughts on why it’s important, and what it means for the particular program mentioned. If you see or hear about something worth mentioning, email South Jersey Glory Days Publisher Dave O’Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org).
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Heading into tonight’s game at Hammonton at 5:30 p.m., the Holy Spirit girls basketball team has posted a 7-2 record this year and has won 21 of its last 33 games under coach Tim Whitworth. He’s brought an up-tempo style reminiscent of Nolan Richardson and the Arkansas Razorbacks in the early 1990s.
The Spartans present a big challenge for a lot of teams — particularly those that struggle to handle the ball — and a big reason for their success this season has been the emergence of sophomore guard Sabrina Little, an Egg Harbor Township resident.
Sparty is currently undefeated in the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference (3-0) and sits just a half-game behind division-leading Egg Harbor Township (7-3, 4-0). If the CAL Tournament started today, Holy Spirit likely would be a top-four seed. It’s definitely worth mentioning how well Little has played this year, and the unique skill set she brings to the table for the Spartans.
If a team seriously wants to contend for a CAL Tournament title it has to have a difference maker in the lineup. Middle Township has Jada Elston, Mainland has the Mazur twins, Bella and Ava, Atlantic City has forward Quanirah Montague, a 6-foot-5 senior who is committed to Mississippi State University, Absegami has Reese Downey, and Wildwood Catholic Academy has junior sharp-shooting guard Kaci Mikulski, who has already made 28 threes this season.
Little perfectly fits how coach Whitworth likes to play — fast and free with relentless defensive pressure that looks like a swarm of angry hornets. Little is in tremendous shape and has no problem playing that style for 32 minutes, night after night. She doesn’t tire out, it seems, and that’s important because to play that style sometimes takes away from the shooting touch at the end of games. But that relentless pace doesn’t seem to affect her free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter.
Little is small, just 5-foot-4, but she finds creative ways to score. She’s not going to shoot the lights out from 3-point range, but she’s quick off the dribble, can create her own shot and has no problem going inside against taller players to get to the rim or draw a foul. She’s scored in double figure in seven of Holy Spirit’s nine games with a season-high 24 in a 66-55 win over Medford Tech in December. She’s also an above-average defender and rebounder for her size.
“She’s great. I love having her on the floor with me,” senior point guard Kira Murray said after a recent win over Cedar Creek. “She’s always in the right spots when you need her, and she’s a great teammate. She definitely brings a different aspect to the floor. In previous years we never really had a player like her, so it helps having someone on the team who can not only shoot but drive to the basket. The other teams don’t really know how to defend her.”
“Sabrina has been fantastic. She’s the quickest kid in the league. She works at it, gets better every day, and she’s a great kid,” Whitworth said. “I’m super excited about her because she’s still here for a couple more years. She’s a great player to have as a coach because it puts a lot less pressure on you to draw things up. It’s like, just give her the ball and get out of the way. As coaches, she makes our lives so much easier and we’re super thankful to have a kid like that.”
What will make Little even more dangerous down the stretch this season is she doesn’t have to be a one-man show. Spirit has several capable scorers in Murray, Kieran Brewster, freshman Lauren Cella and junior guard Kendall Murphy, and junior Hannah Watson can come off the bench and hit threes.
It’s going to be fun to watch what Little can do the rest of this season, and beyond, as she continues to develop into one of the best players in the Cape-Atlantic League.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays