Healthy An­der­son help­ing Hightstown to strong start

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Red Birch rbirch@tren­to­nian.com @Tren­to­ni­anRed on Twit­ter

HIGHTSTOWN » Ja­mal An­der­son is healthy and happy to be play­ing sports again at Hightstown High in 2017.

Af­ter a ju­nior cam­paign which seemed to fea­ture more in­juries than time on the field or the floor for the Rams boys soc­cer and bas­ket­ball teams, re­spec­tively, An­der­son took the spring off to im­prove his health and ad­just his ap­proach for this, his se­nior sea­son.

For a tal­ented ath­lete like An­der­son, that was very im­por­tant be­cause last year he did not gar­ner the kind of at­ten­tion from col­leges a player of his skills should.

So An­der­son went about mak­ing sure he was in even bet­ter shape in hopes of avoid­ing the nag­ging in­juries which side­lined him.

Per­haps a lit­tle sur­pris­ing, he re­turned to the soc­cer field with his friends even though many con­sider bas­ket­ball to be the sport he will pur­sue down the road.

“Grow­ing up my main sport had been soc­cer,” An­der­son said af­ter scor­ing a pair of goals to help the Rams de­feat Franklin, 4-1, Satur­day on David J. McIn­tire Field. “I re­ally didn’t start play­ing bas­ket­ball un­til sixth or sev­enth grade. At that point, I dropped soc­cer un­til I started play­ing it again in high school.”

An­der­son’s tremen­dous speed gives Hightstown a much needed di­men­sion up top it had lost four games into last sea­son when he went down with an in­jury af­ter scor­ing five goals.

His re­turn, as well as the reap­pear­ance of his class­mate Chris­tian Con­tr­eras on the high school team af­ter spend­ing his ju­nior year play­ing academy ball, has coach Ge­orge Wolkiewicz’ squad off to a 4-0-1 start. That matches the Rams’ 2016 win to­tal.

“We have a lot of guys who played last year, and they’re ma­tur­ing,” said sec­ond-year head coach Wolkiewicz, whose charges got off to a 1-6 start a year ago. “It’s nice hav­ing Ja­mal and Chris­tian back. They play off each other nicely.”

Orig­i­nally a mid­fielder, Con­tr­eras has been known to get moved into the at­tack to make Hightstown’s charge that much more hard to de­fend when An­der­son is not the only tar­get.

The re­ward has been a team­lead­ing seven goals for An­der­son, while Con­tr­eras has scored two and passed for five as­sists. Seven dif­fer­ent Rams have scored.

“No one wants to be like we were last year,” An­der­son said. “We fig­ure we’ve been through all the worst. Now we’re work­ing as a team to be bet­ter, and we’re get­ting the job done.”

An­der­son put the home team on the board 5:28 into the game when he con­verted a pass from Con­tr­eras Satur­day. Con­tr­eras dou­bled the lead 11 min­utes later when he knocked in a pass from Ian Lumkong. Then, with 16 min­utes left in the first half, An­der­son scored again to push High­stown’s edge to 3-0.

Be­fore the War­riors could change the game’s di­rec­tion, Con­tr­eras slipped a ball through to class­mate An­dres Uribe 1:08 af­ter the break to in­crease the lead.

Coach Eric Os­man’s Franklin club showed good fight de­spite its predica­ment, putting more pres­sure on Rams goalie Ja­cob Forst in the fi­nal 30 min­utes. But the only time the War­riors could cash in was with 18:35 left when ju­nior for­ward Steve Missal tracked down a long kick from goal­keeper Tom Thig­pen to which the de­fense could not quite catch up.

An­der­son knows all about that. He’s hop­ing to keep high­light­ing his speed and skill this sea­son as others try to keep up with him.

Franklin (1-2-1) Hightstown (4-0-1) 0 1— 3 1— 1 4

Missal (F), An­der­son 2, Con­tr­eras, Uribe (H). Thig­pen (F), Con­tr­eras 2, Lumkong (H). 5 (F), 8 (H).

Thig­pen 4 (F), Forst 3 (H).

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