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Somerset Strong is a newer program for our area players who are interested in off season player development. The program will focus on player development through extensive fundamental skills work and an overall understanding of the game, with the goal of creating players capable of making strong contributions to their high school teams. 



Thank you to everyone for all of your efforts during our try-outs, it was our best one yet.   Please see below for the changes we are making to our program set up this year due to our increased numbers and to maximize player development! We are very excited to start working with everyone this spring.


Division & Team Breakdown:

1. Middle School division (currently in grades 5th-8th)


The division will have 2 different team levels

1. Tournament Team Players

2. Player Development Team Players (Tournament Team Alternates)


The Tournament Team will consists of those players whom we feel have the skills and experience to play competitively in AAU tournaments throughout the state of NJ (which tournaments we choose to compete in are yet to be determined but we will be looking for local tournaments that match our overall competitive level). This team will require a greater time and financial commitment. AAU tournaments are played on the weekends through the months of late April thru the end of May.


The Player Development Team will be different this year as we are trying to maximize instruction by having our developing players practice with our tournament team and serve as alternates in tournaments if the opportunity arises. We feel this is a great way to elevate the skill development and understanding of the game of basketball for these players. With this program these players will have the opportunity to participate in full practices, including intra squad scrimmages, in addition to our skills portion of practices.


Practices will be held at BHS Lower Gym as follows:


5th Grade Grey Team  practices Monday & Wednesday 6:00-7:30

6th/7th Grade White Team- practices Monday & Wednesday 6:00-7:30

8th/7th Grade Green Team- practices Monday & Wednesday 7:30-9:00


Fee Breakdowns:

Tournament Team Players: 2- 1 1/2 hour practices per week, 9-10 week season, 4-5 tournaments (April - early June)  - $525 per player. $200 deposit is due by first practice on March 30th, $175 due by April 15th and final $150 by May 1st. 


Player Development Players: 2- 1 1/2 hour practices per week, 9-10 week season (late March - late May) - $395 per player. $200 deposit is due by first practice on Monday March 30th, $195 due by April 15


Uniforms and apparel will be provided through our affiliated United AAU and will be additional as per their costs.





The tournament and player development teams will be coached by Bernards High School coach Sandy Whelan. Sandy has been coaching girls high school basketball for the past 15 years and has accumulated 200+ wins in her career. At the helm of Watchung Hills for 14 years she built a historically weak team into an area powerhouse within 5 years, including 3 Skyland Conference Championships,1 Somerset County Championship game appearance, 2 State Sectional Title game appearances and 5 Somerset County Semi-Finalists.  During her tenure the Lady Warriors qualified for the state tournament 9 straight years and achieved 7 of the best overall records in school history and helped to develop the top 5 All-Time Leading Scorers in school history. Additional honors include being named Somerset County Coach of the Year (2008), Somerset County Team of the Year (2008), Somerset County Most Improved Team of the Year (2010) and Somerset County Player of the Year, Jessica Zigarelli (2008).


Coach Whelan is currently in her 3rd season at Bernards High School and her team just secured their second Skyland Conference Mountain Division Championship by going undefeated in conference play (10-0) for the second straight year. They are currently 15-9 and have qualified for the post season state tournament and earned a home game with the 7th seed in the state section. 


In her first year at Bernards she led the Lady Mountaineers to their first winning record in close to a decade finishing 14-13 on the year.  Bernards also moved into a respectable 9th seed ranking in Somerset County and qualified for the State Tournament, earned an impressive 8th seed in the North II Group 2 bracket and winning their first home state game in over a decade.


In her second season, the Bernards HS girls basketball team won the Skyland Conference, Mountain Division for the first time since 1998 with a perfect 10-0 record (17-6 overall). They also received the 7th seed in the Somerset County tournament losing to Rutgers Prep in the quarterfinals and have the 3rd seed in the North 2 Group 2 state tournament. The team finished the season with a 20-7 record losing in the State Semi-Final to Newark Tech. Coach Whelan was named Skyland Mountain Division Coach of the Year!!



As a player……..Sandy Hume Whelan played Division I basketball at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. As a freshman, under the guidance of National Hall of Fame Coach, Muffet McGraw, Sandy started for the Lady Engineers and earned the honor of East Coast Conference Rookie of the Year.  After being sidelined for 2 full seasons with knee injuries, Sandy returned to play her senior year and helped lead her team to the best Division I record turnaround in the country.  She finished her career at Lehigh as the Third All-Time Leading Scorer with 1300+ points and Third All-Time Leading Rebounder, including ECC All-Conference Honors and Patriot League All–Conference Honors. She also was the recipient of the ECAC Award of Valor for her courageous recovery, comeback and team contributions upon her return from numerous knee injuries.


In high school, Sandy played for Hunterdon Central High School, Flemington, NJ.  She became the school’s All-Time Leading Scorer in her 3 year varsity career with over 1200+ points and received numerous All-State and All-Conference honors. In addition, Sandy was selected as an AAU All-American at the National AAU Championship Tournament.


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