Hopewell basketball player Ally Oldfield burst onto the scene two years ago as a three-point shooter. (Photo by Rich Fisher.)

As a sophomore, Ally Oldfield burst on the Colonial Valley Conference scene as one of the league’s top 3-point shooters, and was even chosen to compete in a radio station-sponsored 3-point contest by year’s end. Last season, due to some extenuating circumstances, Oldfield became a bit more of a passer.

This season, she has to do both of those things and then some. In reciting the wish list for what she wants from the senior swingman, second-year coach Colleen Ross mentioned pretty much everything but chopping down the team Christmas tree.

“We need leadership,” Ross said after a preseason scrimmage at Bordentown. “We need her to score. We need her to take the ball to the basket; play defense and rebound. We need her to be an all-around player now, not just a shooter.”

Which is exactly what Oldfield worked on this past summer playing AAU and with Hopewell’s summer league team. She understands that with the graduation of leading scorers Meggy Wiley and Katee Kemether, the Bulldogs are in need of some inside scoring. Thus, she can not live by the jumper alone.

“In AAU I worked on driving more and looked to drive and pass out and have my teammates do the same in return,” Oldfield said. “It’s gonna be a big difference playing down low this year with our two bigs from last year gone. But I think the season will be good. We’ll have a lot of girls step up, so we’ll work more as a team.”

Two of those girls are senior Charlotte Hare and junior Franki Gomez, who are returning regulars. Gomez was third on the team in scoring last year at 9 points per game, while Hare was second in assists with 60.

“I think we have the potential to make a good run,” Ross said. “We’re pretty low on numbers; we have to get 50 percent of our scoring from last year back on the board because Katie and Meggy graduated; so that’s another reason why we need Ally to step up and hit her shots.”

Oldfield certainly knows how to do that and has spent the past year getting back into the rhythm of her sophomore year. When she arrived at HVCHS Oldfield swung between varsity and JV as a freshman and showed potential by hitting 22 threes in 21 games. She was inspired by senior Kirsten Long, who averaged 13.8 points that year while hitting 57 3-pointers.

“Freshman year I would watch Kirsten and I tried to work hard to shoot as well as her,” Oldfield said. “I think that helped me.”

She also got help from another unlikely source. Oldfield’s dad, Aaron, an HVCHS track and cross country coach, asked girls’ basketball stat man Art Cramp to give his daughter some lessons. Cramp is mainly a tennis instructor, but knows about shooting.

“I worked with Mr. Cramp a lot during the off-season in the spring,” Oldfield said. “I would go to his house for an hour once or twice a week to work on shooting.”

Oldfield exploded as a sophomore, averaging 10.1 points per game and hitting 78 3-pointers, which put her among the CVC’s leaders. She also picked up 66 assists, 54 steals and 80 rebounds, showing signs of being that all-around player.

“I definitely surprised myself,” Oldfield said.

During the off-season, Jeff Losch stepped down and Ross took over. Something happened to Oldfield last season, as her scoring average dropped to 6.1 and her threes slipped to 41. Her assists (56) and steals (31) also dropped but she still finished third on the team in both categories.

So, what was it?

“It was getting used to new plays and new things with a new coach,” Oldfield said. “Other girls stepped up so I just kind of passed the ball more.”

She also admitted that for some reason, her shot was not there.

“I definitely wasn’t shooting as well,” Oldfield said. “I don’t know if I wasn’t getting the same amount of shots, but I wasn’t shooting as well as I obviously did during my sophomore year. It definitely frustrated me and caused me to look to pass more to my teammates to let them shoot, since obviously I wasn’t on my game.”

Ross had trouble putting her finger on it, but felt that extra attention from defenses may have played a factor.

“I don’t really know what it was,” the coach said. “Some days she was on, some days she was off but a lot of teams keyed in on her last year after her sophomore season. Hopefully we can break through that this year.”

The one bright spot is that Oldfield’s confidence never wavered.

“I went into the gym a couple times outside of practice to shoot but I still wanted to pass more since it wasn’t really working,” she said. “But I felt OK.”

Ross and Oldfield know she is too good to let a bump in the road sidetrack her, and both are looking for a big senior year.

“She’s gonna be a guard and forward,” Ross said. “We need her (5-foot-9) size down low, we don’t have a lot of size. We need her to kick the ball to Frankie or Charlotte and then go spot up somewhere on a break. But I still want her to shoot. She’s handling (the transition) well. She knows what she needs to do and she works on it. Hopefully once we get into the full season she’ll be ready to go.”

Rest assured, Oldfield will do whatever is asked of her.

“She is one of the most unselfish people I know, on and off the court,” Ross said. “Sometimes I want her to shoot more because of that; but she does everything for this team. She will bend over backwards for this team.”

Oldfield realizes she has to continue to shoot, as being a long-range threat can lead to other positive things.

“It opens up other girls too and allows me to drive more,” she said. “And if I drive it will open up my shot, so it works both ways.”

One attribute that has never wavered in Oldfield is her ability to work hard and her hustle on the court. That is often the case with the offspring of a coach.

“I’m sure it helps; that mentality and that drive that Aaron has probably instilled in her at home,” Ross said. “She works 100 percent all of the time.”

Oldfield, who is still deciding on a college, agreed, saying “He definitely pushes me to work a lot harder than I probably would, and he teaches me a lot more than probably a parent would that’s not a coach, so that’s really helpful.”

Hopefully all that work comes in handy during this do-it-all senior season.