HOLMDEL – Although a group that has its eye on championships every year, the St. John Vianney girls basketball team had Jan. 9, 2015, on its mind since seeing this year’s schedule.

Manasquan dealt the Lancers the most heartbreaking of their five heartbreaking losses last year, all of which were by a margin of three points or fewer. Friday night, on its home floor, the Lady Lancers got a tiny dose of revenge.

Junior Kelly Campbell controlled the game and filled the box score with 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, while junior Kellie Crouch knocked down four 3-pointers in a 13-point effort that helped spark St. John Vianney to a 58-51 win over Manasquan – the No. 1 team in the state according to the Newark Star-Ledger and MSG Varsity.

St. John Vianney junior Kelly Campbell flirted with a triple-double Friday, posting 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in the Lancers' win over Manasquan. (Photo by Matt Manley)

“It was definitely a revenge game for us. I can’t get out of my mind the shot Courtney Hagaman hit last year,” said Campbell, referring to the buzzer-beater by Hagaman that gave Manasquan a 63-61 win over the Lancers in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals. “This win meant everything for me, even though we still have to come back and beat them at least one more time.”

The win gives St. John Vianney an early edge in the Class A Central division race, which also includes Rumson-Fair Haven, the No. 6 team in those same rankings.

“We’ve played a lot of good competition over the years, but I don’t remember ever playing the No. 1 team in the state in our gym,” ninth-year St. John Vianney coach Dawn Karpell said. “There are always a team or two around here that’s close to the top, so that’s kind of surprising, but it was a unique situation. It made for a really good atmosphere and a good night of basketball.”

After Manasquan stormed out to a 13-6 lead, the Lancers took over the game with a 13-1 run and never gave the lead back. The Warriors cut the Lancers' lead to one on multiple occasions, including 43-42 with 4:53 left in the game. St. John Vianney responded with the next seven points to take a 50-42 lead with just under three minutes left, capped by Crouch’s fourth three of the game.

St. John Vianney started the game by only making one of its first 13 shots from the field before a three by junior Tina Lebron in the final seconds of the first quarter ignited the 13-1 run and helped shift the Lancers' offense into gear. After the slow start, St. John Vianney shot 18-for-31 (58.1 percent) for the remainder of the game and finished 19-for-44 (43.2 percent).

“We just missed some open shots in the first quarter,” Crouch said. “It was just a matter of us executing better and once we started to see a couple of shots go in, we started to get more confident and we were able to feed off that on the defensive end as well.”

Manasquan packed in its matchup zone to defend against St. John Vianney sophomore center Kim Evans, and the Lancers looked to get her the ball early. While the Warriors held Evans to four points, the attention opened up opportunities at other spots on the floor. In addition to Crouch’s 13 points, sophomore Courtney Dobrzynski scored seven, while Lebron (five) and junior Zoe Pero (six) combined for 11 off the bench.

“One of the main reasons they are so tough is because they do have a number of players who can hit shots, and you’re always leaving someone open who can make a shot,” Manasquan coach Lisa Kukoda said. “To their credit, their players started knocking down shots and finding some of the weak spots in our defense. Now, we’ll have to make some adjustments to try to clean up some of those mistakes.”

At the center of the balanced effort was Campbell, who ran the point on offense and was at the top of St. John Vianney’s pressure defense throughout the game. She shot 4-for-9 from the field, but went 10-for-12 from the free-throw line and facilitated the offense for the rest of the roster. Her second-quarter three was at the center of the 13-1 run that helped the Lancers take over the game.

“She’s worked hard on her three-point shooting and it’s given her more confidence to hit that shot in-game,” Karpell said. “She already does everything for us, so that’s giving her another dimension.”

Warriors senior standout Marina Mabrey scored a game-high 26 points to go with 12 rebounds and four assists, but the Lancers' defense limited Manasquan’s other options. Sophomore Victoria Galvan was the only other Warriors player in double-figures with 10 points, while Hagaman, sophomore Stella Clark and freshman Dara Mabrey combined for 10 points.

“We tried to give them an extra step while guarding them, because they are very fast,” Crouch said. “Another key was boxing out. They are very physical and they like to take advantage of offensive rebounds.”

“They killed us on the boards last year, so we stressed rebounding, particularly on the defensive end when the initial shot went up,” said Karpell, whose team closed the rebounding gap by grabbing five offensive rebounds while keeping Manasquan to eight. “They were still able to get some second chances, but for the most part, we did a good job keeping them to one shot.”

Friday’s meeting was the first of two regular-season meetings between the Class A Central rivals and if last season is any indication, a showdown in the Shore Conference Tournament is a strong possibility and a fourth meeting in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions not out of the question.

Manasquan senior Marina Mabrey attempts to drive past St. John Vianney junior Gigi Caponegro (25). Mabrey scored 26 points Friday in a losing effort. (Photo by Matt Manley)

“It’s definitely a learning experience for our girls,” Kukoda said. “They know there are still a lot of games left against a lot of good teams that will give us a chance to get better. I think the experience of losing some tough games last year was one of the things that helped us improve the way we did, so it’s going to be a similar process this year as well.”

“There is so much season left and we have bigger goals than this, but there’s no doubt it’s a big win for us,” Campbell said. “Every game is important and every team on the schedule is tough, and to beat a team like Manasquan in front of a great home crowd is a big lift.”

 

Box Score

St. John Vianney 58, Manasquan 51

1

2

3

4

F

Manasquan (7-1, 2-1)

13

11

10

17

51

St. John Vianney (6-1, 3-0)

9

20

10

19

58

 

Manasquan (51): Stella Clark 1 1-2 4, Dara Mabrey 2 1-2 6, Victoria Galvan 3 4-4 10, Marina Mabrey 9 8-9 26, Courtney Hagaman 0 0-0 0, Addie Masonius 1 0-0 2, Gillian Black 1 0-0 3, Alex Kurtz 0 0-0 0, Molly Read 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 14-17 51

Three-pointers: Clark, Mabrey, Black

Fouled Out: D. Mabrey

St. John Vianney (58): Kelly Campbell 4 10-12 19, Kellie Crouch 4 1-2 13, Kim Evans 2 0-1 4, Gigi Caponegro 2 0-0 4, Courtney Dobrzynski 3 1-2 7, Tina Lebron 1 2-2 5, Zoe Pero 3 0-0 6, Vanessa Pinho 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 14-19 58

Three-pointers: Campbell, Crouch 4, Lebron