TOMS RIVER – With one win in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions this coming week, Manasquan senior Marina Mabrey can make history, but not even history would be good enough for the McDonald’s All-American and University of Notre Dame recruit.

Mabrey scored 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting to go with nine rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals on Sunday night to lead Manasquan to a 67-52 win over Westwood for its second straight NJSIAA Group II championship and third in four years.

Manasquan will be the No. 1 seed and enjoy a bye in the Tournament of Champions – which tips on Tuesday night with the quarterfinals – and Mabrey will join rare company when she plays in her fourth T of C in four years. With a win on Thursday over an opponent to be determined, Mabrey would be the first girls basketball player to play on a team that won a Tournament of Champions game in each of her four years for two different schools. The only program to win a T of C game in four consecutive years was St. John Vianney from 2008 to 2011.

“It’s a great goal that I’ve been able to achieve, but I’m not even thinking about that,” Mabrey said. “I really want to win this TOC this year. I’m really not too happy that we lost last year and it’s still lingering on from last March. That’s really all I care about.”

Mabrey will be making her third trip to the T of C with Manasquan, and the Warriors have reached the championship game in each of their first two appearances. Manasquan won it during Mabrey’s freshman year in 2012 and lost to Malcolm X Shabazz in last year’s final. She also helped carry Point Pleasant Beach to a Group I title and a first-round T of C win over Trenton Catholic as a sophomore in 2013.

“As a player it was hard to get to the TOC,” said Manasquan coach Lisa Kukoda, who played in the Tournament of Champions with Red Bank Catholic in 2004. “For Marina, it’s an expectation. That definitely says a lot about her mentality and how she sees us as a team and how she pushes the other players to get better. A lot of the players don’t come in with the expectation that we’re going to go to the TOC. But she comes in from day one with that on her mind as her final goal.”

“It’s great that I’ve been able to get this far every year, but I couldn’t have done it without all the teammates I’ve had, including the Point Beach girls,” Mabrey said. “I think my freshman year, they taught me what it means to win and taught me what it takes to get there and I took it with me. I learned from Katelynn (Flaherty) and Michaela (Mabrey) and now they are both playing in college at big-time schools (Michigan and Notre Dame, respectively).

“I remember one time we were losing at halftime and I went into the locker room (frustrated) and they said, ‘No, that’s not how it is here. We don't lose. You keep your head up and we’re going to go back out and we’re going to win.’”

Manasquan jumped out to a 14-4 lead after the first quarter behind eight points from Mabrey and fought off an improved showing in the second quarter from the Cardinals to take a 31-20 halftime lead. Westwood cut the Warriors lead to 29-20 – the last time the Cardinals would pull within single-digits – until Mabrey found sophomore Victoria Galvan for a lay-up with four seconds left in the half.

The Warriors then scored the first eight points of the second half to go up 39-20 and pushed the lead 20 on two occasions. Senior Courtney Hagaman opened the half with a three-pointer from the left wing and Mabrey stripped the ball from Westwood sophomore Samantha McClutchy and took it in for a layup to quickly make the score 36-20. Manasquan sophomore Stella Clark later buried a three to cap the 8-0 spurt.

“It was big to come out like that with Court hitting a big shot and us getting a couple of lay-ups,” Kukoda said. “At the same time, when we are able to get that kind of lead, we have to be able to keep it. I think once we went up, we kind of took a deep breath, and we have to realize that it’s the end of the line for everybody and nobody’s going to go down easily and nobody’s going to go down without a fight.”

Westwood battled back to within 11 points twice in the fourth quarter, but Mabrey had an answer each time. She scored to put Manasquan ahead, 59-46, with 3:10 to go, and after the Cardinals cut the lead to 62-51, she drove down the lane and slid a pass to Galvan for a lay-up to again push the lead back to 13 with 1:03 left.

Galvan was a key cog for Manasquan with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. She scored eight of Mansaquan’s 17 points in the second quarter and her size gave Westwood problems with Cardinals center Jaide Hinds-Clark matched up against Mabrey.

“We dumped the ball down to Victoria a lot today,” Mabrey said. “She had a size advantage there with (Hinds-Clark) guarding me and she was able to score and set up some easy shots with some good passing. We moved the ball well today. Dara (Mabrey) was a good passer today, Stella handled the ball pretty well, Courtney was patient, (Gillian Black) came in and made her presence felt with a quick three. Alex Kurtz gave us some good minutes, so all around, we played a pretty good game.”

Hagaman – the only other senior in the Manasquan starting lineup – also delivered in her third Group title game on Sunday. The senior guard finished with 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with five rebounds.

When Manasquan takes the court Thursday night, it will be nearly three weeks after the Warriors won their second straight Shore Conference Tournament title. Should St. John Vianney and Middletown South both win their T of C quarterfinal games on Tuesday, Friday’s semifinal double-header would feature the four Shore Conference Tournament semifinalists, albeit with different matchups. Manasquan would potentially play Middletown South in that scenario at Pine Belt Arena – the same floor on which Manasquan buried the Group III champion in December’s WOBM Christmas Classic, 62-27.

Of course, that rosy recent history is not reassuring enough for a Mabrey-led Manasquan squad that will accept only one ending to this season.

“With the next coming game, we need to make sure we don’t let up because if we keep letting up like we did tonight, it might cost us,” Mabrey said. “So we need to be a little more careful.”


Box Score

Manasquan 67, Westwood 52






Manasquan (29-2)






Westwood (27-4)







Manasquan (67): Stella Clark 2 2-2 7, Dara Mabrey 1 0-0 2, Victoria Galvan 6 0-0 12, Marina Mabrey 10 7-9 28, Courtney Hagaman 7 0-0 15, Addie Masonius 0 0-2 0, Gillian Black 1 0-0 3, Alex Kurtz 0 0-0 0. Totals: 27 9-13 67

Three-pointers: Clark, M. Mabrey, Hagaman, Black

Westwood (52): Samantha McClutchy 6 5-8 17, Olivia Cassidy 2 1-3 7, Jaide Hinds-Clark 8 2-3 18, Emily Molk 3 3-5 9, Noelle Cobin 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 12-21 52

Three-pointers: Cassidy 2