TOMS RIVER - The Manasquan girls basketball team knew a rematch with St. Rose was likely just over the horizon in the Shore Conference Tournament, but the Warriors quickly learned Saturday that they would have to first get past a determined version of eighth-seeded Middletown South.

Junior Dara Mabrey and sophomore Faith Masonius scored 19 points apiece and the Warriors eventually turned away the Eagles, 70-53, to advance to the SCT semifinals for the fourth straight year. Masonius also grabbed nine rebounds and handed out four assists, while Mabrey scored 14 of her points after halftime.

"They're a great team - just that scrappy, athletic, body-up type of team that's going to give you everything they have," Manasquan coach Lisa Kukoda said of Middletown South. "We had to make some adjustments. They did some great things defensively and we had to adjust to them. Once we got comfortable in what we were doing, we were able to execute and get what we wanted to get."

Senior Stella Clark added 11 points and six assists for Manasquan and senior Carly Geissler handed out seven assists - all in the first half. Masonius scored 10 points during that first half, with Geissler setting up most of Manasquan's offense.

"I think Carly is that underestimated player who is a little bit of the glue to what we do," Kukoda said. "She showed in the stats with her assists today, but she just knows the game. She knows what's there and she knows what she's supposed to do. She's got a phenomenal basketball I.Q."

Manasquan took control of the game with a 13-2 run in the third quarter that turned a 37-34 edge into a 50-36 advantage.

Senior Alexandra Balsamo led Middletown South with 18 points while sophomore Isla Brennan poured in 13. Senior Haley Dalonzo also pitched in nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Manasquan will take on St. Rose in the semifinals on Monday in a rematch of Manasquan's 60-57 overtime win on Feb. 11. Mabrey hit a game-tying three-pointer as time expired in the fourth quarter to send that game into overtime.

"They are a quality team with a lot of weapons and a lot of threats," Kukoda said of St. Rose. "I think our girls are looking forward to it. They embrace that kind of competition and those high-intensity games."

 

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