GIRLS BASKETBALL – SHORE SPORTS NETWORK TOP 10, FEB. 14
The Shore Conference Tournament is underway with plenty of intrigue in tow.
St. John Vianney embarks as the top-seeded driven to secure its second title in three years but must manuever through a a gauntlet in its path. Second-seeded Manasquan, which has reached three of the last four finals, defending champion and fourth-seeded St. Rose, perhaps with a chip on its shoulder - something that served it well when it claimed the crown as the fifth seed - may tap into a slighted sense for added motivation and third-seeded Red Bank Catholic, a veteran ensemble vying for its first SCT trophy since 2013, headline a stacked field eager to stand in the way.
Yet, don't overlook the senior guidance of Tori Hyduke for Rumson-Fair Haven and an strong Ocean County contingent represented by Manchester, Toms River North, Jackson Memorial and Donovan Catholic.
Let the fun begin!
1-St. John Vianney (21-1, 12-0) Last Week: 1
The Lady Lancers will begin pursuit of their unprecedented 14th Shore Conference Tournament title as the top seed in the loaded field. They primed for the post season by upending Jamesville-DeWitt (NY), 60-35, on Sunday, fueled by 17 points from junior forward Brelynn Bellamy and 13 by senior forward Sarah Furch.
Vianney will host 16th-seeded Toms River East on Thursday in the Round of 16.
2-Manasquan (20-2, 13-1) Last Week: 3
A 50-44 overtime triumph against St. Rose on Saturday secured the second seed in the Shore Conference Tournament for the Warriors, who seek their fourth championship appearance in five years and first crown since 2015. Junior swing Faith Masonius backed a game-high 23 points with eight rebounds and junior guard Annie Mako buried the go-ahead 3-pointer in the extra session to spark the win over the Purple Roses.
The Warriors, among the top eight seeds to receive a bye into the second round, entertain 15th-seeded Middletown North on Thursday.
3-St. Rose (20-2, 15-0) Last Week 2
The reigning Shore Conference Tournament champion will defend its throne as the fourth seed after bowing to No. 2 Manasquan, 50-44, in overtime on Saturday. The Purples Roses wiped out a 12-point deficit in the third quarter with a 20-8 closing splurge over the balance of regulation. Senior forward Lucy Thomas posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Barnegat, seeded 20th, visits St. Rose on Thursday in the Round of 16.
4-Red Bank Catholic (18-4, 12-2) Last Week: 4
The Caseys ride a seven-game win streak into the Shore Conference Tournament, where they landed the third seed and will host Southern on Thursday. Senior playmaker Rose Caverly is averaging 12.5 points per contest during the prosperous run but has a keen sense finding classmates Katie Rice, one of the Shore most versatile assets, Hayley Moore and Amanda Hart in ideal shooting position.
5-Manchester (19-3, 13-1) Last Week: 5
An amplified out-of-conference schedule that exposed the Hawks to the likes of defending Tournament of Champions winner Franklin and unbeaten Mainland should have the young, emerging cast primed for the Shore Conference Tournament, where it’s seeded fifth. At full strength, Manchester features an explosive offense that’s averaging 57.2 points per contest.
Freshman sensation Destiny Adams (15.5 ppg.), electrifying sophomore guard Kemari Reynolds (11.2 ppg.), rugged junior forward Dakota Adams (10.7 ppg.) and senior forward Asha Harper (8.1 ppg.) attentively share the scoring wealth, an asset necessary on Thursday when it hosts 12th-seeded Marlboro.
6-Rumson-Fair Haven (14-8, 10-2) Last Week: 6
Another squad that pursued a taxing list of non-conference tests prepared promising freshmen Cortland McBarron and Grace Munt for the rigors of the Shore Conference Tournament. Their assertiveness will be key in alleviating some of the scoring burden off senior point guard Tori Hyduke (28.4 ppg., 66 3-pointers) as the Bulldogs open Shore Conference Tournament play as the sixth seed. Rumson-Fair Haven will host 11th-seeded Colts Neck on Thursday.
7-Toms River North (20-2, 13-1) Last Week: 7
The Mariners, who gained the seventh seed for the Shore Conference Tournament, carry a five-game unbeaten streak into Thursday’s second-round encounter with 10th-seeded Holmdel. An unyielding, active defense is surrendering a mere 37.9 points an outing while juniors Jenna Paul (17.3 ppg., 5.1 rpg.) and Brielle Bisogno (12.3 ppg., 40 3-pointers), along with senior Amanda Johnson (9.0 ppg. 5.6 rpg.), energize the offense.
8-Jackson Memorial (18-2, 12-2) Last Week: 8
The ninth-seeded Jaguars steamed past 24th-seeded Keyport, 74-37, on Tuesday night in the preliminary round of the Shore Conference Tournament to extend their win streak to eight. Rachel Capua and Dani Evans, who grabbed 14 rebounds, each pumped in a season-high 25 points and Bianca Giordano fed the hot hands, collecting 10 assists.
Jackson calls on eight-seeded Donovan Catholic Thursday in the Round of 16.
9-Donovan Catholic (19-3, 13-1) Last Week: 10
The Griffins, who shared the B South title with Manchester, will put a 17-game win streak on the line Thursday when they host ninth-seeded Jackson Memoria.
Donovan Catholic balances staunch defense (39.2 ppg.) with a robust scoring flair (58.3 ppg.) that features 5-4 senior guard Molly Collins (13.0 ppg., 47 3-pointers), 5-8 senior guard Alyssa Hirschy (12.1 ppg., 44 3-pointers), sophomore Paige Slaven (8.8 ppg.), senior Melissa Buxton (8.7 ppg.) and sophomore Jayda Kearney (8.0 ppg., 5.3 rpg.).
10-Colts Neck (15-1, 11-1) Last Week: Not ranked
Sophomore guard Camryn Foltz flipped in 21 points and 5-3 freshman Jessica Thesing deposited 10 on Tuesday as the 11th-seeded Cougars kicked off Shore Conference Tournament play with a 53-43 triumph over 22nd-seeded Mater Dei. Up next, a date at sixth-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven on Thursday.
ON THE BUBBLE
Holmdel (14-7, 7-5) - The Hornets were ranked ninth last week but spilled out of the poll following a 48-30 setback against Red Bank. However, they bounced back on Tuesday, pinning Point Pleasant Beach with a 67-49 loss in the preliminary round of the Shore Conference Tournament, fueled by the scoring diversity of Christina Antonakakis (13 points), Leah Nolan (11 points) and Ryann Taylor (11 points). Holmdel, the 10th seed, will look to spring the upset Thursday at seventh-seeded Toms River North.
Marlboro (15-6, 10-2) - Perhpas a bit of a darkhorse at the outset of the SCT, the 12th-seeded Mustangs put the rest of the field on alert to beware of their dangerous prowess. Senior swing Jess Broad erupted for a career-high 35 points in a 72-57 win against 21st-seeded Howell in the preliminary round, a victory that came on the heels of an impressive 63-50 triumph over Piscataway. There at fifth-seeded Manchester on Thursday.
Southern (15-7, 9-5) - Maybe it was the perception of being seeded a bit lower than anticipated or the purer threat of elimination. Whatever was the driving incentive, Southern used it Tuesday night to outlast 14th-seeded Red Bank, 58-53, in a triple overtime thriller in the opening stage of the SCT. Lauren Cruse topped four scorers in double figures with 14 and Jacqueline Ward supplied 13 points, seven assists and five boards. The Rams hope to keep their mojo going Thursday at sixth-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven.
Middletown North (13-7, 9-5) - Tough defense that has been a season-long staple for the Lions helped the 15th seed close out 18th-seeded Raritan, 42-37, on Tuesday in the preliminary round of the Shore Conference Tournament. Caleigh McAnuff topped North with 15 points and Kiera Williams complemented nine points with eight rebounds. The Lions visit second-seeded Manasquan on Thursday.