Girls Basketball – Tournament of Champions Final Preview: Manasquan vs. Franklin
NJSIAA Tournament of Champions
Monday, March 20, 6:30 p.m.
At Sun National Bank Arena, Trenton
No. 4 Franklin (24-7)
4 Camille Gray, Jr., Guard
10 Keona Schenck, Fr., Guard
21 Monique Davis-Campbell, Sr., Center
3 Tiana Jackson, So., Forward
1 Diamond Miller, So., Guard/Forward
Off the bench: No. 12 Kiersten McCloud (Jr., Guard)
Road to the Final: Defeated Dickinson 70-52, North Hunterdon 77-48, Westfield 67-46, Bridgewater-Raritan 78-56, Morristown 61-37, Sayreville 68-36, Pascack Valley 70-50 (TOC), and Rutgers Prep 66-57 (TOC).
No. 2 Manasquan (31-2)
11 Stella Clark, Sr., Guard
10 Dara Mabrey, Jr., Guard
14 Carly Geissler, Jr., Guard
33 Faith Masonius, So., Forward
5 Addie Masonius, Sr., Guard/Forward
Off the bench: No. 2 Lola Mullaney (So., Guard/Forward), Victoria Galvan (Sr., Center)
Road to the Final: Defeated Monmouth 67-23, Delaware 67-23, Newark Tech 68-61, Rumson-Fair Haven 67-66, Manchester 51-34, High Point 66-40, and Red Bank Catholic 74-45 (TOC).
As is often the case, the two teams heading into the Tournament of Champions final have hit their stride and rode it to the final game of the season. Manasquan is back in the championship for the fourth straight year, which is longest streak for any girls team and the longest such streak of any public school team on either the boys or girls side.
The Warriors have put together back-to-back dominant performances, and their 29-point drubbing of a 28-win Red Bank Catholic team was one of the team’s more complete performances of the season and certainly the postseason. Junior Dara Mabrey came alive late in the second quarter and finished with 24 points to lead the way, while sophomore Faith Masonius scored 12 of her 17 points in the first half while also adding seven rebounds and three assists.
Manasquan will try to put together a similar effort a little more than 24 hours later against a Franklin team that has completely dominated its opponents during the state tournament after entering the North Jersey Section 2, Group IV Tournament with a relatively ordinary 16-7 record. Among those losses were Rumson-Fair Haven, St. John Vianney and St. Rose from the Shore Conference, as well as another to Rutgers Prep – the top seed in the Tournament of Champions.
Franklin did, however, beat Rutgers Prep in December and again on Sunday night, proving that was no fluke. The Warriors surged ahead at halftime and never let up in vanquishing the Argonauts, 66-57. It was the first time in eight games that Franklin did not defeat an opponent by a double-digit margin during the NJSIAA Tournament and it was a nine-point win over the state’s No. 1 team.
Manasquan lost to Rutgers Prep in late January at Holmdel High School, and the combination of size and athleticism that bothered the Warriors is something that Franklin also boasts. Sophomore standout Diamond Miller has guard skills with the length of a center and has taken over during the T of C. She pumped in a career-high 30 points in a quarterfinal win over Pascack Valley and scored 15 against Rutgers Prep to settle at an average of 20.1 for the tournament.
While Manasquan will have to contain Miller, as well as senior center Monique Davis-Campbell and junior guard Camille Gray, Franklin must find a way to slow down Mabrey, which not many opponents have come close to doing. The Gatorade Player of the Year in N.J. is averaging a hair under 20 points for the season and is putting up 21.4 per game during the state tournament.
Masonius has been a catalyst during Manasquan’s postseason, which has made the Warriors a more dangerous team. Coming off an All-Shore freshman season, Masonius averaged a modest 9.5 points per game during the regular season, but since the start of the Shore Conference Tournament is averaging 13.2 points to go with six rebounds.
Franklin is seeking its first ever Tournament of Champions title after qualifying for the T of C for the first time ever in 2015. The Warriors lost to Manasquan in the semifinals after defeating Middletown South in the quarterfinals. Manasquan went on to beat St. Rose in the championship game to win its second ever T of C title.
Manasquan is looking to finish off the championship run this year after falling one win short last year. The Warriors took St. John Vianney to double-overtime before falling to the senior-laden Lancers. Manasquan will be playing in the final for the fifth time in six years and is seeking its third championship in that span. That would also mark three T of C championships in the program’s history, which would pass Red Bank Catholic for third all-time on the girls side. St. John Vianney has the most T of C titles (7) while Malcolm X Shabazz of Newark is right behind the Lancers with six.