TOMS RIVER - Middletown North head coach Mike Iasparro faced an emotionally wrenching choice heading into Sunday's Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinal against Ranney.

He decided to coach the game only a day after the death of his mother, Carol, at 67 years old from pancreatic and liver cancer.

RAY RICH

"My mom knew that basketball is a big part of my life,'' Iasparro said following a 79-63 loss to the Panthers at Pine Belt Arena.

"She was a big fan of the program, and her and my dad came to all the games. I know that she would want me to be here coaching today, no question about it."

Carol, a mother of three and grandmother of nine, was a big supporter of Middletown North basketball, where Iasparro has been the head coach for 10 seasons. Only four weeks ago, she complained of stomach pains, and tests revealed she had Stage IV cancer.

Following a devastating day for his family, Iasparro was on the bench for the Lions against the heavily-favored Panthers knowing that is what his mother would have wanted. A long-time Middletown resident, Carol had been a basketball mom since Iasparro's days as a standout point guard at Mater Dei Prep in the early 1990s.

"Definitely the preparation for this game was not ordinary for me,'' he said. "Usually I'm watching hours of film and having meetings with my team. I wasn't able to do as much as I would normally do, but I knew that if I was doing that, my mom was looking down wanting me to do that rather than feeling sorry for everything that happened."

Contact: stump@allshoremedia.com; @Scott_Stump

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