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First off, congrats to Manasquan senior Marina Mabrey, who was named the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year on Thursday morning. Her resume is right there with some of the best players in Shore Conference history at this point.

As for the games last night, the St. Rose girls became the eighth Shore Conference basketball team between boys and girls and the fifth local girls squad to bring home an NJSIAA sectional title last night by knocking off Roselle Catholic to repeat as Non-Public South B champs.

I was at the game at Jackson Liberty, and while it was fairly ugly, St. Rose did the things that championship teams do - defended well enough to cover for rough offensive patches, had a senior step up at a crucial juncture, and got a spark off the bench. Senior star Jess Louro dropped in 20 points in the 45-34 win, while freshman guard Makayla Markham added eight points off the bench to help offset a tough shooting night for senior standout Kat Phipps.

St. Rose knocked off Roselle Catholic to win its second straight NJSIAA Non-Public South B crown on Wednesday night. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

The most surprising stat of the game was that neither team hit a single 3-pointer, which is not usually the way those two teams play. Jackson Liberty has that weird yellow lighting like the gym at Wall that some people like (see: Laffey, Jack, and Andree, Pat) and others have a hard time adjusting to when it comes to long-range shooting. It's a great gym in general with a lot of space, good bleachers and a nice court, but the lighting makes it seem like a horror movie hospital or something, like there's rogue Tijuana doctors performing illegal surgeries under the bleachers.

Roselle Catholic also missed a boatload of lay-ups, which also didn't hurt things for the Purple Roses. Louro really took control of that game in the second half, handling the ball, scoring in the paint, grabbing every rebound and keeping the Purple Roses comfortably in front. There also was this nice sequence that ended in an easy one for her younger sister, sophomore Jen Louro.

Now they will try to return to the Tournament of Champions for the second straight season when they face Lodi Immaculate in the Non-Public B final on Saturday at Pine Belt Arena, where the Purple Roses will be the favorite.

On the boys side, Manasquan's run came to an end in the Group II semifinals with a 64-49 loss to Camden, whose coach, John Valore, got his 600th win in the process.

Despite a tough loss to Camden, Ryan Jensen and several other key players return for Manasquan next season to keep the wins coming after a great 2014-15 season. (Photo by Larry Murphy/Sports Pix NJ)

It was a great season for the Warriors with 22 wins, a share of the Class A Central title, a trip to the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals, and their first Central Jersey Group II title since 2009. With junior guard Jack Sheehan and forward Ryan Jensen returning from the starting lineup next season, they have two strong building blocks to keep the wins coming under coach Andrew Bilodeau.

Manasquan-Camden photo gallery by Sports Pix NJ

Manasquan's loss means there's two boys teams still alive. Shore Regional plays Paulsboro tonight at 7 at Pine Belt Arena in the Group I semifinals, while Christian Brothers Academy will play Pope John XXIII in the Non-Public A final on Saturday at Pine Belt Arena after Pope John knocked off Seton Hall Prep in North Jersey to win its first sectional title in history last night.


Montclair State keeps on racking up Shore Conference recruits. Neptune senior defensive end Nasir Williams announced on Wednesday that he's joining Matawan lineman Jake Weber and Monmouth quarterback Jimmy Green among the incoming class for the Red Hawks.

Also, former Brick Memorial standout quarterback Ryan Cieplenski, who played a post-grad season with Jersey Coast Academy in Ocean County this past fall, has signed with a professional team in Germany, the Ritterhude Badgers.

More on Thursday:

  • "Now replacing Todd Frazier at third base for the Reds...Will Ferrell."
  • Former Long Branch star offensive lineman Darius Morris, who played at Temple, has been invited to the inaugural NFL Veterans Combine on March 22 to see if he can latch on with a team.
  • Former Jackson Memorial star Matt Thaiss is leading the nation with six homers so far for the University of Virginia.
  • College and NFL quarterbacks are starting to use virtual reality to help them prepare and improve.
  • The Hillsborough team that beat Freehold Township in the CJ Group IV final got blown out by Cherry Hill East, which advanced to its first Group IV final.
  • Paterson Eastside stunned defending Group IV champion Linden last night.
  • Iman Shumpert believes two characters on the show "Empire" are rip-offs of him and his girlfriend without permission or compensation.
  • South African ranchers are breeding mutant animals so they can charge hunters a premium for hunting "Frankenstein" prey. Those pictures are a little freaky.
  • A village in Italy got a world-record eight feet of snow in one day.
  • South Korean activists are dropping 10,000 copies of "The Interview" on North Korea from a balloon.
  • Florida is close to passing a law permitting teachers to carry concealed weapons at school. I can only imagine my old English teacher, who is a nun, packing heat.

On tap for tonight: The Shore boys will face Paulsboro at 7 at Pine Belt Arena in a bid to make it to Rutgers for Sunday's Group I final, while three girls teams are in Group semifinal action down in the wilds of South Jersey as they try to make it to Sunday's Group finals at Pine Belt Arena.

Defending Group II champion Manasquan will play Lower Cape May at 7 p.m. at Williamstown, which should probably be a romp considering Lower Cape May had never even won a sectional title until this season. Group III favorite Middletown South will take on Timber Creek in the Group III semis down at Deptford, and Marlboro will face a tough Shawnee team at 7 p.m. at Timber Creek in the Group IV semifinals.

I know I'm a terrible person, but I can't stop watching this woman get hit in the face with a basketball. When you have seats that good that are that close to the court, stay off the phone and just watch the game.