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MARLBORO - The downpour of long-range jumpers that rain from the sky and the rate at which a good deal of those shots fall, launched by the parade of sources who flood the exterior of the 3-point line, have come to symbolize Marlboro. But, the shooting patterns of the Mustangs by no means defines them.

That is more prevalent in areas of the game that tend to be obscured by what materializes from their perimeter pursuits. Truth be told, the reason Marlboro can fire off in upwards of 85 to 90 shots a game, with nearly have coming from downtown, is due in large to what it does without the basketball. The way the Mustangs hunt as a pack, be it through their press, halfcourt traps or relentless pounding on the boards, is what affords them the opportunity to fire at will. A misfire the incentive to work harder on defense to get it back and relaunch.

Aspriing shooters can go into their pockets to find the means to pay a trainer to hone technique. Defenders and rebounders need only go into their soul to discover the depth of their hustle. 

"Getting rebounds and steals is more important to me than getting points," said sophomore guard Dani Schlesinger, sharing sentiments drilled into every Mustang. "Grabbing an offensive board to get us a second look..that's just how we play."

The Mustangs also play like their shorts are on fire. The only time you can find one stationary is during the National Anthem. A ceaseless energy that dicatated the terms through the havoc it wreaked defensively and muscle it flexed under the boards powered No. 6 Marlboro to a 73-53 victory over Howell on Thursday, applying the finishing touches on a perfect run to a second straight A North championship.

Imposing its preferred frenetic pace, Marlboro (17-3, 12-0) induced 12 turnovers in the opening quarter that were translated into 14 points to spur a 23-6 start. The Stangs held Howell (11-10, 5-7) without a shot for the first 2:27 of the game and allowed the Rebels not one second-chance look in the period by sturdily closing out inside.

That same rebounding form was instituted at the opposite end. Marlboro counted eight offensive rebounds among the 10 boards it retrieved in the first eight minutes to complement the six steals it reaped in setting a definitive tone from the tip.

On Senior Night, elder stateswomen Sam Nocco, Katherine Sanchez, Alexandra O'Hare and Brianna Diaz were fully involved. Nocco buried a pair of threes in the initial salvo and finished with 11 points, Sanchez delivered nine of her 11 points in the first half, including five in the first quarter, O'Hare was in the middle of the defensive denial and Diaz worked the paint to the tune of five rebounds, two blocks and an assist.

Their work ethic was upheld by those influenced by their principles.

Schlesinger carried an infectious enthusiasm that reaped 14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Junior forward Jessica Riepe was responsible for three of the 12 triples Marlboro canned, junior forward Laura Morehead hit three more shots from long distance on her way to 11 points, junior point guard Sammy Jay handled with care while providing seven points, three rebounds, four assists and a steal and freshman Erica DiSimone assured she has taken to the style of her older teammates with four points, four steals, three assists and three boards.

"The way we play is completely chaotic," noted Riepe, who tops the Shore Conference with 71 3-pointers. "We get teams to play our pace. If we can control how they play, it works right into our hands. If we're all hustling, it might not show up on the boxscore but it's what earns us wins. The idea is to make five (players) look like 10."

"We run for our teammates," added Schlesinger. "If we see someone sprint to a trap, everyone else is going to work just as hard to rotate on defense and cover the open player."

Such unison has been at the core of Marlboro's success. Because of the dizzying rotation that keeps The System fresh and invigorated, those on the bench have no delusions of what's expected when sent to the scorer's table to check in.

And, the standards are not loss on DiSimone, a freshman that has taken to the whirlwind style. The 5-7 guard is already poised in the heart of mayhem, shrewd with the ball, instinctuall finding a seam and without hesitation exploiting it, encouraged to be a significant piece by those who trust her talents.

Erica DiSimone of Marlboro (Photo by Gregg Lerner)
Erica DiSimone (1) of Marlboro (Photo by Gregg Lerner)

The endless motion a perfect fit for someone with a hankering to run.

"I usually like running but even this was hard to get use to," DiSimone, who runs the 100, 200 and relays in spring track, said. "I ask the upperclassmen for help and they are always there."

Despite being down, 41-22, at the half, Howell continued to seek its rhythm and found some, outscoring Marlboro, 32-31, following intermission. Junior forward Caitlin Gresko fired in 14 of her game-high 18 points over the final two quarters while junior Cassie Conte and freshman Kerry DeStefano ended with eight points apiece.

Junior Grace Leary had six points and seven boards, classmate Mackenzie Bruno contributed four points, five rebounds and three assists and sophomore Mackenzi Greene scored seven. 

Howell (11-10, 5-7)     06 16 17 14 --- 53
Marlboro (17-3, 12-0)  23 18 17 15 --- 73

Howell: Caitlin Gresko 4-1-7-18; Grace Leary 1-1-1-6; Mackenzi Greene 3-0-1-7; Mackenzie Bruno 2-0-0-4; Cassie Conte 3-0-2-8; Kerry DeStefano 4-0-0-8; Bri Vacacella 1-0-0-2.

Marlboro: Erica DiSimone 2-0-0-4; Alexandra O’Hare 0-0-0-0; Isabella D’Amato 0-0-0-0; Ashley Horowitz 0-0-0-0; Sam Nocco 1-3-0-11; Katherine Sanchez 4-0-3-11; Sammy Jay 1-1-2-7; Dani Schlesinger 4-2-0-14; Samantha Slofkiss 1-0-0-2; Laura Morehead 0-3-2-11; Emelia O’Hare 0-0-0-0; Brianna Diaz 0-0-0-0; Jessica Riepe 2-3-0-13.

Follow Gregg Lerner on Twitter @gregglerner. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.

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