Girls Basketball—“Blue Devil Holiday Invitational” Opening Round Preview
Blue Devil Holiday Invitational
Opening Round 12/27/23
@ Shore Regional High School
No.1 Ocean Township - BYE
Ocean is the team to beat this season in the Blue Devil Holiday Invitational being ranked No. 4 in the Shore Conference. Ocean is a veteran team led by senior Eli Clark who is the court general for the Spartans. Clark gets everyone involved and the team does a great job of getting the ball into the hot hand. Senior Gamila Betton causes problems in the paint for defenses and Sofia Chebookjian can score from inside or out. Jineen Ayyash can take the ball to the basket or spot up outside for Ocean and junior Kayden Clark is the outside threat for the Spartans.
No. 2 Howell - BYE
Howell is another balanced team on the offensive end with three players averaging over 7 points per game. Junior Kiera McKown causes defensive match-up problems with her height and she is aggressive on the boards. Senior Gabriella Bambo has scored just under half her points from the foul-line, only missing two on the season. Sophomore BellaRose Marino has stepped in as the third scorer early in the season, knocking down five 3-pointers in the first three games.
No. 3 Monmouth Regional vs No. 6 Sayreville; 12:15 p.m.
Monmouth has started the season 3-0 and with senior Mia Troese healthy, they have a solid 1-2 punch with her and Amaya Harris. Both players are averaging 11 points per game and attack the basket. Monmouth does a good job controlling the boards with the height of Harris and Kate Hicks.
Sayreville does a good job rebounding with four players averaging over four rebounds per game. Sayreville struggles on the offensive end with senior Mikayla Payne leading the way with just over 5 points per game.
Prediction: Monmouth Regional 46-22
No. 4 Freehold Township vs No. 5 Jackson Liberty; 10:00 a.m.
Freehold Township is off to a 4-0 start entering the holiday break and is led by junior Gaby Parker and sophomore Madison Sciarrino. Both players are averaging 12.5 points per game and play hard on both ends of the floor. Juniors Sophie Tonino and Ava Giordano both average 8.5 points per game and provide the Patriots with more scoring options.
Jackson Liberty is a young team with new faces from last season. The Lions play two juniors and a combination of seven sophomores and freshmen. Sophomore Sophia Porter is averaging just over 5 points per game and scored a team-high 6 points against Freehold Township last week.
Prediction: Freehold Township 55-25
No. 1 Shore Regional - BYE
The defending champions are finally healthy and are looking to defend their title. Junior Reese Fiore missed the team’s first three games but scored 19 points in her debut. Junior transfer Kimi Sayson has adjusted quickly and is averaging 9.5 points per game. Senior Conley Smolokoff has taken over the leadership role with the graduation of Rylee Drahos and is averaging 11.75 points per game.
No. 2 Hightstown - BYE
Hightstown is looking for a rematch against Shore Regional after falling to them in last year's final. Senior Abby Misier is off to a dominant start this season, averaging 22.75 points per game and 13.5 rebounds per game. Misier can dominate the paint and the boards with her height. Junior Caitlyn Nagle has taken over as the second option on the offensive end averaging 8 points per game.
No. 3 Long Branch vs No. 6 Raritan; 3:45 p.m.
Long Branch has opened the season playing against three top ten teams in the Shore 16. Junior Leomary Diaz-Merino is averaging just over 17 points per game and is tough to cover with her outside shooting and ability to get to the basket. Senior Leilani Andrews is averaging 7.6 points per game and uses her speed to drive to the basket.
Senior Brianna Daly leads Raritan with 10.3 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. Raritan does a good job on the boards and is averaging just under 10 steals per game as a team. Sophomore Brooke Shea is averaging 7.3 points per game and is developing into Raritan’s second option on the offensive end.
Prediction: Long Branch 52-36
No. 4 Hamilton West vs No. 5 Freehold Boro; 2:00 p.m.
Hamilton West is led by junior Zairra Galloway with 13.6 points per game. Hamilton West will need to play more consistently on the offensive side of the ball, they only scored over 30 points once this season.
Freehold Boro has not been at full strength this season with last year’s leading scorer Christina Sikaras missing two games due to injury. The junior is averaging 15.5 points per game to lead Freehold Boro. Junior Sayuri Penaranda and freshman Olivia Batchelor are averaging 8.5 points per game for Freehold Boro.
Prediction: Freehold Boro 42-30