RED BANK - For three quarters of Manasquan's Class B North game Tuesday at Red Bank Catholic, while several of her prominent teammates struggled to turn their shots into points, Manasquan junior Dara Mabrey carried her team more than she has at any point during her already accomplished high school career.

With the game on the line in the fourth quarter though, those teammates - both new and old - joined Mabrey in carrying the Warriors to the finish line.

Mabrey poured in a career-high 33 points and was one of several Manasquan players to turn in key plays down the stretch to help the Warriors beat the Caseys, 66-62, in a battle between two of the state's top 10 teams, according to

"I was really confident because I worked a lot in the offseason," Mabrey said. "I felt it the whole day. I shot so much this past weekend knowing that I was going to have to make shots to win this game. This was a huge game and my team needed me, so I felt pretty confident. Once I hit one, I just usually let it go."

Manasquan junior Dara Mabrey scored a career-high 33 points Tuesday against Red Bank Catholic. (Photo by Matt Manley)
Manasquan junior Dara Mabrey scored a career-high 33 points Tuesday against Red Bank Catholic. (Photo by Matt Manley)

"Dara's a gamer and everybody knows that about her," Kukoda said. "When that pressure's on, I know she's going to look to step up. That's something we've talked about as a group. We have five scorers on the court and if someone is in that rhythm, we've got to run with that."

Mabrey scored 15 of her points in the second quarter and had 29 heading into the fourth quarter, at which point Manasquan - the No. 1 team in N.J. to open the season - led RBC 48-41. The Caseys, however, rallied behind senior Josie Larkins and took the lead on two separate occasions in the final 3:30.

Larkins, who also set a new career-high with 26 points, hit one of her six three-pointers to tie the game at 50 midway through the quarter and buried her sixth three to give RBC a 53-52 lead with 3:22 left.

Manasquan came right back with a three by sophomore guard and Colts Neck transfer Lola Mullaney that put the Warriors back in front, 55-53.

Red Bank Catholic junior Katie Rice hit one of two free throws to cut the deficit to one and senior guard Tia Montagne came up with a steal in the Manasquan backcourt on the ensuing possession. From the floor, she got the ball to Rice, who found junior Rose Caverly for the go-ahead layup with 1:50 left.

The lead was the last the Caseys would hold and it was short-lived. Mabrey took the ball beyond the three-point line, drove into the teeth of the defense, and converted a floater as she was fouled to give the Warriors the lead right back. Her ensuing free throw made the score 58-56 with 1:32 to play.

Mullaney made another big play on RBC's next possession when she came up with a steal and fed the ball ahead to sophomore Faith Masonius, who finished in transition to stretch the Manasquan lead to 60-56 with 1:09 left.

"I think what makes us strong is our ability to throw different people out there and be able to run with what's working in the moment," Kukoda said. "I said to all the girls, 'It's going to be different people on different nights,' and it was great to see Lola with the comfort level in what we're doing - the defensive intensity and all of that stuff is a great growing stuff for us."

Senior Maureen Coakley kept RBC alive when she converted a pass from Larkins to slice the Manasquan lead back to two with 48 seconds left. The Warriors, however, answered when senior Stella Clark scored on a reverse layup while drawing a foul. After hitting the free throw, Clark hit two more foul shots and Mabrey knocked down one of two to complete her career night and seal the victory.

"They're in their home gym, against a really good team," Mabrey said. "They were really gritty, I give them a lot of credit. They're a really good team. We're used that - team's getting up to play us. I'm just glad we kept our poise."

Before coming alive in the fourth quarter, Masonius, Clark and Mullaney could not generate much offense against RBC's defense. Masonius scored six of her 14 points in the fourth, while Mullaney scored all seven of her points in the second half. Clark scored all five of her points in the fourth quarter and her reverse layup was her lone field goal of the game.

While RBC limited Masonius and shut down Clark over the first three quarters, the Caseys had no answer for Mabrey. The junior guard began her assault on the final two possessions of the first quarter and over the final 8:38 of the first half, she poured in 19 of her 21 first-half points on 6-for-7 shooting.

The second quarter was the only quarter in which Manasquan outscored RBC and the Warriors did so by a 20-10 margin. RBC was already over the foul limit when the quarter started and Mabrey took full advantage by attacking the defense. She went 6-for-6 from the line in the quarter and once the Caseys backed off to avoid giving away any more free throws, Mabrey got to the rim and finished. Five of her seven first-half field goals came in the paint.

"(The fouls) helped us get in the flow of our offense a little bit more, knowing that was there," Mabrey said. "It got us to the free throw line, which got us going."

"It was a combination of recognizing their (RBC's) foul situation and also recognizing that some of our outside shots weren't falling," Kukoda said. "That was the discussion: get yourself to the basket and get that rhythm."

While RBC's defense clamped down in the third, Mabrey still managed to pour in eight more points on 3-for-4 shooting - including a pair of long three-pointers. The Caseys kept her quiet during their rally in the fourth quarter until she scored the go-ahead three-point play that gave Manasquan the lead for good.

In all, Mabrey finished 11-for-18 from the floor, 3-for-6 from three-point range and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line.

The meeting was the first of two between Red Bank Catholic and Manasquan, which moved into the B North division from Class A Central. While the Warriors will no longer have to play state power St. John Vianney and perennial Shore Conference contender Rumson-Fair Haven twice per season, they still have to face three more top 20 teams in RBC, Neptune and Middletown South in division play.

"It's going to be fun, because you get a different look at different teams," Mabrey said. "We got so used to those rivals, so now it's going to be different preparation, different practices. They're teams that we've seen in the past, but we like it. We like new challenges."

Box Score

Manasquan 66, Red Bank Catholic 62

Manasquan (2-0, 2-0)1320151862
Red Bank Catholic (1-1, 1-1)1310182162

Manasquan (66): Stella Clark 1 3-3 5, Dara Mabrey 11 8-9 33, Faith Masonius 5 4-6 14, Addie Masonius 1 0-0 2, Carly Geissler 2 0-0 5, Lola Mullaney 3 0-2 7, Nikki Stevens 0 0-0 0, Victoria Galvan 0 0-0 0, Maggie Kelly 0 0-0 0. 23 15-20 66

Three-pointers: Mabrey 3, Geissler, Mullaney

Red Bank Catholic (62): Tia Montagne 5 2-2 13, Josie Larkins 9 2-2 26, Maureen Coakley 3 3-7 9, Katie Rice 3 6-7 12, Rose Caverly 1 0-0 2, Hayley Moore 0 0-0 0, Amanda Hart 0 0-0 0, Annetta Panayides 0 0-0 0, Fabienne Egenschwiler 0 0-0 0, Eliza Srinivasan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 13-18 62

Three-pointers: Montagne, Larkins 6


More From Shore Sports Network