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BELMAR - When a team takes two weeks to prepare for a specific game, it is usually either a season-opener or the Super Bowl.

For two weeks leading up to its game against Manasquan – a local rival ranked No. 1 in the Shore Conference, No. 2 in New Jersey and No. 14 in the country at tip time on Saturday at the McCann Activities and Athletics Center – Purple Roses coach Joe Whalen prepared his team for the Super Bowl while trying to convince them that the game was no more than the season-opener.

Once the student section cleared the bleachers and flooded the court at the end of the game, Whalen was ready to acknowledge one of the biggest regular-season wins in program history.

Kat Phipps (right) scored 19 of her 34 points in the fourth quarter Saturday to lead St. Rose to a win over Stella Clark (11) and Manasquan. (Photo by Larry Murphy, Sports Pix NJ)

Senior guard Kat Phipps hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 19 seconds left and St. Rose knocked off defending Shore Conference Tournament champion Manasquan 60-57 on Saturday to remain unbeaten and win an anticipated showdown between local rivals, SCT finalists from a year ago and teams ranked in both the top five in the state and top 25 in the country.

“We had people coming in early, staying late, practicing after games,” Phipps said of the preparation for the Manasquan game. “We worked our butts off getting ready for this game and I think we deserved to win.”

Phipps finished with 34 points, including 19 of St. Rose’s 21 in the fourth quarter. Manasquan senior and McDonald's All-American Marina Mabrey scored a game-high 37 points and got off a potential game-tying shot as time expired that missed off the back rim. As the clock hit all zeroes, the students seated behind the basket on the north end of the floor stormed the court.

“This really did mean the world to us,” senior Jess Louro said. “We were practicing three or four hours every day leading up to this game. It feels good to know all the hard work paid off.”

 

 

Manasquan (19-2) came into Saturday's game ranked No. 2 in the state according to the Star-Ledger and No. 14 in the nation in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25, while St. Rose (22-0) entered the game No. 3 in the state and No. 22 nationally in those same two polls. St. Rose is likely to climb to No. 1 in New Jersey with a win over the No. 2 team in the state and thanks to a loss by No. 1 Gloucester Catholic earlier this week.

“Even though I tried to downplay this game as just another game, it was hard,” Whalen said. “Both teams are nationally ranked, it’s a neighborhood rivalry and it’s for the number one seed in the Shore Conference Tournament. So there was a lot at stake.”

Phipps' game-winning shot was one of her five fourth-quarter field goals, four of which either tied the game or broke a tie. She hit a three to cut Manasquan’s lead to 47-46, tied the game at 49 with another three, then hit two go-ahead two-point baskets before her game-winning three. Phipps also knocked down two go-ahead free throws to put St. Rose up 51-49 with 2:18 left, the first Purple Roses lead since 15-14 early in the second quarter.

Phipps’ go-ahead free throws began a back-and-forth series of scores by her and Mabrey. The Notre Dame recruit knocked down two free throws to tie the game at 51 before Phipps made a running bank shot to put St. Rose back in front.

Freshman Dara Mabrey got in the act by quickly answering Phipps’ score to tie the game at 53 with 1:38 to play, and Phipps once again scored off a pass from Louro on a cut to the basket. Marina Mabrey drew a foul on the other end and sank two free throws to tie the game at 55 with 1:14 left, and Manasquan forced Phipps into a travel on the next possession to get the ball back.

After a Manasquan miss, Louro got to the free throw line and hit both shots to push St. Rose in front with 47.5 seconds left. Marina Mabrey responded by tying the game with an acrobatic, left-handed scoop shot with 33 seconds left.

After a timeout, Phipps shook free at the top of the key and buried a three to put St. Rose ahead for good. After a St. Rose timeout, the Purple Roses sold out to stop the three-point shot and still had to hold their collective breath as Mabrey got off a potential game-tying look.

“We were guarding it with our lives,” Louro said. “We didn’t want to give up any easy shots. When (Mabrey) got off the shot, all we could do was hope she missed it, and we’re glad she did.”

Jess Louro (12) celebrates the go-ahead shot by Kat Phipps (24) on Saturday (Photo by Larry Murphy, Sports Pix NJ)

Louro drew the assignment of guarding Marina Mabrey Saturday and not only did she not get the benefit of double-team help, but she played after being ill this past week. She also scored 12 points in the win.

“Jess has been sick all week,” Whalen said. “She was out three or four days with a stomach virus and didn’t practice, but she gave a great effort tonight.”

Phipps was a member of the rotation as a freshman when St. Rose won the Shore Conference Tournament by beating a Manasquan team led by two Mabrey sisters. Marina Mabrey was a freshman for the Warriors that season and older sister and current Notre Dame junior Michaela Mabrey was the senior standout. Manasquan beat St. Rose in the regular-season meeting at the McCann Activities and Athletics Center before St. Rose won the SCT final.

“This game is right there with the Shore Conference championship,” Phipps said. “That was obviously a great accomplishment, but we played the number one team in front of our home crowd and beat them today. We didn’t do that that year.”

Box Score

1

2

3

4

F

Manasquan (19-2)

14

16

13

14

57

St. Rose (22-0)

13

17

9

21

60

 

Manasquan (57): Stella Clark 3 0-2 7, Dara Mabrey 4 0-0 10, Victoria Galvan 0 0-0 0, Marina Mabrey 10 14-16 37, Courtney Hagaman 1 0-0 2, Gillian Black 0 0-0 0, Addie Masonius 0 0-0 0, Alex Kurtz 0 1-2 1. Totals: 18 15-20 57

Three-pointers: Clark, Mabrey 2, M. Mabrey 3

Fouled Out: Galvan

St. Rose (60): Kat Phipps 10 11-12 34, Ellyn Stoll 0 4-4 4, Elizabeth Marisacano 1 3-4 6, Jess Louro 3 5-8 12, Jen Louro 2 0-3 4, Makayla Markham 0 0-1 0, Katie Coakley 0 0-2 0. Totals: 16 23-34 60

Three-pointers: Phipps 3, Marisacano, Jess Louro