GIRLS BASKETBALL: NJSIAA PREVIEW
NJSIAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
North Jersey, Section 2
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 5 Middletown North, No.7 Red Bank
Top Seed: Somerville
2017 champion: Somerville
The Favorite: Somerville. Graduation took a significant toll on the defending champion yet the Pioneers have restocked. Veterans Meghan Douglas and Emily Markowski have embraced meatier roles while the emergence of Christina Cernuto and Kelsey Mehan fortified the end product.
The Dark Horse: Red Bank. Giddy up and make way for the Bucs (15-11), who have won six of their last seven, including three straight over Willingboro, Wall and Trinity Hall in primers last week. Junior Meghan Murray (15.1 ppg., 33 3-pointers) headlines an army of perimeter sharpshooters who can stretch a defense to its limits and leave it vulnerable to penetrating exploration.
Red Bank deserves praise for making everyone on the floor a threat. Senior Bridget Tobin (11.2 ppg., 28 3-pointers) and freshmen Caitlyn Decker (9.3 ppg., 29 3-pointers) and Chloe Teter (6.8 ppg., 16 3-pointers) understand their roles and the nuances of the system to make it perform at peak efficiency. However, the margin for error tends to slim. Red Bank scores at a 48.3 rate while conceding 46.1 points an outing.
1-Somerville over 16-Parsippany
8-Nutley over 9-Summit
5-Middletown North over 12-Gov. Livingston
4-West Morris over 13-Voorhees
3-Warren Hills over 14-Irvingston
6-Mendham over 11-Snyder
7-Red Bank over 10-Cranford
2-Chatham over 15-Ferris
1-Somerville over 8-Nutley
5-Middletown North over 4-West Morris
3-Warren Hills over 6-Mendham
7-Red Bank over 2-Chatham
1-Somerville over 5-Middletown North
7-Red Bank over 3-Warren Hills
1-Somerville over 7-Red Bank
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 3 Colts Neck, No. 4 Marlboro, No. 6 Middletown South, No. 13 Freehold Twp, No. 14 Long Branch
Top Seed: East Brunswick
2017 champion: Sayreville
Favorite: Marlboro. Considering how wide-open this field is and the taxing degree of a schedule intended to make it sharp for March, Marlboro (16-8) has as good a chance as anyone to emerge from this evenly-matched group.
The Mustangs are on the opposite side of the draw from third-seeded Colts Neck, a team that defeated them twice in the regular season which inevitably helped the Cougars secure the A North title. However, getting the impression things have gradually clicked into place for Marlboro at the perfect time. It countered setbacks to St. John Vianney, Manchester and Toms River North with big wins against Piscataway and Lodi Immaculate in the last two weeks. Senior Jess Broad (17.2 ppg., 7.4 rpg.) has put together some of her finest efforts within that time frame, including a career-high 35 points in a win against Howell on Feb. 13. Junior Gisella Romeo (13.0 ppg., 6.5 rpg.), sophomore Samantha Nocco (5.5 ppg., 28 3-pointers) and junior Theresa Besso (4.9 ppg.) assure the Mustangs can balance the floor to complement stout defense (44.8 ppg.).
The Dark Horse: Middletown South: The Eagles (11-12) see the post season as a clean slate, an opportunity to offset what’s been a season of inconsistency with one redeeming run. Middletown South administers some unyielding defense (44.5 ppg.) but has to strike offensive harmony behind sophomore Stephanie Mayerhofer (9.0 ppg., 41 3-pointers), junior Isla Brennan (9.2 ppg.) and sophomore Kayla Richardson (9.0 ppg.) If the trio can work off each other, with Mayerhofer establishing a presence on the arc, Brennan creating off the dribble and Richardson finishing inside, Middletown South could make some noise here.
1-East Brunswick over 16-Hillsborough
8-Hunterdon Central over 9-North Brunswick
5-South Brunswick over 12-Princeton
4-Marlboro over 13-Freehold Twp.
3-Colts Neck over 14-Long Branch
6-Middletown South over 11-Edision
7-Sayreville over 10-Trenton
2-Montgomery over 15-Monroe
8-Hunterdon Central over 1-East Brunswick
4-Marlboro over 5-South Brunswick
3-Colts Neck over 6-Middletown South
2-Montgomery over 7-Sayreville
4-Marlboro over 8-Hunterdon Central
2-Montgomery over 3-Colts Neck
4-Marlboro over 2-Montgomery
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 6 Neptune, No. 8 Wall, No. 14 Brick, No. 16 Jackson Liberty
Top seed: Ewing
2017 champion: Ewing
Favorite: Ewing. The Blue Devils have a veteran cast with championship experience, powered by senior Mya Grimes (18.2 ppg., 12.5 rpg.), a dynamic swing. Kiyla Peterson, Jaycee Lowe, Jentle Sheridan and Tyquazya Davis assure an opposing defense can’t solely concentrate on neutralizing Grimes.
The Dark Horses: Wall. Don’t let that 9-16 mark fool you. Wall boasts a number of qualities that could be beneficial to a deep run. Senior guard Lauren Karabin (18.3 ppg.) ceaselessly attacks the rim with a deft scoring touch and classmate Tara Casuccio (11.1 ppg., 7.6 rpg.) complements her interior finishing with a persistence on the boards. Defenses can’t lose sophomore Nikki Russo along the arc (5.8 ppg., 27 3-pointers) and Wall has plenty of depth. One of their more notable wins was a 70-38 triumph against Neptune in the WOBM Christmas Classic.
Neptune: The Scarlet Fliers (12-11) missed qualifying for the Shore Conference Tournament, but made the interim a chance to groom for the state tournament with a busy slate of games. Neptune has a pair of proven scorers in sophomore Makayla Andrews (20.5 ppg.) and senior Taylor Gardner (12.9 ppg., 32 3-pointers). Sophomores Macy Brackett and Autumn O’Neil are developing within a young outfit that will only be better for the experience gained in these meaningful settings.
1-Ewing over 16-Jackson Liberty
8-Wall over 9-Moorestown
5-Northern Burlington over 12-Hopewell Valley
4-Pemberton over 13-Burlington Twp.
13-Steinert over 4-Brick
6-Neptune over 11-Nottingham
7-Westampton Tech over 10-West Windsor Plainsboro-North
2-Allentown over 15-Pennsauken
1-Ewing over 8-Wall
5-Northern Burlington over 4-Pemberton
6-Neptune over 3-Steinert
2-Allentown over 7-Westampton Tech
1-Ewing over 5-Northern Burlington
2-Allentown over 6-Neptune
1-Ewing over 2-Allentown
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 1 Manasquan, No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven, No. 4 Holmdel, No. 7 Raritan, No. 8 Matawan
Top Seed: Manasquan
2017 champion: Manasquan
The Favorite: Manasquan. The Warriors have lorded over Group 2 for the last four years, stamping each season with a state title and a march into the Tournament of Champions final. There’s no indication to expect that pattern to end. Manasquan is coming off an impressive 70-52 showing against St. John Vianney in the Shore Conference Tournament final and has prevailed in 13 consecutive contests. Senior guard Dara Mabrey (22.5 ppg., 57 3-pointers) is wired to embrace the big moment, evident by her 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting in the SCT final. While her offensive repertoire is as limitless as her range, the 5-7 Mabrey is just as valued as both a creator and defender.
Junior Faith Masonius has taken her game to new heights this winter, averaging 18.8 points and 10.3 rebounds a contest. She can handle against pressure, break down defenders off the dribble and pass with aplomb.
Junior guard Lola Mullaney (14.6 ppg.) has carved a niche on the offensive end, finding space along the arc to rain threes and making heady cuts off the ball to be reward at the basket. Senior guard Carly Geissler distributes and defends vigorously and senior forward Emma McMenaman is a strong interior defender who grinds inside. Junior Annie Mako and freshman Maci Black offer depth in the backcourt.
The Dark Horses: Holmdel. The Hornets have a good chance of stinging their way into a potential semifinal encounter with Manasquan. Christina Antonakakis is among the more entertaining playmakers. The 5-5 senior point guard (18.6 ppg., 57 3-pointers) complements her perimeter touch with a fearless ability to drive into the teeth of a defense and create chances for those surrounding her. Freshman Ryann Taylor (7.3 ppg., 38 3-pointers,), senior Marilou Quintana and sophomores Leah Nolan (7.5 ppg.) and Carson Fontana (5.8 ppg.) thrive off the clean looks crafted through Antonakakis’ imagination.
Rumson-Fair Haven. A relatively young RFH takes its lead from senior Tori Hyduke (27.7 ppg.). However, the playmaker missed the Bulldogs’ final two games after suffering an ankle injury in a 45-34 loss to Colts Neck in the Shore Conference Tournament. After 10 days of rest, the George Washington pledge is questionable for Tuesday against Robbinsville.
Without her, sophomore Lucy Adams (9.5 ppg., 8.3 rpg.), a lengthy 6-1 asset, freshmen Grace Munt and Cortland McBarron and senior Mikaela McGarvey will have to pick up significant slack. One thing that could galvanizes whoever is on the floor is defending with a passion. Mackenna Maguire and Phoebe Spernal can make an impact from the arc.
1-Manasquan over 16-Bordenown
8-Matawan over 9-Hillside
5-Spotswood over 12-South River
4-Holmdel over 13-Carteret
3-Rumson-Fair Haven over 14-Robbinsville
6-Delaware Valley over 11-South Plainfield
7-Raritan over 10-Johnson
2-Lincoln over 15-Roselle
1-Manasquan over 8-Matawan
4-Holmdel over 5-Spotswood
3-Rumson-Fair Haven over 6-Delaware Valley
2-Lincoln over 15-Roselle
1-Manasquan over 4-Holmdel
3-Rumson-Fair Haven over 2-Lincoln
1-Manasquan over 3-Rumson-Fair Haven
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 4 Keyport, No. 6 Shore, No. 8 Point Pleasant Beach, No. 15 Asbury Park
Top seed: Bound Brook
2017 champion: Bound Brook
The Favorite: Bound Brook. The Crusaders (20-3) have a pair of versatile, tournament-tested veterans in junior Cortlyn Morris (9.3 ppg., 7.3 rpg, 6.6 bpg.) and sophomore Cameron Ward (12.4 ppg., 6.1 rpg.). Furthermore, they administer defense in the manner necessary for big moves in March. Bound Brook will be eager to rinse the residue of consecutive losses against Watchung Hills and Saddle River Day out of its system playing against its peers.
The Dark Horse: Shore. It’s 9-16 mark is a byproduct of competing against bigger schools in the A Central, where it endured a 0-12 showing, but sharpened for the post season versus stiff competition, including St. John Vianney and Rumson-Fair Haven. Senior Breanna Jackson (8.9 ppg., 40 3-pointers), freshman Madison LaRosa (7.8 ppg., 23 3-pointers) and sophomore Caitlin Donegan (6.4 ppg., 5.8 rpg.) may find an easier time getting quality shots off against a more level playing field.
1-Bound Brook over 16-South Hunterdon
8-Point Pleasant Beach over 9-Perth Amboy Tech
5-Riverside over 12-Somerset Tech
4-Keyport over 13-New Egypt
3-Piscataway Tech over 14-Academy Charter
6-Shore over 11-Burlington City
7-Academy for Urban Leadership Charter over 10-Manville
2-Middlesex over 15-Asbury Park
1-Bound Brook over 8-Point Pleasant Beach
5-Riverside over 4-Keyport
6-Shore over 3-Piscataway Tech
2-Middlesex over 7-Academy for Urban Leadership Charter
1-Bound Brook over 5-Riverside
6-Shore over 2-Middlesex
1-Bound Brook over 6-Shore
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 3 Toms River North, No. 4 Jackson Memorial, No. 10 Southern, No. 15 Brick Memorial.
Top seed: 1-Cherokee
2017 champion: Cherokee
The Favorite: Cherokee. All that separates the Chiefs (22-2) from an unblemished record is a 39-32 loss to Caravel (De.) and a 34-32 setback against Bishop Eustace. Cherokee won its second straight South Jersey Invitational title and has a strong presence in the frontcourt provided by junior Ava Therien (13.5 ppg.) and her freshman sister Alexa (9.8 ppg.). They get ample perimeter protection from senior guard Katie Cummiskey (7.9 ppg,, 30 3-pointers).
The Dark Horse: Toms River North. The Mariners have an ax to grind after falling to Cherokee in a 37-35 heartbreak a year ago in the sectional final. Toms River North is a year older, a year wise and primed for a measure of revenge. Junior swing Jenna Paul (17.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg.) strikes exceptional balance between her interior scoring and outside touch (26 3-pointers) and classmate Brielle Bisogno (12.3 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 2.8 apg., 46 3-pointers) could be the difference maker. Bisogno missed her entire sophomore season recovering from a torn ACL. Senior forwards Amanda Johnson (8.4 ppg., 5.8 rpg.) and Lindsay Cabey (3.4 ppg., 4.3 rpg.) battle underneath.
1-Cherokee over 16-Egg Harbor
9-Washington Twp. over 8-Lenape
5-Rancocas Valley over 12-Williamstown
4-Jackson Memorial over 13-Atlantic Tech
3-Toms River North over 14-Atlantic City
11-Clearview over 6-Millville
7-Shawnee over 10-Southern
2-Kingsway over 15-Brick Memorial
1-Cherokee over 9-Washington Two.
4-Jackson Memorial over 5-Rancocas Valley
3-Toms River North over 11-Cleaview
7-Shawnee over 2-Kingsway
1-Cherokee over 4-Jackson Memorial
3-Toms River North over 7-Shawnee
3-Toms River North over 1-Cherokee
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 4 Toms River East, No. 14 Toms River South, No. 15 Lacey
Top seed: Mainland
2017 champion: Ocean City
The Favorite: Mainland. The Mustangs are unbeaten, boasting a 25-0 record and one of the state’s premier sophomores in 6-3 Kylee Watson. Senior Francesca Geromini complements Watson in the backcourt for Mainland, which edged Ocean City, 41-39, in overtime for its first Cape-Atlantic League Tournament title.
The Dark Horse: Toms River East. Junior Kamryn Lister (13.7 ppg., 36 3-pointers, 2.3 spg., 7.3 rpg.) is an active, athletic catalyst for the Raiders, who can impose the type of restrictive defense that plays well in the post season. Sophomores Jordyn Madigan (9.0 ppg., 29 3-pointers) and Nicole Platten 5.4 ppg., 26 3-pointers), as well as senior Sydney Phibbs (5.9 ppg, 20 3-pointers) demand defenders close out when they spot up along the arc.
1-Mainland over 16-Absegami
8-Delsea over 9-Deptford
5-Hammonton over 12-Highland
4-Toms River East over 13-Timber Creek
3-Ocean City over 14-Toms River South
6-Camden Tech over 11-Gloucester Tech
7-Woodrow Wilson over 10-Triton
2-Winslow over 15-Lacey
1-Mainland over 8-Delsea
4-Toms River East over 5-Hammonton
3-Ocean City over 6-Camden Tech
2-Winslow over 7-Woodrow Wilson
1-Mainland over 4- Toms River East
3-Ocean City over 2-Winslow
1-Mainland over 3-Ocean City
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 1 Manchester, No. 7 Barnegat, No. 16 Point Pleasant Boro
Top seed: Manchester
2017 champion: Manchester
The Favorite: Manchester. Frightening to think how good the Hawks (22-4) are considering their youth. But, they use that exuberance to their favor, playing fast and thoughtful. Manchester chased an ambitious schedule to prepare for its defense, facing defending Tournament of Champions winner Franklin as well as Rumson-Fair Haven and undefeated Mainland. It advanced to the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament for the first time in the program’s history, bowing to St. Rose.
Junior forward Dakota Adams (11.0 ppg., 10.0 rpg.) is physical and productive inside, sophomore point guard Kemari Reynolds (11.4 ppg., 4.6 rpg., 3.1 apg., 2.8 spg.) insightful and explosive on the ball and 6-3 freshman swing Destiny Adams (14.9 ppg., 8.6 rpg., 2.1 bpg., 2.2 apg., 1.8 spg.) diverse with a game already expanded to the perimeter (25 3-pointers). Sophomore guard Nahkaleigh Hayes-Jones (6.5 ppg, 35 3-pointers) gives the Hawks another ballhandler and threat from long range while senior Asha Harper (7.4 ppg., 5.1 rpg.) is fearless veering to the rim and quick to make a heady dish.
The Dark Horse: Barnegat. Beware of the Bengals, especially 5-10 senior guard Shannon McCoy. Among the state’s top 3-point shooters, McCoy (21.8 ppg., 63 3-pointers, 9.2 rpg., 3.3 apg., 2.6 spg.) does far more than bury threes. Her work ethic on the glass, unselfishness to find a teammate and on-the-ball defense sets an infectious tone. Junior Jada Baker (8.0 ppg., 9.2 rpg.) and senior Ginalee Erskine (7.2 ppg., 8.9 rpg.) can flex their muscle under the boards at both ends.
1-Manchester over 16-Point Pleasant Boro
9-Lower Cape May over 8-Collingswood
5-Cedar Creek over 12-Haddon Heights
4-Sterling over 13-Medford Tech
3-Haddonfield over 14-Oakcrest
6-Middle Twp. over 11-West Deptford
7-Barnegat over 10-Willingboro
2-Cinnaminson over 15-Delran
1-Manchester over 9-Lower Cape May
4-Sterling over 5-Cedar Creek
3-Haddonfield over 6-Middle Twp.
7-Barnegat over 2-Cinnaminson
1-Manchester over 4-Sterling
3-Haddonfield over 7-Barnegat
1-Manchester over 3-Haddonfield
Shore Teams in the Field: 1-St. John Vianney, 3-Red Bank Catholic, 5-St. Rose, 7-Donovan Catholic
Top seed: St. John Vianney
2017 champion: Red Bank Catholic
The favorite: St. John Vianney. The Lady Lancers will enter the state tournament an ornery bunch after absorbing a 70-52 loss to Manasquan in the Shore Conference Tournament final. Vianney aims to unleash its suffocating full-court press that relies on anticipation, lateral movement and the towering size within the framework. Senior guard Madison Doring and junior swing Sajada Bonner keep a defense guessing with their balance of perimeter punch and timely drives, junior point guard Sarah Karpell engineers the offense with vision and a deferring nature that creates chances for her hit threes and attack the rim and junior forward Brelynn Bellamy backs her stout defense with an offensive game that has taken shape this winter. Senior forward Sarah Furch competes with a passion in the paint and junior Rahmena Henderson and freshmen Katie Hill and Christina Whitehead can be inserted off the bench with the utmost confidence.
The Dark Horses: To refer to St. Rose or Red Bank Catholic as such is a bit of a stretch. The former suffered a heartbreaking 39-37 loss to Vianney on a Bellamy 3-pointer at the buzzer in the SCT semifinals and RBC bowed to the Lady Lancers, 47-40, during the regular season to hint at the slim degree of separation among the three powers.
St. Rose, which moves up from Non-Public B, is built around a solid senior nucleus of point guard Mikayla Markham, an intellectual playmaker, and 6-1 forwards Lucy Thomas and Lovin Marsicano, who strike from the arc as well as they finish around the tin. Ariana Dalia and Sam Mikos sink their teeth into a defensive assignment with their combination of length and physicality and Lauren Lithgow is a key reserve with a streak-shooter’s touch.
Red Bank Catholic, the defending Non-Public A state champion, returns the core of its cast from a year ago. The Caseys are senior-laden, piloted by point guard Rose Caverly, a shrewd penetrator with a keen passing sense. Hayley Moore and Amanda Hart are dangerous threats from downtown and Katie Rice strikes from all angles to balance her defensive tenacity.
9-Bishop Eustace over 8-Paul VI
5-St. Rose over 12-Immaculata
6-Camden Catholic over 11-Notre Dame
7-Donovan Catholic over 10-Mount St. Mary
1-St. John Vianney over 9-Bishop Eustace
5-St. Rose over 4-Bishop Ahr
3-Red Bank Catholic over 6-Camden Catholic
2-Gloucester Catholic over 7-Donovan Catholic
5-St. Rose over 1-St. John Vianney
3-Red Bank Catholic over 2-Gloucester Catholic
5-St. Rose over 3-Red Bank Catholic
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 3 Trinity Hall, No. 9 Mater Dei.
Top seed: Trenton Catholic
2017 champion: Rutgers Prep
The Favorite: Rutgers Prep. The Argonauts (22-4) topped St. Rose last winter in the sectional final en route to the state crown. Junior swing Leilani Correa is among the most talented players New Jersey has to offer and senior point Jahsyni Knight brings endless creativity to the position. Rutgers Prep, which fell to Franklin, 68-49, in the Somerset County Tournament final, as size up front in Chiara Tibbitt and an endless array of talent with its stable of guards.
The Dark Horse: Trinity Hall. It’s been quite the breakout season for the Monarchs (20-4). Among its losses are a pair to St. Rose. Bridget Andree (17.3 ppg., 8.7 rpg.), a 5-9 senior, makes her presence felt around the basket, 5-5 junior Collen Cusat (7.9 ppg, 33 3-pointers) can’t be left unattended along the arc, 5-5 senior Kathryn Kwapniewski (6.2 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 3.7 apg., 3.3 spg.) is a jack-of-all-trades and 6-0 sophomore Caitlin Wingertzahn (7.9 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 1.1 bpg.) has become an enforcer in the lane.
9-Mater Dei over 8-Moorestown Friends
12-Gill St. Bernard’s over 5-Holy Spirit
4-Roselle Catholic over 13-Doane Academy
6-Patrick School over 11-Timothy Christian
7-Holy Cross over 10-Wildwood Catholic
1-Trenton Catholic over 9-Mater Dei
4-Roselle Catholic over 12-Gill St. Bernard’s
6-Patrick School over 3-Trinity Hall
2-Rutgers Prep over 7-Holy Cross
4-Roselle Catholic over 1-Trenton Catholic
2-Rutgers Prep over 6-Patrick School
2-Rutgers Prep over 4-Roselle Catholic