Girls Basketball – SCT Semifinal Preview
Shore Conference Tournament Semifinals
Monday, Feb. 20
At Pine Belt Arena, Toms River
No . 2 Red Bank Catholic (22-2) vs. No. 3 St. John Vianney (21-3), 6 p.m.
In the first rematch of the semifinal double-header on Monday night, defending Shore Conference Tournament champion St. John Vianney tries to solve Red Bank Catholic after losing to the Caseys, 54-45, on Jan. 21 at RBC.
In that game, RBC rallied from a nine-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter by outscoring the Lancers 22-4 over the final eight minutes. Junior Hayley Moore scored a game-high 23 points with five three-pointers to lead the comeback and the defensive combination of Maureen Coakley and Katie Rice teamed up to hold Seton Hall commit and senior center Kimi Evans to just five points.
Moore also led RBC with 14 points off the bench in Saturday’s 54-33 semifinal win over Toms River North, in which the Caseys stormed out to a 34-7 and played on cruise control the rest of the way.
St. John Vianney is coming off a much tougher semifinal battle, having held off Neptune, 65-59 to advance to the program’s 11th straight Shore Conference Tournament semifinal appearance. Evans was the foundation of that win with her 19 points and 11 rebounds, but the Lancers got significant contributions from sophomores Sarah Karpell and Sajada Bonner, as well as junior Madison Doring.
With four starters and a key bench scorer gone from last year’s No. 1 ranked team, Vianney has relied on a group of younger, more inexperienced players who are now ready for everything a game like this throws at a team. The Caseys are still the more experienced team and have lost just twice all year – both to Manasquan in close games – but it’s probably too late to rely on beating St. John Vianney on experience alone.
No. 1 Manasquan (24-1) vs. No. 5 St. Rose (22-3), 7:45 p.m.
These two teams already played what is probably the game of the year in the Shore Conference – boys or girls. Manasquan beat St. Rose, 60-57, in overtime thanks to a three-pointer at the fourth quarter buzzer by junior Dara Mabrey that sent the game to overtime and gave the Warriors a chance to ice a huge road win that earned them the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Manasquan has lost just once this season, which was a 62-54 loss to Rutgers Prep. The Warriors bounced back with wins over Middletown South, Rumson-Fair Haven and St. Rose before hitting the SCT as the No. 1 seed. Mabrey and sophomore Faith Masonius led the charge for Manasquan with 19 points each in a 70-53 quarterfinal win over Middletown South, which gave Manasquan all it could handle in the first half before the Warriors finally wore the Eagles down with their pressure.
St. Rose was even more impressive in blowing past Rumson, 74-60, in its quarterfinal win on Saturday. Junior Elizabeth Marsicano led the Purple Roses with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists in that win, while junior Mikayla Markham added 18 points and four assists and senior Ellyn Stoll poured in 13.
Both teams take plenty of positives with them into this game based on the last meeting, which came only nine days earlier. St. Rose trailed by 12 at halftime, but rallied to take the lead, 54-52, in the final minutes. A missed free throw gave Manasquan a chance to work the ball up the floor, with senior Stella Clark finding Mabrey for the game-tying triple.
Manasquan, on the other hand, built a big lead and responded to a furious rally by the Purple Roses. The Warriors have played in every big game there is to play over the past three years, so in order to beat them, St. Rose will be looking for another superlative effort like the one it turned in against Rumson on Saturday.