GIRLS BASKETBALL – SSN TOP 10, FEB. 21
The Shore Conference Tournament has a way of ironing a portion of the subjectivity in the Top 10 at this stage of the season, as teams begin to turn their attention to the NJSIAA Tournament next week. But, there is still some unfinished business to attend to this weekend.
No. 1 St. John Vianney and No. 2 Manasquan maneuvered their way through the treacherous SCT gauntlet to reach Saturday championship at OceanFirst Bank Center at Monmouth University. The game tips at 6 p.m. and by the time dust settles, so too, will be who sits atop the poll heading into the final three weeks of the campaign.
1-St. John Vianney (24-1, 12-0) Last Week: 1
The Lady Lancers earned their way into a 21st SCT final through some heart-stopping high drama in the semifinals Tuesday night. Down two with 9.4 showing in regulation, junior Rahmena Henderson pushed the ball to halfcourt before delivering a feed to junior Brelynn Bellamy for a 3-pointer from the right corner as time expired, lifting the Lancers past fourth-seeded St. Rose, 39-37. SJV will be taking aim at its 13th title against No. 2 Manasquan on Saturday at Monmouth University.
2-Manasquan (23-2, 13-1) Last Week: 2
The Warriors have been surgically precise in their path to the SCT title game against No. 1 St. John Vianney. They won all three tournament games by an average margin of 30 points, the most recent a 55-37 decision over third-seeded Red Bank Catholic in the semifinals. Senior guard Dara Mabrey, recently named the Kerwin Award winner for the second straight season, is averaging 18.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.6 steals in the tournament.
3-St. Rose (22-3, 15-0) Last Week: 3
Abiding to disciplined defense, the Purple Roses went toe to toe with top-seeded St. John Vianney on Tuesday night in the SCT semifinals. Junior guard Lauren Lithgow’s stickback with 9.4 left gave St. Rose a 37-36 edge only to be wiped out on a game-ending 3-pointer by SJV’s Brelynn Bellamey. The Roses will turn their attention to a new endeavor as they move up from South Jersey, Non-Public B to Non-Public A and open play on Wednesday as the fifth-seed hosting 12th-seeded Immaculata.
4-Red Bank Catholic (20-5, 12-2) Last Week: 4
The third-seeded Caseys, who bowed to second-seeded Manasquan, 55-37, in the SCT semifinals, will turn around and prime for defense of their Non-Public A state title as the third seed in South Jersey. RBC, which has gotten steady playmaking from senior Rose Caverly, will host the winner of 11th-seeded Notre Dame and sixth-seeded Camden Catholic in the quarterfinals on March 2.
5-Manchester (21-4, 13-1) Last Week: 5
The young Hawks made the deepest advance in the program’s history, reaching the quarterfinals of the SCT where they were clipped by St. Rose, 52-39. Junior Dakota Adams, sophomore Kemari Reynolds and freshman Destiny Adams now can concentrate on defending their South Jersey, Group 2 crown as the top seed. They entertain 16th-seeded Point Boro in the first round on Tuesday, a team the Hawks beat twice during the regular season.
6-Toms River North (21-3, 13-1) Last Week: 7
The Mariners reached the quarterfinals of the SCT where they ran into Manasquan and suffered a 66-38 consequence. North primed for the South Jersey, Group 4 tournament, where it opens as the fifth-seed against 14th-seeded Atlantic City on Tuesday, by topping Marlboro, 61-54, in a primer on Wednesday. Junior Jenna Paul is averaging 16 points per game over the last five contests and classmate Brielle Bisogno is scoring at a 13.4 clip during that stretch.
7-Rumson-Fair Haven (14-9, 10-2) Last Week: 6
The sixth-seeded Bulldogs were upended by 11th-seeded Colts Neck, 45-34, in the Round of 16 of the SCT. Adding to the woes, Rumson-Fair Haven lost standout guard Tori Hyduke to injury in the third quarter of the matchup. Her presence will be needed if the Bulldogs, seeded third, hope to make noise in a loaded Central Jersey, Group 2 field that includes defending champion Manasquan.
8-Donovan Catholic (20-5, 13-1) Last Week: 9
The Griffins need to rediscover some of the mojo that fueled an 18-game win streak. St. John Vianney snapped the run of prosperity with a 70-36 victory in the SCT quarterfinals and Toms River South clipped Donovan Catholic, 54-52, on Tuesday.
9-Jackson Memorial (19-3, 12-2) Last Week: 8
The Jaguars came up short in overtime against Donovan Catholic in the SCT Round of 16, falling 69-68, to end a run of eight consecutive wins. However, they got back on track Tuesday, downing Freehold Township, 49-32, behind 13 points and nine rebounds from Dani Evans, who has hit 20 3-pointers over the last 10 games.
10-Colts Neck (17-6, 11-1) Last Week: 10
The 11th-seeded Cougars sprung the upset in the first round of the SCT, halting sixth-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven, 45-34. Cara Volpe backed 13 points with eight rebounds and Lauren Feaster cleared 10 boards. Colts Neck was eliminated by third-seeded Red Bank Catholic in the quarterfinals, 68-33.
ON THE BUBBLE
Holmdel (14-8, 7-5)
Holmdel has a good shot of reaching the semifinals of Central Jersey, Group 2. The Hornets, seeded fourth, play Carteret on Tuesday in the opening round.
Marlboro (15-7, 10-2)
Warning to the Central Jersey, Group 4 field: Don’t sleep on the Mustangs. Marlboro drew the fourth-seed in the field and hosts 13th-seeded Freehold Township in the opening round, an A North foe it defeated twice in the regular season. Senior Jess Broad has averaged 21.6 points in the Mustangs’ last three outings.
Southern (16-8, 9-5)
The Rams are the 10th seed in South Jersey, Group 4 and will take to the road against seventh-seeded Shawnee on Tuesday in the first round. Southern can strike scoring balance between Collen Brady, Lauren Cruse, Kaela Curtin, Mikayla Nicolini and Jacqueline Ward.
Middletown North (13-8, 9-5)
Fifth-seeded Middletown North begins pursuit in North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 on Monday when they host 12th-seeded Gov. Livingston. The grind of their B North schedule should have the Lions prepared for a post-season push, paced by Caleigh McAnuff and Kiera Williams.