TOMS RIVER - Monday night's girls Shore Conference Tournament semifinal between St. Rose and Manasquan was following an all-too familiar script in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, at least as far as St. Rose was concerned. The deja vu, however, was short-lived.

The Purple Roses - the No. 5 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament - overcame more late-fourth-quarter heroics by Manasquan and delivered plenty of their own in overtime to down the top-seeded Warriors, 68-59, and advance to the Shore Conference Tournament final for the third time in four years and fourth time in six years.

St. Rose will play No. 3 St. John Vianney Saturday, 5:30 p.m., at Ocean First Bank Center on the campus of Monmouth University with the Shore Conference Tournament title on the line. The Purple Roses will be seeking their first title since beating Manasquan in the 2012 final.

St. Rose junior Mikayla Markham. (Photo by Steve Meyer)
St. Rose junior Mikayla Markham. (Photo by Steve Meyer)

"We were tired of losing to them," said St. Rose coach Joe Whalen, whose team lost to Manasquan just nine days earlier on Feb. 11 and also in the Tournament of Champions final in 2015. "I'm tired of shaking their hands and saying, 'congratulations.' It's nice to see the shoe on the other foot."

Junior Mikayla Markham scored a team-high 20 points, including a pullup jumper from close range that stretched St. Rose's overtime lead to 61-57 with just over a minute to play. She also hit two of St. Rose's seven consecutive made free throws down the stretch to put the game on ice.

"We have a lot of pride in our team and we knew we'd be really tough to beat a second time," Markham said.

Senior Lucy Thomas added 16 points and hit the tiebreaking three-pointer with 2:45 left that gave the Purple Roses the lead for good at 58-55.

"We work hard every single day and it finally paid off against them," Thomas said. "We were not going to back down and we knew we had this game."

Before pulling away in overtime, St. Rose had a chance to put Manasquan away in regulation. The Roses grabbed a 53-50 lead on a three-pointer from the right wing by Markham with under two minutes to play.

After a pair of empty possessions for St. Rose, Manasquan drew even when senior Stella Clark drove into contact and banked in a layup. She made the ensuing free throw to tie the game at 53 with 1:08 left.

On the next possession, Manasquan senior Faith Masonius committed a reach in foul - he fifth and final foul of the game - to put St. Rose senior Ellyn Stoll on the line for a one-and-one with 49.7 seconds left.

"We've got to learn from that situation," Manasquan coach Lisa Kukoda said. "We have to grow and make sure we know the situation. Obviously, I love how aggressive they are, but we have to be able to be smarter at times."

Stoll, however, missed the free throw and Clark drew a foul with 23.3 seconds left, only to miss a front end of a one-and-one as well.

Sophomore Lola Mullaney, however, came up with a steal on the other end and Manasquan called timeout as junior and leading scorer Dara Mabrey raced into the front court. With 4.9 seconds left, Warriors senior center Victoria Galvan got a clean look from three-point range but hit the front rim. Stella Clark collected the rebound but could not get the follow to go.

"(The timeout) gave us an opportunity to reorganize our defense and set up and fix our matchups," Markham said.

"When you look at what we were playing against, (Mabrey) was coming down on a one-on four," Kukoda said. "A lot of times in a tie game, I let us play it out and see what we get. I called a timeout. Could we have gotten something off of it with her driving? Possibly, but I was looking to set something up and see if there was an opportunity to get a good look."

Clark later fouled out in the first two minutes of overtime with Manasquan trailing, 58-55.

The end of regulation played out similarly to the regular-season meeting between the teams on Feb. 11, which Manasquan won 60-57 in overtime. In that game, St. Rose senior Jen Louro missed a free throw with six seconds left that would have put St. Rose up by four and Mabrey made the Roses pay by burying a game-tying three as time-expired.

"We said, 'Don't mess up,'" Whalen joked when asked about the overtime message. '"Whatever you do, don't make a mistake.' I was a Wall Street guy and when I was hired on Wall Street, my said, 'Whatever you do, don't lose money.' So that's all we said: 'Don't mess up.'"

Louro bounced back with 10 points on Monday, while junior Elizabeth Marsicano added nine and Stoll poured in eight to lead St. Rose's well-rounded scoring attack.

Mabrey finished with a game-high 23 points, but scored only six in the fourth quarter and overtime - including a lay-up just before the final buzzer sounded. Clark added 13 points and Masonius poured in 10.

Senior starter Addie Masonius did not play for Manasquan Monday due to an undisclosed injury.

St. Rose is playing for its first postseason title since beating Manasquan to win the 2012 Shore Conference Tournament. That was also the last time St. Rose beat Manasquan in a postseason game, with the Warriors beating the Purple Roses in the SCT final in both 2014 and 2015 and also beating St. Rose in the Tournament of Champions final in 2015 and the Tournament of Champions semifinals in 2012.

"We were (in the final) two years ago and we just want to make the most of our opportunity this time," Markham said. "It's a really competitive tournament. This could be a T of C final, so it'll be exciting."


Box Score

St. Rose 68, Manasquan 59 (OT)

St. Rose (23-3)18151281568
Manasquan (24-2)1119149659

St. Rose (68): Mikayla Markham 7 4-4 20, Ellyn Stoll 2 2-4 8, Lucy Thomas 6 3-7 16, Elizabeth Marsicano 2 4-5 9, Jen Louro 4 1-1 10, Alex Pendergrass 1 0-0 2, Samantha Mikos 1 0-0 3, Lauren Lithgow 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 14-21 68

Three-pointers: Markham 2, Stoll 2, Thomas, Marsicano, Louro, Mikos

Manasquan (59): Stella Clark 6 1-4 13, Dara Mabrey 6 10-10 23, Faith Masonius 5 0-0 12, Lola Mullaney 3 0-0 7, Carly Geissler 1 0-0 2, Victoria Galvan 0 2-4 2, Nikki Stevens 0 0-0 0, Maggie Kelly 0 0-0 0, Annie Mako 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 13-18 59

Three-pointers: Mabrey, Masonius 2, Mullaney

Fouled Out: Clark, Masonius


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