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Shore Sports Network Girls Basketball Player of the Week

Previous winners

Changing things up this week and recognzing those who may not always bask in the limelight, yet played a pivotal role in driving their respective squads deep into the Shore Conference Tournament.

Fans who follow intently are acquainted with the talents of Madison St. Rose and Katie Hill of St. John Vianney, Destiny Adams of Manchester, Brynn Farrell and Makayla Andrews of St. Rose and Ally Carman and Justine Pissott of Red Bank Catholic. Each was instrumental in powering her team into the semifinal round. But, to reach that Final Four, the weight of the march tends to be shouldered by more than just those who grab their share of headlines.

Thus, this week, we take time to salute the unsung, the unheralded but also the invaluable assets who may do some of the tasks that don't always transcend to a boxscore.

Ashley O'Connor, St. John Vianney

The 5-7 sophomore guard was quietly consisent in aiding the Lady Lancers to their 14th SCT crown. She delivered eight points in a 70-63 win over fourth-seeded St. Rose in the semis and netted eight more on Saturday as Vianney scored a measure of revenge with a 57-50 triumph over defending champion Manchester, erasing the bitter taste of last year's 58-42 loss to the Hawks in the title game. While her points were necessary to the outcome, so too, was her timeliness in other areas.

O'Connor cleared five rebounds to go with three steals and a blocked shot in the semifinals. She followed up a three-point play by Madison St. Rose that put Vianney on top, 56-54, with a defensive rebound, knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:07 left that widened the gap to 60-54 and had the defensive courage to reject a shot late.

On Saturday, it was a combination of her tight defense on the ball and shrewd hedges that challenged penetration in the closing minutes of the fourth that helped Vianney deny Manchester a single field goal over the closing 2:47, a stretch in which the Lancers fashioned a defining 10-4 surge to seal the triumph. Victimized by Manchester's ferocity on the offensive glass for much of the game, SJV got a key defensive board from O'Connor with under a minute to go that gave way to two free throws from St. Rose, putting distance on the Hawks en route to the crown.

Serenity Anderson, Manchester

With defenses intently defending Destiny Adams around the lane, the Hawks needed another scorer to step up and alleviate pressure off the 6-3 junior forward. Anderson answered that call.

The 5-9 senior guard, who entered the final two stages of the SCT averaging 2.4 points per game, clicked for a season-high 10 while adding four rebounds, three assists and a steal as the Hawks flew past third-seeded Red Bank Catholic, 64-43, in the semis. More inclined to pass first or set a hard screen to spring a curling teammate's path to the rim, Anderson reminded all of her perimeter touch with a pair of 3-pointers in the win.

There was more to come. In the final against St. John Vianney, Anderson nailed two more threes and dropped in 11 points to go with three boards, four assists and three blocks in a 57-50 loss.

Maureen Stapleton, St. Rose

The 5-11 junior forward is a tough competitor on the boards for the Purple Roses but also one of their top shooters from long range. Due to the scoring volume of Brynn Farrell, Makayla Andrews and Abby Antognoli, Stapleton's offensive contributions tend to be overshadowed.

Nonetheless, Stapleton factored into St. Rose's 72-41 victory over fifth-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven in the quarterfinals by sinking two triples to complement her eight boards, three assists and defense the congested lanes to deny the drive.

In the semifinals, the Roses gave St. John Vianney all it could handle, with Stapleton splashing a couple of 3-pointers during a 12-5 tear that staked St. Rose to a 38-32 lead, one SJV eventually erased in a 70-63 triumph.

Fab Eggenschwiler, Red Bank Catholic

Fab Eggenschwiler of Red Bank Catholic (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Fab Eggenschwiler of Red Bank Catholic (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Arguably the Caseys' fiercest defender, the 6-0 senior guard offered a good deal of that...and a little more in pushing RBC into the semifinals.

Eggenschwiler dropped in 11 points as Red Bank Catholic rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to eliminate Manasquan in the quarterfinals with a 44-41 victory.

Faced with second-seeded Manchester and Destiny Adams in the semifinals, Red Bank Catholic employed a box-and-one, entrusting Eggenschwiler with the daunting assignment of shadowing the 6-3 junior, who she made work for every one of her 22 points in a 64-43 victory.

Follow Gregg Lerner on Twitter @gregglerner. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.

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