Girls Basketball – Vianney Captures 13th SCT Championship; First Since 2005
West Long Branch, NJ- Stakes were never higher than they were Saturday night at the Monmouth University Athletic Center between two of the Shore Conferences top girls programs in Saint John Vianney and Manasquan. The two squads entered the Shore Conference Tournament Championship game looking to add to the SCT history books. A win by the Lancers would give them their first title since 2005 and the schools 13th overall title and a win by Manasquan would give them three in a row joining Vianney, Neptune and Asbury Park as the only schools to do so.
In the end it would be the Saint John Vianney Lady Lancers topping the Manaquan Warriors 59-48 in front of a near sell-out crowd at the MAC. The win improved the Lancers record to (25-1 overall and 12-0 A-Central) while the Warriors dropped to (20-6 overall and 9-3 A-Central). Vianney also exacted some revenge over Manasquan who has stood in their way the past two season by beating the Lancers 53-48 in last years SCT semi-finals and 63-61 in the 2014 SCT semi-finals.
Defending Champions Manasquan would jump start the scoring on the opening tip when freshman Faith Masonius found an opening down low after a pass from Mabrey to give the Warriors their only lead of the game 2-0. Her counterpart in Lancers junior Kimi Evans would take little time in matching Masonius as she took a pass from Kelly Campbell to tie the game at 2-2. Saint John Vianney would settle in and go on a 9-0 run on defensive pressure from seniors Campbell and Vanessa Pinho. The pair would be responsible for forcing 11 turnovers from Manasquan and 6 steals.
“I take great pride in my defense and when coach gave me the challenge of guarding a great player like Stella, it gave me a lot of confidence and I went out and did the best I could to help my team get the win.” Pinho said. “Tonight was a special win for us, we came in very confident but also with a huge chip on our shoulders after losing to them the past two seasons, its great to get Lancer Nation back on top.”
Manasquan’s Clark would twice hit two buzzer beater shots for the Warriors and look to steal momentum, once at the end of the first quarter to cut the lead to 13-7 and then at the end of the third to cut the lead to 41-27. But Clark would finish the night with a season low 5 points on 2 of 6 from the field, 0 for 1 from three and 1 for 3 from the foul line. So to say Pinho did “the best I could” would be an understatement.
“Vanessa a great competitor and leaves everything she has on the court," Lancers coach Dawn Karpell said. "Tonight she took on one of the best guards in the game and kept her off her game all night. The mental and physical toughness she brings to every practice and game only lifts the rest of the team to another level.”
The Warriors would make a second quarter run at the Lancers going into the locker room down just 22-17 on the heals of a Dara Mabrey layup and a Nikki Stevens free throw that cut the lead to just three points before Campbell hit a pair of free throws before the first half ended. Mabrey would finished the game with 14 points on 5 of 7 from the field, 2 of 3 from three and 2 for 2 from the free throw line.
The second half opened with a flurry of points and great basketball on both ends of the court between Masonius and Evans. The pair would exchange baskets for the first couple of minutes of the third quarter in which Faith scored six points and Evans four. With Manasquan looking to double team Evans down low it opened more scoring opportunities for the Lancers from outside and senior Tina Lebron took full advantage of this in the third period going 3 for 3 from three point range and finished the night with 14 points.
"The third quarter we got back to playing smart basketball and found the open looks," Lebron said. "I was able to get on a hot streak and help increase our lead over a tough Manaquan team that we knew were not going to go away easy.”
The fourth quarter turned into a nail-biter with just under three minutes to play when Faith hit on a reverse layup to pull the game to within 51-42. The freshman would play more like a veteran leader tonight and showed why she was one of the x-factors coming into this contest. Faith would finish the night a game high 17 points on 8 for 17 from the field, 1 for 5 from three and hauled in seven rebounds. But the Warriors just did not have enough to slow down the seniors from Saint John Vianney that were on a mission. The Lancers turned to their floor leader in Campbell down the stretch who moved the Lancers offense into position all night and capped off her final SCT tournament game with 16 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals to earn her the Shore Sports Network’s Player of the Game award.
"Tonight we finally brought the championship back home and got the first SCT win for coach," Campbell said. "She has been the motivation for us seniors since we started here and to go out on top and be part of the group to celebrate this with her feels amazing.
"This team and group of seniors have worked hard all offseason and during the year to get to this point, we accomplished a lot of our goals but still have some unfinished business in states to take care of.”
"The seniors were on a mission coming into this one and said this was for me but its not, its for them and all their hard work," Karpell said. "I am just happy to be a part of the success and happiness tonight.”
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