Enter your number to get our free mobile app

TOMS RIVER - Emily Maire doesn’t spend a whole lot of time monitoring the scoreboard and dissecting the nuances of game situations. The Toms River East senior is more inclined to rely on purely instincts.

Her senses are pretty keen and her scoring touch on Tuesday night even sharper. With the Raiders clinging to the narrowest remaining morsel of what was a double-digit lead, Maire recognized a moment begging for a stabilizer and heeded the call. 

Left alone on the left wing, Maire fired without hesitation, rattling in the last of her four 3-pointers that sparked a final surge, enabling 17th-seeded Toms River East to upended 16th-seeded Donovan Catholic, 52-44, in the opening round of the Shore Conference Tournament. 

The bucket was not only the impetus to a 10-4 spurt that turned a precarious 37-36 lead into a 47-40 cushion with just 2:41 left to play but also the stamp on a career-high 22 points for Maire, who met every demand asked of a veteran at tournament time and sends te Raiders into the Round of 16 on Thursday against top-seeded St. John Vianney.

“Emily stepped up like you hope seniors do at this point in the season,” said Toms River East coach Kevin Cohen. “She matched her defense with offense and has been playing great down the stretch. Tonight, she was unbelievable.”

Besides her offensive output, Maire laid her claim on the glass, clearing 11 rebounds. While her muscle under the boards was truly appreciated, it was the finesse off her fingertips that was most timely. On a evening when senior point guard Jordyn Madigan (16.3 ppg.) was limited to a season-low five points, East seized the opportunity to substantiate the case that those who surrounded her on the floor are more than capable of easing the scoring burden off her shoulders.

Junior forward Natalie Dudar sank a season-high 10 points, senior guard Nicole Platten contributed nine on three triples and sophomore guard Kelleen Sullivan got involved with four rebounds, a steal and four points, including a pivotal bucket in the fourth. 

“That was one of our best games of the season,” Maire said. “We played so well together.”

How effortlessly the Raiders meshed was apparent in the second quarter. Platten and Dudar opened the period with back-to-back threes to put East in front, 16-13, and the Raiders, who never trailed thereafter, were just getting starter. 

Sophomore guard Lizzie Gillen converted a baseline dish from Maire into a layup and Maire ensued with a putback and a bucket off a drive before Madigan turned a steal into a transition hoop to close out a 17-4 showing that sent East into the break with a 27-17 edge. 

When Dudar got on the finishing end of a long outlet pass by Platten midway through the third, the Raiders established their largest cushion at 32-21. 

Donovan Catholic (16-8) didn’t wilt. Instead, the Griffins embarked on a 10-2 rebuttal that featured a pair of stickbacks from sophomore guard Olivia Conroy, the last trimming the gap to 34-31. Senior point guard Tatjana Tatar dispensed a look-off dish to senior forward Karolina Jaruseviciute on the opposite block for an easy layup that inched Donovan Catholic within 37-36 a minute and a half into the fourth. 

Maire extinguished the threat by touching off the decisive surge from long rang and Sullivan plunged the dagger, leaking to the weakside block to drop in a Platten assist with 1:02 to play, giving the Raiders a 49-43 edge. 

“I didn’t know if Cohen wanted me to shoot,” admitted Sullivan. “As I went up, I was thinking if this doesn’t go in, I’m going to get screamed at.”

"We always talk about basketball being a game of runs," said Cohen. "We had a great one in the second quarter that got us the lead and put us in a good position at the half. They came back and had their run to make things interesting but we answered. The three from Emily was the start of it and we just grinded out the remaining few minutes."

Junior guard Jordyn Keating led Donovan Catholic with 13 points and Conroy scored seven to complement 12 rebounds. Creative senior point guard Tatjana Tatar collected nine points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Toms River East (14-6) 10 17 07 18 --- 52
Donovan Catholic (16-8) 13 04 14 13 --- 44

Toms River East: Sydney Lorentzen 0-0-0-0; Jordyn Madigan 1-1-0-5; Kelleen Sullivan 1-0-2-4; Natalie Dudar 1-2-2-10; Lizzie Gillen 1-0-0-2; Nicole Platten 0-3-0-9; Emily Maire 3-4-4-22.

Donovan Catholic: Jordyn Keating 4-1-2-13; Olivia Conroy 3-0-1-7; Olivia Parlow 1-1-0-5; Karolina Jaruseviciute 2-0-0-4; Tatjana Tatar 3-1-0-9; Mackenzie Kopft 2-0-2-6; Emma Conroy 0-0-0-0. 

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

Sign Up For The SSN Newsletter

Please fill out this form to sign up for the Shore Sports Network newsletter.