Shore Sports Network Girls Basketball Coach of the Year: Tom Brennan
Before this season even began, Middletown South was behind the eight ball.
The Eagles lost a key piece of their lineup and a Division I talent when senior Jill Falvey, a St. Francis (Pa.) recruit, suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the final practice of the preseason. That left Middletown South with a rotation of only six girls who played regularly in big games. All the Eagles did was go out and make history under Tom Brennan, the 2015 Shore Sports Network Coach of the Year.
Middletown South won its first NJSIAA Group III title and made its first trip to the Tournament of Champions with a 50-42 win over Old Tappan. The Eagles also won back-to-back Central Jersey Group III titles after winning their first sectional title since 1979 last season. They also repeated as Class A North champions, led by first-team All-Shore standout Stephanie Karcz.
Brennan has preached "family" to such a degree at Middletown South that even when the Eagles achieved history with the win over Old Tappan, his thoughts were with Falvey.
“I’m happy we just won a state title, but it’s definitely a little bittersweet,” Brennan said. “Whenever you see a kid lose her senior year to an injury, it just crushes you and you feel for her,'' he said after the game. "Jill was a big part of this team and we knew losing her was going to be a big hit. She’s been phenomenal for us all year. She’s never missed a practice, she goes over scouting reports for us. She’s stayed a big part of the team and I think the rest of the team responded.”
Brennan also made sure Falvey would have a nice moment in her senior season when he put her out on the court in a brace during a game against Central that Middletown South picked up between the Shore Conference and state tournaments. The Golden Eagles let her score so that she would have a least one basket for her senior season.
In his 19th season with the Eagles, Brennan also picked up his 300th career win in December when Middletown South advanced to the WOBM Christmas Classic final before falling to Manasquan, which won the Tournament of Champions. Middletown South also knocked off Rumson-Fair Haven in the Shore Conference Tournament to reach the semifinals before falling to TOC runner-up St. Rose.