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HOLMDEL - Seniors can be the difference for a program. Their wisdom, their leadership, their poise under pressure are all invaluable souvenirs that are collected over a long journey and tend to pay out on the back end of the trail.

Sometimes, underclassmen can buck that trend. Some are blessed with mystical talent and instincts that belie their youth, others constantly have their inquisitive ears open to catch any nugget of insight that can be digested and aptly applied to their craft. 

Madison St. Rose happens to possess all those qualities...and then some, a gifted guard that’s been instrumental and a consistent force in a blistering start for St. John Vianney. She conducts her business with effortless grace, steely resolve, change of speed and an acumen that is hard to comprehend from a sophomore. 

“She sets the tone on the court,” said SJV coach Dawn Karpell. “Her basketball IQ is very high. She is like a sponge, absorbing everything and asking high-level questions. Her understanding of the game and what we want to do is uncanny.”

So, if you thought St. John Vianney would suffer a bit due to the lack of a single senior on its roster, guess again. Instead, the Lady Lancers are flourishing, incorporating many of the signature elements that have come to define the storied program, and taking their lead from a super soph with a limitless ceiling and natural ability to inspire by example.

St. Rose gracefully deposited 26 points and anchored the middle of a suffocating press that illuminated her play on both sides of the ball as unbeaten St. John Vianney cruised to a 92-52 victory over Albertus Magnus (NY) on Sunday at the Coaches Choice Shore Conference Showcase.

Beyond the point production that eminated from her smooth southpaw stroke, St. Rose was influential in numerous ways, collecting seven steals, six assists, five rebounds as well as another example of her quiet guidance to add to a rapidly-expanding resume.

St. Rose has grown in more ways than one. Besides handling the ball, steering offensive sets, grasping the defensive concept and establishing the brisk tempo the Lady Lancers prefer, she has shot up in size, picking up two inches from a year ago and filling out into a sturdy 5-10 frame.

"I did get taller and stronger," St. Rose, who is averaging 16.7 points an outing. "I like passing things down. I learned a lot by watching the senior class last year and I'm trying to teach the underclassmen that Vianney is about teamwork, moving off the ball,, making the extra pass and hustling on defense."

"She is thriving in the press because she anticipates so well," added Karpell. "That's a testament to (junior guard) Emma Bruen and (sophomore guard) Ashley O'Connor. They harass up top unmercilessly and Maddie can sit like a snake in the grass, read where the ball is going and make a play. That's instinctual."

St. Rose would be the first to say she does not act alone. The Lady Lancers (14-0) can credit their unblemished mark to how cohesive they operate as a whole.

Juniors Christine Whitehead and Katie Hill have been varsity members since they were freshmen and are equipped with both savvy and touch. Whitehead buried four 3-pointers and scored a season-high 17 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists. Hill drilled three triples on her way to pumping in 14 points and 6-2 sophomore forward Megan Cahalan artfully sealed defenders in the post to drop in 11 points.

Vianney inflicted significant damage from long range, finishing with 12 3-pointers.


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