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Three of the top four girls basketball teams in New Jersey all reside in one conference, as St. John Vianney's victory in Tuesday night's Tournament of Champions quarterfinals means that three of the four semifinalists are from the Shore.

The Lancers rolled over Group I champion New Providence, 63-39, to set up a showdown against No. 2 seed St. Rose in the TOC semifinals on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Pine Belt Arena. Center Kim Evans had 15 points on 7-for-8 shooting and junior point guard Kelly Campbell had 12 points and 10 assists as the Lancers set up an eagerly-anticipated meeting with St. Rose, who they have not played since losing to the Purple Roses last season. St. John Vianney is 1-2 against No. 1 seed Manasquan this season and could see the Warriors a fourth time, this time for the TOC title, if they beat St. Rose on Thursday.

Gigi Caponegro and St. John Vianney will take on St. Rose in Thursday's NJSIAA Tournament of Champions semifinals. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

Over this past weekend, St. John Vianney also inducted former basketball greats Shantel Brown, a 2005 graduate, and Rose Jackson (1995), into the school's athletic Hall of Fame along with several other luminaries. Other inductees included the 1973 boys cross country team, which is the first team to win a state championship in school history, former wrestling star Anthony Castro, a 2004 grad who is one of only two wrestlers to place in the top eight in the state in program history, former tennis standout Jennifer Crombie (1997), who went on to become a New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Year at The College of New Jersey, and 1997 graduate Vincent Springvloed.

Former girls basketball greats Shantel Brown and Rose Jackson were among those inducted into St. John Vianney's Hall of Fame on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of St. John Vianney)

Manasquan's 5:30 p.m. semifinal on Thursday at Pine Belt Arena will be against Group IV champion Franklin, which ended Middletown South's historic season with a 66-38 win on Tuesday night. The Warriors should be a tough test for Manasquan (which also happens to be named the Warriors) after dispatching of an Eagles team that was coming off its first Group III title in history. Middletown South was shorthanded without starter Julia Valkos, who was out with a broken finger, and had to sit in a zone rather than play its usual man-to-man because of the lineup shuffling, which resulted in Franklin shooting the lights out from the perimeter.

Manasquan is a strong man-to-man team that also happens to feature the best player in the state and one of the best in the country in senior Marina Mabrey. The Warriors have been on a mission to finish the job after losing in last season's TOC final to Shabazz, so there is plenty of motivation against an upstart Franklin team whose own star, LaSalle recruit Adreana Miller, poured in a career-high 33 points in the win over Middletown South. While I think the St. Rose-St. John Vianney game will be the more competitive of the two semifinals, Manasquan will get a challenge from Franklin considering Franklin beat St. John Vianney this season and is a battle-tested squad.

As for Middletown South, the future looks bright with a strong core returning from this year's championship squad, led by junior Stephanie Karcz. The Eagles have a shot to be right back in the TOC next season.


Lacey senior forward/center Chris Iapicco, who was a 1,000-point scorer for the Lions and an All-Class A South pick by the coaches this season, will continue his career at Rowan University. Iapicco unfortunately will not be participating in this year's Senior All-Star Game on March 25 because he has a school banquet on the same night.

For those interested in seeing some good basketball locally tonight, the boys Tournament of Champions quarterfinals are at Pine Belt Arena at 5:30 and 7:30. Paulsboro-Bergenfield is the first game, and Group III Bergenfield has become a nice story in winning its first state title in 70 years. The second game is Group IV champion Paterson Eastside against Group II champion Newark Tech.


A trio of former Shore Conference wrestling state champions will be inducted into the Region VI Hall of Fame at the annual banquet on April 23 from 6-9 p.m. at Charley's Ocean Grill in Long Branch.

Glenn Carson, who won a state title for Southern in 2009 at 215 and took second in the state in 2007 and 2008, is one of the honorees. He went on to play football at Penn State and is now a linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals. Toms River East graduate Vinnie DelleFave, who won back-to-back state titles at 119 in 2008 and 2009 and also had second- and third-place finishes in his other two seasons, also will be inducted. Rounding out the three is former Ocean star Nick Menditto, who won back-to-back state titles at 145 and 152 in 2007 and 2008.

Brick Memorial head coach Mike Denver, who wrestled at Central and became a Division III national champion at 184 for The College of New Jersey in 2012, will be inducted for his college career along with former Jackson Memorial star Devin Biscaha, who also became a Division III national champion at 157 for Springfield College in 2013. Gary Cittadino and Al Smith will also be inducted in the coaches/officials/contributors category.

Tickets are $35, and for more information, contact Keansburg head coach Chris DeTalvo at


Two good causes that I just wanted to bring to your attention. The Toms River North community has rallied to raise funds for the family of sophomore Matt DeRiggi, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and needs money for a specialized van to travel as well as home modifications. Read more about it here.

Also, the Manasquan community is looking to help the family of former basketball and baseball standout Tommy Toole. He is one in a family of 10 who had their home knocked off its foundation and destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. The family has since been bouncing around rental properties with eight children in the house and two others in college. The donation page with more information is here.

More on Wednesday: 

  • The best player on the UC Irvine team that plays Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament wasn't even a starter on his high school team until he was a senior and didn't make varsity until his junior year.
  • One of Northeastern's key guards played on the club team for his first two years before walking on and then making some big shots in their conference tournament to get them to March Madness.
  • Great news about Leah Still.
  • Had no idea there was a national championship basketball tournament for teams made up of homeschooled kids.
  • How to ditch the cable company and still watch the sports you want to see on TV.
  • Former Jets Pro Bowl wide receiver Wesley Walker wishes he had been like Chris Borland and retired early to save his body the trauma of the NFL.

On tap for tonight: No games for tonight involving Shore Conference teams, as the girls Tournament of Champions semifinals are tomorrow at Pine Belt Arena. However, Christian Brothers Academy grad Andy Toole, the coach of Robert Morris, looks to lead his team to a win in a play-in game in the NCAA Tournament. One of Robert Morris' top players is former St. Anthony star Lucky Jones. Their game against North Florida is on truTV at 6:40 p.m.