TOC FINAL PREVIEW: FRANKLIN VS. MANASQUAN
NJSIAA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Sunday, March 18
At CURE Insurance Arena, Trenton
3-Franklin (25-7) vs. 1-Manasquan (31-2), 2:30 p.m.
Franklin Road to the TOC final
North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4
First Round: East Orange, 69-36
Quarterfinals: Piscataway, 74-31
Semifinals: Bridgewater-Raritan, 65-32
Sectional final: Watchung Hills, 71-60
State semifinals: West Orange, 74-54
State championship: Toms River North, 70-30
Tournament of Champions
Quarterfinals: Old Tappan, 56-45
Semifinals: St. Rose, 56-53 (OT)
Manasquan Road to the TOC final
Central Jersey, Group 2
First Round: Bordentown, 79-26
Quarterfinals: Matawan, 79-23
Semifinals: Holmdel, 72-40
Sectional final: Lincoln, 67-43
State semifinals: Manchester, 63-41
State championship: Newark Tech, 95-79
Tournament of Champions
Semifinals: Saddle River Day, 80-67
Projected starting lineup
1-Diamond Miller (Jr. G 6-1)
3-Tiana Jackson (Jr. G 5-8)
4-Camille Gray (Sr. G/F 5-11)
10-Keona Schenck (So. G 5-5)
11-Kennady Schenck (So. G 5-5)
2-Lauren Vladyka (Sr. G)
12-Kiersten McCloud (Sr. F)
14-Kiara McCloud (Sr. G)
21-Morgan Jones (Fr. G)
25-Serena Jackson (Jr. C)
Projected starting lineup
2-Lola Mullaney (Jr. G 5-10)
10-Dara Mabrey (Sr. G 5-7)
13-Faith Masonius (Jr. G/F 6-0)
14-Carly Geissler (Sr. G 5-6)
25-Emma McMenaman (Sr. F 5-9)
3-Abby O’Shea (Fr. G)
4-Maci Black (Fr. G)
12-Ryan McCarthy (Fr. G)
20-Sharon Marks (So. G)
22-Kate Montalto (Fr. G)
23-Allison Waters (Fr. G)
24-Annie Mako (Jr. G)
Keys to Victory
Motivation: Rest assured, Manasquan has plenty of that. For starters, it’s the final contest for senior starters Dara Mabrey, Carly Geissler and Emma McMenaman, who undoubtedly want to punctuate their careers in style. But, there’s also a little matter of unfinished business. Manasquan has waited nearly a year in hopes of scoring a measure of revenge against Franklin, which got a buzzer-beating baseline jumper from Kennady Schenck in overtime to pull out a 50-48 victory in the ’17 TOC final. Memories are long in Manasquan.
Play 32 minutes…and maybe more: Franklin possesses a knack for closing in the Tournament of Champions. Besides the outcome in last season’s final, it more recently showed its endless resolve Friday night, overcoming a nine-point halftime deficit to outlast second-seeded St. Rose, 56-53, in what else…overtime. These are two of the state’s most conditioned squads, seemingly capable of playing for hours on end without a drop off in productivity. But, Franklin has proven time again that when it appears on the threshold of defeat, the mere thought of losing elevates its play to championship heights. Manasquan must match and surpass that intensity, one of its specialties.
Box out: Through its hustle and army of ambitious rebounders, Franklin extends possessions with offensive rebounds. While Camille Gray and Diamond Miller tend to be the primary beneficiaries of that passionate retrieving style, guards Tiana Jackson and twins Kennady and Keona Schenck always find ways to get involved on the glass. The instant a shot is released, Faith Masonius and Emma McMenaman have to react with firm bases and extended arms to deny access to the boards, with assistance from Dara Mabrey, Carly Geissler and Lola Mullaney out of the Manasquan backcourt, all underrated for their rebounding work.
Bragging rights: Diamond Miller and Faith Masonius will be adversaries on Sunday. However, in the future, the two exceptional juniors will potentially be teammates. Both have already made a non-binding verbal commitment to Maryland. Miller currently has the upper hand with last year’s TOC title on her resume. Masonius would like to even the score and make any debates one day in College Park a draw.
Revoke driver’s license: Diamond Miller is at her best clearing defensive boards and racing through the open court to finish at the opposite end, a trait she shares with Faith Masonius. However, Miller tends to do it a little more often and those end-to-end forays have a way of energizing Franklin and bringing its boisterous supports into play. Denying such runouts with be a top priority for Manasquan, which has to show its ability to recuperate in recovery defense.
Inside out: Dara Mabrey set the tone for Manasquan on Friday night early, repeatedly pursuing the hoop off the dribble during an 80-67 semifinal decision over fifth-seeded Saddle River Day. What she reaped in return was a 15-for-18 showing from the line en route to 26 points and course of direction that created space along the arc, leading to team sticking eight 3-pointers. Getting entry into the paint could put Franklin slightly on its heels within its vaunted man to man.
Chasing history: Manasquan is in the midst of a historical run. It makes an unprecedented fifth consecutive trip to the Tournament of Champions final, seeking a third title (and first since 2015), which would put it only behind St. John Vianney (seven) and Shabazz (six) for the most in TOC history.
While Manasquan has payback as incentive, Franklin has legacy to lean on as additional driving force. It seeks to join Shabazz (’03-’04 and ’13-’14) as the only other school to ever repeat as the TOC champion.
Closing the book: What a career it's been for Dara Mabrey. The Virginia-Tech bound guard has scored over 2,000 points, joining her older sisters Marina and Michaela in such esteemed company. She won a TOC as a freshman, playing alongside Marina, but would like to end her run with another all to herself. Her competitive edge - a Mabrey hallmark - has pushed her through injury down the stretch and her insatiable will may be one of the most imporant intangibles Manasquan counts on.
Prediction: Manasquan 51, Franklin 49