VOTE for the 2018-19 Shore Sports Network Readers’ Choice Awards
The Shore Sports Network Readers' Choice Awards are back to close out the 2018-2019 scholastic year.
During the season we select our All-Shore teams as well as Players and Coaches of the Year and the No. 1 team in each of the sports we cover. For our year-end awards we're turning it over to you, our loyal fans and readers, to help decide the best of the best in the Shore Conference during the course of the past school year. We've pared it down to four categories from the sports we cover while adding a few wild cards names/teams from some additional sports.
Below are voting polls for Male and Female Athlete of the Year, Team of the Year and Coach of the Year. Read the bios for each nominee and cast your votes. The polls will be open for 10 days and close on June 28 at midnight. The winners will be announced right here on ShoreSportsNetwork.com on Friday, June 29.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Steve Lubischer, Sr., QB, Red Bank Catholic football
The Shore Sports Network MVP, Lubischer completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,678 yards with 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions to lead the Caseys to the Non-Public Group 3 state title for the third time in program history. Lubischer also ran for 377 yards and seven touchdowns on an average of 8.6 yards per carry as the Caseys went 10-0 for their first undefeated season since 1960. He was also selected as the Freedom Division Offensive Player of the Year by the coaches. Lubischer is signed to play at Boston College.
Jermaine Corbett, Jr., RB, Long Branch football
The Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year, Corbett was the state rushing champion with 2,021 yards rushing on an average of 8.7 yards per carry to help Long Branch repeat as Central Jersey Group 4 champions, win a school-record 12 games and claim the Central/South Group 4 Bowl Game trophy. Corbett had 26 rushing touchdowns and added 236 receiving yards and four touchdowns, plus one kickoff return touchdown. His 31 total touchdowns led the Shore Conference. He was also a situational defensive player in the secondary and made 22 tackles and one interception.
Keegan Woods, Sr., LB, Rumson-Fair Haven football
The Shore Sports Network Defensive Player of the Year, Woods (No. 44) led the state with 178 tackles and added 14 tackles for loss, five sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles to lead a defense that allowed just 11.5 points per game. He had double-digit tackles in all 12 games, including a season-high 20 tackles in wins over Brick Memorial and Red Bank. He had 19 tackles in a playoff win over Ocean and 18 tackles in games against Middletown South and Red Bank Catholic. Woods had 10 tackles and a sack when Rumson beat Somerville to win the Central Jersey Group 3 title and had 11 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in a win over Woodrow Wilson in the Central/South Group 4 Bowl Game. A two-time SSN First Team All-Shore selection, Woods finished his career as Rumson’s all-time leading tackler with 417. His play helped the Bulldogs win the Colonial Division title and claim their fifth sectional title in the last six years.
Anthony Arena, Sr., Holmdel boys soccer
Although he was limited for a large chunk of the season by a hamstring injury, Arena was still the highest-impact player on the No. 1 team in the state. He scored 18 goals and assisted 13 more in 17 games and three of those appearances were limited by the injury. With Arena out of the lineup, Holmdel averaged a solid 2.67 goals in six games but with him at the top of the formation, the Hornets posted a robust 4.57 per match.
The senior striker again stepped up on the big stage, scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 win over Group II rival Delran in the Group II semifinal and scored another in a 3-1 win over previously-unbeaten Glen Rock in the state final. Arena was also named to the High School All-American Game in Orlando and scored a goal in the game. He finished as Holmdel’s all-time leading scorer with 65 goals and 49 assists in three varsity seasons.
Bryan Antoine, Sr., Ranney boys basketball
One half of the Shore Sports Network 2018-19 Co-Players of the Year in boys basketball and the greatest basketball duo in Shore history, Antoine was the record-setter between the two Ranney stars. During his illustrious four-year varsity career, the future Villanova Wildcat became the Shore Conference’s all-time leading scorer with 2,499 career points, won the prestigious Kerwin Award for the second consecutive season and was named SSN Player of the Year for the third straight year.
It came out recently that Antoine played his senior season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, on which he only recently had surgery performed. Despite the injury, he stormed out of the gate in December by averaging 33 points at the John Wall Classic, leading Ranney to a win in the North Carolina Tournament. He went on to average 20.8 points, 4.0 assists, 2.7 assists and 2.8 steals while helping to lead Ranney to the Tournament of Champions championship – making the Panthers the first ever Shore team to win the end-of-season tournament for N.J. supremacy.
Scottie Lewis, Sr., Ranney boys basketball
For four years, it was almost impossible to talk about Antoine without talking about his teammate Lewis, and vice versa. While Antoine set records with his scoring, Lewis molded himself into the ultimate team player who did everything for the Panthers: scored, rebounded, found open teammates, handled the ball, guarded all five positions and led on the floor and off it. After nearly single-handedly getting Ranney to overtime against Wildwood Catholic in the South Jersey Non-Public B championship game, Lewis fouled out in the extra session and still stayed engaged in the game while on the sideline, imploring his team to finish the job – which it did.
Lewis’s senior season was also a statistical marvel, with the Florida-bound wing averaging 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 2.7 steals for the No. 1 team in the state and No. 11 team in the country, according to USA Today. Lewis and Antoine took turns leading the way in Ranney’s seven NJSIAA Tournament wins and after Antoine held Ranney together in the first half of the Tournament of Champions final vs. Bergen Catholic, Lewis brought it home with 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second half to go with 11 rebounds and two assists.
Rob Kanniard, Sr., Wall wrestling
The 2019 Shore Sports Network Wrestler of the Year, Kanniard turned in a flawless senior season that culminated with him winning the 160-pound NJSIAA title and becoming the Shore Conference’s all-time wins leader. In going 46-0 with 25 pins and 10 technical falls, Kanniard went unscored upon the entire season and won all but two bouts (state quarterfinals and state final) by major decision or better. He won by 9-4 decision over DePaul junior Connor O’Neil in the state final. He won the Region 6 title for the third time to join Nick Roy and Brett Donner as three-time region champs for Wall and won a District 21 championship to join Blaine Woszczak as Wall’s four-time district champions. Kanniard also repeated as Shore Conference Tournament champion. He was a four-time state qualifier, three-time medalist and two-time finalist. He finished his career with a 165-10 record. Six of those losses came during his freshman year. Kanniard finished the season ranked sixth in the nation by InterMat and 10th by FloWrestling. He will continue his career at Rutgers University.
David Melfi, Sr., Jackson Liberty baseball
The most dominant players in high-school baseball are typically the ones who control the game on the mound and game break it open at the plate. Melfi never pitched an inning in his four-year career but that didn’t stop him from growing into the Shore’s most dominant player and one who impacted the game on multiple levels. The most obvious way was at the plate, where Melfi turned in a monster campaign as a senior. He hit .437 while leading the Shore Conference in doubles (14), home runs (10) and RBI (46) and finished third in both runs scored (37) and slugging percentage (.943).
While those numbers speak volumes, they only tell part of the story. On top of the volume, Melfi was undeniably clutch, never more so that in the Central Jersey Group III quarterfinals against Allentown. Leading off the bottom of the seventh in a 4-4 game, Melfi crushed a 3-2 pitch of the right-field fence for a game-winning solo home run – his second longball of the game. Melfi – a Wagner commit – was also one of the state’s top defensive catchers, throwing out 10 of the 27 runners who tried to steal on him (37 percent) and giving the Lions an advantage at the most important position on the field other than on the mound.
Trey Dombroski, Sr., Wall baseball
After bursting onto the Shore Conference scene as an under-the-radar sophomore, Dombroski just kept one-upping himself over the next three years until he completed one of the great pitching careers in the history of the conference. In his final season, Dombroski went 11-1 with a 0.37 ERA, 39 hits allowed, 126 strikeouts and only five walks in 76 innings. His innings and wins totals, ERA and strikeouts all led the Shore Conference pool of starting pitchers and he closed out the year with a five-hitter, eight strikeouts, no walks and no earned runs allowed in Wall’s 10-2 win over West Morris in the Group III championship game.
For his career, Dombroski put up numbers that few pitchers from the Shore have rivaled, at least in the last two-to-three decades. Over his three seasons and 185 1/3 innings, Dombroski went 25-2 with a 0.45 ERA, 228 strikeouts and 21 walks. That is good for an eye-popping 10.85 strikeouts-per-walk and school records in career wins and strikeouts. After winning the SSN Pitcher of the Year in consecutive seasons, Dombroski will head to Monmouth University in the fall.
Canyon Birch, Sr., Manasquan boys lacrosse/football
The Shore Conference Lacrosse Coaches Association and Shore Sports Network two-time Player of the Year, Birch concluded his record-setting career with a state-best 118 goals and 169 points to lead Manasquan to a 21-1 season that included its third straight Shore Conference Tournament title and its third NJSIAA state sectional title in the last four years. Birch finished his career as New Jersey’s all-time leader in goals (392) and points (558), shattering the previous marks of 368 and 462, respectively, held by A.L. Johnson and University of Virginia legend Matt Poskay. He was selected as a US Lacrosse All-American in addition to being the Class B North and Shore Conference Player of the Year. Birch will also participate in the Under Armour All-American game and will continue his lacrosse career at Penn State University.
Also a standout on the gridiron, Birch ran for 1,290 yards and totaled 17 touchdowns as Manasquan’s tailback and recorded 76 tackles with 18 tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery at linebacker to help the Warriors go 8-3, win the Liberty Division title and reach the Central Jersey Group 2 final.
Devin Hart, Sr. Point Boro cross country/track
Hart has been the gold standard of distance running in New Jersey, a six-time Meet of Champions winner who’s dominated on the terrain of cross county as well as the track during both indoor and outdoor season as the king of the 3,200 meters. His astronomical times created quite a chasm between the Stanford-bound superstar and the exhausted competitors who failed to keep pace.
He won the cross country MOC in the fall, rebounded from a stunning loss in the 3,200 at the indoor MOC by winning the event at the New Balance Nationals two weeks later and stamped his decorated career with another championship in the 3,200 at the outdoor MOC on June 8.
Jack Wall, Sr., CBA golf
Wall concluded his career as one of the best golfers in state history. The University of South Carolina-bound superstar won his second straight NJSIAA individual state title while leading CBA to its third straight NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title and fourth straight undefeated season. Wall also won his third consecutive Monmouth County Tournament individual title and won the South Jersey, Non-Public A individual title. He was second at the Shore Conference Tournament, losing to teammate Brendan Hansen in a playoff after carding a 3-under-par 69.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Faith Masonius, Sr. Manasquan girls basketball
A player with limitless skills backed her talent on the hardwood with a grace and class that made her one of the most revered figures in the rich history of Shore Conference girls basketball.
Masonius did plenty in her time as a Warrior and got in return a career jam-packed with notable treasures. She was a central figure in four Central Jersey, Group 2 sectional titles, three Group 2 state championships and a TOC crown as well as a Shore Conference Tournament trophy claimed as a junior. Manasquan boasted a 113-19 mark during her term and was annually considered among the state’s premier teams.
She was also a collective force who accumulated 2,032 points, 1,116 rebounds, 428 assists, 272 steals and 71 blocked shots for her career, one stamped by a senior year that saw her team with fellow senior Lola Mullaney to groom a young cast with hopes it can maintain the annual lofty standards the Warriors are held to. In her final season, Masonius, who is bound for Maryland, clicked for 19.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 4.0 assists and 0.5 blocks, pushing Manasquan to a 22-7 record that featured a second-place finish to St. Rose in the grueling A Central and a run to a sixth straight sectional championship.
Emily Royson, Jr., Toms River North girls soccer
Royson, who is committed to Duke University, shifted from her center back position up to midfield and led the Mariners in scoring through the regular season. Then, during the postseason, Royson went back to defense and anchored the Mariners on their way to winning the Shore Conference Tournament. She was a First Team All-State selection and will be among the state’s top returning players this fall.
Karina Gaskins, Jr., Donovan Catholic softball
The Gatorade New Jersey Softball Player of the Year, Gaskins was a force in the middle of the lineup for a Griffins team that went 30-2, won the NJSIAA Non-Public A state title for the first time and then rolled to the Tournament of Champions crown to finish as the No. 1 team in the state. Gaskins battled a ridiculous .643 with 19 home runs, 62 RBI, 63 runs scored, 11 doubles, 31 walks and six stolen bases. She had hits in 28 of 32 games and reached base safely in all 32 games. Gaskins is verbally committed to the University of Notre Dame.
Janie Cowley, Manasquan girls lacrosse
The Ohio State signee had a superb senior season with 79 goals and 35 assists to lead the Shore Conference with 114 points. She was also dominant at the circle with 101 draw controls. Manasquan won the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 sectional title with a 13-10 win over Red Bank Catholic.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
Red Bank Catholic football
The Caseys defeated Mater Dei Prep, 14-10, to capture the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 3 state title and finish as the top-ranked team in the Shore. RBC went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team, claimed its second state title in five years and finished undefeated for the first time since 1960. Along the way, the Caseys had five wins over ranked opponents, including victories over No. 3 Long Branch and No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven, both of which won NJSIAA sectional titles and bowl games. In addition to the win over Mater Dei, RBC also defeated No. 7 Red Bank and beat St. John Vianney in the season-opener when the Lancers were ranked No. 2.
The Caseys had the No. 3 scoring offense in the Shore at 33.7 points per game and the No. 2 scoring defense at 10 points per game. Boston College-bound senior quarterback Steve Lubischer was selected as the Freedom Division Offensive Player of the Year and was named the Shore Sports Network Most Valuable Player. Senior defensive back Jaden Key was selected as a Freedom Division Co-Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Frank Edgerly was named the Freedom Division Coach of the Year.
Holmdel Boys Soccer
After tearing through the Shore Conference and Group II in 2017 to finish 22-1-1 overall and No. 4 in the state, the bar for Holmdel was high heading into 2018. Factor in the graduation of five impact starters from the previous season and few thought the Hornets would be as dominant as they were in 2017, even if they remained among the favorites to win both the Shore Conference Tournament and Group II championships again.
With a more defense-focused outfit – especially with a mid-season hamstring injury that knocked star forward Anthony Arena out for six games – Holmdel nearly eclipsed the 2017 team in every way, going unbeaten, winning a second straight Group II championship and finishing No. 1 in New Jersey. The 2018 Hornets did come up short in the Shore Conference Tournament, losing a round of penalty kicks to Ocean in the semifinals. From there, however, the Hornets bounced back and finished the season without an official loss and became the Shore’s first public school team in recent memory to finish No. 1 in the state and top-10 nationally.
Ranney boys basketball
Before 2019, no Shore Conference team had ever won the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions – the six-team, end-of-season tournament to ultimately decide the No. 1 team in New Jersey since its inception in 1988-89. In fact, only one team from the Shore had ever made it to the championship game (Neptune in 2002) and the last time a Shore team won a Tournament of Champions game was Raritan in 2004.
Ranney ended both of those droughts by completing its four-year journey to the top of N.J. basketball and beating Bergen Catholic, 67-63, in the Tournament of Champions final. One year earlier, the Panthers lost to Roselle Catholic in a 63-61 classic in the Non-Public B championship game and this year, Ranney vanquished the Lions at the same stage of the tournament to reach its first T of C. The run through the state tournament came after Ranney rolled to its second straight Shore Conference Tournament championship. After a 31-3 season, 103 wins in four years and many, many highlights from its dynamic duo of Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis, this Ranney group will go down as arguably the best boys basketball team to come out of the Shore.
In 2019, Southern Regional proved once again that it matters not how you start the season, only how you finish it.
After absorbing some early-season defeats, the Rams regrouped at the perfect time of the year, peaking over the final two weeks to go on a sensational run that culminated with winning the NJSIAA Group 5 title. Southern throttled Phillipsburg in a 32-16 win on Jan. 26, and from there the Rams ripped off nine consecutive wins to bring home the program’s third state title. The Rams took down two-time defending Group 5 champion Howell, 30-28, in the South Jersey Group 5 final to win their 12th state sectional title and stop Howell’s 78-match winning streak. They then polished off the championship with a 34-27 win over Hunterdon Central in the title match, cementing their status as the Shore Sports Network’s 2019 Wrestling Team of the Year.
Southern also won the District 29 team title with 11 total medalists, including champions Robert Woodcock (138), Nick Pepe (145), Nick O’Connell (152), Haven Tatarek (160), John Stout (170) and J.T. Cornelius (220). Woodcock, O’Connell and Stout then won Region 8 titles while Pepe, Cornelius, Jayson Scerbo (113) and Sebastian Delligatti (126) also qualified for the state tournament. O’Connell finished second at the state tournament while Stout and Pepe finished top 12 by reaching the fourth round of wrestlebacks.
Manchester girls basketball
The Hawks soared to reaches the program had never visited during a historic run. Manchester put together a 14-0 showing to claim B South, stormed through all comers to win its first Shore Conference Tournament title, stamped with a 58-42 triumph over St. John Vianney in the final, and hoisted the Group 2 state championship - another first - dethroning five-time defending champion Manasquan along the way in the group semifinals.
Gliding senior guard Leilani Correa, versatile 6-3 sophomore Destiny Adams, insightful junior point guard Kemari Reynolds, rugged senior forward Dakota Adams and selfless junior guard Serenity Anderson comprised a starting five that pushed the tempo tirelessly and imposed its defensive will by congesting lanes, interrupting passing channels and converting at a feverish rate in transition. The Hawks, who set the tone for their magical season by winning a second straight WOBM Christmas Classic, responded to back-to-back losses against Saddle River Day and Bishop McNamara (Md.) in early January with a run of 24 consecutive wins, a streak that came to an end in the rematch with Saddle River Day, a 76-63 setback in the Tournament of Champions semifinal.
The outgoing group of Wall seniors came front-and-center as sophomores and led the Crimson Knights to a 19-win campaign back in 2017. That season was the first of three successful showings, over the course of which Wall led the Shore Conference with 68 wins. Until this year, however, that 2019 Class had yet to find success in the three tournaments – the Monmouth County, Shore Conference and NJSIAA Tournaments. In 2018, they were upset in the round of 16 in the MCT, lost in extra-innings in the SCT semifinals and lost on its home field in the Central Jersey Group III final.
If there were any concerns Wall could not win the big one, the Crimson Knights but those to bed in 2019. Wall won hard-fought games vs. Colts Neck and top-seeded Hamilton West to reach the CJ III final for the second straight year and this time finished the job with a 10-2 win over Northern Burlington. The Crimson Knights then won 4-3 a battle vs. a 25-4 Cherry Hill West club and stormed to the program’s first Group III championship since 2004 by rolling over West Morris, 10-2. Wall finished the season 27-4, leading the Shore in total wins and winning percentage on the way to a No. 1 finish in the Shore Sports Network Top 10.
Manasquan boys lacrosse
The Warriors went wire-to-wire as the top team in the Shore Conference, winning the Class B North division title, a third straight Shore Conference Tournament title and a second straight NJSIAA South Group 1 state title to put together arguably the greatest season in the history of the Shore Conference. Along the way, Manasquan posted two wins over No. 2 CBA, two wins over No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven, and lopsided victories over No. 3 Shore, No. 5 Wall, No. 6 Southern, No. 8 Middletown South, No. 9 Howell and No. 10 St. John Vianney. Manasquan graduates what is likely the greatest class in Shore Conference history with New Jersey’s all-time leading scorer Canyon Birch, midfielder James Pendergist, defenseman Jack Fabean, LSM Mike Page, goalie Mike LaPoint, attackman Ryan Anderson and more moving onto college. The cupboard is far from bare, however, with standouts Casey Mulligan, Matt Franzoni, Robert Pendergist, Tommy Shaughnessy, Mike Farrell, Chris Farinacci, Mike Farinacci and Max Pauwels returning next season.
It was another dominant season on the links for the Colts, who went undefeated for the fourth straight season and captured their third consecutive NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title. CBA won the Garden State Cup, Monmouth County Tournament, South Jersey Non-Public A, Non-Public A and T.O.C. titles behind senior tri-captains Jack Wall, Brendan Hanse and Randall Lazzaro. Wall won his second straight state individual title along with his third straight Monmouth County Tournament title, while Hanson won the Shore Conference Tournament and finished second to Wall in the Tournament of Champions.
Donovan Catholic softball
The Griffins reached the top of the mountain in New Jersey when they pounded Cedar Grove, 10-0 in five innings, to win the 2019 Tournament of Champions title and finish No. 1 in the state. Donovan defeated St. John Vianney in extra innings in the state semifinals and then crushed Mount St. Dominic to win its first NJSIAA Non-Public A state title. The Griffins cruised through the T.O.C. to stamp one of the best seasons in Shore Conference history. Donovan's calling card was a powerful and relentless lineup led by the tandem of Jayda Kearney and Karina Gaskins, the latter of whom was selected as the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year, along with Lindsey Hay, Kayla Roncin, Lindsay Nelson, Mikayla LaPlaca and Mya Lamicella. Nelson kept opposing lineups in check as one of the state's top pitchers, allowing just 18 earned runs all season.
Rumson-Fair Haven girls lacrosse
The Bulldogs won their seventh straight Shore Conference Tournament title and stretched their Shore Conference winning streak to an astounding 121 games. Rumson won 21 games and turned aside all local challengers yet again, including an 11-9 win over Manasquan and an 11-10 win over Red Bank Catholic before beating the Caseys again, 9-6, in the SCT final. Sophomore Chase Boyle had a huge season with 70 goals and 40 assists while Cassie James, Jordan Johnson and Sophia Passalaqua contributed to a deep Rumson attack. Senior defender Grace Jamin anchored the back end in front of goalie Sophia Bocklage.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Jeff Rainess, Holmdel football
Rainess was selected as the Shore Sports Network Football Coach of the Year and also named the National Division Coach of the Year for leading Holmdel to one of the best seasons in program history.
It was a triumphant year for the Hornets, who had their best season in over a decade with one of the most complete teams in the Shore. Holmdel won the National Division title, its first division title since 2007, and also won a playoff game for the first time since 2007. The Hornets reached the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals and held a halftime lead against then-undefeated Somerville before falling, 31-20, to a team that was ranked in the top 10 in New Jersey. The Hornets’ only other loss came to No. 7 Red Bank, 28-26 in the closing seconds of the game. Holmdel had the No. 1 scoring defense in the Shore allowing just 7.9 points per game and recording five shutouts. The Hornets offense finished No. 2 in the Shore at 34.1 points per game. Senior running back Dean Gallo was named the division Offensive Player of the Year and senior defensive back Mack Byrne was the division Defensive Player of the Year. The Hornets had a total of 11 All-Division players.
John Terlecsky, Ocean boys soccer
The 2018 season was one of the greatest ever for boys soccer at the Shore thanks to three programs that boasted loaded senior classes and made the most of that talent. Holmdel won the Group II championship, went unbeaten and finished No. 1 in the state and Christian Brothers Academy reached the Shore Conference Tournament final and upset powerhouse Delbarton to win the Non-Public A championship to finish No. 3 behind Holmdel and Washington Township.
Ocean was the third head of the Shore monster and the Spartans had arguably the best season of all three with second-year coach John Terlecsky leading the way. While Ocean did lose three times during the season, its postseason track record was flawless. The Spartans stunned Holmdel on penalties in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinal round, then shocked CBA with a golden goal by Leo Montesinos in the second overtime to win the program’s five SCT title. The Spartans then made the run to the Group III championship and pulled out a 1-0 win over Mendham for the program’s first overall state title since 1996.
Brian Golub, Freehold Township boys basketball
Few, if any, public school teams in the area churn out competitive teams with the regularity that Freehold Township has over the past two decades under Golub, which made the 2017-18 season such a rarity. The Patriots went 9-13 while dealing with a key injury to returning starter Greg Billups – the only starter back from the previous year, when Freehold Township won 25 games and reached the finals of the Central Jersey Group IV championship for the third straight season.
For all that winning, however, Golub and his team could never get over the hump and win an NJSIAA sectional championship. Freehold Township won the Shore Conference title in 2006-07, but that state tournament trophy had eluded the Patriots in six prior trips to the Central Jersey Group IV championship game – all heartbreaking losses. This year, however, Golub and the Patriots finally exorcised those demons by beating Trenton on the road to win the program’s first-ever sectional title just one year removed from a rare losing season. When all was said and done, this Freehold Township team finished 24-5, made it all the way to the Group IV final by beating Cherokee in the Group IV semifinals and secured its place in program and Shore lore.
Brad Hagensen, Marlboro girls basketball
Hagensen took a leap of faith with his players’ best interest in mind. In his fifth season steering the Mustangs, he decided to scrap previous offensive sets in favor of “The System”, a high-speed scheme predicated on firing 3-pointers at an infinite rate, a smothering defense intent on creating a windfall of turnovers, rebounding by committee and, most notably, a commitment to maximum energy in rapid, structured intervals with the knowledge five fresh legs await at the scorer’s table to continue the brisk pace.
The change was a byproduct of Hagensen finding something to reward every player on the roster with ample playing time. What he got in return was a 23-8 performance out of Marlboro, marked by an A North title and runs to the final of the WOBM Christmas Classic, where it bowed to Manchester, and the Central Jersey, Group 4 championship, losing to No. 5 Middletown South in an epic 80-77 overtime thriller. The Mustangs drained an unfathomable 340 3-pointers.
Sophomore forward Jessica Riepe (61 3-pointers), sophomore guard Sammy Jay (48), sophomore forward Laura Morehead (48), freshman guard Dani Schlesinger (47), senior forward Theresa Besso (47), junior guard Sam Nocco (40) and senior guard Giselle Romeo (38) seamlessly shared the basketball to find the shooter with the cleanest look. And, the spacing they relied on opened lanes for the occasional penetration for Romeo or Jay as well as clearing out the blocks for junior Brianna Diaz and sophomore Samantha Slofkiss to work the interior.
Dave Porta, Shore wrestling
Porta was selected as the Shore Sports Network Wrestling Coach of the Year for leading Shore Regional to new heights. It was a memorable winter in West Long Branch as the Blue Devils turned in the best season in program history to finish ranked in the Shore Conference Top 10 for the first time. Shore captured the Class B Central division title by defeating rival Point Beach, but it was the second win over the Garnet Gulls that made history. Shore beat the three-time defending sectional champions, 45-19, to win the Central Jersey Group 1 title for the first time in program history. Along the way, Shore also defeated West Deptford and No. 9 Ocean. The Blue Devils finished fourth at the Shore Conference Tournament with sophomore Jack Maida (106) and junior Al DeSantis (138) finishing second and sophomore Mike McGhee (145) taking fourth. At the District 20 Tournament, Shore finished third and had a program-record nine medal winners, including champions Maida, DeSantis, McGhee and Taylor Sousa (195). Maida (2nd at 106), McGhee (3rd at 145) and DeSantis (4th at 132) qualified for the state tournament out of Region 5. Maida reached the state semifinals before finishing sixth to become the Blue Devils’ second state medalist in program history and first since 2002.
Dave Drew, Point Boro baseball
Last season, Point Boro made somewhat unexpected runs to both the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals and the South Jersey Group II championship game, coming up just shy on continuing runs in both tournaments with losses to eventual SCT champion Toms River North and South Jersey Group II champion Haddonfield. With most of the team back and expectations higher this season, the regular season brought with it disappointment when the Panthers lost an early game to Barnegat and were swept by Jackson Liberty in a competitive two-game set to squash their hopes of a Class B South championship.
Rather than allow his team to lose hope and confidence, Drew refocused his team on the tournaments, where Point Boro had so much success in 2018 behind its one-two pitching punch of Nick Guzzi and Sam Collins. Drew and the Panthers rode Guzzi all the way to the program’s first Ocean County Tournament finals appearance and gave him the ball again in a 10-7 win over Jackson Liberty to claim Point Boro’s first county title. In the state tournament, Guzzi and Collins again led the Panthers to the sectional final round and Point Boro won the Central Group II title with a walk-off single by junior Sam Young. With Guzzi and Collins ineligible to pitch in the Group Semifinal round, Point Boro still got by West Deptford to reach its first-ever Group II championship game with its 23rd win of the year.
Gregg Malfa, Shore boys lacrosse
Malfa guided the Blue Devils to the best season in program history as they won their first division title by cruising to the Class B South division title, then reached the semifinals of both the Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA South Group 1 tournament for the first time in program history. The Blue Devils’ only defeats came to No. 2 CBA in the SCT semifinals and to No. 1 Manasquan in the state sectional semifinals. Shore had wins over No. 6 Southern and No. 7 Freehold Township on their resume. A fantastic 2019 class that includes midfielders Gil Goldsmith and Jack McCrae, attackmen Jake Turner, Tom Bocco and Justin Murphy and defenseman Gunnar Schuelzky graduates. Returning next season to lead the way will be goalie Scott Sirianni, LSM Jake Shirley, defensemen Ryan Dolan and Liam Rempel, midfielder Jamie Mazzacco and Terry Carlstrom and face-off specialist Sean O’Brien.