A day that can summed up in one word…. breathtaking. Tom Sclafani COACHES CHOICE USA, delivered the best Show to hit New Jersey since Bruce Springsteen. In a day that was electric from the moment the doors opened, right up to the final buzzer. This event had a butt in every seat for the final game. This was a day where college coaches, Dan Olson and Vinnie Canizzaro, two heavy hitters left the the gym smiling and excited. It was a day parents sat in the stands yelling and rooting “THE RIGHT WAY” all day. This was a day little girls got to dream about playing in such a event. But more than anything else this event was run to Perfection…there simply was nothing to complain about. Every fan, player, media person and coach got their money’s worth.
THE DAY STARTED with Notre DAME vs. Holmdel. It was this game that should’ve let us know what to expect. Future Power 5 recruit freshman Erika Porter showed why college coaches were drooling. She was dominant in game one, as she had 14 points and 11 rebounds. While she has much to work on, it’s clear she will be special. She got major backup from the Crawford twins as Eve had a team high 16 points and her sister Maryam had 3 bombs. Holmdel didn’t just roll over, Doug Shaw proved he is one of the best coaches in the Shore. His team ran their office to perfection and while his team was at a talent disadvantage he allowed his team to stay in the game. Holmdel’s two stars Christina Antonakakis reminded us how special she truly is. This on a rare off shooting night. Sydney Coffaro was sensational at times and reminded everyone….she can flat out play…NOTRE DAME was just better on this day.
GAME TWO saw RBC imposed it’s will on Gil Bernard who was missing 4 starters with injures. But there was only one story in this game. KATIE RICE was brilliant all day long. In a day were there was stars everywhere. Katie Rice proved she can be as special as anyone. Miss Rice broke out her entire Arsenal from A-Z. Katie Rice showed what real passing looks like, finding shooters from almost every conceivable angle. She rebounded in traffic on both side of the ball. She buried jumpers and beat defenders off the bounce. She displayed her wicked ball handling skills, when going coast to coast on a steal. She clapped and cheered for teammates. She talked on defense, told teammates where to go. She even found time to chastise a freshman for not shooting. KATIE RICE put any question to bed about weather she is big time. But more than anything else yesterday. Katie Rice showed everyone….HOW HARD THE GAME SHOULD BE PLAYED. Katie Rice played so hard, she made your teeth sweat. While Katie Rice was rolling, Rose Caverly, took time to show everyone what an elite point truly looks like. She found shooters Hayley Moore and Jose Larkins all night. She delivered the ball into the high post to Mo Coakley and Katie Rice like clock work. Then when needed, she banged out three’s. Right now Caverly is the best pure point guard in the Shore Conference and yesterday showed why on the big stage…oh yeah RBC GOT THE WIN
IN THE THIRD GAME of the day we saw a tale of two games. RFH come out the box blistering hot. Dave Callahan once again proved he is a master coach. Katie Foos went ” BANG” four times in the first half. She was a walking flame thrower and it appeared Luhi had zero answers. Freshman Lucy Adams then showed everyone that she indeed may be ready for prime time and had 3 bombs in the first half. These two were locked in for 16 minutes. But it was Hannah Scanlan, that made it all happen in the first half. Scanlan proved Bryant University got the steal of a lifetime. How big of a steal. A Power 5 asst coach said these words yesterday “we really screwed up the Scanlan recruiting” … how right she is. Scanlan found Adams and Foos over and over in the first half. But also found time to get 13 points herself, she was the best player on the floor for a half. I said a half, because 2nd half turned into a high major, Power 5 game type game.
The game simply got too big for RFH in the 2nd half. U-Conn comes to games for a reason and yesterday, one of the reasons they came was for Sophomore Celeste Taylor. In the 2nd half, she got to the rim, she hit jumpers and dropped dimes. She showed RFH what an elite big time guard looks like. It was clear RFH had never seen a animal like this. Taylor has movie star looks and a Academy Award Winning game. While Miss Taylor was putting on a show better than Hamilton. Her trusty side kick Jaida Patrick was doing her thing. Jaida was monstrous on the boards, as she played volleyball by herself, while getting put backs. Then the competitive nature of LUHI jumped all over the RFH. There length, smothered the RFH guards below the foul line and crushed them on the boards. LUHI welcomed RFH to the world of big time players….LUHI WINS RUNNING AWAY.
GAME FOUR saw a extremely well coached Archbishop Molloy of Pa take on SJV. It was a contrast in styles. Molloy running THERE offense deliberately with precise cutting and passing. THEIR ball movement was beautiful to watch. There Sharpe back court cuts reminded you of the old Princeton days. SJV on the other hand was in go-go mode. Sarah Karpell pushing the ball at every chance. When she couldn’t find a easy basket, she and her teammates found Kimi Evans in the post. This was the only game of the day that lacked drama or excitement. It was a one team trying to push the pace and the other trying to slow it. It was a war of wills. SJV had leads of 17 points but could not totally put Molloy away, mainly because of Northeastern signee Cassie Seaboard. She was fantastic the entire game. She got the rim and made jumpers. But more importantly found her teammates in their comfort zone often enough to keep it close. But in the end, it was the SJV depth, size and overall talent that was the difference. In what can best be describe as a business like Performance, SJV sent Malloy packing.
IF GAME 4 put everyone to sleep. Then game 5 brought them back to life. This was the game everyone waited for. The #1 team in the state vs the #4 team in the state. RUTGERS PREP was seeking revenge after being taken over the coals in the state tourney last year. There fans can out in full force, they yelled at the refs on every call. They cheered their team on, they coached from the stands. They were passionate from the tip, they were why the game was GREAT. The RUTGERS PREP crowd was what we hope all crowds would be… supportive but not disrespectful. They made the event….FUN. But what was really fun, was watching RUTGERS PREP show the shore crowd. While Manasquan may never die…Rutgers Prep may bend, but they don’t break.
They are a true team in every sense of the word. But this game down to two things. Manasquan has no answers for Gabi Redden in the post, who was spectacular all day. She scored in every known fashion to post players. She caught anything and everything thrown in her direction. She was a grown women against little girls at times. She rebounded, rotated on defense and got RUTGERS PREP in one and one and then watched her electric guards take advantage of it. But if Gabie Redden was a force, then Leilani Correa was the executioner. She punished the Manasquan smaller guards all evening at the rim. Her lighting quickness and next level fishing ability at the rim was off the charts. It appeared she was in every passing lane on defense. She stole passes, deflected passes and made the Manasquan guards hesitate. Whenever Manasquan made a run..there was Correa closing the door on them. She was what I like to call a SERIOUS PROBLEM all game. For the 2nd time this year, a powerhouse Shore program was victimized by this future Power 5 guard. I wrote about Leilani Correa 2 years ago..she is making me look very smart and RUTGERS PREP looking like a possible #1 team in the State….The Roaches for one day were Killed…by RUTGERS PREP.
MY COACHES CHOICE AWARDS–
MVP- Gabi Redden
All SHOWCASE TEAM
Hannah Scanlan– RUMSON FAIR HEAVEN
Celeste Taylor–LONG ISLAND LUTHERN
Katie Rice– RED BANK CATHOLIC
Jaida Patrick–RUTGERS PREP
Leilani Correa– RUTGERS PREP
Erika Porter –TOP FRESHMAN
My unofficial count for College Coaches was 58, that number for a high school local event is unheard of….
Rutgers Prep has taken on the role of the old great Shabazz teams. They are now the gate keepers for the state. It will be they who over the next few years that must rep for the rest of New Jersey and prevent the Shore from winning the TOC.
I went 5-0 in my predictions. Some were surprised I picked Rutgers Prep. My reason for picking them was simple. I believe Manasquan would not have either THEIR mental edge or their legs. They have simply been in too many wars…they could use a week to relax and regroup. Interestingly my gut tells me they knew it was going to be a gut check as well.
Sydenei Caldwell was impressive for Gil Bernard, who did a outstanding job of slowing down the game. There were missing 4 starters and have been banged up all year. But it looks like they will get Santiago back this week. They could be dangerous when they get all their pieces back.
RFH found out how important Megan Volker is to their team. RFH not only missed her experience. But more than anything, they missed her toughness and competitive nature. Dave Callahan was at more point begging his team to just hit anyone. RFH lost all its grit without Volker.
During the Rutgers/ Manasquan game the refs were clearly over their head. Even college coaches were laughing…repeat laughing at some of the calls. Folks I cannot understand when these games are this big, why the best officials are not on the game. This game was a high major college game. So no disrespect to game 2 of the day. But why for example is Jim Danella on that game? Why is he not on the biggest game of the year? Both teams deserved better yesterday.
Finally I have never seen a better run event. Tom Sclafani and Coaches Choice was on point all day. Let’s hope we see more such events in the future.
CORE SKILLS TRAINING IS NOW TAKING REGISTRATION… http://hoopgroup.com/hoop-group-headquarters/weekly-basketball-instruction-programs/core-skills-training/