A NORTH will start the year with a changing of the Guard. Last Year Middletown South had a bounce back season. They played 3 wars against with Middletown South winning two including the Central Jersey 4 GROUP state title. But it was Marlboro won the A NORTH chip. Freehold Twp has star in the Hannah Orloff and Howell has a nice group of players returning. Just about every team in the division has lost an impact player making things even more interesting. But this division is also loaded with players injured in the fall. This division just may come down to who improves the most during the course of the season. The division has 4 Division one players.
There is no question that Marlboro is the A NORTH favorite this season. They have a ton of positives to lean on these days. Like they are by far the most competitive group in the division. Coach Brad Hagenson will once again play a monster schedule. Next he has a number of players who have improved greatly in the off season. He also will have a numbers of players returning with real game experience. This group is battle tested in every sense of the word. They also will most likely start the season in the State Top 20. They have a Divisional Player of the Year Candidate
Head Coach- Brad Hagensen( TOC Ring, divisional chip)
A NORTH- 11-1( A North Champ)
GISELE ROMERO – was the A NORTH Player of the year last season.. She currently is a freshman at U of Sciences. Replacing her 450 points, 200 rebounds, 105 assists and crazy 150 steals are going to be hard to replace for Marlboro. But what they will miss most, was that she was the anchor of their press defense and wild, wild, West style of play.
TERESA BESSO– was a reliable shooter who was a big shot maker.
JESS RIEPE- 5’9″ JR- SWING– She is a full blown star these days. Last season she had a breakout season. Riepe had a staggering 61 three’s on the season and 273 points. She also had 134 rebounds and 43 steals and she did all this OFF THE BENCH. But if Marlboro fans were happy last year, they should know, she has improved every phase of her game. How good is Jess Riepe these days? She is a lock D1 player. Her ability to shoot and preform on the big stages make her special. The bigger the game, the bigger she played last season. Her 14 point and 5 rebound game, off the bench vs Middletown South; in a win that put Marlboro in the Top 20 was sensation. But hardly her best as she backed that up with 16 points and 7 rebounds in the state tournament against Middletown South. She had a season high vs a red hot Howell last season with 20 points in a must win at the time for Marlboro. Jess Riepe’s ball handling and believe it or not, her shooting has improved. But what is going to jump off the page this season is that her body has changed and her quickness is much improved. She is a possible All Shore Player this year. She is one of the favorites for the A NORTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR.
SAMMY JAY- 5’5′- Jr- PG She may be the key to the entire Marlboro Season. Sammy Jay is now a veteran point guard and leader of the team. It will be very important for her to step up if Marlboro wants to take the next step. She is highly competitive and tough as nails. Last season she had 372 points and 174 assists. Many believe if she did not get hurt last year Marlboro’s run in the state tournament would have been much deeper. She was not 100% after her injury. She is an underrated shooter who had 48 three’s last season. She also is a hard nose defender and excellent ball handler. Sammy Jay will once again be given the keys to the car. If she drives it well Marlboro is going to be a problem. She was injured in the fall and missed time.
SAMANTHA SLOFKISS- 5’11- SOPH- SWING– If she surprised you last year. Then wait till this season. Slofkiss just may be the most improved player in the Shore Conference period. No player has had a more productive off season. She has played against the very best competition and clearly is an impact player these days. Last year she surprised everyone by not just making the varsity but then getting major minutes off the bench. She played her role to a “T”. She had a double figure rebounding game and was a reliable scorer off the bench. She is a nightmare in the Marlboro’s presses with her length and quickness. But now with her added ball handling and shooting confidence…she has a become deadly! Her game has expanded and will be on full display this season. She has caught the eye of college coaches and will play her role to a “T” once again…she is a gym rat and the clubhouse leader for the 2019-20 MOST IMPROVED PLAYER AWARD.
DANIELLE SCHIESINGER- 5’8″- SOPH- SWING- She hit some big shots last season. She made ALL FRESHMAN 2nd Team and many believed she should have been first. She had a big freshman season and had some monster nights at times…she had 12 double figure scoring games off the bench. She had 47 three’s and 75 steals. If she steps up at all this year. She could put Marlboro into elite status. She is somebody that could help with the ball handling and more importantly play a bigger role this season on the offense. He quickness and speed are taylor made for the Marlboro run and gun style. She is one of the best young players in the 2022 class.
KATHY SANCHEZ- 5’11”- SR- FORWARD– She could be a deal breaker for this team. She missed all last season with an injury. Before the injury I believed she was tracking as a D1 player. Now she is fully recovered, the only question is how long does it take her to regain basketball form. She clearly is in a good place. This fall she was full of smiles. Her athletic body and quick jumping ability give Marlboro a serious rebounder and defender. She will add speed, size and scoring to the already deep roster. She will get Marlboro some easy buckets and give them a real defensive presence in the lane. This is a serious addition to the Marlboro team.
LAURA MOREHEAD– 5’9″-SR- SWING– This is almost unfair. She is another player who can score and plays with serious energy. She is a battle tested player who has been in the wars and delivered the goods. Last season she had 48 three’s and 67 rebounds, 27 dimes and 26 steals. She did all this and almost nobody speaks her name. She had 10 games with 8 or more points. She had 15 points vs Middletown South in the State Tourney game. Morehead is beyond underrated. This just might be the year we finally start giving her some credit. Marlboro is not going anywhere without her, along for the ride. She could have a big season and go out with a bang this year.
BRIANNA DIAZ-5’9″- SR- FORWARD– If Marlboro needs a bit of dirty work done. They will have to look no further than. Brianna Diaz who last year scored 106 points, grabbed 93 rebounds. Now throw in 22 assists and 24 steals and now you understand. She will defend and make hustle plays and bring a serious work ethic like all her teammates. Another player who plays her role and excels in it. She is a warrior in every sense of the word.
SAMANTHA NOCCO- 5’4″- SR- COMBO– Who is this senior warrior? She has put together a real nice career to date and few know it. Sam is a rentless rebounder and defender. She is a high energy player who produces. She has 147 points, 54 rebounds, 21 assists and 32 steals. That is called getting it done. She is battled tested and has gotten better each year. Her teammates feed off her energy and toughness. Nocco could be a real different maker this season. Of all the players on the roster, she most resembles the missing Romero in terms of style of play.
ALEXANDRA O’HARE- 5’7″- SWING– Another elite role player. She has the numbers to backup her status on the team. She had 113 rebounds and 37 steals on the season. Her 68 points on the season were a welcome plus just like her scoring in just about every game. She did a little of everything and like almost every player on the roster is battle tested.
ASHLEY HOROWITZ- 5’4″- SOPH- GUARD– Saw minutes last year and showed the ability to knock down shots with 10 three’s last year. This year expect her role to expand and for her to use the experience from last year to her advantage.
They may not have the name brand babies. But Marlboro has a few babies that could see time and have a major impact this season. The Marlboro system makes them very valuable to the team.
Erica DeSimone has played high level AAU basketball and could be a nice addition to the lineup. She has not only played top competition but is use to winning.
Amanda Castro is competitive and is athletic player who could fit the Marlboro system nicely.
Amelia O’ Hare will be the third O’Hare to wear a Marlboro uniform and will be prepared for whatever is needed from her. She has seen it all.
Evelyn Sanchez is athletic and raw. But like her older sister has a big upside. She played Mid Monmouth so will not be coming in totally raw. She also has watched her sister and will know the Marlboro system
Marlboro will be one of the best Coached teams in the State once again. Coach Brad Hagensen is one of the very best coaches we have. The gutsy move to play a run and gun style in the Shore has paid off big time. Last year Marlboro style of playing caught everyone off guard. They played everyone on their roster and pressed for 32 mins. Marlboro had teams begging for mercy and air, as they had more subs than Mike and Mikes. They shot more three’s by anyone by a large margin. The amount of deflections and steals they produce is mind blowing. Don’t expect any of this to change this year. They have shooters and more shooters and they all have a green light. Last season they made an appearance in the state Top 20. Expect them to do the same this season. This is a highly competitive group who are battle tested. Marlboro could be sitting on a monster season.
There are three big questions. How will Marlboro respond with a target on their back? They will not sneak up on anybody this season. Teams will not be shocked by the run and gun system and should be more prepared. Next Giselle Romero was the best player in the division. Her leadership and value cannot be put in numbers and stats. Finally can the babies have the same impact that last years babies had ? These are questions.. but clearly questions there are answers too!
TOM BRENNAN–( State Rings, TOC, Divisional Rings, Coach of Year)
A North- 10-2
Middletown South has two returning D1 players. In fact they are the two best players in the division. But South was devastated by graduation. They have a roster of unproven and worst players who have never played in big spots. Now throw in off season injuries and lack of playing time against real competition in the fall by those being asked to step into the prime time roles. Middletown South players do not play in a fall league outside of the two Division one players. Their approach has always been low key. This is the one year where that may come back to hunt them. They have a light schedule and that could help booster the confidence early in the season. Tom Brennan has won just about everything and last year did one of his best coaching jobs. He may have to to his best ever this year.
Where would you like to start. This team lost a group that won just about everything and went though everything. They were battle tested and found ways to win. It’s impossible to replace them all. Isla Brennan, Sam Kennan and Eve Pirie came in as a group and went out as one of the best groups in Middletown South history.
STEPHANIE MAYERHOFER – will be moving on to Division One Bryant University next year. She has been the best example of hard work and development. Last season at times she was the best player on the Middletown South roster. She put up career high in numbers across the board. This season, she will need to do the same again. A hard nose highly competitive player, don’t be surprise to see Mayerhofer playing multiple positions all season. She is a pit bull on defense. She was the Hoop Group Most Improved Player two years ago and has not stopped developing. This will be the her most challenging year. She was 2nd team All Division and will be making a run for A NORTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR
KAYLA RICHARDSON last season became a full blown mega star. The Lasalle bound senior scored in double figures in every game except three. But more importantly she was one of the best players in the entire state the last 7 games of the year. She had monster double/double’s and put South on her back at times. Her 410 points, 172 rebounds, 70 dimes.. 34 blocks and 30 steals are almost unreal to understand. Her block vs Tom River North will not soon be forgotten. Her overtime performance where she scored every point in Middletown South’s win over Marlboro was one for the ages. Before her injury many believe she was playing as well as anyone in the state this fall. She will play all 5 positions for Middletown South this season. If South is to have a winning season…KAYLA RICHARDSON WILL NEED TO BE GREAT. She will be in the hunt for the Shore Conference PLAYER OF THE YEAR
BETH RANKIN- 5’5″- SOPH- PG- She was out all fall with an injury and may be back before January. Her return would heaven sent. She is a possible answer to the point guard issues. Her ball handling and shooting would take a lot of pressure off Richardson and Mayerhofer. She is a good defender and highly competitive. Something that has been an issue in recent years. Her return could mean good news for South.
CAITLIN O’CONNOR- 5’7″- SR- WING– This could be a real key for South. O’Connor has showed flashes in the past. She has always been a hard worker in the off season. She spent the fall building confidence and preparing for her moment. That moment has arrived for the future Drew University guard. She is a deadly shooter, something South will need in a bad way. She has played AAU, so chances are if she gets extended minutes, she should could shine. A banner year from Caitlin O’Connor could be a difference maker.
GRACE MEEHAN- 5’6″- JR- WING– Another wild card for Middletown South. She has seen minutes in big games. She has an excellent IQ. Meehan can handle the ball and shoot the three. In fact she may be the best shooter on the roster. She will need to gain confidence quickly because there are not a lot of options available for this team.
ISABELLA ORLANDO- 5’9″- SOPH- FORWARD– She could be the answer to a serious issue in the front court. She put massive time in last spring. It was paying off nicely. She can shoot the ball and put it on the deck. She may lack experience but she has played against real competition. Something only two other players on the roster have done. If Orlando can come though.. Tom Brennan’s team could have a fighting chance.
RENE WELLS – 5’7″- SOPH – WING– She made the biggest shot of the year vs Marlboro last season. She has played real minutes in real games. She has had double figure scoring games. She has been in the wars during the heat of the game. Rene Wells will play a bigger role this year. She most likely will get a crack at moving into the starting lineup.
SADIE FAHEY- 5’7″- SR- SWING– She will enter her senior having been part of lots of winning. She knows the Middletown South system. Fahey will be asked to play a key role and give Coach Brennan a veteran presence. She has played enough minutes and seen enough to be considered battle tested.
PEYTON KENNEY AND LARA BRENNAN both will round out the roster and hope to make an impact.
Expect Mayerhofer and Richardson to carry the team on most nights. This is not a group that has played much in the fall. Now throw in the lack of experience. It a tall order for even Coach Brennan. The roster and rotation will be short. Expect Middletown South to be a defensive minded gritty team. I would never count a Tom Brennan team out
There are simply too many questions to ask. Like who is playing the Point Guard. Where is the scoring coming after Mayerhofer and Richardson? Who is doing the rebounding? What type of defense? And the big one. What’s offensive style? Can you really teach so many new players Coach Brennan’s unselfish offense? Finding an identity for this team is not going to be easy.
This is the 2nd year in a row they start the season as a spoiler. They simply could not find that program win last season. They did win 15 games and the program is moving in the right direction. Grace Leary is looking more and more like a Division one player. She may be the best point guard in the division these days. Leary had over 300 points last season and over 60 rebounds. She could be even better this season. Caitlin Gresko is the best keep secret in the 2021 class. She had over 300 points and more importantly had 132 rebounds. She is a big time athletic wing who can play the forward or center spot if asked. Mackenzie Bruno had 148 points and 147 rebounds last season. She is a warrior and more importantly has been in and seen the wars. The junior is going to be ready for a big season. This is a dangerous team in every sense of the word. It’s just a matter of game they get over the hump. It will take real commitment…key word Commitment. That has been the issue in the past two years. They once again played as unit in the fall league…
Junior HANNAH ORLOFF was named the Hoop Group Most Improved player last year. She also averaged a double/double last season. She was first team ALL A NORTH. This fall she was impressive playing against top competition. She has caught the eye of college coaches for good reason…she is really good. She will be a leading candidate for A NORTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR AND ALL SHORE. Any night she is on the floor Freehold Twp. has a punchers chance. They have their entire roster back this year. Junior Kaylie Elsbree is the real deal, 260 points and 177 rebounds tell us this. She has had double/double’s and has showed up in big games. If you think Kaylie Elsbree is the real deal. Then check out her twin sister Tanya and her271 points and 148 rebounds with 26 steals. These three with Lindsay Lloyd, Emily Tran, Brooke Levin and Courtney Campbell won 15 games last year. They will be looking to take the next step and this may be the right year at the right time. The competitive nature is going to be tested.
Long Branch, Freehold Borough, Manalapan will try to close the gap this year. But they will be looking for winning seasons is the goal.
Marlboro has lots of talented experience players to call upon this season. The length of the bench will wear every opponent in this division down. They won the division last season. Something everyone seems to forget… I say they make it two years in a row….MARLBORO….WINS A NORTH
A NORTH 2019- 2020 PRE SEASON AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR- KAYLA RICHARSON- MIDDLETOWN SOUTH
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR- ERICA DeSIMONE- MARLBORO
COACH OF THE YEAR- BRAD HAGENSEN- MARLBORO
B CENTRAL PRE SEASON 1ST TEAM ALL DIVISION
KAYLA RICHARDSON- SR- MIDDLETOWN SOUTH
STEPHANIE MAYHERFOR- SR- MIDDLETOWN SOUTH
HANNAH ORLOFF- JR- FREEHOLD TWP
GRACE LEARY- JR- HOWELL
JESS RIEPE-JR- MARLBORO