These days the 2021 Shoreshots are in the final days of AAU. The HGSL CHAMPIONSHIP seems like a great place to officially leave their mark. The 2021 Shoreshots not only went 4-0 last weekend but played what just may have been the best basketball these eyes has seen in there 9 years.. It was there way of saying..”we are the best and don’t you ever forget it”. The 2021 Shoreshots may have had the most dominant run by a AAU group in recent years. The TRACEY SABINO 2021’s have been a team like know other.
Last weekend the 2021 Shoreshots did what they have done over the last 9 years. Prove nobody is bigger than the team. The Shoreshots without the best center in New Jersey beat up on the competition at the HOOP JAMFEST. It’s been that way since the beginning. There have been stars every step of the way who have been part of there program. But each time a star has moved on, the Shoreshots seemed to get better and stronger. That’s because the 2021 Shoreshot brand is bigger than any one player. It’s because of one word that is dead in AAU basketball “LOYALTY”. You see the Loyalty of the players and parents has been, what has made the 2021 team unlike any team since the days of the Chambers CJ HAWK TEAM over 10 years ago. We have never seen a core group stick together like this in 10 years. Tracey Sabino was down right meticulous in who she let choose to join her core group over the years. She decided development and developing her own stars was the key to her program. She never let any one parent or player be bigger than the team. It was a lesson she learned the hard way years earlier. When players wanted more or wanted there star to shine bigger, she was grateful for their time but okay when they decided to move on. She wanted people who wanted to be part of her program and shared her vision The 2021 Shoreshots were different and we may never see a group like them again.
When Justine Pissot and Sophia Sabino were in 3rd and 4th grade they learned a harsh lesson about the reality of AAU basketball. There entire AAU TEAM left the Shoreshots organization. By entire team, I meant everyone except them. The two were not invited. It was clearly a parental issue at work. The two were too young young to understand what had just happened. They were hurt and upset. Little did they know it was the best thing to ever happen to them. Because Jim Pissott did something rare these days. While he had other more establish organizations offering their services to his daughter. Instead of joining them , he decided to trust Tracey Sabino. He stayed with the Shoreshots and built what is now the gold standard in AAU basketball. That gold standard that you see today was not always the case. That loyalty for each other was tested. Those were the long forgotten days when the 2021 Shoreshots were losing games by 30 and 40 points. They heard the chuckles in the background. It was a wonderful time for the haters. It’s also in these times that bring people closer together. “They say tough times don’t last. But tough people do”. Jim Pissott and Tracey Sabino have proved that to be true, like no other two coaches on the AAU circuit ever has. Today they and their daughters are still the core and architects of the best run in recent AAU HISTORY.
The myth is the ShoreShots showed up loaded with talent and were great from the start. What there actually were a collection of nobody’s. But Tracey Sabino knew there was gold in the soul of those kids, long before college coaches knew their names. Allison Waters, joined the Shoreshots as a 5th grader. She showed up at tryouts with her big smile and work ethic. The rest IS HISTORY as she became a Shoreshot for life. Soon after Allie Mcginn of Staten Island joined the team. She was willing to make the trip from Staten Island to games and more importantly practice. it was a bold move. She gave them that versatile player so desperately needed. Next came the heart and soul of the the Shoreshots 2021. Toni Panayides, showed up at tryouts and immediately made a impact. Her all out toughness gave the ShoreShots the edge they needed emotionally and physically. The Shoreshots were building slowly. These three along with Pissot and Sabino have been the faces of the 2021 ShoreShots over the years. It was these five who set the table for what was to come. Instead of getting blow out in tournames, the 2021 ShoreShots were now competitive and even winning a few games.
But it was the in 7th grade that 2021 Shoreshots became what they are known for today. THE BEST AAU TEAM IN RECENT SHORE HISTORY… Erika Porter joined them in a tournament. She gave them a big post player. But Erika moved to the Shoreshots another talented team made up of D1 players the 2020 Shoreshots. That opened the door for Destiny Adams to join the team. She gave them a post player that made them unbeatable. But Destiny Adams left and many haters danced with joy, believing the Shoreshots would become just another group of good players on the AAU tour. What they didn’t know was Maddie McCrae and Teresa Haigh would join the team. Not only did they replace Adams, it was the start of a recurring theme. One player leaves and another player steps up. In this case two athletic long talented players with size and mobility.. The final piece of the puzzle was Ally Carman that year. The coaching staff did not think she was ready. But Jim Pissott was coaching Ally Carman and developing her game and her work ethic. He convinced Coach Sabion to move her up… IT WAS A BRILLIANT DECISION. The surprise piece of the puzzle was a player nobody knew much about. When Chloe Teter was added to the roster a year later. Making her the baby of the ShoreShots. Many thought Tracey was doing a favor for someone. They were wrong because we all know who Chloe Teter is these days. Tracey Sabino had the vision that nobody else had and THE 2021 SHORESHOTS WERE BORN AND THEY HAVE BEEN TOGETHER EVER SINCE.
The Shoreshots are dinosaurs when it comes to AAU. Today the AAU model is stealing players. Players jumping from team to another. Parents concerned questioning playing time, always looking for something on the other side of the fence. Loyalty is something of the pass. There is no loyalty in AAU and most understand this. Developing a core group of players is now a thing of the past. Tracey Sabino had watched and experienced all these AAU misgivings in the past and was committed to avoiding all the ugliness and pitfalls of AAU. Her 2020 ShoreShot team set the table for the 2021 team. They were a group that stuck together for 8 years and like the 2021 team bathed in D1 scholarships. Tracey Sabino knew she found a winning formula that other programs had not or could not discover or understand
Tracey Sabino, made a decision on who would be part of her 2021 Shoreshots. It was a bold decision. She didn’t want the best players, she wanted kids who were gym rats. She decided she wanted players who were dedicated to each other. She wanted team chemistry ahead of talent. She called out anyone who brought drama to the table. Tracey Sabino knew exactly what she wanted to build and how. She wanted kids willing to train year round. She wanted players who would develop. But more than anything else, Tracey Sabino wanted the right parents and chemistry on and off the court. Over the years she has been very selective who she brings into her 2021 Shoreshots inner circle. She has passed on some current superstars. It has turned out to be the best decision she has made to date.
When Jim Pissott joined the Shoreshots as Tracey’s asst. Coach. They wanted to expose their team to the best competition they could face. They practiced with the older 2020 team. They attended almost every training event available. They played against the best of the best as often as possible. Tracey and Jim Pissott did what few AAU teams were willing to do these days. Rather than steal players, they developed their own players. Rather worry about wins and losses, they worried about the future and end goals. While all the Shoreshots are household names today. 6 yrs ago nobody knew their names. They were not stars or wanted by other organizations. Today everyone forgets that these Shoreshots were the from the island of misfits …
Today the Shoreshots are giants among AAU girl basketball teams. While other players and coaches run to the sneaker companies for status and reputation. Tracey Sabino’s had the attitude of why join them when you can beat them. Shoe companies tried their hardest to get the Shoreshots in the mix. Tracey was called silly not to team up with a shoe company. Some folks trying to steal her kids told her the “the game had changed and the recruiting game had changed”. She has some offer to take a few of her kids and make her, one of the most successful coaches in AAU an asst Coach. Yes craziness does reside in AAU world. They offered sneakers, free gear, hotels and travel. All the trapping kids and their parents love to brag about. But Tracey Sabino was wise and didn’t bite. She knew controlling her program was most important. She knew she had something special. When other sneaker company teams were bragging about playing on the main court at events. What they didn’t know was that their very own sneaker companies were offering free entry to those same tournaments and access to the main courts, to the SHORESHOTS. You see Tracey Sabino knew her team was a drawing card. She knew her team were the rock stars of any event their showed up too. Hundreds of coaches attended their games… Tracey Sabino and the Shoreshots were in full control of own future.
There is always a moment in time when greatest arrives. It’s hard to miss and what separates greatness from everyone else. Four years ago is when all the hard work by the Shoreshots parents, players and coaches came together. It was when the 2021 Shoreshots shocked everyone and won the Deep South Tournament. Tracey Sabino entered her group in the highest and most competitive bracket as usually. Her goal was to go .500 in her pool. Instead her team was left holding the championship title. That title would just be the start of an amazing rise. Because next the 2021 ShoreShots went on to win the NIKE TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS. It was the moment everyone knew; the 2021 Shoreshots, were not like everyone else. The EYBL CAL STARS were flown in to do run though the competition. It’s exactly what they did until they ran into the 2021 Shoreshots. It was was the Shoreshots that stole the show with dynamic team basketball. It was a coming out party for Justine Pissott and Sophia Sabino. It was Allie McGinn , Maddie McCrae proving kids were willing to play roles and still be able to shine. It was Destiny Adams showing she was a once in a lifetime player. It was the heart and soul Toni Panyandes just a 8th grader imposing her will on everything and anything that moved. It was was Allison Waters hitting what seemed to be big shot after big shot. There was a young Ally Carman and Teresa Haigh controlling the lane. The was the birth of what will all know today… THE MEGA TEAM CALLED THE 2021 SHORESHOTS.
NEXT LEVEL STUFF…
Tracey Sabino has been reluctant to add players to her 2021 roster. She has protected her team chemistry with her life it seems. But she wanted to add a little new life into her program. So when Abby Antognoli was available. Jim Pissott asked Tracey to bring her on the team. He explained the talented point guard, would mix well with her team. So her team voted weather to add Abby and every player on the team voted “YES”. It was a bold move by Tracey Sabino. Right away many OUTSIDERS AND THE HATERS started whispering. Sophia and Abby will never be able to play together. The poison was being introduced that outsides hoped would derail the team. These were the same people who were excited that Destiny Adams had left the Shoreshots. But once again Tracey Sabino made a masterful decision in making Abby Antognoli part of her team. Because Abby gave her team the final missing ingredient. She brought a level of defense and speed that nobody had ever seen. She, Sophia Sabino and Justine Pissott formed in my opinion the greatest set of guards to wear a AAU uniform in Shore history. I have never seen a trio like this and I doubt if we will ever see one again. For three years this group was dynamic. It’s also a group that won the prestigious ADIDAS GAUNTLET CHIP It was the 3rd shoe company title for the 2021 Shoreshots in two years. Tracey Sabino didn’t look so silly after all… in fact she had become the QUEEN OF AAU BASKETBALL. Because nobody was doing it better than she was ….
When you dominate and have success. Drama and jealousy are sure to follow. Over the years teams have all had their shot at competing against the 2021 Shoreshot.. Last year the talented NEW UPSTART Team Rio crew was suppose to finally put the 2021 ShoreShots in their place. The quickly found out that was easier said than done. The Shoreshots did to them what they did to every other Shore team and dismissed missed them. Over the years they have been exactly one loss to a Shore AAU team. That took back two years ago. When the Jersey Shore Elite team led by the great and talented Katie Hill pulled the upset. The ShoreShots trailed by 18 points and mounted a comeback that fell short by 4 points. But most memorable about that day was the crowd on hand. The small stands were packed and people filled the sidelines. They all had one thing in common, they were rooting against the 2021 Shoreshots. It was a backdoor compliment to the Shoreshots. It had seemed a typical local game had turned into a NBA title game. It caught the Shoreshots off guard. They did not understand that they had become everyone’s biggest game of the summer. It taught them to keep their guard up. It was a learning lesson. It also would be their only loss ever to a Shore Team.
It was not long before I started to receive the text from Tracey Sabino. After each big win.. “Tiny please don’t tweet about it” after college coaches were following the teams every moment, Tracey told her team. “Get off social media.” She knew jealousy would follow the success and attention that was kicking in. I heard the remarks, “Tiny only writes about the Shorehots because he is friends with Tracey”. I had people counting how many times I tweeted about the Shoreshots vs other programs. I told Tracey “live with it, it’s part of what comes with success” I told her great programs go through this. I told her to speak to Mary Beth Chambers “because she went though the same thing” With greatness comes haters and that is never going to change. The 2021 Shoreshots have handled their notoriety perfectly. They have embraced it all and shined. They know the college coaches all can’t be wrong. Me personally, I write about accomplishments. No program in all my years following AAU has accomplished more. Like it or not…. that’s simply a fact!
THE FINAL RUN…
This year was suppose to that last hurrah for the 2021 Shoreshots. But when Justine Pissott left. The haters had a fun time and hope ,they talked about the Shoreshots 2021 being no different. They were just like everyone else now. They relished in the tears her teammates let flow during a fall game. the thought of not having Justine Pissott was too much for them to handle. Sophia Sabino had never played a AAU game without her best friend. But the ShoreShots were “not like everyone else” They never were from the beginning. The haters were failing to forget that Pissott had been part of the Shoreshots since 2nd grade and will always be a Shoreshot regardless of what other uniform she ever wears… she will always be known as a ShoreShot first. Can you name another player that you can identify with one AAU team? When Abby Antognoli left to join the Demons. It was not mentioned she gave her heart and soul to the Shoreshots and just wanted a break. Has this every been a player in a AAU uniform more fun to watch? You see haters twist these things. Many hoped and prayed Ally Carman would leave as well…. she didn’t. Her loyalty has been unwavering to the ShoreShots organization. In fact all the Shoreshots remained close and friends, unlike when other players leave programs. Today the current , former ShoreShot players and families are close. The root harder for each other than ever. I guess you can call it a Shoreshot 2021 thing. Once your in the family there is no leaving…. LOYALTY… I GUESS YOU’D CALL IT …LOYALTY.
This year was suppose to be the year the Shoreshots hit rock bottom. Many believed the remaining Shoreshots would not even play. They all were going to be D1 players. Why would they play? Other AAU teams were once again calling and trying to steal their players. They didn’t understand the Shoreshot parents, coaches and kids are different…THEY STICK TOGETHER THROUGH HARD TIMES AND GOOD TIMES…. It’s why Tracey Sabino turned down studs to join her team to replace her two leaving stars. She made a offer to one player who said “no thank you”. She was the only one Tracey believed was a fit. The team fully expected to roll with 7 players. But then one day they saw Colleen McQuillen at Academic Elite while with Sophia Sabino on the same team. It was that day that the two formed a chemistry that only happens in a fairly tale. It would lead them to both deciding to attend the same college… Fordham University. Colleen, was the best player in the gym that day. A star among stars for all to see. Then she showed up at NBS and it was clear, she was different. But more importantly, she fit the 2021 ShoreShot model.
So Tracey Sabino replaced one superstar with another superstar. Then Teresa Haigh decided she could no longer make the three hour trips one way to games and practice. So Tracey replaced her with Jess Riepe the leading three point shooter in the state. But more importantly a player all the 2021 Shotshots knew and wanted on the team. When Tracey Sabino brought up her name, her team cheered and said they love Jess Riepe. This was a disappointing time for all the haters. Tracey Sabino and her 2021’s are going out with kids and parents, she who have trusted each other and would run through a brick wall for each other and the coaches. Because this 2021 Team just may be her best team by far. As one college head Coach said “Can you believe they are better now than a year ago?” Yes, I can because Tracey Sabino and crew have been making great moves since they found each other.
Their Legacy is cemented. They will be forever known for their style of play. When the Head Coach of UConn says “They play basketball the way kids should play”… When the lead recruiter at Louisville says “They share the ball and are so much fun to watch” When a D1 head coach says, “when I get a break in my schedule, the first thing I do is try to find out what court the Shoreshots are on”. You start to understand all they have become. You see the Shoreshots, players, parents all trusted Tracey Sabino and each other. It’s no mistake all of the players have signed to D1 schools or are heavily recruited. It no surprise that all this will be remembered for a lifetime. These are lifetime memories made by this group. They just may be last the LAST LOYAL GROUP IN AAU…. they also gave us a fun ride!.
Last week at practice before this past weekends Hoop Group Jam Fest, Tracey and her HGSL Shoreshots coaches thought it would be important to talk to the young ones about attending a Showcase event. This would be the first time her 7th grade team would attend an event like this. Where D1 coaches can watch. Her 2021 Shoreshots players discussed the importance of …NO cell phones in building…. no joking around In the building…staying focused… body language…eye contact with coaches. They talked about If you make a bad play, go get it back on the other end… no arguing with referees… playing hard on every play and playing together as 1 unit not individually and most of all staying locked in together. There are no breaks in the huddle everyone is to be locked in. If a player gets knocked down all players on court in the game sprint to pick their teammate up after the whistle blows. If they don’t they are accountable and lose minutes the importance of picking up your teammate is invaluable. Hopefully these younger teams will continue to follow the model of trust and accountability like the 2021 Shoreshots. Seems like the Shoreshots model is a working one!
CORE SKILLS TRAINING TODAY AT HOOP GROUP!