Today we take a look at A NORTH. Last year Neptune and Dezzy Allen were the clear cut favorite. This year, the division is  a little more open for debate. Last season Howell surprised everyone and this year have there entire core back and have added a few pieces. Colts Neck get the full services of one of last year’s most talked about freshman. Marlboro may feel this could be there year because Neptune is rebuilding and they have a monster freshman class and the best player in the division….





Coach Brad Hagensen

Overall- 14-4



Marlboro will try to  find a way to replace Molly Weiss. Last season Weiss held Marlboro together. She scored, passed, handle pressure and was a coach on the floor. Finding a replacement this year may be almost impossible.



This is a deep team with new exciting talent added. They have players on their roster who played quality minutes last year. They have senior leadership and are battle tested. Jess Broad has nobody like her in the Division. The freshman class is a group of players that have seen a lot of success as grammar school players, winning 5 Mid-Monmouth titles and played a high level of AAU. This is very rare for Marlboro to have these type players.

GISELLA ROMEO– She played at the highest level of AAU this summer. She looked like a star in the fall league. Her ability to get to the rim and pressure opponents on the defensive end is special. She has stepped up her offensive game and now is a consistence double figure scorer. She had multiple double figures scoring games last season. She had multiple double figure rebounding games, including a whopping high of 19 in a contest. It’s clear Romeo is gearing up to become one of the best players in the division and the apple of college coaches eyes. She is a major upgrade to the team because of her massive improvement.

THERESA BESSO– She is back after suffering a knee injury. She gives Marlboro instant offense and a serious basketball IQ upgrade. She will stretch defenses and make basketball decisions. She is very capable of being a double figure scorer on any night. She also can get on shooting rolls, which is something Marlboro missed big time last year. Once again this is a major upgrade for Marlboro scoring wise. Besso also is an excellent off the ball defender and that is another upgrade for Marlboro. Theresa Besso return makes Marlboro a better offensive shooting team than a year ago. Look for this gym rat to give Marlboro a major shot in the arm.

ISABELLA DIAZ– She had a very solid freshman year. She scored in every game last year, except three. She provides good size in the paint and last year showed at times she has the potential to be an excellent rebounder. A lot was put on her shoulders as a freshman. She had to learn on the job. This will pay off handsomely this year as she played a lot of quality minutes. Look for her to step up this year and become a better offensive player. She knows Coach Hagensen’s system and that is going to make her life a little easier.

SAM NOCCO- The 5’3″ water bug is some what underappreciated. She is instant energy and hustle. She is great at forcing turnovers and getting steals that lead to baskets. She plays her role and always seems ready to play. She is fun to watch and no question is a asset coming off the bench.

ISABELLA O’HARE– She is a solid role player that also saw quality minutes last season. She plays bigger than her size and will be counted on to provide senior leadership and experience. She has played against Top teams in her time at Marlboro, so she will not be up-prepared when things get hot. She is very important part of the is team and they will need her to step up this year, if they hope to win A NORTH.

ALLIE GARCIA– She had her moments last year. Like her six rebound game against Neptune last season. She plays hard and will be asked to play the role off the bench as a rebounder and defender. Any scoring she gives is a bonus. Her impact is not just in the box score. Another player who I believe will step up this season.



JESSICA BROAD– Right now one of the hardest workers in the shore. This fall Jessica Board kicked into high gear. Folks the former Most Improved player right now is ready for a monster All Shore season. Calling all D1 schools, she is right now the biggest sleeper in the state. She has elevated her game to new heights. Last year she was a walking double/double. She average 13 points and 8 rebounds a night. This is from a player who rather pass first than shoot. There is no question she will have an legit shot at ALL SHORE. There is no question she is the best player in A NORTH. Now the question is can she lead her team to a Divisional title and do damage in the states?


This team has a serious group of Freshman rolling into town. It has been years since Marlboro has had a group like this. They are year round basketball players who play competitive AAU. As a group the 3 incoming freshman won 5 Mid Monmouth titles. They also picked up a transfer who is believed to big a shooter.

SAMMY JAY– Lighting quick point guard, who will step in and play right out the gate. Look for her to be the point guard of the future. She could be a real different maker with the lost of Molly Weiss. She is competitive and a full time basketball player.

LAURA MOORHEAD– She is a 5’8″ forward and once again a year round basketball player. She has a very high IQ and has played AAU at the highest level. She no question will be in the rotation and is a impact baby.

JESS RIEPE– 5’9″  and give Marlboro another full time basketball player, who has played a high level of AAU. Her size and skill level will be welcomed by Bard Hagensen. There is no question this is a major upgrade to the Marlboro front line.

**Also rumor has it that Marlboro picked up a shooter from Texas, more on this once I see her in a scrimmage.

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There are going to be challenges for playing time…

This is a team that plays as a group. That is their strength and team identity. Now here is the problem. Many of the players who got quality minutes last year, were dual sport players. There Skill level and IQ had to be developed and it may have caused Marlboro a game or two (think Howell last year). Now there is a serious group coming in that are ALL BASKETBALL PLAYERS. They are highly skilled and are going to want to play, right out the gate. How will all the competition and changing of roles effect the chemistry, this is real and not talk.


In a strange way Marlboro on paper is much better than last year. They have more talent and depth than last year. A year ago scoring was a major issue. This year they should have no problem in that area. Marlboro will once again play the best schedule this side of SJV and will again be one of the best coached teams in the shore. They will share the ball and take good shots. The chemistry and rotation concerns will work itself out…they are the favorite RIGHT NOW.




Coach Santopiero

Overall- 16-7

Conference- 7-5


They did not lose one player from there rotation from a year ago!



Last year everyone was shocked by the emergence of Howell. They not only had a winning record. They knocked off A North contender Marlboro in the regular season. Then pulled off the biggest upset in the SCT, sending Donovan Catholic packing (https://nothingbutskills.com/howell-goes-ka-boom-the-unknowns-are-known-now/ )https://nothingbutskills.com/howell-goes-ka-boom-the-unknowns-are-known-now/. They played in their first state game in 20 years. To think a program could be turned around this quick is shocking. They are the only team in A NORTH that returns their ENTIRE core from a year ago and add two impact freshman. This could be a dream season if they build on last year.

LAUREN KOCSIS– She is a total warrior and will back down to no one.Her versatility makes her incredibly valuable. She the ability step out and knock down three’s days or get to the rim. She’s also a hard-nosed defender who will rebound against bigger players. She had 12 double figure scoring games last year, inculding a season high 22. She posted a monster double/double against upstart Barnegt with a 15/10 night. She will no question be in the divisional PLAYER OF YEAR conversation, she that good. She played in lots of games over the years and will be on a mission this season.

RILEY BEHNKEN– She is a very reliable player last year. She did a little bit of everything each night. She is a capable scorer that you can bank on 4-10 points each night. She also was a solid rebounder. She is a willing passer and excellent defender. She is a perfect fit for this group, unselfish and experienced.

LIZ CAPESTRO– She is so underrated its a joke. She is a winner in every sense of the word. She defends, passes, scores and rebounds. Her numbers don’t blow you away but bank on a solid evening always. She has had numerous double figure scoring and rebounding  games. She has been around for what seems like forever. Howell is going nowhere without Capestro, she is the clue to this team. Her experience and toughness are way more valuable that anyone outside of Howell realizes.

PERRI CLIFTON– Always one of my favorite players. She came back from ACL last year. She is a knock it out shooter, who always plays the right way. She is great for the team chemistry because she is so unselfish. Her decision making is just what the doctor ordered. Leave her open and she will make you pay. She understands help defense and is always in the mix, helping teammates. She is capable of double figures on any night. But its her passing that is so underrated. She “see’s the floor” and makes everyone around her better. She is another year removed from the ACL, so expect an even better season.

JESSICA O’BRIEN– She is the most underrated guard in this conference. She is tough as nails and a real leader. Last year she showed she could not only run a team but handle pressure as well. She improved her jump shooting and is a beast on defense. She is an excellent ball handler and passer. She is a solid scorer and more importantly takes care of the ball. There is no question, she is the backbone to keeping it all together. Don’t be surprise if she has breakout season stats wise across the board.


Rachel Gazzola hopes to lead Howell to the promise land in A NORTH

Rachel Gazzola hopes to lead Howell to the promise land in A NORTH

She is a scoring machine and she gets them in a multiple of ways. If has range from the parking lot. She can post smaller players and gets on the offensive glass. She may be the most complete offensive player in the division. Now throw in her passing and rebounding and you have a player of the year candidate. She has D1 offensive skills and must be game planned by opposing coaches. She averaged just about 14 points a game and 5 rebounds. She had double figures just about every night. But it was her explosion against Donovan Catholic in the SCT that caught everyone’s eye. She had 21 points and sent Donovan Catholic bye bye. It was the first SCT win in years for Howell. The Howell program is back and she is one of the biggest reason why.


Howell got just what the doctor ordered this year and right on time. They picked up two freshman who will give them depth and talent. They now can dig deep into the bench against the top teams in the division.

CAILTLIN GRESKO– She is long, athletic and tough. She is 5’9″ and will have an impact right out the gate. Her ability to get to the rim and score in transition will be welcomed by all. But she also will do something few freshman do…rebound and defend. This is a major pickup for Howell.

GRACE LEARY– She is a total gym rat. No player has lived in the gym more. She also is going to surprise the entire conference as she is going to be a freshman of the year candidate. She has serious quickness and she too will defend. She will be a perfect weapon off the bench.

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Did they train?

There is just one concern for this group. They played in the fall and looked wonderful. But the bigger question is did they get better as individuals? Did they train and add something to their games. Remember Marlboro brought in basketball players and there is no questions they trained in the fall.


This crew is tight and they play for each other. This group loves each other…don’t underestimate that. They are one of the most unselfish groups there is. They have everything a team needs to win A NORTH and make a run in the states. They have shooting, experience, ball handling and new blood. It clear coach Santopiero has been pointing to this season…Coach the Year could be in his future.



Cara Volpe is ready for a banner year

Cara Volpe is ready for a banner year

If there is a team that could surprise everyone this year. It is Colts Neck. Last year they caught a few bad breaks. Like mega star Lola Mullaney transferring to Manasquan and Prize freshman Cam Foltz tearing her ACL…that was a lot of points out the window. They the Coach Glenn Jansen left for greener pastures. In comes Steve Jannarone from the boys side. It will find out the girls and boys are a whole different animal in the shore. But the good news is that he will have Cam Foltz for a entire season. The future D1 lock was rated as one of the best babies in the state before her injury. She give him scoring and ball handling every night. In the front court he has one of the Top 5 players in the division in Cara Volpe. She has added a jump shot to her already next level inside game. Jaime Prestigiacomo is a season vet who has had big days in the Colts Neck uniform. She averaged 10 points a game last season. That number will rise this season. What the box score won’t show is her defense and ALL OUT HUSTLE. She will make a run at All Division. Finally Freshman point guard Jess Thessing could be a real surprise. She fast and willing to play defense. Can Colts neck be a surprise? It will be a wait and see. They lost a lot of experience. The must wonder what could have been!!



They lost basically the entire core from last year, including all everything Dezzy Allen and the core of the bench. For the first time in memory, Coach John Brown will not be in the Top 10 in the shore and not a major threat to win a division title. Last year’s A NORTH winner, will have to play the role of spoiler. They do have the most talented player in the division in MAYKALA ANDREWS. She is a sophomore and should have to carry her team on her back. The lack experience, depth and overall talent. But for one night that can beat anyone in the division. John Brown is a master at reinventing his teams.


FREEHOLD TWP…FREEHOLD BORO AND MANALAPAN  will all try to beat each other up to get enough wins to make the state and SCT tournament.


This is a close call, Marlboro has a lot of new weapons and the best player in the Division in Jess Broad. Howell, has so much experience and also added two new weapons as well. My guess is always go with seniorsHOWELL WINS A NORTH…



Coach of the Year- Coach Santopiero-Howell

Player of the Year- Jessica Broad-Sr- Marlboro

Freshman of the Year- Sammy Jay-Marlboro









Important dates…

12/2- Howell@Marlboro

1/2- Marlboro@RFH

1/6- Middletown South@Marlboro

1/25- Marlboro@Howell

2/7- Marlboro@SJV

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