Manasquan High School came into last nights season opener with hopes and a few doubts. When the final buzzer sounded they had proven to themselves this just may be there season. In convincing fashion Manasquan defeated state ranked and Shore Top 5 Trinity Hall 49-27.

Manasquan jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first 3 minutes of yesterday’s game before Trinity Hall Coach Matt McCarthy called a time out. It seemed Coach Lisa Kukoda had her Manasquan team primed to deliver Trinity Hall a quick knock out punch. Her team came out the gate running while breathing fire and oozing with energy and confidence. It was clear they came ready to play and Trinity Hall was caught off guard by the punch and pace of the game. But somehow Trinity Hall hung on for dear life and only trailed 11-5 after the 1st Quarter.

In the 2nd quarter Manasquan got hit with the turnover bug and then missed free throw after free throw. This led to Trinity who also missed free throw after free throw and WIDE OPEN JUMPER after wide open jumper a chance at life. Trinity Hall was hanging around and actually cut the Manasquan lead to one point. Trinity Hall were hanging around like a bad cold despite everything that had taken place. Then when the “Cookie Monster” Nina EMNACE  picked pocket a Manasquan guard at half court with under 30 seconds. It appeared Trinity Hall had life and found their mojo. When the buzzer sounded at half Manasquan was up 19-14 and Trinity Hall had weathered the storm it appeared. It looked like we were in for an exciting 2nd half.

That  exciting 2nd half that everyone was hoping for, never materialized. That’s because Katie Collins showed why she is the Pre Season Player of The Year leading candidate. Collins went on a total rampage, destroying everything in her path in the 3rd quarter. She scored in the paint, she knocked down threes and dominated the glass in the 3rd quarter. Her 5 straight  points to close the 3rd were spectacular. Trinity Hall simply had no answers for her. When she punched a driving Nina EMNACE shot out of the lane it was the Coup de Grace and the message was clearly sent. But Collins who had 19 points was not alone.

Shea Donnelly came off the bench and did her best Superwoman act. She scored and made play after play while helping slow down the high scoring Nina EMNACE. She was masterful off the bench in every way. But the real story off the bench was Carlie Lapinski, she was not just good. She was dominating. Her big three in the 3rd  but Trinity Hall on the ropes annd sent them into La La Land.  Then she pounded the boards and went into her Dennis Rodman offensive rebounding act. She was electric all evening with 8 big points, rebounds and defense. So much that when the buzzer sounded to end the 3rd. It was all over but the shouting. Manasquan led  42-23.

The 4th quarter was nothing more than a formality. The Manasquan lead had  ballooned to 24 points and they were in full control. That’s because they took care of the basketball, ran there offense though Katie Collins, crushed Trinity Hall on the glass and turned the lights out on Trinity Halls star guard Nina EMNACE who had one field goal and 8 points on the entire night. Lisa Kukoda’s team sent a message to all those paying attention. Manasquan is here to win it and yesterday was as good of a start, that she could have possibly hoped for.

Meanwhile Trinity Hall had their pride and ego bruised last night. People have a tendency to overact after one game. Trinity Hall has the talent, coaching and experience to regroup. But first they must look in the mirror and face a reality. They are not the group they were last year and last night didn’t start last night and last night doesn’t have to be every night!

In the end one team is still searching and another team is reaching for the top… it’s Shore Basketball Opening night

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