Today the SHORE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT kicks off.  People will not be talking about winning meaningless summer and fall games. The seeding debates will be old news. Some will compare scores during the season as if that matters now. This year could be the year of SCT, upsets and broken hearts…THE REAL QUESTION IS DOES YOUR TEAM HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN THE  MOST IMPORTANT  AND HARDEST GIRLS BASKETBALL TTLE IN NEW JERSEY?


There is no question the Shore Conference is loaded with stars that can take a team out by themselves. RBC has stars up and down the roster. Addy Nyemcheck, Tessa Carman and Christina Liggio can carry a team. But Katie Collins and Hope Masonious can get rolling  and carry a team as well. SJV has  Ashley Sofilkanich, Julia Karpell, Stella Lockhart and Daniella Matus who all bring star power. But Trinity Hall has a rock star in Nina Emance who has proven she can carry a team. She can save your team on a night when things may be slipping away. Devyn Quigley is a rock star too, she can send a team home single handedly. But can she take out the super powers? Stars take the bulk of your teams shots, coaches run plays for your stars. The real question is can your star also take over games with their defense, passing or rebounding as well. Can your star put your team on her back and carry your team home from this point forward. More importantly does your team and coach believe in its star? Because if your coach is sharing the wealth(shots) and not playing through your stars… this thing is a wrap for you. Stars win chips. If you don’t believe in stars …you better hope you don’t need one.


This is the one year, if you have shooters, you have a big edge. Shooters make up for a multiple of sins. Do you have one or do you have multiple shooters? RBC has a team of shooters. SJV has proven shooters. Ocean has the best Shooter of them all in Kayden Clark. Zoe Gulley and Riley Wheeler of RBR can break your back. Where are your shooters? Are they streaky and have the ability to shoot you out or into games? Do they have good shot selection? What about your coach? Does he have those new sets in for your shooters. Because now game planning matters or does your shooter get thrown in the ice box. What’s your coach doing to get  your shooters shots? This event is 100% coming down to shooters. Somebody is going to shoot a team into this event or out of this event.


When it comes to using the bench, SJV has set the standard  for years. RBC, COACH MONTANO has created a 8 man rotation that is based on the clock. His bench is loaded with experience and D1 players. TRINITY HALL, COACH MCCARTHY creates roles for all of his bench players and given them real experience. Teagan Drennan can bring instant offense from behind the three point line. Niamh Stapleton brings offense and defense. Trinity has a bench that on any given night a different player can show up. But nobody uses their bench like SJV Coach Dawn Karpell. She will sub based on time, score and situation. Madison Kocis is the ultimate weapon now that she is coming off the bench. She brings scoring and championship pedigree. Manasquan has a bench filled with potential. Carlie Lapinski  is a proven player. Shea Donnelly has the ability to bring instant offense. Who do you have coming off the bench to change the game? TANAIYAH DECKER is that player for St. Rose. But using your bench wisely matters most.  Because if your coach gets too cute and over uses your bench or goes to them too early and often, it could be the kiss of death. Because benches have been known to give up leads and end quarters poorly. Somebody is going  to run into foul trouble or an injury. Somebody is going to have a bad shooting night, somebody is going to get  sick. When this happens, your teams bench is either going to shine or be exposed. Has your bench been used in big spots this year? The SCT is not a place to start finding out if they are ready…that ship has long sailed!


This is the most underrated player in this event. History has shown a stopper can change this entire event.  Do you have a player to cool down a hot Nina Emnace or shooters like Katie Liggio and Raquel Guidetti? Do you have a defender that can slow down a Haley Posner?  What about in the post, can you keep a Taylor Sofilkanich , Mackenzie Teevan or a Caroline Pollaway from dominating or getting your team in foul trouble? Do you have a matchup for these type players, when they get rolling? You better have answers because somebody is going to get rolling against your team at some point. The question is can you shut the door on them, when they do? McKenna Karlson still has the potential to reach into the past and become the ultimate stopper once again. Cassidy Kruise has a history of  destroying elite guards., if that Kruise show up again St. Rose is in real business. Will these type defenders show up again. Who is your stopper? Who has a defender that can throw a star in the witness protection program? Do you? If you don’t have one, forget winning this event…you have NO CHANCE.


Nobody is sailing though the tournament, closers close quarters and games. SJV may have the best in Julia Karpell. Now here is something, I learned a long time ago. Throw out shooting and free throw shooting percentage until the last 2 minutes OF A CLOSE GAME. If they missed the big ones in big games, during the season…they are missing in the SCT. KAYDEN  CLARK of OCEAN is a big shot maker and taker. You got one these on your roster? Closer’s don’t turn the ball over or make bad decisions late. You have a closer? Now be honest, do you trust your closer? Because if you don’t, secretly your team does not trust them either. Does your closer know when to pass and when to shoot? Do you have a player who thinks they are a closer, they take the shot but can’t make it. You do know having the guts to take the shot don’t matter unless they can make the shot? Now don’t tell me, your closer is your best player. Remember your closer is not always your best player or even a player. The list of so called best players failing to deliver late in a game is longer than a football field. A closer can be a coach, Dawn Karpell is one of the best closer’s in the business ever. Her teams have been shockingly great at the end of games and quarters on the biggest of stages. Nobody is in her world. Now here is something everyone forgets…sometimes your closer never gets the chance to close, because in order to close you need to be in the game late with a lead. The SCT is not the place to try and find a closer….


Now don’t tell me how good your babies played this year. I don’t care about their stats. I want to know what your babies did against the real teams. Did they see real time in the games that determined your season and seeding. No baby had more responsibility than Ashley Kreiger of RANNEY against real competition. Don’t tell me about a play or shot a baby made in a game. Tell me what you babies did in the real heat of big games.  Now are your babies a big part of the team? Jackson Memorial baby Cali Brown certainly has been. Can you count on your babies to play a big role in a big spot, if need be?  St Rose’s Callie Decker, has proven she can play in big settings. If your babies have put up good numbers in blow-outs, but have zero numbers in the big games…don’t expect them to all of a sudden blow up in this event, this event has real killers. What’s the status of your babies? If they have to go from role player to prime time player can they do it?…can your baby do this? 

Ocean is the #3 seed

 If your team is not loaded with seniors your team’s job just got a little harder.  But if you have seniors, they must have experienced success in big spots along the way. Winning a big game or tournament can’t be new to them. SJV has a seniors who has won every big game and chip…SJV has the ultimate  senior in Julia Karpell. SENIORS with  the rings are dangerous . RBC has who no impact seniors but been trying to get over the hump for years now with and without seniors. But they have battle tested underclassmen, who have yet to win a big game on a big stage. Manasquan has three battle tested seniors, who have won big games in a big spot, they got Chips to lean on as well.  Ocean has 4  battle tested seniors with no chips. Having battle tested seniors is something that gives you a real edge in these events. Seniors don’t panic and they play with a passion when they know the end is in sight… What about your seniors…Are they ready? Trinity has two seniors that have been around. Now are your seniors ready? Can they get their numbers now? Or are you riding seniors with no history of delivering and are not showing up lately? Seniors go to the next level this time of year. Camryn Gardner just might be a senior on a mission.


RBC may be the favorite, they know all eyes are on them, anything but the title will be disappointing. MANASQUAN has had a up and down season, but now they will have to step it up a level.  SJV knows that anything less than a SCT CHIP will be disappointing. RFH has to feel totally disrespected. ST ROSE are playing with house money these days. Trinity knows if they don’t get to the final, it just won’t feel as good this year. Ocean knows they have to qet one big win vs one of the big girls or the season has been a con job. RBR and Wall knows they need to prove their seeding was not just the good ole boys and girls club working to give them a gift seed. All this adds up to pressure, can you team handle the pressure that comes with trying to win the SCT?


These games are going to be tight and somebody is going to win it or lose it, based on a decision from the sidelines. Will your coach give your team an edge with the officials? Are they too busy saving timeouts and forget the ball matters most late in games? Your coach better not panic and they better have those new offensive sets, out of bounds plays and new trapping defenses all ready to go for the SCT.

Your coach better have some new stuff to throw at opponent’s, because everyone knows everyone right now due to video. You coach got some new stuff? Your coach better not start over coaching and trying to be the star. Your coach better be prepared coming out of time outs and last second situations.

Now possessions really matter, because these games are going to be close. How are your rotations? They better be set and everyone better know, when they are playing. Too late to start changing now folks…you are who you are.  In the end these games are going to come down to how your coach handles the pressure and rotations at the end of the games. Are they yelling and screaming or teaching and adjusting? …they will need to make all the right moves! Your coach ready to do this? Your coach ready for the surprises, bad calls and the heat of the spotlight. How has your Coach performed in close games this year? You tell me because your team better trust your coach late in games. This is the one year more than any in the past 6 years, that coaching may win or lose a SCT

Are you ready for the big upset? Well if that’s that plan you better have a punchers chance. Meaning you better have kids that are competitive. Kids who love playing together, have real chemistry and winning is all that matters. What about ball handlers? Do you have a player that can keep your team under control when things got hot? What about the full court pressure, can you handle it? Because all teams press you when they think they are better. A better question, where is your full court pressure and can your protect your defensive boards? Because if you can’t protect your glass it’s nitey nite. Now you have to do all those things and more. Oh yeah, did I tell you that you will need a player to have a career or once in a lifetime night as well. I’m talking about like when Lauren Lithgow had 9 three’s and St. Rose took out SJV who hasn’t lost a SCT game since that day 5 years ago. Maybe you’ll have a Grace Colluccci who knocked down 8 three’s and went for 27 points to send Donavan Catholic packing, two years ago. It’s been done before and who knows maybe you’re the next RBR that took out RBC in the most historic upset win on the road in the SCT. Maybe you’re the St. Rose team who shocked the Mabrey sisters in the SCT chip game. Is your team ready for the big upset? Ready to be the talk of the down? Ready to make history? There is a track record of upsets, is this your year?

TRINITY HALL are the 6th seed


How is your team playing these days? What’s your team’s style of play? Do they know? Do the coaches know? Are all the players on your team on the same page? Do they believe in the X and O’s? Because you cannot change who you are now, if you don’t know who you are, you’re in trouble. Do you have players who think this is their chance to shine? You know trying to steal the spotlight, taking shots they have not taken all year. Somebody is going to try and make a name for themselves at your teams expense, bank on it.  Does you team feel good about themselves going into the SCT? Ocean is red hot, SJV and Trinity are feeling real sexy about themselves right now. How’s your team feel? What’s the team morale …. Don’t tell me who your team beat or who you lost to…tell me HOW IS YOUR TEAM PLAYING RIGHT NOW…nobody cares what you did a month ago because now is not the time to trying to find your chemistry.


The bottom line is there is no overwhelming favorite going into the SCT. I just know this, one dimensional teams are out. Teams that are flexible and that can adjust on the fly have a chance. Teams that are healthy have an even better chance. Somebody is going to face every one of the above obstacles before a champion is crowned. The team that handles these challenges the best is going to be our winners.  Right now I BELIEVE all these teams are flawed. Some have the gang that can’t shoot straight, some lack of chemistry, some are a walking turnover,Some have stop playing defense and some lack closers or a bench. Some have coaches who will panic. So each of the teams will face a real challenge trying to make it to the SCT FINAL.. and regardless of what anyone says, that’s the real goal this year before anyone can start thinking about a SCT CHIP

Starts today and Saturdays


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