Tuesday 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 YOU TEAM HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN THE HARDEST GIRLS BASKETBALL TITLE IN NEW JERSEY AND MAYBE THE COUNTRY.


 There is no question the Shore Conference is loaded with stars that can take a team out by themselves. SJV has 2 stars. Katie Hill and ZOE BROOKS. Manasquan has two stars on any night Mary Donnely and Georgia Heine carry their team. Gabby Ross has proven she can carry any team. She can save your team on a night things may be slipping away. She can send a team home single handedly. But can she take out the super powers? Stars take the bulk of your 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 you coach is sharing the wealth(shots) and not playing though 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.


When it comes to using the bench, Dawn Karpell is the gold standard. She creates roles for all of her players. They all play big in big games and their roles don’t change based on the opponent. All are battle tested and play their roles to a “T” and are ALWAYS READY. . The SJV bench, gives them a serious shot in the arm. They are talented, but more importantly, Dawn Karpell is not afraid to use it them in any spot.…AND THEY ALL KNOW THIS. Who do you have coming off the bench to change the game? Because if your coach 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. Manasquan has the offensive and defensive weapons coming off the bench in this years SCT. Katie Collins and Rylee Orlando coming off the bench in the tournament are serious weapons . But are capable of breaking you teams sprit in games with her shooting or all around play.. Somebody is to run into foul trouble or an injury. Somebody is going to have a bad shooting night, somebody is going to get be 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  Zoe Brookks or Madison St Rose? Do you have a defender that can slow down a Mary Donnely? . What about in the post, can you keep a Ally Carman from dominating? Do you have a matchup for these type players, when they gets rolling? You better have answers because somebody is going to get rolling against your team…the question is can you shut the door on them, when they do? Ashley O’Conner and Georgia Heine are the ultimate stoppers, they are the dark holes. They destroy elite guards. Megan Cahalan is a classic stopper because she can close the door on big’s.. Who is your stopper? 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 has the two best in Zoe Brooks and Madison St. Rose. 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. Brooke Hollawell of Manasquan 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 know guts 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 is longer than a football field. A closer can be a coach, Right now Dave Cahallan , is proving to be one of the best closer’s in the business. His teams have been shockingly great at the end of games and quarters once again.. .  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 Christina Liggio 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 is your baby are a big part of the team, can you count on them to play a big role in a big spot, if need be?  Ocean has has a baby in Kayden Clark that 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? 


 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 seniors everyone desires…SJV SENIORS have the rings.  Manasquan has 4 of the best in the state. RBC has a senior who’ve been trying to get over the hump for years, this is ALLY Carman’s last shot.   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?


 SJV, may be the favorite but they know all eyes are on them, anything but the title will be disappointing. MANASQUAN  has had a monster season, but now they will have to step up a level.  RBC knows that anything less than a SCT FINAL will be disappointing. Donovan Catholic and St. Rose are playing with house money these . SJV knows people only expect one thing and that’s a SCT title. RFH must win at least one game or they will feel the season has not ended correctly. All this adds up to pressure, can you team handle that 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 and edge with the officials? 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 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 IS YOUR TEAM PLAYING GOING INTO THE SCT? How is your team playing these days? What’s your teams style play? Do they know? Do the coaches know? Are all the players on your team on the same page? Because you cannot change who you are, if you don’t know who your are. 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? Marlboro  is red hot, RBR and Colts Neck are feeling good…. Don’t tell me who your team beat or who you lost to…tell me HOW IS YOUR TEAM PLAYING RIGHT NOW…because now is not the time to find yourself. 


The bottom line is that SJV is the overwhelming favorite going into the SCT. . Somebody is going to face every one of these obstacles before a champion is crowned. The team that handles these challenges the best is going to be our winners. Right now I BELIEVE only RBC has the Tools to upset SJV but if the most interested . But know this, each of the teams will face a real challenge trying to make it to the SCT FINAL.. regardless of what chip there playing for.. good luck!!!

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