These days Manasquan High school coach Lisa Kukoda should be very happy. In the past 3 years Manasquan has been banging on the SCT AND TOC chip door. It’s something Lisa Kukoda’s program has been use to since she was named head coach at Manasquan in 2013. The Group 2 title has become a rite of passage. But since the days of Dara Mabrey, Lola Mullaney and Faith Masonius the the SCT and TOC has eluded them. But these days talk of the big chips have returned . That’s because of some new blood and old blood.
When Brooke Hollawell and Hope Masonious both went out with serious injuries. Nobody took Manasquan’s chances of winning a SCT or TOC this upcoming season seriously. SJV is deep loaded and added a mega star in Zoe Brooks. It appeared Manasquan would be playing for another Group 2 title and hopefully another 20 win season. But these days tbe team that gave SJV its toughest game in the Shore is making noise, really big noise and that’s because Manasquan these days looks every bit as deep and talented as SJV.. so deep and talented that’s folks are whispering that they could indeed win the SCT and challenge SJV.
Everyone knows that D1 recruits Georgia Heine and Mary Donnely returns for Manasquan. Both are ALL SHORE players and stars. We all know Dorothy Lofferdo is one of the most under appreciated players in the state. But what everyone is finding out is that Manasquan has a few new stars on the rise. Players that have not just stepped up their games but look like stars in their own right. In fact they look like D1 players. Excuse me they are D1 players and fans of the Shore Conference are about to find that out.
College coaches are constantly asking these days. Where did Katie Collins come from? Why didn’t she play more for Manasquan, last year? They are also saying Katie Collins is going to be a star one day. That’s because tbe 6’2” forward seems to get better everyday. This past summer, she was sensational. She proved that she could be the next superstar at Manasquan one day. She just may be the most improved player in the entire state. That’s because she has become a knock it out shooter who can score at all three levels, defend at all three levels and is playing with tons of confidence. Last week she was named player of the day in the Hoop Group fall League. Last year Manasquan was missing a versatile true post player with size. Katie Collins because of Covid didn’t get a chance to work with the team until January and then only played 13 games. In other words Katie Collins lost her freshman year. She didn’t get the coaching and preparation all freshman need to get ready for high school. So we never got to see how special Katie Collins truly is until this summer. This fall the gym rat has been simply spectacular. There is no question Manasquan has made a major upgrade in there front court. Katie Collins gives them a player that can matchup with just about any true forward in the state. She gives them rebounding, shot blocking and offensive rebounding as well. All area’s Manasquan can use a upgrade. The future high major D1 forward gives Manasquan a chance to win the big chips!
Rylyn Orlando is flat out a competitor. The junior is also one of the best keep secrets around. This is a message to D1 coaches… the answer to your question is a big YES! Yes, she is a warrior, yes, she is a elite defender, yes, she can score, yes she was named the Hoop Group Player of The week. Yes she has improved and had a monster summer. Yes, her track record says big games and big shots are part of her DNA. Rylyn Orlando, right now gives Manasquan a upgrade defensively and another scorer. She gives them ball handling and a player that is now a seasoned vet. She allows Manasquan not to miss a beat until Masonious and Hollawell return.
McKenna Karlson had been a mystery to me. She got injured last spring. So she lost her summer. She decided training outside the shore was best for her in between all that. So keeping track of her was not easy. But this fall she has shown flashes out what may be coming. She has become a gym rat coming to the gym everyday to shoot. She has looked every bit like the Division one player she will be one day. It’s clear her commitment is real and her desire and game is at the highest it’s ever been. Watching her grind has to make Lisa Kukoda smile with joy. That’s because McKenna Karlson is proving she is another weapon in her bag of tricks. Regardless if she starts or comes off the bench McKenna Karlson gives Manasquan another player to match the depth and talent of the SJV’s of the world.
Olivia Shaughnessy, is tbe most prepared baby to to enter the shore conference this year. Losing Brooke Hollawell has Ben tough to swallow and harder to replace. But if you could design ra player to replace her until she returns. It’s Olivia Shaughnessy who has been everything we expected in the fall league and more. She is a total warrior. Manasquan now has a elite guard defender, a energy player and the ultimate competitor. The future D1 guard will be among the best guards in the Shore for years. She also will not blink a eye on the big stage. So often freshman are more hype than game. Olivia Shaughnessy is 100% game! She just may be the type of player to get Manasquan over the top.
Fall game results don’t mean much. But tonight’s RBC vs. Manasquan is a great example of how things change. Three months ago most would pick RBC in any kind of matchup with Manasquan. But tonight, nobody is expecting RBC to beat Manasquan. That’s because of the improvement of the Manasquan so called role players. These days Manasquan is thinking about bigger things than fall league games. These days Manasquan is preparing for the upcoming season. There pretty good right now. But when they get whole… IT COULD BE BIG CHIP HUNTING ONCE AGAIN!!