Tonight two teams that are on the door step to greatness will do battle for a 2nd time this season. Marlboro took out Middletown South in the WOBM. It was a game of two halves. Marlboro’s pressing and all out style was not a surprise to Middletown South. But seeing it up close and personal is totally different. It took Middletown South a half to get back on track. Tonight both teams will be trying to get on the fast track to a high seed in the SCT and a high ranking in the State Top 20..both are currently ranked.
Last year, Marlboro played a tradition style of offense. This year there is nothing traditional to what they are doing. They play fast and faster, they shoot three’s and more three’s. They pressure the ball from opening tip and are the best conditioned team in the Shore. They sub just about every 2 minutes, they sub in multiple numbers… 3 kids at a time and somethings five at a time. They are maybe the hardest team to prepare for in the state. You simply cannot simulate what they do in practice. Coach Brad Haggersen is a mad genius and rapidly becoming the Paul Westhead of girls basketball in New Jersey. Marlboro looks nothing like they did a year ago.
Last year Middletown South, was one of the most disappointing teams in the Shore Conference. This year they are maybe the most dangerous team in the Shore. They have the tools to take out one of the super powers. Last year when they got down early in games. They would hang their hangs and at times quit. Last year despite having what many believe is one of the 4 0r 5 best coaches in the entire state. They wouldn’t or couldn’t buy into his philosophy. The culture was one that didn’t lead to success. This year Middletown South never gives in. When Marlboro went up by 2o points in the first half. Unlike last year, Middletown South fought back and refuse to die easily. This year the Middletown South team is looking like a Tom Brennan team. Middletown South team is nothing like last years team.
Marlboro and Middletown South today is going to be a war. It going to be test for both teams. One team is going to come out of this war feeling like they are ready to take a big step. Today’s match ups have real back stories and real stories about growth. Kayla Richardson is the most talented player in this game today. She is Middletown South’s leading scorer. Recently she has been on a massive roll. She is becoming the player everyone knew she could be. Today she must be at her very best on a big stage. But Marlboro has a player not many knew about before the season started who is becoming a star as well. Jess Riepe has been a problem for folks all year. Jess Riepe scored 14 points and broke Middletown South heart early and often in game one. Both of these players can be very explosive and if either gets a roll. The other team is in deep trouble.
Gisella Romeo and Isa Brennan will be the two best players on the court today. The seniors will be teammates next year at UC SCIENES. Both will need to be at their very best today. They both are their team leaders. They both also are very capable of carrying there teams. Romeo leads Marlboro in scoring and today, Isla Brennan’s biggest job may be to slow her future teammate down. Romeo, today will try her best to rattle her friend and AAU teammate. Turning over Brennan would go a long way to helping Marlboro’s cause today.
There is Stephanie Mayerhofer, was once thought to be a nice player but not a star. These days not only is she a star, she just may be Middletown’s most important player. In game one, she had 15 points and 6 rebounds. She at times carried the Middletown offense, she was the only starter in double figures. One thing is clear, she is Middletown’s best player when the lights get brightest. The lights today are going to get real bright. Sammy Jay’s name rarely comes up when talking about talented young players. Well in the last week that has all changed. Sammy Jay was the best player on the floor in game one. She was the different maker in the first game.. she had 22 points and controlled the game from start to finish. This match up is so big today, you cannot put it into words. The impact on the winner of this matchup will play a huge part of the final outcome.
Sam Nocco, is a warrior and her energy level is off the charts. She has a live motor and creates real havoc the moment she hits the floor. She is that player you love to hate if she is against you and you love if she is on your team. Tonight she will be on Marlboro’s team. Emily McCarthy is lighting bolt of energy when she hits the floor. She seems to be all over the floor. She also has shown she can score. She had 10 point in game one, but its her 1uickness and condition that Middletown South will need tonight. These two play as hard as any kid you will see on the floor tonight. Both will be keys to a win or lost for their teams.
Tonight Middletown South would be wise to know where Thresa Besso is at all times. Besso is a hired gun and has been know to knock down three’s and more importantly make tough free throws late in games. She missed the RBC game and there are those who believe it was the reason Marlboro game up short. Middletown South Eve Pirie and Sam Keenan, both have size and an ability to score. They both have had big games this year. They also are seniors and just may want a little revenge. This game could be titled by the play of one of these players.
Sam Slofkiss, Danielle Schlesinger, Meghan Gill, Ashley Horowtz, Lauren Morehead and Alexandra O’Hare are names that may not jump off the page. But they jump on opponents, they wear opponents down when they come into the game. The play so hard you get exhausted just watching them. They don’t allow opponents to catch their breath. They also all chip in on the scoring. They average as a group a whopping 17 plus points a game. Sadie Fahey, Madison Szabo and Grace Meghan will need to slow this group down. They will need to play mistake free basketball. The longer they stay on the court, the more rest Coach Brennan can give his starters rest. The entire game may be right her before were done.
This game is going to be what makes Shore basketball so much fun. Two top 20 teams doing battle to start the week. Two teams starting the new year out with so much to gain and yes to lose as well. Marlboro won the first game 66-60. The hung on for the win, I say tonight we begin to see what Middletown South can truly be at home….Middletown South gets revenge!