Today we take at look at the  A NORTH DIVISION. It is a division that is a collection of former Shore powers and teams on the rise. The Division has one of the best players in the state of New Jersey in Nina Emnace. But there are number of players who are talented that we discover are among the best not only in the Division but the entire shore. This division has a clear favorite and a Top 20 team in the state.



Image by Scott Faytok | For NJ Advance Media

Image by Scott Faytok | For NJ Advance Media


The clear favorite in A NORTH is Trinity Hall. They return all their key players from a  year ago. Plus they added a banner freshman class, that has bolstered their rotation. The freshman class give the team more size, shooters and most importantly year round basketball players. Coach Matt McCarthy has built this team from the ground up. Each year his program has taken a bigger step. The won a POD SCT title, beat St. Rose and RFH last season and made it to the SCT semi- finals. Now the question is can this group get to the next level. They have one of the two best players in the Shore in Nina Emnace and a savvy forward in Siobhan Stapleton. These two more than anyone else is responsible for Trinity Hall landing on the basketball map.

Head Coach- Matt McCarthy (Shore Conference SCT POD)

2021-22 Record


Conference – 7-5 in A Central

Projected Division one players (4)


They did not lose a impact player from a year ago









© Scott Faytok

NINA EMNACE- Combo-JR- She just may be the most complete guard in the Shore Conference. She is the best two player in the Shore. She named First Team All Defense last season. Her nickname is the cookie monster for a reason. She is masterful late in game and why she is the best closer in the shore Conference. She shot 90% from the free throw line last season. She averaged 15 points…4 rebounds and 3 dimes a night. She is a model of consistency. She scored in double figures every game except one last season. She had a season high of 26 vs Manchester and 24 points vs RBC. She is deadly from the three point guard and a walking nightmare off the bounce. She is without question the best player in the division. But it what she does in big game that are so stunning. Her steal in the final minutes as a freshman to win the SCT POD is in the record books. She was recruited by you name it. She choose Harvard University this fall, ending all recruiting dreams for so many. If not for covid and missing the first half of the season last year. She would have 1000 points right now. In fact if Nina Emnace retired right now she’d be the greatest player in Trinity Hall history. The bad news for the Shore is that, she’ll be around for two more years and she is just 15 years old

She is one of the favorites for the SHORE CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR.






Siobhan Stapleton- 6’0- Jr- SWING– She is a swiss knife, in fact the best swiss knife the Shore has to offer. She has been a rock for Trinity Hall for 2 years. She is a former 1st Team All Freshman player and one of the best players in the division. Last season she did a little of everything. She rebounded, defended guards and forwards. She handled the point guard duties when Nina Emnace was out early in the season. The real story is that Siobhan Stapleton never seems to do enough to make folks happy. That is despite being one of the most reliable players in the Shore. She has 18 games with 8 or more rebounds and 4 double/doubles. She just missed having 200 points and 200 rebounds in a season by 5 rebounds. Her passing and basketball IQ is special. This season she will need to score more if Trinity wants to challenge the Elite Teams. She has 20 triples last season.  She also had a mind blowing 48 steals. Trinity is going to nowhere without a big season from Siobhan Stapleton


Lilly Riggi5’10”- Sophomore- Forward–  If  Trinity Hall  is going anyway, they will need someone to do the dirty work. Liggi Riggi proved last season she is just the person for the job. She is athletic, active and  has a college ready body. Riggi is physical and not afraid to mix it up against bigger players that outweighed her as well. She runs the floor and is a master at picking up unscripted buckets around the basket. She is a tough post defender and has show an ability to score having multiple double figure scoring games last season. She is physical rebounder, proff being her 117 rebounds last season. She is one of the most improved players on the Trinity Hall roster and is found gold for coach Matt McCarthy. A big season out of Lilly Riggi would go a long way toward Trinity Hall taking the next step as a program. Her passing and shooting will need to take the next step this season.


Jill DeSio- 5’4″- Sr- Guard– She has a chance to be a real sleeper for this team. She is quick and an aggressive and at times has shown a real knack for scoring. Her competitive will open the door for playing time, despite the new talent added to the roster. She is a player that was part of the building blocks of the  Trinity Hall program. Last year she had games of 17 points and 14 points. She is perfectly find doing the little things, like diving  on lose balls, making hustling plays and playing nose to nose defense. She is two year Captain and started every game last year. She has earned everything over the year. She is three sport athlete and captain of all three. She understands the game and has a good basketball IQ. Matt McCarthy knows what she is going to get from her each night. Including the game clinching layup against St. Rose last season. She is a drama free winning kid, who has been in the wars. She is battle tested.


Syndey Commesso- 5’9″- Sr- Forward– She is reliable and understand her role. She constantly is ready to play, like last season against St Benedict’s  when game Trinity need the energy. She played a major role early in the season last year. When Trinity was missing 3 starters. She is someone Coach McCarthy can call one when his team needs a energy boost.


Emma Lonardo- 5’10- Jr- Forward-  Another player who understands her role. She won’t fold against top competition as proved with her 6 points vs RBC last season in a near upset. She is other player when her name is called will be ready.


This group is made up of  talented babies. It is a group that is as good as any babies in the Shore. They don’t have the big reputations, but these babies will get valuable minutes in meaning games



Whitney Hobson5’8″- Swing–   She has played against and with the best. She was impressive all fall. She can knock down jumper and already knows how to play. She has a  All Freshman look right now.


Grace Feeney-5’10”-  Swing– She is a gifted scorer around the right and to the three point line. She pounds the offensive glass and just may be one of the best players in the 2026 class one day.


Teagan Drennan- 5’9″- Wing-  She is the most prepare freshman on the team. She can knock down jumpers of get to the rim. She is fearless and mega confident. All Freshman is clearly in her sights.


Niamh Stapleton-5’10”– Forward-  She is a excellent rebound right now. She is not afraid to mix it up and expect her to see lots of minutes this season early and often. She can defend in the post as well. She is maybe the biggest sleeper in the 2026 class.


Bridget Rigney- 5’7″– Combo- She will find herself in the rotation because of two things. She is a deadly shooter and has a real mental toughest.


Maddie Quinn- 5’7″ – Swing- Before her playing days at Trinity are over, she is going to be a real impactful player


Liz Paoella– 5’6″- Combo- She is tough as nails and committed to playing hard and physical. She simply needs playing time. Hopefully she play some JV this season


They are going to play hard and there going to fight you for all 32 minutes. Matt McCarthy is a former college coach and that has paid off big time to date. He is making a reputation for being one of the best bench coaches in the Shore. He has been fighting with one hand behind his back to this point. Now he is has talent and a star player. His problem is there are all young. There is not one senior who is a full time basketball player. Trinity is going to move the ball run their offense though Nina Emnace and limit terms to one shot. They will run when they get a chance. In the past they missed tons of layups. That will no longer be the case because they have full time players up and down the roster. Look for a different freshman each night to step up as the season moves forward. Last season they played with 4 starters missing the first 11 games and still managed to go 13-11 and make the SCT semi finals. This year they will be whole from day one. Look for a Top 20 season from this group.

The big question is where is the secondary and third scoring coming from? Stapleton? The babies?  No way Trinity beats the elite programs with just one major scorer. Next who is the point guard when Nina Emnace has to take a rest or get into foul trouble. The babies are talented but counting on babies can be tricky business. While the Trinity Hall players did get in the gym in the fall. the question is did they do enough? Next  how long will it take Liggi Riggi  to adjust to high level competition, she did little training this fall vs Killers? This team can not go next level without her.  Finally what are the teams goals? Do they really believe they can beat the SJV’s, RBC’s of the world or are they still in moral victory mode

Image by Scott Faytok | For NJ Advance Media

Brad Hagensen–( Former Coach of Year, SCT  Ring, TOC Ring)

2021-22 Record


Conference – 9-1 in A Central

Projected D1 players (0)

Marlboro just may be a real threat to Trinity Hall. That’s because they have masterful coach in Brad Hagensen who is one of the best in the business. His track record stand up to just about every coach in the state of New Jersey. He also plays one of the best non conference schedules in the state every year. It why while Trinity Hall lost a ton to graduation. Make no mistake their real scoring and battle tested players on their roster. They also have a senior backcourt that just may be the best backcourt combination in the division. While nobody is calling this group gym rats. The one thing you can’t deny is the success of these kids and this program over the year. When you go 9-1 in the division and people are disappointed, you know your doing something right.  Marlboro just may surprise everyone this season.


Dani Schlesinger  scored a 1000 points and was a 4 year starter. Replacing her points and big game experience will not be easy
Sam Slofkiss ( Trinity College) she was big and strong and gave Marlboro a legit rebound and presence in the land. Not to mention her defense and timely scoring. Replacing her production.


© Scott Faytok

It feels like she has been around forever. Erica DiSimone has been making big things happen at Marlboro since the she arrived 4 years ago. She has been a 4 year starter and was a First Team All Freshman player. But it’s the big wins over the years that have defined her career. Things like her 29 point performance against Top 5 Saddle River or her show stopping game vs Top 10 RFH. Maybe it’s the divisional titles. What every it is, Erica DiSimone has delivered the goods in a big way over the years. You want shocking point guard numbers. Last season she had 173 points, 124 rebounds and just shy of 100 dimes with 51 steals. Folks good luck finding a point guard with the stats because you won’t. This year many believe Marlboro lost to0 much to make a run at a division crown. That would be a mistake because no guard is better at elevationing her teammates games. She is a bulldog on defense and total nightmare in transition. She can score, find teammates or get to the rim. She went to the foul line 40 times last season. She is without question on the All Shore short list this season. Her body of work is as good as it get over a course of a career. My gut tells me that Erica DiSimone is not done chasing chips yet.








© Scott Faytok

Amanda Castro– 5’7″- SR- COMBO– Make no mistake, she is a proven scorer and battle tested. Amanda Castro can shoot with range and beat you off the bounce. Pay attention to the rebounding skills as well. Last season she averaged 9.4 point a game and and just under 5 rebounds. She is tough as nails and highly competitive. She will not back down or fold if things get tight. She had a season high 20 points last season vs rival Middletown South. But what makes her special is that she save her best for the biggest moments. Like last year when she and her teammates knocked off the this years favorites Trinity hall. She checked in with a cool 10 point and 6 rebounds, not to mention some fancy defense. This season expect her numbers to grow and Marlboro to lean on her more than ever. There is no question she will rise up to the challenge. Because that’s what she has been doing for her entire career. She doubled and tripled almost every stat for the previous season last year.


Lia Villa MarlboroJr- Swing– Proven rebounds are hard to find these days. Lia Villa grabbed 110 last season. This year Marlboro will ask her to do even better. She is hard nose defender with a nose for the ball. She had 34 steals last season. This year she will need to score more for  Marlboro and hold down the defense in the lane. She is another fearless battle tested player on the roster. She is senior who has played AAU basketball and got major minutes last season.  Expect to see lots of growth this season, she is a confident player.


Varsha Simha – 5’6″- Jr- She will most likely move into the staring lineup. She will be asked to defend and do little of everything. She got limited minutes last season and  will need time to get used to the extended minutes.


Emily Borgen-5’7″- Sophomore- Swing- She saw limited minutes last season. But it all hands on deck this year. She will be counted on to give not only minutes but energy and hype.


Kammi Haeusser- 5’9″- SophomoreForward– Her size and length will come in handy for a team that lacks size and post players


Ka’Torah Rush- 5’6″- Junior– Guard- She will hope to give Marlboro a lift off the bench this season




Last season so much was expected of Marlboro but they ran into real chemistry issues. Something that was other teams programs in the past. But in the end Marlboro found it way and had a solid but somewhat disappointing finish. This year look for Marlboro to have that chemistry that was missing. Brad Hagenson is a Chamaeleon in that he is know to be flexible and change his teams look and style. He is the ultimate risk taker in putting his teams together. He is not a slave to any style or way of thinking. He is his most dangerous right now when people are doubting his team. His guards will be the backbone of the team. They are not just seasoned vets, they are smart and an extension of their coach. Like all Marlboro teams they will play great team defense and beat you up with timely pressure. This is not a deep team, but there starting five is every bit as good as Trinity Hall’s and that is why everyone should fear Marlboro. They schedule is once again something out of the Twilight zone.

Where is the post defense coming from? Where is the rebounding coming from? But the real question is who is going to give them a lift off the bench? If  they get any of the senior guard in foul trouble, where is the scoring coming from. The schedule could help or hurt and that comes to down to the mental toughness of the players finally getting extended minutes for the first time




Image by Jeff Granit | For NJ Advance Media

2021-22 Record

Coach Joe Santopietro

Overall Record–  12-13

Conference- 6-4  in A North Division

Division one players- (3) 





Crystal Miller– Was a nice role player who provided rebounding

Bri Vacacela– She was a reliable rebounder

Mackenzi Green– Losing 264 point and 68 rebounds is hard to replace





This is a very scary group for any team in this division on any given night. That’s because this team got better over the course of the season in a big way. They lose too many close games to count. That’s because they were young and inexperienced. Well guess what? This could be the surprise team in the Shore this year for a number of reason. First the Howell players played as a group all summer and fall. There players made a real commitment. That may because they can see the light. This team has returning scoring up and down the roster.  LOSING Mackenzi Green who  had 264 points and 47 three pointers will hurt. But returnees Melina Ferrandino scored just under 200 points and  had 95 rebounds. Kerry Destefano had 175 points 68 rebounds and a 22 point game vs Jackson Memorial,  Avery Tonino had 22 three’s while scoring over a 100 points. Madison Smith had 60 plus points including 10 in the State Tournament vs East Brunswick. I think you get the point, this team can get buckets. They also are very well coached and seem to enjoy playing for each other… making them even more dangerous. I am not sure you can call this team a spoiler. They just might be a contender before the season is over. There biggest problem is they have yet to win a first round game in the SCT or State tournament as a group. There floating under the radar and this could be the year. I believe this is a hungry group looking for respect.



Freehold  Township and Manalapan are in massive rebuilding mode right now.


The easy pick is  Trinity Hall. That’s because they have the best player in the Division in Nina Emnace. They also have the best Robin in the division in Siobhan Stapleton and the best babies. There coach Matt McCarthy only has two teams left to catch … RBC and SJV. They have beaten everyone else. A NORTH  has land mines but Trinity Hall didn’t come this far to step on one of them


TRINITY HALL  wins A North this season



© Scott Faytok






Image by Scott Faytok | For NJ Advance Media





















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