Today we take at look at the A NORTH DIVISION. It is a division that has two teams coming on faster than a speeding bullet. The Division has one of the best players in the state of New Jersey in Nina Emnace and perhaps the most unrated D1 player in the state in Kiera McKown. But there are number of players in this division who are on the rise. That inculdes three players who were on the all freshman team. This division has a clear favorite but clearly up for grabs going into the start of the season. There is a Shore Top 4 team and Top 10 team in the division, and a possible sleeper team.
The once clear favorite in A NORTH is Trinity Hall. They return all their key players from a year ago. They are battle tested and now are the hunted in many ways . They’re surprising freshman class from a year ago all return and they’re bigger stronger and more confident. This has has bolstered expectations and gives Trinity one of the deepest rotations in the Shore . Trinity has size, shooters and one of the best players in the entire state. 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 3 years ago and have surpassed shore powerhouses, St. Rose and RFH in the Shore pecking order, something nobody could ever think was possible before McCarthy’s arrival. Last season Trinity have made it to the SCT semi- finals. Now the question is can this group get to the next level and win a SCT title. They have two seniors players in Nina Emnace and forward Siobhan Stapleton who have been there since the start of the rise of Trinity. These two more than anyone else has seen it and done it all.
Head Coach- Matt McCarthy (Shore Conference SCT POD Chip)
Conference – 8-0 in A Central
Ranked State in Top 20
Projected Division one players (3)
Gym Rat Count (3)
THEY HAVE NOT LOST AN IMPACT PLAYER FROM A YEAR AGO.
NINA EMNACE- Combo-5’9″-Sr- She just may be the most complete guard in the Shore Conference and maybe the state. She is the best two player NJ. She was named DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR, 1st TEAM ALL SHORE, FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR. There is only two things left on the table. A SCT CHIP and PLAYER OF THE YEAR. 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 is deadly from the three point guard and a nightmare of the bounce for opponents. She is without question the best player in the division. But it what she does in big games is how she has made her reputation, going back to her steal in her freshman to win the SCT POD. She choose Harvard University as a 15 year old, ending all recruiting dreams for so many. She has scored 1000 points basically in two years. 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 is on a mission. All roads to a SCT CHIP for Trinity start here.
Siobhan Stapleton- 6’0- Jr- SWING– the swiss knife has committed to D3 powerhouse Tufts University. She has been a rock for Trinity Hall over the years . Last season she did all the dirty work for Trinity. She is one of the most reliable players in the Shore. She played nearly every role in her years. She handled the point foward duties to defensive stopper and post defender. Siobhan Stapleton without questioned is the least appreciated impact player in the Shore Conference . That is despite being one of the most reliable and effective players in the Shore. Her passing and basketball IQ like so many other things don’t show up in a box score. This season she will need to score more if Trinity wants to challenge the Elite Teams. Trinity’s dreams of a State Title and SCT CHIP… may all come down to Siobhan Stapleton, the most loyal player in the Shore to her teammates, coaches and school….IF CHARACTER WINS BIG GAMES, TRINITY has to like there chances with STAPLETON around.
Lilly Riggi–5’10”- Jr – Forward– Lilly Riggi proved last season she is ready to move into a prime time player role. Riggi is now battle tested and has played against the best in big moments and proved her worth. She will not fold under pressure She runs the floor and is a master at picking points up in transition. She now is a proven reliable confidant scorer. She now has multiple double figure scoring and rebounding games under her belt . She is physical rebounder and one of the most improved players on the Trinity Hall roster. A big season out of RIGGI would go a long way to Trinity Hall making a serious SCT run. She is battle tested and dripping with confidence going into the season.
Emma Lonardo- 5’10- SR- 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.
Whitney Hobson–5’8″- Soph- Swing– She has made a major jump as a player. That’s because she played high level AAU and has surrounded herself with mega talented players to challenge herself . She was impressive all summer and most of the fall . She can knock down jumpers and already knows how to play. She has is full of confidence and look for her to take a major step forward. She is battled tested and the Queen of doing all little things so well. She is beginning to have a serious D1 look as a player!
Grace Feeney-5’10”- Soph- Swing– She just gets better day in and day out. Her body physically looks college ready. She is a natural scorer and becoming an excellent rebounder. She has upgraded her defense and pace of play. She has played in big moments already. She was named ALL FRESHMAN last year. This fall at times she looked like the most improved freshman from a year ago. She embraces competition against top players. Do not be surprised if she has monster scoring nights. She is a future D1 lock in every sense of the words. This is a battle tested player.
Teagan Drennan- 5’9″- Soph- Wing– Last season she was most prepared freshman to enter Trinity last year. She proved that by being named 1st Team All Freshman . She is a dangerous scorer and more importantly a big shot maker. She hit a number of big shots last year. She also is an elite offensive rebounder. She will be one of this freshman from a year ago that will fight for a starting spot. She is fearless and mega confident. The only question is can she take her game to the next level, especially on the defensive end. If she does, she makes Trinity scary!
Niamh Stapleton-5’10”– Soph- Forward- Like her older sister she is vastly underrated. She is a warrior and fighter. Last year year she improved as the season moved forward. She played big minutes in big games. That because she is an excellent rebounder and defender. But what everyone missed was shooting ability ( especially in corners) and creativity in scoring off the glass, transition and post ups. . She gives Trinity another player not just getting better but delivering on game night. Look for Niamh to have a big year!
Bridget Rigney- 5’7″–Soph– Combo– She could see more minutes this year . She is a deadly shooter with a competitive nature. She spent the summer and spring totally engaged with her coaches and teammates. This should pay off nicely for both she and Trinity. She got valuable experience last year.
Maddie Quinn- 5’7″ – Soph- Swing– look for Maddie have real moments. She is an elite teammate with an excellent IQ and commitment to her teammates. She is a classic program kid. You can’t win chips without them.
Liz Paoella– 5’6″- Soph- Combo– She is tough as nails and committed to playing hard and physical. She had a very interesting fall. In games against top teams, she performed while many Trinity players struggled. She has the look of a defensive stopper
They are going to be one of the best coached teams in the state and they’re 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 gone from the gutter to the hunted. Now he and his team have big expectations and all eyes are on him and his team. . . This is a roster with full time basketball player up and down the roster, unthinkable 4 years ago. Who starts really will not matter. Who performs will; especially in big games and Trinity has lots of them. Trinity is going to move the ball in there flex offense, run their offense though Nina Emnace and limit teams to one shot. They will run when they get a chance, something they are sneaky good at. Look for a different player each night to step up to help EMNACE with the scoring load. They will play multiple defenses and trap in the half court.
The big question is the same as a year ago, where is the secondary and third scoring coming from? This year doing it by committee will not work, if they hope to catch RBC and SJV, they are different animals. Trinity will need to know who is their 2nd scorer. It’s called game planning folks and SJV and RBC are the best at it. The Trinity Hall players did get an A+ for the their spring and summer off season workouts. The fall was a different story. They struggled against talented teams in a big way. You simply cannot lose to a 7th grade even in the fall. While it’s just the fall it was a big red flag. The question is did they do enough? Did they prepare to play against top competition? Or are they relying on Coach McCarthy’s coaching during the season to fill the gap? 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.
COACH JOE SANTOPIETRO
2022- 23 Record
Overall Record– 20-8
Conference- 5-3 in A North Division
Division one players- (1)
Gym Rat Count- (1)
Kiera Mckown is the 6’0″ junior Forward if you don’t know her name. You be wise to learn it quickly. She is maybe the best unknown star in the Shore Conference. If you’re wondering how Howell won 20 games last year and has turned around a program, start right here. Kiera MCKOWN is not just a good player but a dominant player. She is a future D1 player that brings lots of tools to the table. She is an excellent scorer on the block or from perimeter. She is a next level defender and shot blocking machine. She controls the paint against any level of competition. This is a player that just may make a run at ALL SHORE. Kiera MCKOWN will go from unknown Star to superstar this year. She is that good.
Biggest Loss from last year- 2 year starting PG graduated Kerry DeStefano who was a key leader and leading scorer last season. Replacing her experience, scoring and leadership will not be a easy task.
Gabby Bambo (Senior)– returning starter from last year. Hard worker who looks to compliment Kiera down low in the post.Maddison Smith (Senior)– All shore soccer goalie in fall season. Will be returning as a starter on the wing. Solid shooter who led our team in 3pts last year. Good leader.
Gabrielle Carpenter (Senior)– returning starter also on the wing. Played with Kiera on team Swish AAU this summer and looking to continue to contribute more on offense. Solid outside shot (streaky)
Ashley Smith (Junior)– last year’s 6th man looking to fill the starting pg role. Great hustle kid and lock down defender looking to be the main distributor and add to her offensive presence.
BellaRose Marino (Sophomore)– limited minutes as a frosh on Varsity. Worked in the offseason and will fill the 6-7 role off the bench. Tough nose kid who fights for 50-50 balls and solid defender
As a team they hope to continue working on building a competitive program as they enter a more competitive schedule this year now playing RBC, RBR, Rumson. Kiera MCKOWN will certainly play the feature role. This is a. young group. The could be a serious problem for everyone the next two years and this season they may be laying the ground work. They have star coach and hungry players. They may not have enough to win the division but there certainly have a enough to play the spoiler role.
They have outside games with some teams around the state with Middle Twp, Winslow, Colonia. Can they win these games and establish confidence and then grow from some of their losses from last year as they try to push for consistency in all facets of the game. Will the younger sophs/frosh step up and create a role for themselves.
Brad Hagenson is one of the best coaches in the Shore conference. He is known for being creative and flexible. He will need to use all those tools this season as his team lacks experience and senior leadership. They have senior Lia Villa who committed to Catholic University. She is a proven scorer and battle tested and Marlboro will need to lean on her leadership heavily. Junior Emily Borgen saw valuable minutes last season and hopefully will improve her production. They have sophomore’s Sam Messina and Hayden Sarlo returning. Messina needs to play the role of bully guard. Sarlo may be the teams best shooter. Alyssa Tropepeano return is big as she gives them an excellent ball handler and defender who should start right away. Twin juniors Anna and Kanin Haeusser are both tough hard nose players who are athletic and competitive. They have a talented freshman class led by MADDYN CALLOW who can add shooting. Nariah Henderson is 5’9” and will bring much needed size and athleticism.
Marlboro is in a rebuilding mode this year. They have dailed back their schedule but have a tough road ahead. They lack size, experience and proven talent. Look for Marlboro to look more towards future with talented 8th grade class on the way. This year will be more about the younger gaining experience.
Freehold Township and Manalapan are in massive rebuilding mode right now. If you need to know about the future or present of Manalapan and freehold, these towns no longer have Mid Monmouth girls teams. This is shocking and the reason why they must change if they wish to build competitive programs at some point.
The should be an easy pick in Trinity Hall. That’s because they have the best player in the Division in Nina Emnace. There coach Matt McCarthy only has two teams left to catch … RBC and SJV. They have beaten everyone else along the way. The only question is can they take it to the next level and there is where all the doubt creeps in. Trinity Hall lost a lot luster this fall. They struggled in the fall league and gave many in the division real hope watching them play. Something unthinkable 6 months ago. Meanwhile they RBR kids lived in the gym as a group. They are clearly hungry and believe thry can win the division. The teams only play once, so any slip ups in the division can be costly. RBR has have clearly closed the gap this fall. But the fall is not the regular season. I say Matt McCarthy is the difference maker and Coach of the Year in the Shore this season and why I say⬇️⬇️
TRINITY HALL WINS A NORTH THIS SEASON
A NORTH PRE SEASON 1st Team
CAMRYN GARDNER- RBC
KIERA KCKOWN- HOWELL
SIOBHAN STAPLETON – TRINTY HALL
CAROLINE POLLOWAY- RBC
LILLY RIGGI- TRINITY HALL
A NORTH ALL FRESHMAN TEAM