Across the state of New Jersey often times it’s said the Shore is hype and is overrated. These words are often more out of Jealousy than fact. Each year the Shore produces more than 60 percent of the states D1 players and always has 6-7 teams in the Top 20. Most honest people know that if the shore teams did not play each other those numbers most likely would be higher. Yesterday the Shore Conference sent a message loud and clear, they are the best girls basketball conference in America…as the Shore made it 4 as in playing in the TOC.
Tom Brennan’s Middletown South team has faced more adversity this year than any team should be asked too. So it was only fitting that they needed a little bit more of that yesterday to earn its first TOC appearance. Tom Brennan lost his D1 forward Jill Falvey to start the season, so was only fitting that he lose his superstar player Stephanie late in the game. But Tom Brennan has been telling us all year he has a TEAM full of talented and dedicated kids….yesterday they proved him right.
Old Tappan yesterday showed the heart of a loin in losing to Middletown South, down by 20 they fought back in the final quarter. They did all the things Middletown South is know for, they hustled and scraped. They never gave up and with 2 minutes left in the game Stephanie Karcz picked up her 4th foul. She marched to the bench and sat next to Senior Jill Falvery who has been injuried all year. It seemed only natural that Middletown would need to overcome adversity one more time if they were to advance to the TOC. But what Falvey and Karcz have known all along is that while they may get the attention of the media…There teammates know how to win!
When Old Tappan made there first fun and cut the lead form 20 to 10. It was Alex Balsamo who buried a 17 jumper to silence the crown. It appears things where over, but Old Tappan just refuse to die and they cut the lead to 8 points. So Alex Balsamo went to the foul line and knocked out two free throws, surely Old Tappan would go away now. Instead Stephaine Kracz picked up her 4th foul and the referee’s injected themselves in the game and called a Techincal foul, and it was six point game and the Old Tappan started a very filimar chat “I BELIEVE WE WILL WIN”. The problem with that chat was Middletown South knew they would win.
When Karcz went out some might have believe Middletown was in real trouble. The fact of the matter is that the player who replaced her, Madison Curtis may have been the player that closed the door. It was Curtis who broke down the court and made a late up while getting foul that took the pressure off Middletown South. Angela Debartolome has never gotten any credit for not just being a good player but a big time player. It was her free throws late that broke the spirit of Old Tappan. Finally Julia Valkos continued being sneaky good. Her toughness late and her ability to handle the pressure of having to do her job and make up for some of the lost of Falvey all season has been remarkable. Nobody I’m sure noticed her 6 BIG POINTS… and 4 rebounds.
Middletown has never been a one woman team. They have been a true team all year, because nobody has ever cared who got the credit. They only cared about winning, and when they star player went out and the storm hit…nobody panicked because they have known all year that sum of the parts add up to something very big like a TOC appearance for the first time in the schools history….Jill Favey and Stephaine Karcz never doubted their teammates for a second… they knew, they would finished off what they started.
So Tom Brennan has won his first Group 3 State title. Last year he won the schools first sectional title in 24 years. He has done this with local kids, he has done it with class. The professor is not just a coach, he is a role model. He is what High School coaches use to be….TEACHERS! His kids trust in him is marrow deep…how deep you ask? I leave you with this from the mother of one the best 7th graders in the state of New Jersey’s who said this…
” Coach Brennan is not only a great coach but a great man. After the game, a Timber Creek player, who played great, was visibly upset. Instead of going right to his players to celebrate, Coach Brennan went over to the player, spoke to her and consoled her. The value of a man is that, not how many games he wins!”…..Let me say AMEN!
CONGRATS TO TOM BRENNAN AND MIDDLETOWN SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL AND THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY….YOU DID IT AND YOU DID IT…. THE RIGHT WAY!
MY THOUGHTS ON THE TOC-
The Shore will have 4 teams in the TOC and no question its well deserved. The Shore players work hard and play the best competition year in and year out. The seeding committee, had real guts folks, seeding the Shore teams #1, #2,#3. They will take some heat for making such a decision but its the right one in my opinion. This is different than state rankings. Balance should not be a issue, but rather who the best teams are.
CORE SKILLS TRAINING STARTS TOMORROW AT HOOP GROUP…EVERY TUESDAY/THURSDAY
HIGH SCHOOL- 6:00 PM- 7:15
GRADES- 4.3O- 5:45 PM