There is no reason to talk about Matchups for tomorrows SCT final. Every player that walks on the floor, to start the game tomorrow is A ALL SHORE CANIDIATE. There is no taking it away from them. But how both of these teams got to the final is special.
Everyone picked SJV to win it all this year. Nobody really believed anyone had a chance against them this season. But then Emily Uribe was out for the year, Kelly Crouch and Kelly Campbell it was learned would miss the first half of the season. The team that started the year off as the #3 team in the country seemed very beatable.
Manasquan many believed was the only team with a remote shot at beating SJV. While they lost the State Player of the Year in Marina Mabrey, some believed they could make another run at a third consecutive SCT TITLE; with a few breaks. But the breaks they got were bad ones. First starting guard Gillian Black tore her ACL, then D1 post player and softball star Victoria Galvan tore her ACL. It seemed any hope of a championship season was finished.
When the season started for SJV they knew they backs were up against the wall. They opened the season against the most talented team in the shore… RFH. Many believe this could be RFH’s chance to finally beat a SJV team. But nobody expected Julia Ramos to step up on a big evening and have a sensation night. SJV survived and they survived by sticking together with names like Sara Karpell, Courtney Dobrzynski, Reily Kehoe and Vanessa Pinho picking up the slack for the missing Campbell and Crouch. It would be a sign of things to come. SJV role players were stepping up and it looked like SJV just may get even deeper as a team.
Most thought on opening night, that RFH would end its dry spell against Manasquan. The Warriors had no bench to mention of and who would replace Gillian Black and Victoria Galvan? But Manasquan has tough hard nose kids who have been winners their entire career. So freshman Faith Masonius was asked to play a unexpected role as the main post presence. Addie Masonius the 5th wheel stepped up and stepped up big for Manasquan. It was unexpected road win to open the season. It also meant Faith Masonius was real. Addie Masonius had gotten better and Dara Mabrey and Stellar Clark had a few more toys to play with.
When SJV went down to Florida to play in one of the best high school tournaments in the country. The Kelly’s were missing, but they still managed to go 3-1 but there dream of a triple crown ended in a triple over time lost. Meanwhile Manasquan was rolling along winning the WOBM. But then Dara Mabrey got hurt and Manasquan lost to Gil Bernard. Both teams needed to get the ship right because RFH was rolling and sharks across the state saw blood in the water.
When Dara Mabrey returned to the Manasquan lineup and they lost to RFH, Manasquan was on the ropes. When Kelly Campbell returned in the big matchup against Manasquan. Everyone said blowout. But Kelly Campbell was not Kelly Campbell and SJV won by 4 points with Manasquan missing one of the best players in the Shore Conference. But it’s funny how things shake out sometimes, because tough times don’t last, but tough people do…
When Manasquan lost to SJV a 2nd time and Long Island Lutheran did a number on them. Most thought it was a wrap for any type of title. But it was still a great year for a team that lost so much. But something happened to Manasquan, they found their game and connection again and finished the season on a massive roll. They beat ranked Camden Catholic on the road, and beat ranked St. Rose to end the season, they had knocked off two top 10 teams. Manasquan was peeking. But they were not alone, because the SJV GOT ANGRY. They didn’t just beat teams they started destroying them and we are talking about top ten teams. Lenape, Blair, RBC all felt saw what real power looks and feels like. SJV blew each out in grand fashion.
The SCT is where teams make their bones. It’s a place where hearts get broke. It’s a place where the tears flow after games. It’s a place where stars are made. Both these teams have superstar guards in Kelly Campbell and Dara Mabrey. Both have guards who step it up in a big games in Tina LeBron and Stella Clarke. Both teams have a player that simply has never gotten enough credit in Addie Masonius and Vanessa Pinho. Both these teams have players who roles have changed and they have embraced it. Carly Giessler in now a dependable starter, Courtney is longer, but has been a sweet surprise for SJV in her new role off the bench. Both these teams have players who have come out of the shadows, Julia Ramos and Nikki Stevens. Neither team would be here without them. Both have Mega superstars, Kimi Evans and Faith Masonius. Both have rock star coaches. Both teams have the nicest group of girls you will ever meet. When I talk about great kids, I talk about kids who get it. These are the kids who smile, who are respectful, who enjoy everyone’s company. These are the kids when you see them….YOU GET SO HAPPY. These are the girls that make you proud….MANASQUAN AND SJV HAVE FIRST CLASS KIDS.
DAWN KAPRELL and LISA KUKODA are more than just coaches. There are women who are role models. They show little girls anything is possible. There are mothers, wives and leaders of the best two girls basketball teams in the best conference in America. Both will shake hands tomorrow and smile at each other. They both have a lot in common, as people and coaches. They both are products of the two best basketball programs in New Jersey…RBC and SJV. Tomorrow they will do battle, but it will be done with respect and passion. It will be done the right way for all to see. Kukoda and Karpell, the female Coach K’s weather they know it or not, are setting the table for a whole new generation of new young female coaches.
So who do I think is going to win tomorrow? SJV has a frontline that Manasquan has no match for. GIGI CAPONERO IS A STAR, KIMI EVANS IS A STAR, ZOE PERO IS A STAR and MEGAN FURCH WOULD START FOR MANASQUAN. This is maybe the best group of forwards in shore history on one team. They also have a bench that comes into games and pressures opponents. They also have the best closers in America in Tina LeBron and Kelly Campbell. They also know what’s at stake tomorrow, there is no way anyone is buying it’s just another game, because it’s not. It’s the last chance these seniors will play a game in the shore conference. I believe SJV is going to bring the full force of it’s tradition, roster, commitment and desire to be immortal to this game. But I also know this, Manasquan has not gone away all year. They are playing for something as well, like a third consecutive SCT and that folks would make them immortals as well. Dara Mabrey wants to be the Player of The Year, Stella Clark wants to be First Team All Shore and Faith and Addie Masonius want to be the next Manasquan sister’s to win a SCT.
In these matchup of heavyweights coaching always matter. it’s not talk folks, it real. Making the right or wrong decision can win or lose one of these games. Go check it out when any of these superpower type teams meet. It always comes down to a miss free throw, a bad shot or turnover at the wrong time. A big three point shot or steal. These games come down to details and disciple. The coaches in these games have to be Sharpe. Their players must trust and believe in them and their system. Because it’s too late now to try new fancy stuff. The coaches in these games must know when to inject themselves and when not to… These coaches must take the pressure off their players without cracking themselves….
The problem is, I am a big believer in motivation. Their is only one team, with their back to the wall; SJV and they know this is it. There is only one team who has won it twice and know they still could try it all over again next year….MANASQUAN. This is SJV’s seniors last dance, last redo, turn out the lights, calling in the dogs to pee on the fire. Whatever cliché you can think of will work right now. I believe SJV will have more of a since of urgency tomorrow….and that why SJV IS GOING TO BE THE 2016 SCT CHAMPS….YOU CAN BOOK IT…SJV 67- MANASQUAN 55