Boys SCT Final: Live Updates and Blog…

February 28, 2009

When the smoke clears from the Region VI wrestling finals at the Ritacco Center from earlier on Saturday, I will start the updates/chat at 7 p.m. leading into the tip-off of the 8 p.m. Shore Conference Tournament final between Neptune and Christian Brothers Academy. I was shopping for a new computer today because the old warhorse, which is 4 years old but about 438 in computer years, has been having trouble lately, so hopefully it can hold it together for the big game tonight as this place should be packed to rafters. Just click on the link below to get the updates.

Click Here For Live Updates


Golub Gets 200th Win, Ziobro Gets 1,000 Points

February 28, 2009

Freehold Township‘s Brian Golub picked up his 200th career victory in the midst of his 14th season with the Patriots in a 72-56 nondivisional win over Monsignor Donovan on Friday night in which senior Steve Talbott poured in 29 points and senior Matt Devine added 27. Sophomore Sean Grennan had 20 points in the loss for the Griffins, who have had a rough week of pick-up games before next week’s Non-Public South A bracket kicks off. I know Golub would’ve loved to have gotten that 200th in a Shore Conference Tournament Round of 16 game against Middletown South in which the Patriots took the Eagles to overtime, but it’s still a nice milestone no matter when you get it, so congrats to a coach who has made this program into a perennial contender.

The 1,000-point scorers are coming one after another at this point as Keyport senior Mark Ziobro scored a career-high 33 points in a 73-71 win over Raritan on Friday night to pass the 1,000-point mark for his career one day after Lacey senior point guard John Pierce hit 1,000 for his career. The Red Raiders are gearing up for a run at Asbury Park in Central Jersey Group I, so we’ll see if Ziobro and the rest of the seniors can extend their senior season a little further next week.

As for Saturday, I will have live updates from Saturday night’s showdown between No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy and No. 2 Neptune in the Shore Conference Tournament final, so make sure to check in for that if you can’t make it to the game. Because I love the Ritacco Center so much, I will be helping Bob Badders with our Region VI wrestling coverage in the afternoon at Ritacco before the basketball game, so it should be an exciting day of action overall in Toms River. I also didn’t do Players of the Week for last week and this week or a Top 10 because all of that will be included in my Shore Conference Tournament wrap-up for the boys and girls sides on Sunday.

Girls SCT Final Extras/Lacey’s Pierce Gets 1,000 Points/Mater Dei and RBR Hire Football Coaches

February 27, 2009

Before I get to thoughts from the girls Shore Conference Tournament thriller between Neptune and St. John Vianney, my congrats to Lacey senior point guard John Pierce, who went over the 1,000-point mark for his career on Thursday night in a loss to Lakewood.

Pierce, one of the most underrated guards in the conference, had a game-high 30 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, in a 56-53 loss to the Piners, who were led by Jacob Grant‘s 24 points. Congrats to Pierce, a four-year varsity player who if I’m not mistaken becomes Lacey’s second 1,000-point scorer in the last four years along with former star Sean McAndrew. He brings the roll call of 1,000-point scorers from this season in the Shore Conference to the following: Pierce, Ocean’s Scott Nelson, CBA’s Brian Neller, Toms River South’s Tyler Gebler, Monmouth’s Joe Willman, Central’s Ibn Moye, and Southern’s Joe Tomczuk. The next in line appears to be Rumson’s Matt Blumel, who’s only about 70-something points away.

There have been a couple buzzer beaters this week, as Marlboro beat Southern on one earlier in the week and Toms River South beat Mater Dei 49-48 on one by Tyler Kapp on Thursday night, as Kapp finished with a game-high 25 points. Central also had a nice 61-51 win over Point Beach this week in preparation for the state playoffs, with Ibn Moye, who has to be considered for a high spot in the postseason accolades, scoring 28 points along with 8 steals.

Also, it’s now official at Red Bank as Point Beach coach Nick Giglio was approved by the Board of Education as Red Bank Regional’s new head football coach. Giglio takes over for Jeff Mauro at a program that has gone 4-36 over the last four years. From what I’m hearing, Mauro will now be an assistant under Sal Spampanato over at Monmouth Regional. This hiring is no surprise as Giglio was rumored to be getting this job for a while, and he is considered a good, young defensive mind who did a lot with small numbers and size at Point Beach, where his teams went 26-54 and made a playoff appearance during his tenure at Ocean County’s smallest public school.

My thinking is that Red Bank athletic director Del Dal Pra, who is a Rumson-Fair Haven graduate, has seen what the Bulldogs have done at the school a little farther down Ridge Road and thinks there’s no reason Red Bank can’t emulate that success with similar-type players from Little Silver, Shrewsbury and Red Bank. For years, many of Red Bank’s great players were African-Americans who came from the West Side of Red Bank, but a large demographic shift toward a Hispanic population in that area, which is more infatuated with European football than American, has resulted in smaller participation numbers and less of the African-American players who used to make up nearly half or more of the team. RBR has also lost players to the growing powerhouse at Red Bank Catholic, as RBC standouts from this past season’s team like quarterback Connor O’Leary and defensive back/running back David Reeves are both Red Bank residents. Giglio has his work cut out for him, but I think Dal Pra made a good choice of an underrated coach who can really help that program. If Giglio can find some success against tough odds at Point Beach, you know he’s not scared of this challenge. Plus, they start off with some Middlesex County programs that are beatable under the new crossover schedule, so the Bucs could get some early wins to boost confidence and build momentum.

Mater Dei has also hired a coach to replace Nick Varanelli, who resigned after the season and I’ve heard may be joining Giglio’s staff as an assistant at Red Bank. Former Cardinal McCarrick coach Ron Raymond will now be the Seraphs head man at a program that has gone winless for two straight seasons and hasn’ had a winning season since 1999. Raymond has a bigger uphill climb than Giglio as the Seraphs struggle to build up numbers and wins at a small school that is surrounded by a powerhouse Middletown South program and an emerging Middletown North one and has RBC also getting players from its area.

Those two hirings now leave openings at Brick, Point Beach, and Colts Neck. I think Point Beach probably has someone in mind because it’s been rumored that Giglio was going to get the RBR job for a while. I’ve heard a few of the names in the mix at Colts Neck, one of whom is a former head coach for an Ocean County team. As for Brick, Jackson Liberty coach Tim Osborn’s name has popped up a lot as he is a former Brick player, but like everyone suspected, it’s not easy to find a guy who wants to follow a legend in Warren Wolf. All the coaches eyeing that job want that new guy to go there, struggle, and then be the guy who follows the guy, so we’ll see what happens with the Green Dragons.

Now, as for the girls SCT final, one of the best finals you could ask for, I think Neptune’s Marley Mauvais just vaulted herself into the first-team All-Shore conversation with a 17-point, 15-rebound performance in their 56-54 win over St. John Vianney. Mauvais is relentless, and she did a good job of not getting in too much foul trouble that would limit her minutes. She is a better athlete than anyone her size in the Shore Conference, and without her, Neptune doesn’t get anywhere because she carries so much of the load with her rebounding. She also has become Neptune’s big game player when the lights are brightest, as don’t forget she was the one who scored on a putback at the buzzer to beat Freehold in last season’s Central Jersey Group III championship game. Mauvais’ seven points in a 9-0 run in the third quarter that gave Neptune the lead back was the most crucial stretch of the game. Neptune could potentially have two first-teamers in Mauvais and Shakena Richardson if they continue to play like this.

Even though St. John Vianney faced a super-fast Murry Bergtraum team earlier this season, it seemed like Neptune’s quickness was still a surprise to them. They could not really get into the lane off the dribble at all because Neptune’s guards were too fast. You just don’t see SJV turn the ball over like that against anyone, and they often had to settle for long jumpers and for one shot, as Mauvais helped seal off the backboards for Neptune.

Sophomore forward Arron Zimmerman had a great game with 18 points for SJV and sophomore point guard Jackie Kates was also solid, but I bet if you asked Neptune before the game if they wanted Zimmerman and Kates to be the ones to beat them late in the fourth quarter and not Katelyn Linney, Michaela Mabrey or Missy Repoli, the Scarlet Fliers would’ve taken that  in a second, only because it’s a little bit of an unfamiliar position for SJV, although Zimmerman did hit a huge shot in the last seconds to beat Rumson this season. Mabrey struggled a little, reminding us that she actually is a human being and a freshman, and she may also have been suffering from the lingering effects of the flu. However, it’s a learning experience and there will be plenty of other big games in the future. One thing is for sure, if Christian Brothers Academy and her older brother, Roy, don’t beat Neptune’s boys team in the SCT final on Saturday night, it’s going to be a dreary week in the Mabrey household.

I thought Neptune star guard Shakena Richardson picked her spots to score early on and then made sure that Mauvais got a good amount of touches in the second half during Neptune’s comeback. Syessence Davis was also everywhere on the court in the second half, rebounding, assisting and scoring. They needed her to step up her game from the semifinals if they were going to win this one, and she did it when they needed it the most in the fourth quarter. Sehmonyeh Allen was steady throughout, finishing under the rim and hurting SJV on the offensive glass.

It’s clear at this point what SJV’s Achilles’ heel is – defensive rebounding. In their two losses this season, they have been hurt badly by opponents’ grabbing offensive rebounds. Both of their losses also came in the final minute, so it shows the type of effort it takes to beat this team.

If Neptune can win this game, there is no reason it can’t go undefeated this season. The Fliers are probably flirting with the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Tournament of Champions with Group I power University if Neptune goes on to win Group III. This certainly may not be the last Neptune-SJV game we see this season, that’s for sure. Colts Neck, Rumson and SJV are still lurking out there, and St. Rose might have its say, too.

Girls SCT Final: Live Updates and Blog…

February 26, 2009

Considering this software below updates faster, I’m going with this for tonight for the updates from St. John Vianney’s showdown with undefeated Neptune in the Shore Conference  Tournament final and feel free to chime in if you want. Just click on the link below to get started.

Click Here for Live Updates

Boys SCT semifinals: Updates and Live Blog…

February 25, 2009

We’re about 20 minutes away from tip-off in the first boys SCT semifinal game between Christian Brothers Academy and Freehold, so be sure to check back all night for thoughts and extras during the game. I can’t do better than play-by-play, which you can get from Matt Harmon and Kevin Williams on the Shore Sports Network, so click on that link and then click on the “Listen Live” button to hear their live broadcast of both games.

Updated 9:16 p.m.

Jamaal Hubbard led Neptune with a career-high 17 points, Jabari Joyner added 11 points and DJ Gutridge had 7 assists. Anthony Gibson was slowed by an injury in the second half for Monmouth, but I don’t think that really would’ve made a huge difference because Neptune just outplayed the Falcons during a 21-8 third-quarter showing that put the game away. Neptune shot 57.7% from the field in the second half.

Updated 8:58 p.m.

Neptune wins it, 62-49, and will move on to face No. 1 CBA in the final on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Ritacco Center. Great games by D.J. Gutridge and Jamaal Hubbard led the way, while Neil Thompson had 20 points in the loss for Monmouth.

Updated 8:55 p.m.

The game has gotten a little wild in the past few minutes but Neptune is still in control, up 60-45 on Monmouth with 1:19 left in the game. Monmouth’s Neil Thompson has kept it respectable with 9 of their last 11 points while D.J. Gutridge continues to have a field day in transition, where he found Thomas Jones for two straight lay-ups.

Updated 8:51 p.m.

Neptune leads 54-35 with 4:02 left in the game and people are already starting to file out of here as the stands are emptying quickly. So the defending SCT champs will move on to face nemesis CBA at 8 p.m. on Saturday right back here at the Ritacco Center.

Updated 8:49 p.m.

Barring a miracle, Neptune will be facing CBA on Saturday as the Fliers now lead 54-31 with 4:50 left in the game following a 3-pointer by Thomas Jones. Monmouth just looks a step slower at every position right now and can’t make a shot, while Neptune is getting out on the break consistently. D.J. Gutridge has taken over this game and is either scoring or setting up lay-ups at will.

Updated 8:45 p.m.

Neptune has blown out to a 45-28 lead after three quarters against Monmouth, ripping off a 15-0 run to end the period that featured 9 combined points by D.J. Gutridge and Dan Singleton. Monmouth just looks gassed right now, while Neptune has kicked it into gear and is attacking the basket relentlessly and forcing turnovers.

Updated 8:42 p.m.

Neptune is just a different team with D.J. Gutridge on the floor, as it now leads 43-28 with 37 seconds left in the third because Gutridge’s explosive first step off the dribble is causing so much trouble on offense and he is finding Jamaal Hubbard and others on the block. Neptune’s defense is also starting to force turnovers. It looks like Monmouth is getting tired.

Updated 8:40 p.m.

Neptune has surged back to take a 38-28 lead with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter as Dan Singleton is heating up with six of their last seven points. Jamaal Hubbard is also having a solid game.

Updated 8:38 p.m.

Monmouth is awake now, as Neil Thompson dropped in a 3-pointer and Anthony Gibson got a 3-pointer to finally go down to cut Neptune’s lead to 30-28 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.

Updated 8:35 p.m.

Monmouth has come out of halftime flat and Neptune has grabbed a 28-20 lead with 4:43 left in the third quarter on transition baskets by Dan Singleton and Jabari Joyner.

Updated 8:20 p.m.

Neptune leads 24-20 at the half over Monmouth after a 4-0 run to close the half featuring a putback by Jamaal Hubbard and a pair of free throws by Jabari Joyner. Monmouth erased a nine-point deficit to tie it before Neptune claimed the lead at the break.

Updated 8:17 p.m.

Monmouth is on an 8-1 run and has tied the game at 20 with 43.8 seconds left, although sophomore big man Loren Jackson just picked up his third foul. D.J. Gutridge having to sit most of the half with foul trouble has definitely affected Neptune’s offense, while Monmouth is being way more aggressive offensively.

Updated 8:11 p.m.

Neptune leads Monmouth 19-12 with 4:21 left in the half as both offenses have bogged down. Neptune’s shaky free throw shooting is also rearing its head as the Fliers have missed 5 free throws. Neptune is not attacking off the dribble at all against Monmouth’s zone, while the Falcons can’t get anything going either.

Updated 8:07 p.m.

Neptune leads 19-12 with 6:31 left in the half after a basket and foul by Monmouth’s Justin Ruiz. Without D.J. Gutridge on the floor, Neptune tends to lose its way offensively and settle for threes rather than attack the basket, which is what is happening now.

Updated 8:04 p.m.

Neptune’s Jamaal Hubbard just drained a jumper with two seconds left to give the Fliers a 19-10 lead after the first quarter. Lem Walker has been active on both ends for the Fliers and is off to a good star, while Monmouth’s offense has stagnated. Neptune went on a 9-2 run to end the quarter.

Updated 7:59 p.m.

Nothing like a mental breakdown in the SCT semifinals, as Neptune’ s Jabari Joyner just made two technical foul free throws for a 15-8 lead as a result of an error with the scorebook. Most likely a player having the wrong jersey number or not being listed in the book. Imagine if Monmouth loses this game by two points. Yikes.

Updated 7:57 p.m.

Neptune leads it 13-8 with 2:37 left in the first quarter after a 3-pointer by Jabari Joyner, as the Scarlet Fliers are off to a solid shooting start. D.J. Gutridge and Joyner are taking turns checking Monmouth point guard Neil Thompson. Sophomore Loren Jackson, who had 17 points in Monmouth’s quarterfinal win over St. Rose, is also now in the game off the bench.

Updated 7:52 p.m.

Neptune leads 6-3 after a pair of free throws by D.J. Gutridge. Anthony Gibson is misfiring from 3-point range (0-for-3) for Monmouth to start the game.

Updated 7:46 p.m.

We’re about to tip off the second game between Neptune and Monmouth, and the Ritacco Center is pretty much full for this one.

Updated 7:17 p.m.

CBA wins it, 62-55, over Freehold as Pat Light had 13 points to lead the way and the Colts will face the Neptune-Monmouth winner at 8 p.m. on Saturday in the SCT final at the Ritacco Center. Brian Neller added 12 and Travis Farrell and Roy Mabrey each had 11 for the Colts. Junior forward Christian Garcia had 19 points and senior guard Brandon Brown had 16 points in the loss for the Colonials.

Updated 7:16 p.m.

This one is all but wrapped up as CBA leads 62-53 with 12.3 seconds left.

Updated 7:13 p.m.

Freehold got a 3-pointer to cut CBA’s lead to 59-53 with 39.6 seconds left, but took too much time to get it off. They lost about an extra 15 seconds by holding on the ball too long before Will Howarth nailed a three from the top of the key.

Updated 7:12 p.m.

CBA leads 59-50 after a pair of free throws by Brian Neller with 1:05 left. Freehold has gotten a couple key steals, but has given the ball right back to CBA on both occasions when they could’ve cut the lead to five. CBA is making its free throws, so this one looks like it’s over.

Updated 7:08 p.m.

Freehold just had a quick 4-0 flurry on a bucket by Christian Garcia and then a steal by Garcia and a long pass to Lance McKenzie for a lay-up to cut it to 55-48 with 2:32 left in the game. Freehold just got another steal by Garcia, but he threw it right back to CBA’s Travis Farrell.

Updated 7:07 p.m.

CBA leads 55-44 with 3:04 to go as it is doing a good job of dissecting Freehold’s full-court pressure and the Colonials just can’t get enough stops and can’t get any 3-pointers to fall to mount a serious comeback right now.

Updated 7:04 p.m.

CBA now leads 53-40 with 4:30 left in the game after a basket by Travis Farrell. You know things are going the Colts way when the ball got tipped out of three CBA players’ hands and someone was fumbled to Farrell right under the basket for a lay-up.

Updated 7:01 p.m.

CBA leads 49-38 with 5:32 left in the game after the two teams each made a pair of free throws. Freehold’s best chance now is from behind the 3-point arc, so it needs to get some penetration and then kick it out to shooters to try and catch up, because it has not been able to get consistent stops defensively. CBA just needs to be patient, make free throws and take care of the ball.

Updated 6:59 p.m.

A jumper by Brian Neller just put CBA up 47-36 with 6:09 left in the game, and Freehold’s best chance to chip away now is at the free throw line as it is in the bonus with 6 minutes to go.

Updated 6:55 p.m.

Freehold’s Andrew Gerbehy just drained a 3-pointer for his first field goal of the game to cut CBA’s lead to 45-36 with 7:14 left in the game and Freehold had a chance to cut it even further but missed two point-blank attempts.

Updated 6:53 p.m.

Roy Mabrey’s putback with two seconds left in the quarter gave CBA a 45-33 lead at the end of the third quarter. Mabrey has three fouls, but that’s about the only thing going wrong for the Colts right now. Pat Light and Mabrey each had 6 points in the quarter.

Updated 6:49 p.m.

CBA leads 41-30 with 1:21 left in the third quarter, as Freehold has dug itself a decent-sized hole going into the fourth quarter. The Colts have focused on using their size advantage and it is wearing Freehold down. Meanwhile, Freehold’s offense has stagnated and is just becoming Andrew Gerbehy or Lance McKenzie trying to take his man off the dribble while everyone else stands around and watches.

Updated 6:47 p.m.

CBA leads 41-28 with 1:40 left in the third quarter as it is starting to pound it inside with Matt McMullen and Pat Light. Also, Freehold’s Christian Garcia just picked up his third foul and had to hit the bench.

Updated 6:43 p.m.

CBA is piling up fouls, but Freehold has not been able to take advantage as it trails 36-26 with 3:30 left in the third quarter. Neller is doing a solid defensive job on Gerbehy, showing he is more than just a scorer.

Updated 6:39 p.m.

CBA has started the second half on an 8-0 run for a 36-24 lead and Pat Light has really picked it up along with Roy Mabrey. Light is really hurting them inside as you can tell there is more emphasis on getting it in the paint. For Freehold, Andrew Gerbehy is struggling right now and has to get on track offensively for them to have a chance. He has one point.

Updated 6:25 p.m.

CBA leads 28-24 at the half after a putback by Travis Farrell with 4 seconds left in the second quarter. Freehold has a great deal of momentum heading into the half despite Farrell’s bucket as the Colonials ran right through CBA’s defense in the latter half of the second quarter. Pat Light and Travis Farrell each have 7 points at the half for CBA, while Christian Garcia had 14 and Brandon Brown has 11 for Freehold at the break. Garcia is a step quicker off the dribble and off his feet for offensive rebounds against CBA’s Matt McMullen. Brown has done a good job of getting runouts for lay-ups in transition for his baskets and going hard to the rim.

CBA got away from pounding it in inside, so look for that in the second half. When they threw it into Pat Light, good things happened almost every time. For Freehold, they need to keep CBA off the offensive glass. The Colts scored 9 of their points on offensive rebounds.

Updated 6:23 p.m.

Freehold has all the momentum right now after having cut the lead to 26-24 with 28 seconds left in the half, as the Colonials have showed they are not backing down after trailing by as many as 11 in this quarter.

Updated 6:18 p.m.

CBA is letting Freehold hang around as they lead 24-18 with 3:58 left in the half after threatening to break the game open early in the quarter. Christian Garcia is keeping Freehold in it as he has all 7 of their points in this quarter.

Updated 6:11 p.m.

CBA leads Freehold 19-11 after the first quarter, with Roy Mabrey and Brian Neller each scoring 5 points for the Colts. CBA is shooting well from the perimeter, which doesn’t bode well for Freehold. The Colts ended the quarter on an 8-0 run and Freehold’s offense has stagnated into one-on-one play and turnovers.

Updated 6:07 p.m.

Travis Farrell just shot a brick that banked in for a 3-pointer for CBA, so you know things are going well for the Colts as they lead 17-11 with 1:40 left in the first quarter. Neller and Farrell have hit back-to-back threes after Freehold switched from man-to-man to zone.

Updated 6:02 p.m.

The game is tied 9-9 with 3:52 left in the 1st Q and Freehold is getting some surprisingly easy looks offensively. Brian Neller is on Freehold’s Andrew Gerbehy, which is a match-up to watch. CBA is getting second-shot attempts, which is a bad sign for Freehold. As I thought, Freehold has put Brandon Brown on Neller.

Updated 5:35 p.m.

Before we get to the tip-off, a few quick tidbits from the non-SCT action and some other stuff. First, it looks like Monmouth senior guard Anthony Gibson could be headed to Division II Caldwell College, but nothing is in stone yet as he also has some other Division II schools swirling around. Gibson also will be playing in the state Senior All-Star Game in late March along with CBA senior Brian Neller.

Also, I’ve now gotten word that CBA guard Adam Spengler will be good to go from his wrist injury and will play in CBA’s first state playoff game. Former CBA legendary coach Ed Wicelinski is also in the house tonight as he just walked in a few minutes ago to see his old squad coached by his former player, Geoff Billet.

A few quick non-SCT things. It’s been a tough couple days for Ocean County, as Brick Memorial lost to St. John Vianney, Monsignor Donovan lost to Shore Regional, Southern lost at the buzzer to Marlboro and Point Boro lost to Red Bank in the past few days. There may not be an Ocean County school in the Top 10 when I put out the new one after Saturday’s SCT final before the state playoffs kick off.

Marlboro, by the way, won 8 of 10 to finish the season 10-14. That’s a good job by coach Mark Migliori and the Mustangs’ seniors because this team could’ve packed it in once it realized it wasn’t qualifying for the postseason, but they finished strong in under-the-radar fashion. With high-scoring guard Andrew Goldstein back next season, they look to continue trying to make progress in Class A North.

Girls SCT Semifinal Thoughts/Extras

February 24, 2009

Well, I don’t think anyone other than the St. Rose and Rumson fans can be upset with the way the girls Shore Conference Tournament final looks on paper, as top-ranked St. John Vianney takes on undefeated Neptune on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Ritacco Center for all the marbles in a game between two talented, fast-paced and exciting teams.

As for Monday night’s games, I’ll start with the Neptune-St. Rose game. First off, congrats to St. Rose for a great tournament run, and while we knew freshman center Samantha Clark was the real deal, junior guard Alexx Hall boosted her stock immensely in my opinion. She shot the ball extremely well against Neptune and in the Roses’ upset of Colts Neck. If she can just become a little better finisher around the rim, she has great potential. Also, as Clark gets older and more assertive, she has the talent to become a player who can just completely take over games because she can play with her back to the basket and knock down threes, a combination you don’t see too often.

As for Neptune, what more can you say about sophomore point guard Shakena Richardson? She is already being looked at by elite college programs like Rutgers and Maryland, and on Monday she showed why with a career-high 29 points. While her scoring was impressive, I thought it was her decision-making that really was outstanding. She knew when to go up with it and when to dish it off to the block. If she is going to consistently hit that floater in the lane, fugettaboutit. She will be able to freeze help defenders all day because they won’t know whether to commit to her and then have her dish it to a teammate or to fake toward her and watch her drop in shot after shot until it’s a blowout. Her crossover dribble going from right to left is lethal and it’s how she usually gets her separation. She is Neptune’s best player because she controls the game and the team’s tempo and mood even when she isn’t scoring a lot.

Senior Marley Mauvais has really improved a lot in the post because last season she couldn’t get that turnaround jumper to fall as consistently, but last night she was canning it over Clark. Also, congrats to junior Sehmonyeh Allen, who scored her 1,000th career point on the big stage on Monday night.

It’s clear that Neptune’s fan base was irked by the suggestion that they ducked St. Rose by dropping a scheduled game with them during the regular season, as their fans borrowed the Trenton/Camden chant of “You want Da High? You got Da High!” in the closing minutes of the game once Richardson was done with her demolition.

The positive sign for Neptune heading into the SJV game is that Syessence Davis only had 5 points, all in the first half, and they still beat a good team, so if she and Richardson can get it rolling against the Lancers, the Fliers have a shot.

Now we have the intriguing subplot of Neptune coach John Brown facing the program that he sent his daughter, former Lancers star Shantel Brown, to attend for four years that were filled with tons of victories, including a TOC title.

As for the second game, St. John Vianney once again just has too much depth. They have so many offensive options it’s ridiculous. They almost remind me of last season’s St. Anthony’s boys team in that everyone on the floor from 1-9 in their rotation is a threat, which no other team has. Freshman Michaela Mabrey appears on her way to carving out a career that may put her on the Mount Rushmore of greats at SJV and possibly at the top of the list ahead of the Gomez sisters. She had 19 points and hit five threes on 6-for-7 shooting despite suffering from the flu (which I found out after I shook her hand after the game). Her shooting percentage has to be unreal for a guard. It’s got to be 55 percent or higher because everything she puts up looks like it’s going down.

SJV had to withstand Rumson’s bench players rising to the occasion with Kate Miller being held scoreless as she was blanketed by Jen Mulvey and then Katie O’Reilly plus a bunch of help defenders. Mulvey has now played against Miller so many times that she knows her tendencies and can beat her to the spot. It’s kind of like what Miller used to do to former Red Bank Catholic star Kristina Danella in that Miller was so familiar with her that she had an answer for all of her moves and she had a team that played good help defense.

Forward Brielle O’Brien has really picked it up off the bench in the scoring department for RFH, particularly in the 3-point shooting area, and if she can keep that up in the state tournament, Rumson is a good bet to be back in the Group II final. Sophomore Ashley Cooper also had a nice SCT and appears to gain more confidence as the season goes along. Amanda Yaccarino also had a nice game on the offensive boards.

For SJV, Katelyn Linney was her usually disruptive self, hitting key 3-pointers in the third quarter, and O’Reilly had a strong offensive and defensive game. That’s what makes SJV such a headache. You slow down Linney early on, you slow down Missy Repoli and others, and then O’Reilly comes off the bench in the first quarter and scores 7 points while Mabrey comes off the bench and scores 8. It’s almost becoming a contest to see who is better, SJV’s starters or their second unit. Sophomore point guard Jackie Kates played heavy minutes with a brace on her left knee after suffering a knee injury in the quarterfinals, and she was dragging that leg a little bit as the game progressed. SJV will be hard-pressed to put her out there on Richardson in the final if Kates doesn’t have good lateral movement because Richardson is lightning-quick.

The buzz circulating around the Ritacco Center was that we could be doing this all over again in mid-March with Colts Neck (Group IV), Neptune (Group III), Rumson (Group II), St. John Vianney (Non-Public A) and St. Rose (Non-Public B) all in the Tournament of Champions. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Colts Neck still looks like the favorite despite its loss to St. Rose, Rumson is always a threat in Group II, Neptune will have to go through Shabazz, St. Rose has Bishop Eustace and Paterson Catholic but not Trenton Catholic to worry about and St. John Vianney is a heavy favorite. You think the Top 10 rankings might be a little crazy now, wait until it’s a battle royale in the TOC.

Also, one other quick note. Middletown South senior Danielle Pankey has reportedly received some strong interest from Rider, so we may potentially have another Division I recruit out of this season’s senior class.

Girls SCT Semifinals: Updates and Live Blog…

February 23, 2009

Also, a quick reminder: The SCT semifinals and final will be broadcast live on the radio and over the Internet by the Shore Sports Network, WOBM AM 1160 an Fox Sports Radio 1310 AM, so if you can’t make it, Kevin Williams and the award-winning broadcast team of Ed Sarluca and Matt Harmon will be bring it right to your living room

We’re about 15 minutes away from the tip-off of the first Shore Conference Tournament semifinal pitting seventh-seeded St. Rose against undefeated and third-seeded Neptune, so be sure to check back for scoring updates and more all night between the two games.

Updated 9:08 p.m.

It’s a final as St. John Vianney has defeated RFH, 59-49, to advance to meet undefeated Neptune in the SCT final on Thursday at 7 p.m. Freshman Michaela Mabrey led the Lancers with 19 points and Katelyn Linney had 13 points, and SJV held Rumson’s Kate Miller scoreless in the victory. Sophomore Ashley Cooper led RFH with 16 and Amanda Yaccarino had 12 points.

Updated 9:03 p.m.

St. John Vianney just dissected Rumson’s pressure on the perimeter with some great passing to get a lay-up for Katelyn Linney with 1:35 left in the game for a 58-49 lead.

Updated 9:01 p.m.

St. John Vianney is sitting on a 56-49 lead with 2:08 left in the game and is just passing the ball around the perimeter, stalling the clock and waiting for Rumson to foul. The Lancers only have three points in the quarter but built up enough of a cushion to still be in control.

Updated 8:59 p.m.

St. John Vianney leads 56-49 with 2:43 left in the game as RFH chips away behind Amanda Yaccarino, who has 5 points in the quarter.

Updated 8:53 p.m.

Michaela Mabrey just drained another 3-pointer and now has 19 points as SJV leads RFH 56-46 with 4:31 left in the game. Mabrey missed her first shot of the game and has not missed since.

Updated 8:50 p.m.

St. John Vianney leads Rumson, 53-45, with 5:22 left in the game as Rumson is currently on a 4-0 run to chip away at the lead.

Updated 8:43 p.m.

St. John Vianney leads Rumson 53-40 at the end of the third quarter, as the Bulldogs had the deficit down to five points before an 8-0 run to end the period by the Lancers that featured 3-pointers by Missy Repoli and Michaela Mabrey and a putback by Jen Mulvey. Mabrey is just a tremendous shooter. It has gotten to the point where you’re almost surprised when it doesn’t go in because every shot looks right on target. If she gets an open look, just start running back down to the other end of the floor. She has 16 points in the game thus far.

Updated 8:37 p.m.

Just like that, SJV has jumped out to a 45-36 lead over RFH with 3:45 left in the third quarter thanks to a pair of threes by Katelyn Linney and one by Michaela Mabrey.

Updated 8:32 p.m.

RFH’s Kate Miller just picked up her third foul with 6:52 left in the third quarter after attempting her first shot of the game with 6:52 remaining.

Updated 8:19 p.m.

St. John Vianney leads RFH 34-31 at the half thanks to a strong half by Katie O’Reilly and Michaela Mabrey, and RFH is still in it despite the fact that Kate Miller is scoreless because of the play of Amanda Yaccarino, Ashley Cooper and Brielle O’Brien. The Bulldogs are hitting open shots, reducing St. John Vianney to a perimeter shooting team and limiting second shots, and RFH is getting offensive rebounds.

Updated 8:14 p.m.

St. John Vianney leads RFH 32-27 with 2:01 left in the half, and Rumson is doing the things it needs to do to stay in this game – limiting the Lancers to one shot, draining open threes, and scoring on offensive rebounds, mainly by Amanda Yaccarino. Katie O’Reilly is playing a strong game on the other side for Vianney, which has not allowed Rumson star Kate Miller to even attempt a shot yet.

Updated 8:03 p.m.

Rumson has surged back to cut it to 26-25 with 4:55 left in the first half thanks to a 9-0 run featuring three straight 3-pointers, two by senior guard Julie Kelly and one by sophomore Ashley Cooper.

St. John Vianney leads Rumson, 26-16, after the first quarter as two reserves, Katie O’Reilly (7 points) and Michaela Mabrey (8) points combined for 15 points. Rumson doesn’t usually give up 26 points in almost three quarters, so that is a bad sign, as is the fact that star Kate Miller already has two fouls. SJV just has so many scorers it is extremely difficult to stop them all, and Mabrey is unreal for a freshman.

Updated 7:54 p.m.

St. John Vianney leads Rumson 15-9 with 4:23 left in the first quarter after a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Katie O’Reilly. Sophomore point guard Jackie Kates appears to be fine after a minor knee injury in the quarterfinals. She is wearing a brace on her left knee but has shown no effects and has already buried a 3-pointer.

Updated 7:44 p.m.

The lineups are being announced for the St. John Vianney-Rumson game as we are about to get underway.

Updated 7:22 p.m.

Neptune wins it, 62-54, over St. Rose as Shakena Richardson poured in a game-high 29 points and Marley Mauvais added 12. Alexx Hall led St. Rose with 17 points and Samantha Clark had 16. Undefeated Neptune (25-0) now awaits the winner of St. John Vianney and Rumson in the final on Thursday night. The Neptune fans ended the game chanting, “You want Da High? You got Da High!” in reference to the fact that St. Rose wanted a crack at Neptune after Neptune dropped them from a game in the regular season, and they got the Fliers (and Shakena Richardson).

Updated 7:17 p.m.

Neptune leads 60-54 with 34.1 seconds left in the game after a free throw by Morgan Thompson. The story of the game is Neptune sophomore point guard Shakena Richardson, who just tossed in a runner with 1:09 left in the game for a 59-54 lead and her 29th point of the game. The shot came after two offensive rebounds by Neptune.

Updated 7:15 p.m.

A jumper by St. Rose freshman Kasey Chambers has cut Neptune’s lead to 57-54 with 1:50 left in the game. Shakena Richardson has 27 points for Neptune right now.

Updated 7:13 p.m.

St. Rose guard Gia Russo just fouled out on a questionable blocking call in which she was plowed over by Shakena Richardson, and this came after a basket by Alison Sweeney for St. Rose has cut Neptune’s lead to 55-52 with 2:21 left in the game.

Updated 7:09 p.m.

This place is getting loud as St. Rose has mounted a furious comeback to get it Neptune’s lead down to 53-50 with 4:17 left in the game. Alexx Hall and Samantha Clark are leading the way, and they just executed a high pick-and-roll to perfection with Hall getting it to Clark for a lay-up.

Updated 7:06 p.m.

Marley Mauvais now has 4 fouls for Neptune as St. Rose has cut it to 51-46 with 6:21 left.

Updated 7:03 p.m.

Alexx Hall continues to be on fire from the perimeter as she just drained a 3-pointer for St. Rose to cut  Neptune’s lead to 49-43 with 7:09 left in the game. Hall has 17 points. Syessence Davis has 4 fouls and Marley Mauvais has three for Neptune, so we’ll see if that becomes a factor.

Updated 7 p.m.

Neptune leads St. Rose 49-40 after three quarters as the Purple Roses fought back after Shakena Richardson’s explosion to cut the lead to under 10 thanks to their 3-point shooting, as Samantha Clark, Alexx Hall and Alison Sweeney all nailed threes to help cut into a deficit that was as big as 16 points. Richardson has 23 points heading into the fourth quarter for Neptune and Hall has 14.

Updated 6:49 p.m.

Sophomore Shakena Richardson is starting to take over the game with her transition offense, as she has rattled off 10 straight points to give Neptune a 41-26 lead with 4:40 left in the third quarter. She is pulling up off the dribble and scoring at will, and Neptune has outscored St. Rose 13-1 in this quarter.

Updated 6:33 p.m.

Neptune leads St. Rose 33-25 at the half, as junior Sehmonyeh Allen scored on a putback with 2 seconds left in the half for her 1,000th career point after two years at Freehold and this season at Neptune. They stopped the game and presented Allen with a plaque and balloons for her accomplishment, and congrats. She needed three points to get 1,000 and has four at the half.

Alexx Hall has 11 points at the half to lead St. Rose, while Marley Mauvais has 12 for Neptune and Shakena Richardson has 11. Mauvais has been hitting turnaround jumpers off the lob, which is trouble for St. Rose because if she is going to make that shot all game, Neptune is going to be hard to beat. Mauvais had six points in the quarter. St. Rose had 7 turnovers in the first half, but when the Roses took care of the ball, they got good shots and Hall has really helped carry them.

The first two or three minutes of the third quarter will be huge because Neptune is going to try and blow the game open, so St. Rose has to counter its rush and get a basket or two or risk letting the Fliers take command. Neptune has missed a lot of open jumpers, as Morgan Thompson has struggled a little bit from the perimeter, while St. Rose has missed a few shots in the lane.

Updated 6:24 p.m.

St. Rose has cut the Neptune lead to 23-20 on two free throws by Alexx Hall with 2:55 left in the half as this game is being officiated very tightly, with a lot of ticky-tack calls on the perimeter.

Updated 6:16 p.m.

Just like that, Neptune is up 23-15 after a 6-0 run that just included a 4-point play by Shakena Richardson with 6:48 left in the half.

Updated 6:10 p.m.

Neptune leads 17-15 after the first quarter, as St. Rose has shown it is not backing down from anyone. St. Rose’s guards have gotten a surprising amount of penetration against Neptune’s guards, and Alexx Hall continues her hot play in the tournament with 7 first-quarter points. Neptune’s Marley Mauvais has four points, but also already has two fouls for the Fliers.