The Maroon and White Basketball camp wrapped up in Holmdel today. Teams had a chance to feel each other out over the Summer. Coaches were able to do some evaluations on some of their younger players. It was really a great time with some excellent basketball for the fans. It’s always nice to see the players so relaxed and having fun, but still have that competitive spirit. We will leave with several observations as we close basketball for the Summer.
Listen to Maroon Cast with Sean Martin, Ryan Wydra and Jim Rosa to relive all three days of camp and hear from Lisa Kukoda, Dawn Karpell, Zoe Pero, Rose Caverly, Isla Brennan and Faith Masonius!
MANASQUAN IS STILL A MAJOR CONTENDER
One major strength about Head Coach Lisa Kukoda is that she always knows how to get the best out of her team. She is able to look at a player, and utilize them according to their strengths. This was very obvious as she had a chance to get a good look at her complete roster this week. This Manasquan team without Dara Mabrey, Victoria Galvan, and Addie Masonius was able to play a very good Red Bank Catholic team into a 46-46 tie after one overtime period. Many times the Manasquan bench was matched up against the RBC first team, and they were not only able to hold their own, but able to play their game effectively.
Today we finally got to see the very anticipated debut of Freshman Star Faith Masonius. Faith was one of the best eight graders in the state this past year. Let me tell you something, this youngster did not disappoint. Right away Faith was able to take it to the RBC players in the post. Faith is six feet tall and a true gym rat. She knows how to utilize her power, and dominate opponents in the post. Time after time, Faith was working against Maureen Coakley and Katie Rice, and she was able to make things happen. The Exodus Wildcats were on hand, as everyone could see the chemistry between faith and her cousin Stella Clark. Faith and Stella have been playing together for years on the Wildcats basketball team. Stella was running the offense from the point, and finding Faith down low to finish the job. If Faith was double or triple teamed, she instinctively knew where Stella was on the floor. She would kick the ball back to Stella to bury a long range jumper. I cannot wait to see Faith on the floor with Stella Clark and Dara Mabrey during the regular season. Everyone at the Shore better get their popcorn ready to watch this crew. After the game, Sean Martin and Jim Rosa had a chance to catch up with Faith to discuss her Varsity debut in Holmdel.
The Manasquan bench once again came up with a very solid performance. Sophomore guard Carly Geissler continued to be very impressive on Day 3. Geissler was very efficient distributing the ball to her teammates, and taking shots when needed. Geissler made one of the best plays of the afternoon, hitting Faith Masonius on the run for an inside bucket. Geissler will provide excellent depth at the guard position this season. Emma McMenaman and Maggie Kelly continued to show off their skill set. McMenaman did a nice job working against the RBC forwards. Kelly is aggressive around the rim and knows how to fight for rebounds. Kelly was also very good with her defensive mechanics. Look for all three of these players to really give Manasquan a boost this season. Fans should be very excited about this team moving forward. After the game, the NJSR Staff had a chance to talk to Head Coach Lisa Kukoda about the development of her younger players, and the team focus for the upcoming season.
ST JOHN VIANNEY IS WELL BALANCED
Going into the camp we had heard that SJV would be without two of their most prominent players. Without both Kim Evans and Kelly Campbell, SJV was able to not only compete in this camp but gave people an early showing as to why they have the ability to make a deep run. Coming fresh off a Non Public A championship the Lancers have worked hard this summer in order to get back to that same position next season.
Today they played a familiar opponent in the Rumson- Fair Haven Bulldogs, a team that they have spent the last few years battling within the same division. Although this was only a summer game many of the Lancers were quite noticeable in treating this like a regular season game.
Of the many players that have found a role in this SJV offense, there may be none more productive than Zoe Pero throughout this camp. She was clearly not afraid to drive into the lane for her team which allowed her to convert some tough layups. She was clearly dominant throughout this Maroon and White camp, playing with a high focus. Ryan Wydra had a chance to catch up with Zoe Pero to talk about her strong performance, and recent commitment to St Peter’s.
Another player that stood out was point guard Kellie Crouch. Normally a shooting guard, Crouch has been known for her great shooting ability throughout her career at SJV. More recently though, she has begun to facilitate the offense more. This is something that has gotten the younger players moving on the court and has especially increased ball movement on the floor.
Defensively, Vanessa Pinho has what it takes to be a very good on ball defender. This is something that we saw multiple times through the camp. After catching up with Vanessa I asked her what it takes to defend at the level that has shown us the last few days. ” Everyday whether it is practice or a game our coaches tell the team that defense starts with the on ball defense” Pinho said. She told me that she sees it as a ” challenge” that she takes much pride in. In fact, it is the chemistry of this team that she states is the reason for them being able to bounce bounce and perform at such a high level despite the injuries to players or lack of presence of players due to other tournaments.
In fact, it can be said that senior leadership may not exemplify itself more than in this situation. Crouch, Pinho, and Campbell in particular know that chemistry is the key factor that will allow this team to compete at levels past. Another senior that cant be missed when talking about SJV is Tina Lebron. After hitting many big shots last year coach Dawn Karpell can not keep her off the floor. She is a very dynamic player that can certainly shoot and if this maroon and white camp played any indication with Courtney Dobrzinski as well as Tina Lebron, Karpell will have her hands full. We had a chance to talk with Coach Karpell about the structure and future of her team after the game today.
MIDDLETOWN SOUTH HAS A BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD
Tom Brennan has to be pleased with the promies of this Middletown South team. Even though, they were up and down at times during this camp, they will still able to prove why they can be not only one of the best teams in the Shore, but int he State as well. The Eagles have a very deep roster with lots of talent, and will be a tough team to beat throughout the season.
Middletown South Superstar and Loyola Commit Stephanie Karcz has had a lot of responsibility over the past two years. Many times Karcz would be forced to not only bring the ball up, but create her own shots in the process. The great thing about Karcz has always been her work ethic, and positive attitude. Anything Tom Brennan asks of his star, she is always right there to take care of business. This year could prove to be a very different situation as Middletown South continued to prove that they have improved offensively.
Today, Middletown South began Day 3 with a tough game against the No 1 team in the Shore, St. John Vianney. While the Eagles definitely had their hands full, it was the young Freshman class of the Eagles that stepped up to the plate. Freshman Center Eve Piri has been a true weapon for the Eagles this week. The 6’2″ Center can rebound, block shots, and really take control inside paint. Samantha Keenan is another freshman with a lot of potential. Keenan has a rare ability to see the floor and make plays. She has an ability to goes way beyond her young age. However, It was Isla Brennan who has really been opening eyes this week. Isla has a tremendous basketball IQ, and can see plays on the floor before they even happen. Isla will be there to take a lot of pressure off of Karcz this season. We saw Isla demonstrate this skill set many times this week. Sean Martin and Jim Rosa had a chance to welocme Isla to Varisty Basketball after the first game today.
Both Haley Dalonzo and Alexandra Balsamo enjoyed a very productive day. The Middletown South forwards battled with St. John Vianney all the way to the end. So many times we saw Dalonzo demonstrating her floor awareness by being in the right place at the right time. The Junior forward came up with plenty of garbage buckets off the glass, and hit some long jumpers as well. Dalonzo has really improved her shooting over the Summer and will look to provide more scoring for the Eagles in 2016.
NEW TALENT BUT SAME LOOK FOR RFH
With the addition of Christina Antoniokakis, Rumson Fair Haven found themselves a dynamic threat on both sides of the ball. She is a scoring threat and can also play very good defense. The theme for RFH this camp has been the defense. At times it has looked superb with that classic press that they ran a lot last year. Offensively, today has been the best day of the camp for them.
Another leader for them has been Tori Hyduke. Her passing abilities have been great and she was able to show them off once again today. Furthermore, she has great floor vision that allows her to move up and down the court with ease past defenders. I caught up with Tori to ask her about her teams’ performance in which she said that “defense is their most important focus and has been throughout the entire camp.” With such great guards it is easy for Rumson to move the ball and get the ball into the hands of some of their best shooters which through this camp has been Stephanie Lesko, Sydney Sabino, and Antoniokakis.
The amount of shooting talent does not end here though. Throughout this camp, players such as Katie Foos and Megan Volker have also been huge for this team. They were able to add some size to this Rumson team which at the same time creates more scoring opportunities for them as well. Michaela McGarvey also enjoyed a great Day 3 of the camp. McGarvey can be another weapon off the bench for this Rumson team. McGarvey can shoot the three, and drive to the basket when needed. The possibilities for Coach Sourlis are endless when it comes to this time. We look forward to seeing the Bulldogs in the Winter.
RBC CONTINUES TO COME TOGETHER IN A GREAT WAY
The Red Bank Catholic Caseys are really showing how well they can come togetheras a unit. Throughout this camp, they have been able to move the ball around extremely well. Everyone can see a huge difference in the chemistry of this group compared to last year. Coaching a young team with so much talent can always be a challenge, but Joe Montano is certainly the man for the job. It will be exciting to see the Hall of Fame coach mold this group over this next season.
RBC played a very great game against defending TOC Champion Manasquan. The Caseys came out playing very strong on the offensive end. Maureen Coakley continued her dominant performance in this camp. Coakley has put on quite a bit of muscle, improved her speed, and is really owning the paint better than she ever has before. If Coakley can control the glass in this way throughout the Winter, she may very well find herself on the All Shore Team.
Katie Rice continued to have a tremendous camp, taking advantage of every scoring opportunity she could get. Rice knows how to use her strength to dominate her opponents in the post. Rice can also use her defensive instincts to come up with steals, and block shots. She is very good at stopping the opponents forwards from scoring. Expect Rice to build on the progress has made in this camp.
The guards for RBC continued to perform in an efficient way. Rose Caverly knows how to run this offense, and is so much more comfortable in her role compared to this past season. Her vision has clearly improved, and she knows how to make plays down the floor. The leadership of Caverly will be very important for this team down the stretch. Josie Larkins is as good of a Sophomore shooting guard as you are going to find. Larkins knows how to use her strength to overpower opponents, and can use her speed as a guard to make things happen. Larkins continued to show off her shooting range this week by hitting three after three. We do not get to see Tia Montague this week, but I expect Montague to be completely healthy and ready to go by December. After the game, Jim Rosa and I had a chance to talk to point guard Rose Caverly about her expectations for the season.
When everyone talks about depth, St John Vianney is always the team that is on their minds, but do not underestimate this Caseys team. Joe Montano has a roster where he can go 9-10 players deep during the games. Montano can go deep into his bench and still get significant results. Hayley Moore has been one of the best players at this camp. Moore may not be 6’0″, or even 5’9″, but she has the heart of a champion, and plays with absolutely no fear. Moore will go after anyone defensively if she can get her hands on the ball. She just loves to be around the ball at all times. Caitlin Carroll is another one of the RBC bench who has had a fantastic week. Carroll will be fighting for playing time throughout the preseason in December. Carroll is aggressive underneath the basket, and can create problems defensively for any player on the other side. It will be exciting to see how much Carroll progresses throughout the season.
The sky is the limit for this RBC team. If they can come out and play an A game against the best teams in the Shore, they have every chance to not only be in every game, but come out on top every night. RBC has a very good chance to repeat as Class B North Champions, and make a serious run in the SCT and State Tournament.
SOME OTHER SURPRISING TEAMS FOR THE WEEK
Donovan Catholic had a nice week at the camp. This is a team that no one wants to take lightly. The Griffins could not only surprise a lot of people, but break some hearts during the season. Coach Jerry Bruno has a lot of talent on this team, and they are only going to get better. Keep your eye on point guard Molly Collins. The sophomore sensation is ready to have another breakout season, surpassing everything she accomplished as a freshman. Katie Borghesi and Alissa Hirschy will be right there to give Collins all the support she needs on the floor. Donovan Catholic has a very good chance to win another Class B South title.
Colts Neck enjoyed a nice week, finishing Maroon and White with a 6-0 record. Coach Glenn Jansen has to be proud of his young team getting through the week. The Cougars will look to take another step forward this season, and really make a statement. Freshman guard Lola Mullaney will provide a lot of energy for this team. I’m looking forward to seeing them at the WOBM Tournament in December.
Southern Regional got some much needed experience at Maroon and White. The Rams are very young, and have a bright future. The Rams got some great work against teams like Manasquan, St. John Vianney, and Middletown South. Even though they are a little banged up at this point, they will be completely healthy by December. Bianca Nicolini and Morgan Henderson will lead this group. Southern could very well win the Class A South title for a third year in a row.
The entire NJSR staff would like to thank Red Bank Regional Head Coach James Young for putting this wonderful event together. This camp has been great for the players, coaches, and fans. This really gets the players some much needed work over the Summer, and gives the coaches a chance to take a look at their rosters in full. They get to evaluate their entire roster and look at how they can utilize the strengths of each individual. This was a great three days, and certainly a lot of fun. We look forward to working with Coach Young in the future.
NJSR would also like to thank all the players, coaches, and fans who have been so supportive of our coverage throughout this event. It is an honor to serve all of you with the best girls basketball coverage that we can provide, and we look forward to working with each and everyone of you in the upcoming season.