Now we will look at the upcoming Group 2 tournament. Manasquan is the two time defending champion and will have every opportunity to take home another crown. There are some other teams who will be highly competitive and are looking to make some noise throughout the month of March.
THE FAVORITE – MANASQUAN (20-6)
Lisa Kukoda’s team has set the standard in Group 2 by winning the state title over the past two years. While many thought this could have been a rebuilding year for Manasquan with the graduation of all star Marina Mabrey and season injuries to Victoria Galvan and Gillian Black, the Warriors have certainly exceeded expectations and more to be back in a great position.
With one of the most athletic lineups in the state, the Warriors managed to win 20 games and make it back to a third straight SCT championship before falling to St John Vianney who is undefeated against New Jersey competition. Manasquan has built quite the resume with two victories over Rumson Fair Haven, as well as wins over Middletown South, Red Bank Catholic, Camden Catholic, St Rose, and Marlboro.
Stella Clark has an endless amount of energy and gives no less than 150% on every play. The 5’3″ point guard can easily find players in stride with her tremendous passing ability. With Clark and Dara Mabrey in the backcourt, the three ball is always a threat. Mabrey’s defensive intensity is second to none. She is capable of locking down just about any player in the state.
Freshman Faith Masonius has really shined in her first year of varsity action. It’s very easy to start pulling stats when looking at a players’ history, but with Faith it’s not just about the numbers. The younger Masonius has had outstanding performances against top shelf programs. She put up a double-double in 2 out of 3 games against St John Vianney this year, and poured in 20 points against Gil St Bernard and Middletown South. At the end of the day, it’s hard to believe she is just a freshman!
The Warriors have also gotten great production from Addie Masonius and Carly Geissler who have both hit some big shots and made some great plays on the defensive end. Nikki Stevens and Maggie Kelly have given this team a real boost off the bench. Stevens has basically come out of nowhere and become a key contributor in the past few weeks.
Manasquan will have every opportunity to make a return trip to the Tournament of Champions. However, everyone in this tournament would love the opportunity to knock them off!
THE CONTENDERS – Rumson Fair Haven, Newark Tech, High Point, Westwood, Sterling, Middle Twp.
NEWARK TECH (14-11) has been playing their best basketball of the season over the past month. A recent 42-40 loss to East Orange in the Essex County Tournament final has been the Terriers only blemish since mid January after winning ten games in a row! Coach Keith Jefferson definitely has this team on a roll.
With both Dayjah and Ny-Asia Anderson back in the lineup, Newark Tech has returned to full strength and is ready to go for another sectional title. Both Anderson sisters give this team consistent scoring within the paint, and solid defense on the glass. They are both capable of controlling the momentum of any game. Together, they make this Newark Tech team very dangerous.
Abby Lawrence and Mariah Perez give the Terriers plenty of athleticism on the outside. Lawrence has been playing very well and adds in a secondary scoring option. Both players can bury the three when needed. For Newark Tech to win another sectional title, Lawrence and Perez will have to be on top of their game.
STERLING (22-4) will give South Jersey their best opportunity to compete for a Group 2 title. Kate McDonald’s team has plenty of veterans that returned from the sectional runner up last season. Sterling was defeated by Lower Cape May in overtime and even had a six point lead near the end of regulation.
Rutgers commit Jordan Wallace is as big of a force as you can get. The 6″3″ center is a beast on the glass and is a matchup nightmare for anyone inside. She not only scores by attacking the basket, but can really change the game as a shot blocker on defense. It will be tough for anyone to rebound against Wallace throughout the tournament.
Sterling also has plenty of weapons at the guard positions. Kealohilani Naone-Carter is dynamic and can get to the basket with ease. She is also quite the three point shooter and can make things tough for anyone defensively. Xiomara Colon and Shaniyla Johnson also give the team plenty of scoring options.
For Sterling’s 7 seniors, the time is now. They will be favored within the South Jersey bracket, but will definitely face a challenge from teams like Cinnaminson and Middle Twp. Middle just got done winning the Cape Atlantic League title and would like nothing more than to add a South Jersey championship to the mix.
Group 2 Predictions
South Jersey Group II Sectional – Sterling 40, Cinnaminson 35
Central Jersey Group II Sectional – Manasquan 54, Rumson Fair Haven 51
North Jersey I Group II Sectional – High Point 47, Westwood 43
North Jersey II Group II Sectional – Newark Tech 51, Ridgefield Park 44
State Semifinal 1 – Manasquan 65, Sterling 44
State Semifinal 2 – Newark Tech 48, High Point 42
Group 2 Championship – Manasquan 60, Newark Tech 46
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