Dara Mabrey’s Free Throws Lift Manasquan to Sectional Title over RFH

Dara Mabrey’s Free Throws Lift Manasquan to Sectional Title over RFH

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When the Manasquan Warriors and Rumson Fair-Haven Bulldogs have met up in the playoffs, the sense that one team will end the other’s season has brought out the best from stars on both sides. On this night from Manasquan, Tori Hyduke and Dara Mabrey would have the most say in the final outcome – as the two electric guards did their best to also get teammates involved.

In the end, with just six seconds standing between Rumson and a signature road win, Dara Mabrey would not be denied on a full court drive to the rim that earned her a trip to the line. Trailing 66-65 on a Hannah Scanlan three point play from moments before, Mabrey stepped up to the foul line as Manasquan’s last chance to swing the game in her team’s favor.

With dejection setting in for Rumson, Mabrey calmly knocked down the first shot before burying the second to seal a 67-66 Central Jersey Group II Championship win.

The first half would set the tone that neither team planned on going away without a fight, as Manasquan would trail in their last home game of the season 33-32 after 16 minutes of play.

It was the Bulldogs’ defense that allowed them to control the game early, as they were able to get some looks in transition for shooters like Foos – who tied the game at seven in the opening moments.

Scanlan and Faith Masonius would battle in the paint through the remainder of the half, as the RFH Senior gave her team a lead they would not give away until just before halftime.

A hustling Stella Clark earned an offensive rebound that led to the second of consecutive Masonius jumpers, which put the Warriors ahead 25-24 with 2:43 to play in the first half.

Despite three pointers by Mabrey and Lola Mullaney over the next two minutes, Hyduke and Rumson found a way to take their one point lead into the break – as Tori hit two from the line.

Yet another Stella Clark offensive rebound to start the half would energize the Manasquan home crowd, as the shortest player on the floor grabbed the ball underneath and flipped it in while getting fouled. The Clark three point play gave Mansasquan the lead again – one that they would add to with their own defensive tenacity.

The Bulldogs hot shooting would cool in a hurry, as the Warriors regained full control of the game on their way to a 51-38 lead. Much of this run was fueled by RFH turnovers, but the Warriors dominance on the glass allowed them to add to the lead with Lola Mullaney converting a put back three point play.

Entering the final eight minutes of play, Rumson would have the ball down by 11. In need of a spark, they turned it over again out of the gate – giving Mabrey a breakaway score.

Tori Hyduke would do her best to take over for RFH, but it appeared that Lisa Kukoda’s team was ready to trade baskets and close things out as they have so many times. More than halfway through the quarter, Rumson would have their first chance to draw closer than nine points, which was the deficit they struggled to get past.

After a long defensive stand and a Scanlan rebound, Hyduke earned a trip to the line to cut the lead to seven before closing the remaining gap in a hurry with consecutive steals and scores.

Now down by just three, Rumson was sensing a road upset, and they looked to none other than Hannah Scanlan to tie the game. Fouled on the catch by Faith Masonius, Scanlan sunk a layup that sank the hearts of Warriors’ faithful – as the game was unbelievably tied at 64.

Back the other way, Manasquan needed an answer, and Addie Masonius would take it upon herself to drive and get fouled by Scanlan – giving Manasquan the lead back with one made FT.

The focus immediately shifted back to Dave Callahan and RFH to force the issue offensively and extend the remaining seconds. Tori Hyduke, out of a timeout, drove right down the middle and banked in a tough layup to put the Bulldogs ahead with just six seconds left.

Frantically, the ball bounced on the baseline for a few nervous seconds, as the Warriors were stunned at the resilience RFH had shown. Lisa Kukoda rightfully called a timeout, and put the ball in their best players’ hands with Dara Mabrey capping off an unforgettable Shore Conference match up in the Sectional final.

Hyduke and the Bulldogs were distraught as Mabrey calmly ended their season with two perfect foul shots. Just 0.2 seconds showed on the clock, and after another timeout, those fractions of a second drew the buzzer that sent Manasquan back to the Group II playoffs – where they’ll meet Manchester.

“I was in that spot when I was a freshman, shooting two foul shots on the same line at the end of the game – same team in Rumson. That was in the back of my mind, and I made both of those I remember. I was like, “no pressure”, as my coach looked at me and reminded me that I made two shots all the time in practice. Its nice to hear that they have that confidence in me and most importantly I had it in myself.” – Dara Mabrey

Hear from Manasquan Head Coach Lisa Kukoda and Guard Stella Clark after the game: