I enrolled at Montclair State University as a sports media and journalism major in 2014 under a pretty simple premise – it was time to apply what I loved to do, watch and talk about sports, into a career path. For many high school athletes in New Jersey and elsewhere, their decision to partake in athletics is rooted in similar interests.
For girls basketball players in the Shore Conference, things are just a bit different though. Regarded as one of the most talented areas for the sport in the entire country, Monmouth and Ocean County serve as a hotbed for girls basketball each and every winter.
Thirty schools in the conference compete for the Shore Conference Championship each year, only a stepping stone in five of the past eight seasons – as Shore teams have gone on to win the overall NJ Tournament of Champions, earning the designation as the top team in the state.
Players from these prestigious programs, some of which covered below, have taken their Shore background to the highest level of college basketball and beyond. Others have served an equally important role, showing off the overwhelming depth in the conference by finding their niche as Division II or Division III players.
In talking to coaches, fans, and former or current players, one thing remains constant with the talent this league – treated by such fans on a weekly basis as a better substitute to the NBA – is that SC girls find success in whatever route they choose.
All roads lead out of the famed Jersey Shore though, where we pick up with Stories of the Shore.
More on these stories:
Katie Sire, MSU
By far one of the most amazing things I’ve been able to do as a member of the media in the Shore Conference – besides do my small part in telling these deserving team’s stories – is carry my knowledge of the area into a useful place here at Montclair State.
Entering MSU the same year I did, Katie Sire came out of a Shore program that I admittedly never got around to watching over her four years as a starter and 1,000 point scorer.
Fast forward a few months into both of our freshmen years, and I was just getting used to being on air covering Montclair State Women’s Basketball as Sire and her new team headed to the NCAA Division III Final Four.
— WMSC #Sports (@WMSCSports) February 4, 2017
This past year, the Red Hawks once again won the New Jersey Athletic Conference, with my good friend Nick Flaherty and I on the radio call for the first time.
Watching Sire celebrate with Shore teammates Rachael Krauss and Zoe Curtis hasn’t gotten old at all, ever since her game brought the two of us to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2014 for the National Semifinals.
To add another layer of intrigue to a story about an accounting major and graduate student turned media member, it was actually a high school chemistry class that I met Jim in.
It was not until I convinced Jim to tag along at Kelly Hughes’ Point Boro games – some of the best basketball entertainment being provided in the area from right within our small school – that we both sparked an interest in attending as many games as possible.
This eventually led to the two of us beginning what became this very website as a platform for our Shore Conference coverage, and as Jim has remained close to home in the Shore his passion for storytelling in the area has grown.
Here again is Jim Rosa’s favorite picture from this past basketball season, of Manasquan’s Faith Masonius scoring the winning basket at Saint Rose.
Kelly Hughes, BC:
At this point, so much has been written and said about Kelly Hughes the basketball player – a dominant one at that having recently completed her final season in the ACC – but little about her Shore Conference background.
This story in the map above hits home literally, as the point on the map is right at Point Pleasant Borough High School. As already mentioned, this is where Jim and I got our start in watching HS girls basketball.
Kelly’s route from Point Pleasant to Boston is not complete yet, as she’ll continue playing overseas in the fall, but her defining mark when it comes to high level basketball will always be the number 2,588.
No matter how many stories are told and memories shared about the Shore Conference, no player has surpassed Kelly Hughes’ 2,588 career points.
Of course, I was in attendance when Hughes broke this record, a moment I now take for granted as her game has become the shining example of what a background in the Shore and a little motivation can mean to a young girl’s career in sports.
Tina Lebron, Caldwell:
The Tina Lebron video produced here was made just after they won an emotional 2015 Tournament of Champions, a game itself that I would probably use as an anecdote if asked, “What makes SC girls basketball so special?”
Lebron’s SJV Lancers were supposed to raise that trophy as the state’s top team all season long – they had the most Senior talent and a great coach. This didn’t stop the moment from being overwhelmingly emotional for Vianney’s five seniors, as they were pushed to the limits by – you guessed it – a Shore Conference team in Manasquan via double overtime.
Cherishing every moment they spent on the floor together, all five seniors went on to play at the college level following this thrilling victory.
Produced for Multimedia News Production @ Montclair State TVDM 440
I hope these four connecting stories in the Shore Conference show not only the reach the conference has nationally, but the importance it brings to those fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by high level girls basketball at every turn.
Plenty of past stories could be added to this, and many noteworthy ones will emerge over the coming seasons, but for now this sampling of Shore talent should explain why on any given Tuesday night the hottest place to be for a select group of fans and media members is some small gym with wooden bleachers – where a basketball game will be played featuring players on both sides that will put their name on the map someday.