On Monday night, at the Pine Belt arena in Toms River, the Shore Conference tournament held its semi-final match-ups between four Shore powerhouses; each who faced one another during the regular season. Each team went into the match-up with the desire to make it to the finals. Each of these rematches was filled with tension and hunger to win, to beat out their opponent and reach their goal of playing in Monmouth University and for the coveted Shore Conference Champions title.
In the semi-finals were returning champions, the Lady Lancers of Saint John Vianney up against the Red Bank Catholic Casey’s, and last year’s runner up, the Manasquan Blue Warriors, going head-to-head with the Purple Roses of St. Rose. Each game was full of excitement, energy, and all around great basketball.
It is known that the Shore Conference is one of New Jersey’s toughest conferences to play in. Some teams can go on to win the crown of the Tournament of Champions and not win the title of SCT Champions. However, for St. John Vianney and St. Rose, they will have their chance to battle it out for that title on Saturday, Feb. 25.
In a thrilling overtime game, five-seeded St. Rose took down top seeded Manasquan with a score of 68-59. This game was a rematch between St. Rose and Manasquan who met just one weeks prior, with Manasquan taking the win in overtime. However, Monday night, the Purple Roses got their revenge. With a back and forth game, and St. Rose up in the fourth quarter, Manasquan made a triumphant comeback, however, they were unable to outlast the St. Rose. As the game went into overtime, the Roses ran away with it.
At the end of the third quarter, fourth-seeded St. Rose led Manasquan 45-44, and throughout the rest of the fourth quarter, it was a battle of wills. Back and forth, both teams fought in the final quarter, however, at the end of regulation, the score was tied at 53.
Going into overtime, Manasquan was in serious foul trouble sending Senior guard, Stella Clark, and Sophomore Faith Masonius each to the bench with four and five fouls. Because of Manasquan foul trouble, St. Rose was able to come and seal the victory through made three-pointers and free throws down the stretch. St. Rose Junior guard Mikayla Markham had 18 points, 16 of which were in the second half and overtime.
With this win, St. Rose advances to the finals to face the defending Champions, the Lady Lancers from St. John Vianney.
Winning it all last year - The Shore Conference, Non-Public A State Title, and Tournament of Champions - the Lancers were the team to beat in this tournament. Coming into the game the 22-3, the Lancers had some unfinished business with the Red Bank Catholic Casey’s. At their last meeting on Jan. 21, the Lancers fell victim to their missed layups and free-throws, with Red Bank winning 54-45. Coming into this game with a chip on their shoulders, the Lancers got to work to prove that they are #stillhere.
Forcing Red Bank into early foul trouble, the Lancers were able to maintain a lead at the end of the first half. Into the second half, the game got closer as Vianney also fell victim to foul trouble. With key players like Senior Kimi Evans on the bench, the Lancers did not skip a beat. Junior Maddie Doring and Sophomore Sajada Bonner hit key shots, giving the Lancers a leg up on their opponents. Down the final stretch, Senior Julia Ramos and Sophomore Sarah Karpell were able to hit key free throws, securing their win and return to the finals to bring home the title again.
If you were there to see these two games, it was a special treat as Monday night’s performances were not a disappointment. Quoted as a “night for the underdogs,” the Lancers (3 seed) and St. Rose (5 seed) each upset their opponents, Red Bank Catholic (2 seed) and Manasquan (top seed). In the battle of the underdog on Saturday, St. Rose and the Lancers have a chance to go head-to-head for the title of Shore Conference Champions.
The Shore Conference Finals are Saturday Feb. 25 at 5:15pm at Monmouth University with ticket sales beginning at 2pm.