Where Hannah Missry did the brunt of her offensive damage shouldn’t come as much of a shocker. But, where she delivered her milestone basket could certainly be deemed somewhat surprising.
With her effortless release and explosive lift, the Jackson junior is among the premier 3-point shooters in the state. But, as mounting injuries began to deplete the Jaguars’ frontcourt, the 5-9 guard was thrust into emergency services on the blocks, more so to provide some defense against opposing pivots than for offensive contributions in the post.
But, while her dad Vince was away this past week, Missry had no company while working on her jumper. With her devoted rebounder absent, she was left to retrieve her own shots.
The exercise proved poignantly valuable when Missry raced into ideal position to grab an offensive rebound and convert it into a putback during her blistering first-quarter scoring spree.
The bucket not only made her just the fifth player in the program’s history (and the first junior) to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau but it was an integral part of a virtuoso performance. Missry pumped in a career-high 37 points to stamp the occasion and led sixth-seeded Jackson to a 70-62 victory over 11th-seeded Middletown North on Thursday in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament in Jackson.
“I really can thank my teammates for that,” Missry, said of the accomplishment. “I came out hitting shots and they kept getting me the ball.”
Missry erupted for 16 points, fueled by four 3-pointers, in the first quarter. But, it was the putback that staked Jackson (21-4) to an 18-8 lead with 2:42 showing in the opening stanza that gave her 1,001 points for her career. She connected on 6 of 9 from the floor to help the Jaguars to a 26-13 advantage after one period and went 13 of 24 (7 of 12 from 3-point range) for the game to go with nine rebounds and three steals. She has 80 3-pointers this season.
Although her point production ruled the night, what she offered defensively in the paint was appreciated by coach Rachel Goodale, who also happened to be the first member of Jackson’s quaint 1,000-point club, which later welcomed Christa Evans, Dana Costello and Justine Stevenson.
“She has the ability to do that,” Goodale said of Missry’s play inside. “She does all little things, like get position off the ball and attack the lane lines. Her first step has gotten quicker. She is a good leader and she practices at another level.”
Jackson was 17 of 34 shooting in the first half on the way to building a 48-30 cushion by halftime. It went 9 of 16 from behind the arc within a revamped system that was warranted after the season-ending injury to forward Jazmin Curet in early Janauary and the more recent loss of 5-11 senior forward Shannon Evans, who returned to very limited action on Thursday after missing the last three games nursing a knee injury.
“Us not wanting to go down in flames is encouraging everyone to do more than what was originally expected,” said senior point guard Tiffany Montagne, who complemented Missry with 18 points and seven assists. “At first, Jazmin was a big blow for us. Then, Shannon and her knee, was a big toll. We are a small team and she’s definitely needed. So, now we are definitely a more guard-oriented team. But, we’re strong and will take on the challenge to get the job done.”
A sturdy seal on the right block enabled Missry to establish position to finish a dish from Sarah Dessner with 4:30 showing in the third to give Jackson a 57-36 lead. But, an undaunted Middletown North (14-8) battled gallantly to make things a bit interesting in the fourth.
The Lions outscored Jackson, 14-6, over the closing eight minutes. A fleeting 7-0 run driven by four points from 6-0 junior Emily Lavin, who dropped in 22 points to go with 11 rebounds and five blocks, and closed by a Nicole Tollevson layup got Middletown North within 69-62 but with just 28 ticks left on the clock.
Maureen Ciccosante had 15 points four rebounds, five assists and three steals and teammate Mia Ehling added 10 points for Middletown North.
In other Shore Conference Tournament action from Thursday…
Manasquan 71, Msgr. Donovan 34: Sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty surpassed the 1,000-point mark for top-seeded and second-ranked Manasquan.
Rumson 56, Holmdel 42
Red Bank Catholic 54, Marlboro 30
Neptune 55, Matawan 43
St. John Vianney 46, Freehold Twp. 33
Point Pleasant Boro 55, Middletown South 33
St. Rose 50, Colts Neck 40
In other action from around the state on Thursday…
Shabazz 55, Montclair 31: Senior guard Aliyyah Handford struck for 20 points and handed out five assists to pilot No. 1 Shabazz pass No. 11 Montclair. Zaire O’Neil collected 10 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks while Naqaiyyah Teague chipped in with 11 points, seven boards and seven steals.
Gregg Lerner covers girls basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @GreggLerner