The shower of shots that rain from beyond the arc, bursts to the basket and power moves around the blocks have done more than fuel the high-powered offense of Manasquan.
The variety of ways it can demoralize a defense is producing at a rather gaudy rate (64.9 ppg.) but it’s also done a nice job of concealing a defense (34.9 ppg.) that’s often brushed off as nothing more than a high-octane press seeking to rake up points in transition.
Manasquan took a huge step in putting that notion to rest on Sunday behind the type of gritty and quick halfcourt man-to-man demanded to contain teams that feature the same type of offensive capabilities and athleticism the Warriors possess.
Freshman swing Marina Mabrey embraced her chance to matchup with nimble 6-0 sophomore Sierra Calhoun of Christ the King and Manasquan, No. 2 in The MSG Varsity New Jersey Top 15, played fast and tough on the defensive end to pull away from the New York squad en route to a 63-39 triumph at The Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase in Long Branch.
“It was a big assignment for me because she’s a really good player and really quick,” said the 5-10 Mabrey, who used her feet and anticipation to beat Calhoun to spots while limiting her to four field goals and 13 points, including four in the first half when Manasquan (11-0) fashioned a 29-18 lead.. “She came out strong and confident. I knew she would have a lot of fakes and quick moves to the basket.”
Mabrey could play Calhoun tight in the halfcourt thanks to the help she knew was behind her. Manasquan was quick on switches, hedged to close seams and sophomore Sam Sullivan didn’t hesitate to step in and impede the path to the basket on the rare occasion Calhoun got free off the dribble.
“I think our defense won the game for us,” said 5-11 senior guard Michaela Mabrey, who hit five 3-pointers and pumped in 20 points. “Marina locked down on (Calhoun) and that gave us a lot of hope. People think of Manasquan and points, but we proved we can play defense.”
Manasquan owned a 29-18 lead at intermission before breaking the game open in the third with a 22-8 showing. Michaela Mabrey buried three treys in the first 3:30 of the third quarter to power a 12-2 burst that pushed the advantage to 41-20 and sophomore guard Katelyn Flaherty dropped in seven of her game-high 22 points over the balance of the period as the advantage ballooned to 51-26.
“We came out from the first quarter and ran our game plan exactly how we went over it,” Flaherty said. “We knew who we were going against and they are always a good team. If we didn’t play defense, we wouldn’t win that game.”
Another area where Manasquan excelled was on the glass. Marina Mabrey (10 rebounds, nine points), Melissa Pavia (eight rebounds), Michaela Mabrey (seven rebounds) and Sullivan (six rebounds) were all part of a collective and assertive performance around the boards.
Alyssa Gatti and Rayne Connell finished with eight points apiece for Christ the King (4-7).
St. Rose 52, Point Pleasant Boro 44: Senior guard Diana Malanga clicked for 17 points, highlighted by eight in the first half when No. 3 St. Rose (11-0) opened a 24-18 lead at The Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase. Malanga helped seal the outcome with seven points in the fourth. Sam Clark added 11 points in the triumph. Point Pleasant Boro (8-4) got 15 points from Kerry Malleck and 10 by Kelly Hughes.