A key Shore Conference Class B Central contest between Point Beach, ranked No. 7 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10, and St. Rose was already starting to slide in the Garnet Gulls’ direction when sophomore guard Marina Mabrey took an inbounds pass with time running down in the third quarter.
Two dribbles after she caught it, she buried a 30-footer from straightaway at the buzzer, kept her arm in the air for an extra second or two after she hit it and in doing so, signaled that the division is under new management.
Mabrey scored 18 of her game-high 27 points in the second half to go along with 16 rebounds, junior point guard Katelynn Flaherty added 17 points and five assists as the Garnet Gulls (3-0, 3-0) ran away from the Purple Roses, 59-36, at St. Rose High School’s McCann Activities and Athletics Center on Thursday evening.
The loss for the Purple Roses (3-1, 2-1) snapped a streak of nearly 10 years without a divisional loss, stretching all the way back to the 2002-03 season.
“You gotta get somebody as good,” St. Rose head coach Joe Whalen wryly said when asked how he can counter players the caliber of Mabrey and Flaherty. “We just lack the experience. Our girls were on the JV last year and as we said inside, no one should have been intimidated because two of them played against them last year and six of them helped prepare for them. Hopefully, we learned a lesson.”
St. Rose cut an 11-point first half deficit to five at 33-28 thanks to a Kat Phipps reverse layup with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter. From there, the Garnet Gulls ripped off an 8-0 run to take control back.
After Chloe Johnson’s free throw, her 12-foot jumper made it 36-28. Mabrey closed the quarter by converting an alley-oop off an inbounds pass from Flaherty under the basket and her 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Point Beach a 41-28 lead.
“I think the whole 10 years things got us thinking that we could beat them,” Mabrey said. “That, and a bunch of people saying we can’t beat them kind of put some fire in us to want to win.”
A pull-up jumper from Mabrey and a 3-pointer from the left baseline from Flaherty extended the lead to 46-31 before Mabrey salted the game away , shooting 6-for-8 at the foul line late.
The underrated factor in this game was what the complementary players gave Point Beach. Players not named Mabrey and Flaherty contributed 15 points and showed no fear on either side of the ball.
Point Beach had to have players like Johnson, Nicole Meyer and Sam Ivabattoni step up and make plays on Thursday as St. Rose was regularly sending two and even three girls to meet Mabrey and Flaherty at halfcourt when they brought the ball up.
If the Garnet Gulls are getting that type of contribution outside of Mabrey and Flaherty most nights, their status as a potential favorite in NJSIAA Group I will be justified.
“They did a really good job tonight,” Flaherty said. “We’re just trying to practice get them to be shot-ready because we’re gonna have two and three girls flying at us, so we throw it to them and they did well.”
For St. Rose, Cindy Napolitano scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the first half. Her 3-pointer from the right baseline gave the Purple Roses their only lead of the night, 5-2, early in the first quarter.