MANASQUAN – It’s been nearly two months since the Manasquan girls basketball team captured the 2014-15 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title, defeating St. Rose 59-55 at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton. On Friday afternoon a little after 2 p.m. the members of the girls varsity basketball team were honored in front of the entire school by MaxPreps and the Army National Guard.
The MaxPreps Tour of Champions continued to the Jersey Shore, presenting Manasquan head coach Lisa Kukoda and her players with the Army National Guard trophy.
The tour honors state champions overall the country as the team was presented the trophy by National Guard member and Freehold resident Staff Sergeant Anthony Larobina. During the presentation the Staff Sergeant praised the dedication of the Warriors and said he would be honored to have any one of the players on his squad.
After accepting the award on behalf of Manasquan, Kukoda gave one final shout out to the Manasquan student body, bringing the crowd to their feet in salute to the Warriors.
“It’s so great for the girls to be able to be recognized on a national level by Max Preps and the National Guard,” Kukoda said. “So much of our success came in front of these students with most of them coming to our games, they are always a great student section, and overall it was just a great experience.”
It was also one final recognition for Manasquan seniors Marina Mabrey and Courtney Hagaman.
“It was a great honor to have people recognize what we did here and all the hard work that we put in this season,” Mabrey said.
According to Mabrey the achievement has had its time to sink in, and the memories of how the team went out on top will be something that sticks with her for a very long time. The feeling is mutual for Kukoda who still can remember the special feeling she had after winning the TOC final in Trenton.
“It’s still a little bit unbelievable,” Kukoda said with a smile. “I see people everyday who congratulate me, it’s so great to be able to look back and just see what we were able to accomplish this year.”
With two big pieces of the puzzle departing to college next season, it will be back to the drawing board for Kukoda and her staff. They will get Dara Mabrey back with a year of varsity experience under her belt after averaging 8.5 points and 3.5 assists per game, along with now established post player Victoria Galvan.
Third team All-Shore selection Stella Clark will also enter her junior season and will once again be tasked with running the offense from the point guard position, Clark averaged 6.8 points and 3.8 assists per game for the Warriors.
“I’ve already talked to all the returners for next year and they are excited to kind of build on what we already have established,” Kukoda said. “A lot of them are eager to step up into some of the roles that we will be losing, they picked up that work ethic from the seniors and want to continue the success that we’ve had.”
Staff Writer: Chris Parker firstname.lastname@example.org