Memorable Mondays: Top 5 teams
Welcome to MSGVarsity.com's Memorable Mondays, a summer-long series that looks back on the top players, games and moments from the past season and gazes ahead to 2012-13. As the summer goes on, we'll compile all the lists and post them here: www.msgvarsity.com/mondays. New lists will be posted every Monday.
In Week 9 of Memorable Mondays, we look at the five best teams from the 2011-12 school year:
Football: Don Bosco Prep
The Ironmen put the finishing touches on both a third consecutive undefeated season and a national championship with a convincing 42-14 win over Bergen Catholic last Dec. 2 in the NJSIAA Non-Public, Group 4 final.
But it was very possibly a pass from Mike Yankovich to Leonte Carroo almost three months earlier that truly set that brilliant season into motion.
That was when Yankovich--undeniably talented but not yet established as Bosco's trusted field general--connected with Carroo on a 64-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter of Bosco's clash on the road against Florida powerhouse Manatee. The Ironmen trailed at the time, 10-9, but that TD gave them the lead for good and sent them along to a thrilling 22-16 victory.
Yankovich had entered last season with the huge challenge of replacing Gary Nova (now at Rutgers), and he answered that challenge in style.
Yes, Bosco was typically well-equipped with irrefutable all-stars like DE Darius Hamilton, DB Elijah Shumate, DE Michael Strizak and sophomore RB/DB sensation Jabrill Peppers (since transferred to Paramus Catholic). But there were going to be a few instances where Yankovich was the one determining Bosco's destiny--would it be merely very good or spectacular?--and he embraced that responsibility with fervor.
Five Bosco starters were named to the MSG Varity All-Metro First Team following that 11-0 season, Hamilton, Carroo, Strizak, Peppers and DB Kyle Sakowski, and four others made second team or honorable mention. The Ironmen will carry a 46-game winning streak into this season.
Boys basketball: St. Anthony
The Friars made it perfectly clear how their season was going to unfold when they rolled past very good Trenton Catholic team, 53-33, in the second game of the season at the Hoop Group Tip-Off Showcase.
Now, St. Anthony's Bob Hurley generally waits 10 games before offering a definitive opinion on his team's prospects that season, but we saw here that there would be no need to wait so long for a synopsis from the Naismith Hall of Fame coach.
All-America guard Kyle Anderson was going to dazzle us game after game with his remarkable versatility and consistency, just like he did that afternoon; senior forward Jerome Frink would be always-reliable, sometimes outstanding in the department of clutch play; the defense would be equal to Hurley's strict standards on a routine basis; there was going to be more balance and depth than any opponent would care to ponder. If Anderson or Frink didn't hurt you too much, maybe that was because they were stepping aside to allow the honor to Tariq Carey, Jimmy Hall, Hallice Cooke or Joshua Brown.
St. Anthony (32-0), behind the UCLA-bound Anderson, turned in a second straight undefeated season (seventh overall), claimed the program's 27th state title with a surprising 67-39 rout of Gill St. Bernard's in the Non-Public B final, and won a 12th Tournament of Champions crown with a 66-62 decision over Plainfield. St. Anthony needed a career game from Frink (26 points) to escape Plainfield that night and had to rally to edge St. Benedict's Prep, 51-50, on New Year's Day. Beyond those two battles, though, the Friars' season was a relative coast.
St. Anthony was not consensus national champion as it was in 2011 (though MaxPreps did crown it No. 1 this year), but the Friars did stretch their winning streak to 65 games. That stands just one shy of tying the New Jersey modern-day record of 66 established by Hurley's St. Anthony team in 1997.
Anderson and Frink are, of course, huge losses for the Friars, and Hall's tough interior play and steady defense and Carey's spark off the bench will be missed, too. But St. Anthony returns with Brown, Cooke, Tarin Smith, Kentrell Brooks, Tim Coleman and several other talented players who'll be giving the Friars a very fair shot at winning a 13th T of C title.
Boys lacrosse: Bridgewater-Raritan
The numbers alone verify the Panthers' place as one of the top lacrosse teams to ever take the field in New Jersey: Their 13.09 goals per game and 3.9 goals allowed created one of the widest differentials in history. Those figures helped Bridgewater-Raritan post a 21-0 record (becoming the first public school to do so twice) and earn a second consecutive Tournament of Champions title.
But it wasn't math that secured the Panthers' place in history. It was chemistry.
This had been a gritty, hungry and extremely unified group since they began playing together years ago in the Bridgewater recreation league under M.G. Hollingsworth, a former Bridgewater and Rutgers University star and the father of All-State attackman Ryan Hollingsworth.
The talent level was evident when these guys were in grammar school, and high expectations followed their every step through the program. But if the kids had heard all those grandiose predictions, they didn't give much credence to them. These guys worked to improve year after year as if their skill level was nominal and the community's faith it them flimsy.
Scott Bieda (60 goals and 107 points), Hollingsworth (52 goals, 90 points) and Justin Higgins formed an all-senior attack line that seemed to use mind-reading as frequently as any used the face dodge. Midfielders Ray Mastroianni and John Longordo were potent but also patient shooters and stellar overall players.
The defense was at times underappreciated due to the potency of the offense, but they held no grudge. Reputation was never that unit's concern. Stopping the opposing offense was, and the Panthers did that regularly behind Evan Mock, Connor Murphy, Andrew Hengenmuhle, goalie Zack Jones and the fabulous defensive midfield play of pole Jared Kaden and shortie Steve Danyluk.
Those two were splendid in the clutch to help Bridgewater edge Ridgewood in three overtimes, 8-7, in the T of C semifinals. The Panthers had defeated every other opponent by no fewer than five goals, including Delbarton, 11-5, in the T of C final behind a career-high six-goal outing by Bieda.
Girls Soccer: Northern Highlands
Behind a high-powered offense that overwhelmed opponents with the number of players it flooded into the attacking third and a stingy defense that prided itself on the clean sheets it maintain, Northern Highlands delivered a formula for perfection in 2011.
The Highlanders boasted an impressive 24-0 mark against a grueling schedule and became the first program north of the Driscoll Bridge to complete a season unbeaten and untied since the revered Ridge squad of 2003, that went 22-0 behind the playmaking of recent Olympic gold medalist Tobin Heath. Along the route, coach Tara Madigan’s crew collected a Bergen County Tournament title before wrapping up the season with a 2-0 victory over Moorestown in the NJSIAA Group 3 state championship.
An offense that accumulated 115 goals (4.7 per match) became so explosive due to how effortlessly it incorporated resources into the final third. Fourteen different players chipped in with at least a goal led by reliable Madison Holleran.
As a junior, Holleran was nearly unstoppable out of the central midfield. Her ability to dissect a defense on the run drove the offense and unlocked opportunities for her to strike for 29 goals and 13 assists. The emergence of Clare Shea (22 goals), Tori Balzano (11 goals), Hana Kerner (14 goals) and Carly Leipzig (14 goals), as well as how dangerous Northern Highlands was when defender Jackie Reyneke (27 assists) launched one of her mind-blowing long throw-ins stretched defenses beyond their limits.
Reyneke was also a vital part of a defensive unit that notched 17 shutouts, including seven straight in mid-season, and was touched for 11 goals all season. A backline of Arista Meneve, Christian Sonageri and Jessica Abrams, along with keeper Brooke Holle, protected its area with passion and composure.
Girls Basketball: Manasquan
Living up to hype can be rather difficult, especially when you factor in a pretty tough schedule.
But, nothing seemed to faze Manasquan. The Warriors operated with a notable swagger but with good reason. The 2012-13 cast could flat out play and made the most of everyone intangible each player in its talented lineup had to offer in storming to a 32-2 mark that ended with a 67-55 victory over Gill St. Bernard’s in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final.
Senior guard Michaela Mabrey, the MSG Varsity Tri-State Player of the Year, who is currently playing for the USA under-18 national team in the FIBA Americas Championship in Puerto Rico, guided Manasquan with her sensational all-around play. So often noted for her offensive output and long-range accuracy, Mabrey offered much more than just points. Her tough defense atop the press, unselfish creativity distributing and help on the boards gave notice to her teammates that more was needed than just an individual’s strong suits.
Katelynn Flaherty played off her older backcourt partner with ease while proving to be worthy of handling the ball in pivotal moments. The 5-7 guard dropped in 27 in the T of C final, including 10 points in a 12-4 tear than ended the third quarter and broke open a tie game.
Highly-touted freshman Marina Mabrey fit right in and showed no signs of having to deal with the added burden of being Michaela’s younger sister. Marina instantly carved a niche as a rugged defender, relentless worker on the glass and a versatile scoring option who could strike from beyond the arc just as easily as she could finish off the drive.
Inside, forwards Sam Sullivan and Amanda Hagaman thrived on the defense. Both seemed to rise to the occasion when matched up on prominent opposing posts to give Manasquan a solid defensive piece of mind.
Join us throughout the summer as "Memorable Mondays" brings you more top 5 lists:
Aug. 27: Top five teams to watch in 2012-13
Find them all at www.msgvarsity.com/mondays.