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Manalapan defeats A North rival Freehold Township in season opener

Manalapan High School girls basketball player Courtney Butash drives past Freehold Township's Gaby Parker in the back court during a game played on Dec. 17 in Manalapan. Manalapan defeated Freehold Township 55-44.

MANALAPAN – The renewal of a Shore Conference A North Division rivalry between the Manalapan High School and Freehold Township High School girls basketball teams commenced on the opening night of the 2021-22 season in Manalapan on Dec. 17.

The night belonged to the Braves, who used a surge in the second half to defeat the Patriots, 55-44.

“When we play with confidence, we are successful,” Manalapan coach Lanie Andrews said. “That is going to be a big thing for us this season. It was exciting to see our preparation for the first three weeks finally go into effect and have success from it.”

The victory marked the Braves’ first win over the Patriots since the 2015-16 season.

Manalapan senior guard Carlyn Deaver said she was excited about breaking that drought and helping the Braves to finally defeat Freehold Township.

“It feels amazing,” Deaver said. “It was really exciting that we finally got a win against them.”

Deaver had a great start to her campaign as she scored 17 points and hit a career-high five three-point field goals.

“I just took the opportunities I had, I made them,” Deaver said of her three-point shooting. “I’m glad I started the season off really well and our team got a win.”

With the Braves trailing 22-21 at halftime, Andrews stressed composure to her players and they responded by outscoring Freehold Township 34-22 in the second half.

The Braves did not look back after senior guard Courtney Butash scored on a layup to tie the score, 26-26, with 5:23 to play in the third quarter.

The Braves ended the third quarter on an 11-5 run which was capped off by a jumper from Deaver. Manalapan took a 37-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“It was all about fundamentals,” Andrews said. “We weren’t composed in the first half and we weren’t playing our game. We started using our ball fakes and attacking the zone. Once we started doing that, our confidence started going up and that is when we found success.”

Deaver gave the Braves to a 42-33 lead three minutes into the fourth quarter when she hit her fifth three-point field goal.

Manalapan added to its lead throughout the fourth quarter as junior Sophia Venezia made the score 48-35 with 3:17 to play with a layup off a fast break. Venezia hit a three-point field goal with 1:00 to play make the score 51-38.

The Braves hit seven three-point field goals in the contest.

Sophomore Breeanis Duran scored 14 points and contributed a strong performance in the front court.

“It was honestly all about communication and everybody on the team helping each other out,” Duran said. “It was really a team effort.”

For the Patriots, freshman Gaby Parker scored 11 of her game-high 18 points in the first quarter. Freshman Adrianna Powell scored six points off the bench.

 

Andrews knew her players were excited to start a new season following a 2020-21 campaign that was abbreviated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The coach was pleased the Braves made their 2021-22 debut with a win on their home court.

“It feels so great. To see them all come back from last year and reap the rewards of how hard they have been working is so great and it’s fun to see how excited they are,” Andrews said.

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