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Mustangs continue to battle following tough stretch on the court

Mustangs continue to battle following tough stretch on the court
Marlboro High School girls basketball player Varsha Simha drives to the basket for the bucket and the foul during a game against Rumson-Fair Haven on Jan. 21 in Toms River. Rumson-Fair Haven defeated Marlboro 67-34.

MARLBORO — It is the time of the season where the “toughness” of the Marlboro High School girls basketball team will be revealed, according to Coach Brad Hagensen.

After a 7-4 start to the 2022-23 season, the Mustangs have lost three straight games and currently sit at 7-7 at the midway point of the campaign.

Marlboro faced top tier competition in its last three games, falling to Trinity Hall, Paul VI High School and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

The schedule will not get any easier with Red Bank Regional High School and Howell High School on deck in the Mustangs’ next two contests.

“It has been a battle test for us with this tough stretch in our schedule,” Hagensen said earlier this week. “We have to show some toughness.”

Marlboro has looked to seniors Erica DiSimone and Amanda Castro for leadership on the floor.

DiSimone has played well at point guard, averaging more than nine points per game while contributing 58 rebounds, 46 assists and 27 steals.

At shooting guard, Castro had picked up where she left off last season before being sidelined with an injury for the Mustangs’ past three games.

Castro is averaging a team-high 12.8 points per game and leads the Mustangs with 19 three-point field goals. She also leads the team in steals (43) and her 58 rebounds ties her with DiSimone in that category.

Castro’s recent absence has forced the Mustangs to come together on the floor, said Hagensen.

“It is always hard having one of your leaders out, but it is also an opportunity for some other players to step up. We just have to stay strong together,” the coach said.

Senior Varsha Simha has primarily been the third scorer for the Mustangs behind DiSimone and Castro. The Mustangs are 4-0 when Simha scores 10 or more points. The senior is averaging about six points per game.

Juniors Lia Villa and Ka’Torah Rush, and sophomores Emily Bergen and Kammi Haeusser have each provided key contributions to help the Mustangs win seven games thus far in 2022-23.

With the qualifying cutoff date for the Shore Conference Tournament approaching, the Mustangs will strive to maintain the .500 record or better that is needed to participate in the conference tournament.

Hagensen said moving forward, it will be important for his players to learn from the recent gauntlet they faced against Trinity Hall, Paul VI and Rumson-Fair Haven.

Along with staying mentally strong and disciplined on the court, Hagensen believes the experience of competing against good teams can help his players spark a rally during the final stretch of the regular season.

“The game is more mental than anything else. It’s about staying mentally strong, staying disciplined and sticking to the game plan,” the coach said.

Marlboro will travel to Little Silver to play Red Bank Regional on Jan. 24 before hosting Howell on Jan. 26.