There will always be debates about who the best players are in Shore Conference history. There always will be debates about who the best teams are in Shore Conference history. There always will be debates about what were the best games and performances are in shore history. But there is one debate that won’t take place. The most dominant 4 year run in RECENT Shore history by a individual player has come to a end and with it, as we say goodbye to the 2015 HOOP GROUP PLAYER OF THE YEAR….MARINA MABREY



There is nothing left for THE NOTRE DAME BOUND star to win, as a individual or as part of a team. The most dominate player in recent shore history has accomplished more than any player in my time covering the Shore Conference. Marina Mabrey has won the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year, she has won the Asbury Park Press Player of the year, for a third straight time . She has won the Kerwin Award. She has scored over 2,000 points. She has represented her country playing on the Gold Medal winning USA Junior Olympic team. There is just nothing left to win on a personal level. Mabrey has won 2 TOC titles and 2 SCT titles. She has won the WOBM, and her teams never lost a home game in her entire career. There is nothing left team related for Marina Mabrey to win. It’s simple… she can do no more either as a player or a teammate at the high school level.


This year Marina Mabrey was so dominant, I think it would be unfair to try to put it in one blog. But the start of Marina’s amazing season started in the fall. Marina Mabrey took ownership of the Manasquan team and she did it with a growing maturity. I saw the Manasquan team practice in the fall, let me say this without any hesitation. It was the best fall team workout I have ever seen. She pushed and demanded her teammates work as hard as she did. There were no short cuts in this 90 minute workout. I was shocked at the intensity and the effort. Marina Mabrey’s work ethic is truly the biggest gift she will leave behind to her teammates. It was Marina Mabrey that HOOP GROUP coaches would see in the fitness center at 11pm AT NIGHT. It was she that would show up at Hoop Group and get on her siblings for not working hard enough in the summer. When Manasquan played in the fall league, Mabrey was injured but guess what? She SHOWED UP EVERY NIGHT TO WATCH and ROOT FOR HER TEAMMATES. This growth, with maturity and leadership was the key to Manasquan’s having the backbone it needed all year in order to overcome the bumps in the road to a magical season.


I have NEVER EVER…. even in my 26 years of coaching at the college level. Seen a player show up in big games like Marina Mabrey. She started from game one of the season against RFH and ended the season the exact same way playing her best in the BIGGEST spots. Take a look a this hit list and look at the names of the opponents….its SHOCKING!


*RFH- 28 points-12 Rebounds

These are just the Shore teams, she exploded on….Folks I do not believe we will ever see a player in my life-time preform like this on such a high level in such big games, at the high school level…BOYS OR GIRLS. I know this, NO PLAYER EVER, has delivered the goods on a big stage like Miss Mabrey.
It not easy playing with Marina Mabrey. Why you ask? Because it’s easy to get over shadowed by her, due to all the attention she receives from the media. Some people blame Marina Mabrey because of all the hype that comes with being Marina Mabrey. But her teammates did not let this break them apart this year. Why? Because read any article where Mabrey is quoted this year and what is the first thing she did? She tired to acknowledge her teammates and there support. You see there are kids who lead but only if it means them getting the lion’s share of the attention. Mabrey found that special line that is hard to walk. She got the lions share of the attention and still was a leader without stepping on her teammates. She taught her teammates to worry more about winning, RATHER than the credit, she constantly received at no fault of her own. She allowed her teammates to feel part of the success and when they needed her to carry the team that’s exactly what she did. In games against RFH, SJV and St. Rose her teammates allowed her to dominate, the ball late in games…this my friends only happens when your teammates trust, like and believe in you!

No coach had more of a tricky job than Lisa Kukoda. Marina Mabrey is a fiery player who plays on the edge. She is aggressive and mega competitive. She also knew all eyes where on her star and every little thing she did could be a issue. Lisa Kukoda took the smart approach with her star….SHE DID NOT PLAY TO THE CROWD. She did what she felt was right. She allowed Marina Mabrey to be herself and coached her up; and tuned out the noise. I am going to tell you this, Coach Kukoda is a brave shrewd young coach. I am not sure anyone could have done a better job of relating and protecting their star player as Kukoda did.



There is no question in my mind Marina Mabrey has just competed the best season that these two eyes has ever seen. The reason is not only because of the insane numbers she posted. It’s because she elevated her teammates to play at a higher level each night. It’s not because of the how she played in big games, when ALL EYES WERE UPON HER. It’s the best season by a player not because when she got knocked down, she got back up and returned the favor to opponents. The biggest reason Marina Mabrey has had the best season ever for a player is this…she had a target on her back every single night of the year. She was every opponents biggest game, she was the entire game plan for every opposing coach and despite, she not only shined, she single handily in most cases finished off her opponents in every important game….nobody has ever done that over and over during the course of an entire season….NOBODY…AND THIS IS WHY MARINA MABREY IS THE 2015 HOOP GROUP PLAYER OF THE YEAR.


First let me say this I have only been around the shore for 12 years, so when I talk about who the best players are in shore history, its a very small window. I believe the Gregg Lerner’s of the world know WAY MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE SHORE THAN I DO. But in my 12 years Marina Mabrey is the best player BY FAR that I have ever seen. Not just because of her talent, but because of her work ethic and mental toughness on and off the court. You can not discuss her Legacy without talking about the start of her career. Lets not forget that Marina Mabrey started her career and decided to leave Manasquan after a lack of support by the very people she trusted. Remember despite her size and basketball talent, Marina Mabrey was and still is just a kid, and somewhere along the line some very important people with a lot of power forgot that. But somehow this young lady rose above being hurt and disappointed in people much older than she. I am not sure many kids could have survived, watching there disappoints play out in the SPOTLIGHT!

Long forgotten now is how she took the Pt. Beach program on a ride of a lifetime. She put a unknown little school in the headlines and the TOC, something nobody thought was possible…This my friends is why is she special. She did the impossible so often, it became taken for granted, by all of us. When she returned to Manasquan I thought that took real character and toughness. She swallowed her ego, I would like to think she did this, so should could play with her younger sister Dara. But instead of people praising the young lady for returning HOME, some made it seem as if she was breaking rules…SHE DID NOT BREAK OR STRETCH ANY RULE, SHE SIMPLY WANTED TO RETURN TO HER HOME TOWN SCHOOL… She had every right to do so! If she had been a tennis player nobody would have said a word. Marina Mabrey was being held to a standard that was not fair and in fact was wrong. She deserved the same treatment and understanding any young person should get. But again the young Mabrey showed a thick skin that is rare in young people. Because she did not let it tear her down, it made her stronger. It may have been the very fuel needed to become the folk legend she has become, during her second run at Manasquan.


In the end, this has all worked out FOR EVERYONE because the town of Manasquan now has something to be proud of; in most part do to Marina. She has helped elevated a program that was dead when she arrived 4 years ago. She has energized a community where the children needed something special. MARINA MABREY HAS GROWN UP AND MATURED. The Legacy of Marina Mabrey in my mind will be about coming home, and helping a community breath again and doing it under tremendous pressure…but you know what they say with pressure comes diamonds….I BELIEVE MANASQUAN MAY HAVE JUST SEEN THEIR MOST PRECIOUS DIAMOND OF ALL IN….MARINA MABREY!

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