There is much to be excited about this time of year, and possibly no player has more to be amped up about then Dara Mabrey. The talented floor general was selected as the New Jersey Player of the Year as a junior in 2017. Manasquan also made an incredible tournament run, but fell short in the championship game to Franklin. Thedribbledrop & NJHoopRecruit are honored to introduce Dara as one of first diarists. Check back throughout the season as Dara gives us an insider look at the life of a star student athlete playing basketball on the highest level in New Jersey.
As told to Christian Mordi / @thedribbledrop
The season opener against Ocean was a little more personal to me because I’m a senior. Right now our motto has been “each team that we face is in the way of something.” The first game was a divisional game, so they are in the way of us winning a divisional title. Everything means a lot to this team. We have to achieve the smaller goals in order to get to the largest one, which is to win a championship.
Our next game was against our rivals, Red Bank Catholic. From the door, they were all over me defensively in regards to off the ball pressure. We play against a lot of those girls over the summer in AAU and we played RBC three times last year. Everyone is familiar with each other and it really came down to who was going to play smarter and tougher. I thought we had something to prove that game. There were a lot of people saying that they didn’t know what Manasquan was going to be like this year since we lost a lot of seniors from last year. It was pretty quiet in the locker room before the game, but we just opened up as a team and we just said forget that. We just focused on executing the game plan and we came out on top.
I feel like sometimes people forget about some of the other players on our team and they play a pivotal role to our success. Even if we aren’t drawing up a lot of plays for them they are still setting screens and do a great job getting to the right spots on the floor to make open shots if need be. Collectively, I’m extremely proud to be apart of this team and of every member of this team. I love the way we move the ball on offense. I can create at the point guard spot and then you have Faith who is a tremendous passer out of the paint as well. Lola is tremendous at making great passes on the fly. When we are all on the same page offensively it’s a beautiful thing to be apart of.
This year we played in the Lady Knights Showcase at Paterson Kennedy. One tough game was against Life Center. I thought we came out pretty sluggish in the first half, but we calmed down and made adjustments at halftime. They were a pretty tough team who worked hard on the glass. I told everyone that it was going to come down to who was going to show more heart in this one. As a program, we take pride in playing hard for 32 minutes every single game. We kept attacking on offense and worked the glass on defense. We had a great 4th quarter offensively and we were able to come out on top.
Our next game was against the #8 ranked team in the state, Saddle River Day. We did a lot of film study on that one to prepare. We knew they wanted to push the pace offensively and create in transition. Defensively we knew at points we were going to have to slow them down with some 2-3 zone and I think we did a great job identifying the shooters and not letting them get open looks. The pace of that game was unreal. We were pretty tired at halftime but we pushed through it. Faith was amazing that game, in particular in the 3rd quarter. At half I told her it was her quarter and to show them who you are and she was great. Offensively I again saw a lot of face guarding and tremendous ball pressure across the board. It’s not fun but I prepared for that in the off-season. I would practice with my brothers and have them apply a lot of pressure all the time. I just let the game come to me and it worked out for me in the end (editor’s note: Dara scored a career high 38 points that game.)
We have a couple big ones coming up, as we play Paul VI. They were ranked by USA Today as one of top 20 teams in America. We also have Long Island Lutheran coming up on Jan 21st.
On another note, I enjoy doing makeup a lot. I like to do it on myself and on other people. I like to make sure it looks good on myself and on my teammates before the game. I even like to fix my coach up if she lets me before the game also.
‘Til next time,