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
A week or so ago we play Red Bank Catholic in our second matchup of the year. It was a solid game overall. We had some missed rotations and that hurt us down the stretch. It wasn’t about them hitting shots, it was more on us. Our rotations weren’t correct, which led to open threes. You don’t want to give up those type of shots because it gives them momentum. We learned a lot from that one. As a group, we learned that we all need to show up and be sharp every night out. We’re going to get the best from our opponents and we have to be ready for that every game.
Our next big game was against Rutgers Prep at the Coaches Choice Showcase in Holmdel. The environment of the game was great. It was sold out. It was like 100 degrees in the gym, but we handled that well. That game they were missing Leilani Correa. She’s a super talented player. I thought we were well prepared for that game. Everyone showed up big time that day. We were prepared mentally for their physicality. One of the big things coach talked to us about was boxing out every time down as they are tough on the glass. I was proud of my teammates that day. We showed up and came out with a win.
Recently we had senior night. It was very important to me. I had a person close to me who I respect in the game approach me and tell me this was the time of the year to take my game to another level. I went out there and set the tone. I had 35 points and I only missed two shots in the game. The points were cool, but I wanted my first double-double of the season in the game. The other seniors and I have been on varsity since we were freshman. It was great to share that moment with them.
In a week or so the Shore Conference Tournament begins. Right from the start it’s very exciting. Every game you have to take very seriously. On a personal level, the Shore County Tournament means a lot. We lost in a heart breaker last year against St. Rose in the semi-final and lost the year before to St. John Vianney. This is my last year in that tournament. I’m looking to bring that one home.
I would say that I approach Shore just as serious as I approach the State Tournament. Some people may say that they want to win Shore more than a state title. Both are very important to me, but I would say winning a state title means a little more as I want bragging rights across the state.
The next big game for us was against Rumson-Fair Haven. They have Tori Hyduke which is the state leading scorer. She is known for getting her stuff off every game, but we take a lot of pride in our defense. We know our offense is always going to be there, but defense is what wins you big games. I started out the game against Tori and I thought I did a great job on her. I think my defense gets overlooked a lot because of the stuff I do on offense as a point guard. I thought the game plan by our coach was great. We had to be at help off the ball against her as she likes to drive. We also had to keep our hands up as she can takes a lot of threes also. I thought my teammates did a great job helping and rotating when I was out there in denial.
Our next big matchup is this weekend against St. Rose at home Saturday. That’s going to be a big game for sure.
On another note, I have been thinking a bit about what I want to do after I'm done playing at Virginia Tech. I would love to be a basketball analyst on ESPN or branch out into coaching on the collegiate level.
'Til next time,