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
Everyone was excited to play the game against St. Rose. That game is one we circle on our calendar every year. It meant a lot to me to have the last game against them at home my senior year. The environment was great. It was sold out and everyone was hyped. I didn’t have my best shooting game, but I tried to find other ways to help us win the game. Faith was having a really good shooting game so I tried to find her as much as I could. I thought we did a great job executing down the stretch. Defensively, we had to defend for well over a minute to end the game to send it to overtime without fouling. In overtime, we held them to two points. It was a good win for us. We were able to secure a nice seed in the Shore Tournament, which helped us a lot down the line as well.
A couple of weeks ago, we started the Shore County Tournament. We started off with Middletown North. They were very scrappy. We came out focused from the door as we knew it was win or go home. We put that game away and moved on to a solid Toms River North team. They ran a 1-3-1 zone, so I made sure that I kept my teammates involved the entire game. I got hurt that game as my thumb got caught in my jersey.
My athletic trainer Kevin Hyland has been a huge help to me this season with my injury. He is always on time and always helps me when I come out the game and something is bothering me. He helps me to mentally stay with it and push through things. He makes sure I’m healthy and safe. I want to give him a huge thank you for everything he does for me.
Next up was RBC. We were still really pissed over the last loss against them. We came out and showed the real Manasquan team this time. We put the game away early. We set the tone on defense. Early in the game I jumped in the passing lanes, stole the ball and finished for an and one. I was hyped on that one and knew instantly that we were going to win this one. I think because those were the first points of the game that everyone fed off of that energy.
In the finals we played the #1 team in the state in St. John Vianney. SJV is a physical defensive team that is known for pressing the entire game.The game was at Monmouth. It was sold out. I won my first SCT as a freshman but fell short the past two years. I wanted to leave Manasquan with a Shore County Title. It was very emotional for the seniors and I knew I was going to go off. I found my groove early in that one. I got a bunch of steals and got some easy ones.
My pre-game speech got to the team. I started out by saying that “no one really sees what we do in the dark.” I talked about the fact that no one sees how much we push each other in practice to be great. I told them to go out there and play as hard as they could. I told them if we did that we are pretty hard to stop. The determination we have to win won’t be matched by anyone.
The game started and they wanted to play fast, which is my type of game. I feel like I have an advantage over a lot of girls conditioning wise. I’m in good enough shape to play at that pace an entire game. They tried face guarding me in the 2nd half but that didn’t work. I knew I wasn’t going to score 20 points in a half and that’s it. I kept at them. We put together a strong game and pulled out the victory!
Earlier this week I was selected as the Kerwin Award winner. It means a lot to me. It comes from a really knowledgeable and classy family who understands the game. A pride for the game of basketball has been inherited from generation to generation. They choose who they think is the most outstanding player in the Shore conference with their play and how they conduct themselves. I take pride in conducting myself in the best way on and off the court. I was happy and honored to win that.
It was really cool to pass my sisters in that regard. I won it two years in a row and I think they only got the award once. I got to brag to them about that a bit (laughs.) We joked about me passing them, but they were really happy for me.
Breaking the 2,000 point mark last game was pretty important to me. It’s the first time a trio of sisters have broke the 2,000 point mark at one high school in the nation. 1,000 is cool, but 2,000 is sick. As a freshman I’m sure no one thought I would break 2,000. I played a smaller role as my Marina was a senior. It was nice to achieve that with teammates that are actually happy that you broke the 2,000 point mark. I couldn’t have done that without my amazing coach and teammates. The real cool part to me is that we were able to win all these games and I got the mark.
The states are here. I’m in a killer mindset right now. I’m chasing everything this year. I it want all. The individual achievements and the T.O.C. The past two years we lost in the championship. Obviously that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. I remember last year walking on the floor for the championship game that it was our year and we fell short. This year we want it all. Manasquan is a winning program and we are focused on a championship. I won it all as a freshman and my mindset is to go get that gold trophy this year.
On another note. I love to dance. When I’m in the shower I dance and sing non-stop with the shower nozzle and all that. That’s my microphone. All types of music too, from country, Cardi B, to slow jams. Everything. When I’m about to go out I dance while getting ready and always post on social media. I love to dance and have fun!
'Til next time,