By Rich Fisher | Contributing Editor
The St. John Vianney girls’ basketball team is always one of the best teams in the Shore Conference Tournament, but it has had difficulty being THE best in recent years.
For the third straight season, the Lancers lost in the championship game, as upstart Manchester took a 58-42 victory Feb. 23 at Monmouth University in West Long Branch.
Photo Gallery: St. John Vianney vs. Manchester
The score was not indicative of the closeness of the game for the first three quarters. After falling behind 28-18, the Lancers rallied to within 35-33 heading into the fourth quarter. But the Hawks, who were making their first-ever appearance in the finals, did not let the pressure get to them as they outscored SJV 23-9 in the final eight minutes to pull away.
Third-seeded Manchester won its first SCT crown the hard way, by upsetting 2nd-seeed St. Rose of Belmar, 62-45, in the semifinals and top-seeded SJV in the finals.
The Lancers reached the championship game by taking a 53-51 thriller over Manasquan, gaining revenge for their loss to the Warriors in last year’s finals. SJV had to mount a rally as it trailed by 11 in the first half. Brelynn Bellamy had 17 points, while Sajada Bonner and Madison St. Rose had 11 each and Sarah Karpell added 10.
Against Manchester, Bonner led the way with 12 points, while Bellamy scored eight.
St. John Vianney and St. Rose will try and put their losses to Manchester behind them in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A tournament. Top-seeded St. Rose meets the Notre Dame-Paul VI winner on Feb. 28, while 2nd-seeded SJV takes on the Camden Catholic-Red Bank Catholic winner on Feb. 28.
Donovan Catholic hosts a first-round game with Union Catholic Feb. 26.