As any parent of a high school wrestler, gymnast or girls volleyball player knows practice started in New Jersey this week and competition begins on March 16.

It’s a very different time-frame from what these athletes are accustomed to and will pose challenges for those who also want to compete in spring sports beginning in April.  Of course the hope is that with the later start athletes in these sports have a better chance to have a safe and healthy season.

Meanwhile the high school basketball season is coming to a close at nearly the same point it did last March when the arrival of the coronavirus forced a shutdown at a time when a few teams from the shore were still competing for championships.

This modified season will leave some very much unfulfilled as they played about half the number of games and did not have the opportunity to compete for any championships.  However as many coaches reflect on this winter they will admit that just getting to play 12-15 games was really better than they could have hoped for around Christmas time when the outlook for any type of season was bleak.

Boys teams that are still playing will hit the court for the final time tonight as part of the Shore Conference Postseason event that has separated teams into different groups.  Like during football season most of the focus has been placed on what we in the media refer to as the “championship pod” as tonight undefeated and top-ranked Manasquan will host Marlboro with the winner to have at least bragging rights as the best team around.

Manasquan has held that honor for nearly two full years while winning 42 of their last 43 games over that stretch, the lone loss to Roselle Catholic in January of 2020.  The Warriors and Mustangs tip off at 5:30 p.m. today and you can watch and listen to it live for free on the Shore Sports Network.

The girls season concludes Saturday with, as expected, St. John Vianney and Red Bank Catholic meeting in the finals of the “championship pod” while Donovan Catholic will host Freehold Township in the “Pod B” finals.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Manchester’s Destiny Adams will end her remarkable career with a chance at history when the Hawks host Jackson Memorial in a consolation game.  After scoring 43 points in a win over Red Bank Regional Thursday, the University of North Carolina recruit is 40 points away from joining the rather exclusive 2,000 point club something she would have easily accomplished had this been a normal season.

Of course normal is not something we apply to much of anything these days.

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