By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
January 23, the girls basketball team at Long Branch High School hosted Ocean Township in a Shore Conference B North divisional match-up. The Green Wave downed the Spartans 38-23, and in the process of the win, Keidy Mar Laureano, senior center for the Wave set a personal record.
During the first quarter of the game Laureano grabbed her first rebound, hit an outlet pass and Long Branch scored. On the Wave bench Shannon Coyle, head coach, signaled for balloons and banners to be brought onto the floor. On the next rebound attempt for Larueano she was knocked over and smacked her head on the floor and had to leave the game.
They had been preparing to celebrate her 500th career rebound. The festivities would have to wait until the second quarter with 5:40 to play in the first half and Long Branch leading Ocean 11-6. That’s when Laureano reentered the game and finally pulled down her record-setting rebound.
“I started playing basketball when I was 10 years old,” said Laureano. She has always played under the boards as either a forward or center. When asked who was the biggest influences on her athletic career, she stated her late dad. “My father played basketball and shared that love for the game with me.” Her dad was also a decent boxer in his native Puerto Rico.
One of her biggest successes in getting so many rebounds, according to Laureano is her ability to box out. “My height is an advantage (5’11”) and I box out hard and grab every ball I can,” she said. When she was asked to reflect on her high school career and asked what game has stood out more than any other, her answer was the game against Ocean. “Getting my 500th career rebound is the biggest accomplishment of my career.”
Coyle, who is in her sixth season as head coach has really turned the program around. She has not only instilled discipline into the system, but a winning and competitive attitude. Laureano has said that Coyle has been a big influence in her life on and off the court. “She has taught me to play hard and play with confidence. She’s also showed me how to push myself beyond my limits and never give up,” added Laureano.
During her career in Long Branch Laureano has worn number five, her reason was that number was always lucky for her. Elite athletes are usually superstitious before a game or something with their uniform. For Laureano, she says that before every game she must pray. She will be attending college in North Carolina and majoring in nursing.
“I’m beyond proud of myself and all my accomplishments. However, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my coach, family, and team pushing me to go hard. Every rebound I got was because of them,” said Laureano.
In the win over Ocean, Laureano finished with 11 rebounds, three steals, one block and four points. Leading the Green Wave in scoring was Anyssa Fields who had 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, and four steals. With the win Long Branch improved to 6-8 overall and are 3-7 in the B North.
Ocean remains winless in the division at 0-11 and are 2-14 overall. Morgan Bartlett was high scorer for the Spartans with 14 points. She also had seven rebounds, one steal and one block. Three Ocean players each finished with three points; Alex Ardizzone, Jasia Green and Madison Volek.