Team Captain is ‘Formidable’ Force at St. Rose High

By CHRIS CHRISTOPHER

There was no stopping Makayla Andrews.

The St. Rose High School girls basketball standout turned the McCann Activities and Athletic Center into her personal playground.

The senior guard erupted for 29 points, hammered for 11 rebounds and handed out three assists, powering the host Purple Roses past Rumson-Fair Haven Regional 76-50.

Andrews scored a team-high 14 first-half points, including 10 in the opening quarter, as the winners sped to a 36-26 lead. She keyed a 12-0 first-quarter surge, scoring seven points as St. Rose wiped out a 16-13 deficit, taking a 25-16 lead in the initial eight minutes of the game.

Andrews sat out part of the first quarter for a few minutes.

“There were two passes in a row where she did not close out hard enough on their shooters,” St. Rose coach Mary Beth Chambers said. “You have to rotate. She let up five points. When she went back into the game, she was terrific.”

Andrews, a guard, netted 11 third-quarter points as St. Rose took a 57-39 lead. Teammate Brynn Farrell, a senior guard who will play for the University of Florida, added 29 points, including nine in the first quarter,five assists, one steal and five rebounds. Farrell rained home three treys in the tiny gymnasium nicknamed The Telephone Booth.

Junior guard Abby Antognoli contributed 12 points, including five in the fourth quarter, eight assists and seven rebounds. Antognoli netted two treys. Junior forward Layla Laws, who buried one trey, added seven points, five rebounds and one assist.

Andrews starred on the varsity for the Neptune Scarlet Fliers of coach John Brown as a freshman and sophomore. She is in her second season at St. Rose, playing under Chambers.

Her 29 points were the most she scored for the Purple Roses in one game through Feb. 4.

“You don’t realize it while it is happening,” she said of her 29-point outburst, “but it feels good. We had such great chemistry on the court. My teammates fed me the ball. I fed them. I made second-chance shots. I worked hard to get and make those second-chance shots.”

Chambers said she was impressed with Andrews’ hustle.

“Basketball is a team game and her teammates fed her the ball as she sprinted down the floor,” Chambers said. “Her teammates found her. She finished well around the rim.”

Andrews sat out part of last season because of the NJSIAA’s transfer rule.

“Last year,” Chambers said, “she had to sit for 30 days and her transition to St. Rose was difficult. She turned it on and started to get comfortable during the state tournament. Now, she’s smart and coachable. Last year, she got down on herself. She’d make either two or three mistakes or two or three personal fouls and it upset her. We did not get the best Makayla Andrews last year.

“This year, her value to the team has grown in each game. She pays more attention to the details and she finds her teammates when they are open for baskets. She accepts coaching. She continues to increase her basketball IQ, which in turn has increased her level of play. She has grown confidence around the basket, finishing shots in big moments. She has also become a force on the boards, earning multiple double doubles this season.”

Andrews, who bucketed five free throws against Rumson’s Bulldogs, said last season was difficult.

“I did not give it my all,” she said. “Now, I try to play with 10 percent effort all of the time. I do the small things and the big things well and score points when the team needs me to score. I try to be a good teammate and make good decisions.”

Andrews is a formidable inside force.

“She has a great ability to finish around the rim in multiple ways,” Chambers said. “She uses her size (5-foot-10) and athleticism to her advantage to finish around the defense. She also knows how to go get the ball on a rebound both offensively and defensively. It is fun to watch her compete to go get a rebound. She is a force that other teams must always be aware of. If they fall asleep on her, she can really take advantage of that. She really knows how to dominate a game and carry her teammates along with her.”

Andrews is a team captain.

“She tries to lead the team when it hits adversity,” Chambers said. “She has grown up as a player and as a person. She is quiet off the court. When she is quiet on the court, she is not producing. Now, she is involved and active. Now, we’re getting the best Makayla Andrews.”

“As a captain,” Andrews said, “I keep the spirit of the team high. When we get down, we rally together and stick together. We do not fall apart. We learn to stay together when we face real good team.”

To hear Chambers tell it, Andrews, who captains the Purple Roses with Antognoli, has strong leadership skills.

“She is a leader both on and off the court,” Chambers said. “She is someone who brings the team together when we hit adversity. Makayla and Antognoli were chosen for their leadership abilities both on and off the court. Makayla has great charisma. She empowers her teammates, which gets them to believe in her vision and follow her. She’s also really dedicated to becoming a better player. She works hard outside of practice time to continue to increase her abilities as a player, showing her level of commitment to her team. She has that great lead by example mentality.”

Earlier this season, Andrews scored her 1,000th carer varsity point, netting a jumper off a feed from Farrell in a loss to the Cherokee Chiefs in a tournament in South Jersey. She was honored for the accomplishment prior to a home game against Red Bank Catholic.

“I always envisioned I would reach 1,000 on a free throw,” she said. “Not a lot of high school players get it. It’s a big accomplishment. I always dreamed of it. Reaching it means a lot to me.”

“Brynn dribbled down the court off a missed free throw from the other team,” Chambers said. “She found Makayla, who was cutting into the lane. Makayla, who needed three points entering the game to reach the milestone, took one dribble and pulled up. She elevated and made a highly contested and much needed basket. We are so incredibly proud of her accomplishment. We know how hard she has worked and she deserves it. It was a really special moment to see her celebrate that moment with her family.”

A 145-pounder, Andrews said she enjoys attending St. Rose.

“I like it here,” she said. “The class sizes are not that big. It took me some time to get used to everything, but it’s like any other school. St. Rose has made me a better person overall. I have brushed up on my leadership qualities.”

The 5-foot-10 Andrews has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Lafayette College of the Patriot League. She was recruited as a guard.

“I can drive to the basket,” she said. “If I need to, I can guard a guard on defense. If a guard is guarding me, I can either post up or drive past her. I will have to work on a lot of things to become a productive college player. I have to be consistent and do the little things along with scoring and rebounding. I have to make stops and steals and cheer on my teammates. I have to extend my jumper beyond the three-point line and chase down loose balls.”

“One of the thing we have been working on with her is playing defense without fouling,” Chambers said. “She has gotten into foul trouble often this season, but she is definitely committed to working on it and has improved since the beginning of the season.”

Andrews said she enjoyed Lafayette’s atmosphere when she visited the school.

“I like the greenery and the library,” she said. “Everything is in walking distance. I can go to an eatery downtown.”

A possible major is journalism.

“I am not sure of my major,” said Andrews, who takes honors and advanced placement classes at St. Rose, “but possibilities are sports journalism and sports broadcasting. My folks (Marvin and Sonya) say I am good at voicing my opinions. Those majors will keep me in sports.”

Andrews, a member of the Central Jersey Youth Club, comes from a basketball background. Her dad starred for the Lakewood High School Piners and the St. Peter’s College Peacocks. He was inducted into the St. Peter’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997. The 1991 graduate was inducted into the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Hall of Honor at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

With Andrews in the lineup for four seasons, the Peacocks were 80-39 overall, including 38-20 in MAAC play. He led the Peacocks to the MAAC Tournament title, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the tournament. The Peacocks won the NCAA’s automatic berth as league tournament champions. Andrews scored 12 points and added seven rebounds and six assists in a loss to the University of Texas in the first round.

As a senior, Andrews averaged 13.3 points and 6,0 rebounds per game and added 85 assists, 38 blocks and 49 steals for All-MAAC and All-Met postseason honor, He finished his career with 888 points, 437 rebounds, 97 blocks, 193 assists and 108 steals. The 6-foot-3 Andrews, now 50, tried out for the Los Angeles Clippers and played professionally overseas.

“He’s the one who got me into sports and basketball,” said Makayla Andrews, who was the vice president of the Neptune Student Council as a freshman and sophomore. “He is one of the greatest influences on me. He was a great player and a force to be reckoned with. He always said he was not the best shooter or ball handler. He said he outworked people. I just followed in his footsteps.”

Makayla Andrews was a member of the Macedonia Baptist Church Choir in Lakewood.

“Makayla is honest, kind and caring,” Chambers said. “She has a great sense of humor and loves her family and music. She has been a great representation of what it means to be a student-athlete at St. Rose. She helps to continue the tradition of excellence we have here. She’s a great player and a great student. We are proud she will represent St. Rose when she joins the Lafayette team next year.”

Chambers said she saw Andrews play for the first time in an Amateur Athletic Union Tournament  Andrews was a freshman.

“I noticed her ability and her determination to score,” Chambers said. “I could tell how much skill she had and could see the potential of a truly great player. Some players have that hunger to score in their eyes and she was definitely one of them. That is an important role to be filled on any team.”

Andrews helped the Purple Roses win an NJSIAA Non-Public state title last season.

“I knew she could help us win, which is exactly what happened last year,” Chambers said. “I was extremely excited to have such a talented player join the program. It has been a pleasure having both Makayla and her family as part of our family.

“Makayla continues to get better and better and that doesn’t happen without her hard work ethic and dedication to becoming a better basketball player. She has improved so much and it is noticeable. She has set a great example for her younger teammates. She is someone the team looks to in order to get them going. She gets the girls on the team to believe in each other. She will definitely be missed next season, not only as a player and a teammate, but also as a person. She’s a special kid and I can’t wait to watch the success she’ll continue to have next season. I’m so happy she decided to come to St. Rose and for the impact she has had on this program and me.”

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