Being a senior athlete in any sport is a unique thing, especially when it comes to tournament time.
They say play every game like it’s your last? For high schoolers, it very well could be, once that last state tournament comes around.
Neysa Aguilar of Middlesex has always been a standout, but she has upped her game to the next level in the 2023 NJSIAA Tournament.
And that will need to continue Tuesday night when second-seed Middlesex (20-8) travels to take on top-seed Shore Regional (22-6) in the Central Jersey Group 1 final, with a 6:30 tip-off time in West Long Branch.
Not only is she averaging 21.2 points per game, but she’s coming off a 32-point, 12-rebound effort in the semifinals against Dunellen, peaking – perhaps – at the right time.
Head coach Kevin Harper will need all of that and more against a Blue Devils team that is the defending champion, having made a run all the way to the Group 1 title game last year. They’re led by senior Rylee Drahos (18.5 ppg) and sophomore Reese Fiore (12.9 ppg).
Middlesex, meanwhile, is making its first appearance in a title game since 2020, Aguilar’s freshman season. That year, they had made their third straight trip to a sectional final, only to fall to small-school powerhouse and neighboring Bound Brook all three times.
Disappointment to be sure for Aguilar. The next season, the COVID-shortened year of 2021, Middlesex made it into the Somogyi Family Pod, the GMC’s top postseason pod, but their run was over before it began, waylaid by a COVID outbreak around the team.
And so, here’s Aguilar, with that one last shot. Make it a good one.
Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with senior Neysa Aguilar about her time at Middlesex, the influence of her coach, and the Central Jersey Group 1 title game against Shore Regional: