Marlboro High School’s girls’ basketball coach, Brad Hagensen, can’t quite figure out which adjective best describes his senior leader, Gisella Romeo.
The standout is leading Marlboro to an exciting girls’ basketball season. The Mustangs are 13-4 and occupy first place in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 power-point standings.
Romeo leads the team in points (211), rebounds (92) and steals (86). She is the motor of an aggressive defense and an electric offense, where drives set up layups, free throws and three pointers. With the rebounds, Romeo even creates a lot of Marlboro’s possessions.
She is difficult to describe with just one adjective. But Hagensen thinks he knows the best one.
“Relentless,” he said.
“She’s non stop. In incredible physical condition. Just doesn’t get tired,” Hagensen added. “She has always been in top physical condition. The kid is just relentless. One of the hardest working kids I’ve ever coached. I’ve never seen a kid play this hard all the time.”
Actually, the coach has another adjective that best describes Romeo.
“Disruptive,” he said. “That’s the best word I can use.”
“Gisella is all over the court,” Hagensen added. “She cleans up a lot of mistakes by sprinting back, getting steals and causing deflections.”
Romeo is relentless and disruptive, and plenty of other positive basketball adjectives. So, let’s just settle on this: Romeo is a really good player.
“This is the best stretch of basketball of her career,” Hagensen said. “She sets a great example for the rest of the team.”
And around its standout, Marlboro is really good, too. Eight other Mustangs players have recorded at least 10 steals. Six other players have made at least 23 three pointers.
Romeo and the Mustangs displayed the full power of their fierce, uptempo style on Jan. 22 at Manalapan High School. Marlboro won, 87-43, after racing to a 23-2 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Eleven Marlboro players scored. Laura Morehead (12 points), Theresa Besso (11) and Romeo (11) scored in double figures.
With six regular season games left, the Mustangs are in position to earn a high seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and the top seed in the state sectional tournament. But Hagensen is just enjoying the ride.
“They are a great group of kids to work with. They all buy into what we’re doing and put the team first,” Hagensen said. “Hopefully they’ll just keep improving. We tell the team all the time, ‘You only have so much control over outcomes. But you can control attitude and level of effort.’ And that’s what we focus on every day.”
It is also Hagensen’s last ride with his most adjective worthy player. As one of Marlboro’s only seniors, Romeo is leaving a legacy with the program. She is leading the program to new heights with its new uptempo style of play.
“It’s fun,” Romeo said. “It’s rewarding.”
The senior is also securing her future. She will play collegiate basketball at The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, a Division 2 program.
“It’s a great program. She’ll do great there,” Hagensen said. “She’s an excellent student, too, and it’s a great academic school as well.”
Marlboro’s season will continue on Jan. 31 at home. The Mustangs will take on Middletown High School South at 5:45 p.m.
“The sky is the limit for us, honestly,” Romeo said. “As long as we keep working and improving.”