CBA-St. Anthony’s Live Blog

January 31, 2009

It was a fun day over at Monmouth University in front of a capacity crowd. Check below to re-live CBA’s resounding win over St. Anthony.

Check below for the latest updates:

4:08 p.m.: This is believed to be CBA’s first win over St. Anthony since 2001, according to CBA coach Geoff Billet. The sky is limit for the Colts given the fact that St. Anthony is the defending TOC champion and was at full strength. St. Anthony is ranked No. 25 in the ESPN/Rise Top 50 in the nation. Imagine if CBA had been able to finish the job against St. Pat’s at the Boardwalk. The Colts would have a great case to be in the Top 25 in the nation right now and have to be considered in the mix to win a TOC title this season. Thanks for checking in, and I hope you enjoyed it. I know I did.

3:45 p.m.: Brian Neller led CBA with 19 points, junior point guard Roy Mabrey added 18 points and Pat Light had 9 points in a win over a team that is ranked nationally. CBA hit 10 3-pointers in the game, including five by Neller. Villanova recruit Dominic Cheek led St. Anthony with 15 points and Devon Collier added 14 points.

3:41 p.m.: CBA wins it (!!!), 50-42, for its first win over St. Anthony in God knows how long. Tremendous job, and a big game by Brian Neller was a huge reason.

3:59 p.m.: CBA has it in the bag, winning 50-42 with 00.2 seconds left in the game. Amazing. Tremendous job by the Colts, and the Colt Crazy stampede is on the way.

3:37 p.m.: Two free throws by Brian Neller and it’s 48-40 CBA with 31 seconds left in the game and CBA has possession.

3:36 p.m.: CBA is up 46-38 with 44.5 seconds left in the game and barring a miracle looks like it will pull off the upset.

3:32 p.m.: CBA is up 43-38 with 2:06 left in the game after two free throws by Roy Mabrey. Sophomore forward Matt McMullen has just fouled out and been replaced by Jon Rohan.

3:28 p.m.: CBA’s Brian Neller just answered a 3-pointer by Dominic Cheek with one of his own off an inbounds play to give the Colts a 41-38 lead with 2:47 left in regulation.

3:25 p.m.: Villanova recruit Dominic Cheek just drained his third 3-pointer of the game for St. Anthony to tie it at 38 with 3:25 left in regulation.

3:21 p.m.: CBA’s Roy Mabrey just buried a 3-pointer and the Colts lead 37-35 with 4:42 left in regulation. The 3-pointer has been the weapon that has put CBA in position to win a shocker as they have buried 9 threes in this game, while St. Anthony is misfiring from the perimeter against CBA’s zone.

3:18 p.m.: Pat Light just buried a 3-pointer and this place is roaring as CBA leads 34-32 with 6:11 to go in the game.

3:15 p.m.: This place is going bananas as CBA has cut it to 32-31 with 7:04 left in the fourth quarter. A putback by Roy Mabrey and a lay-up off a breakaway by Brian Neller followed by a St. Anthony turnover has the crowd roaring. This is the largest crowd in Boylan Gymnasium at Monmouth since Monmouth played Wagner for the NEC title in February of 2004, so this place is ready to explode if CBA pulls this off.

3:11 p.m.: St. Anthony leads 32-27 at the end of the third quarter after a putback in the final seconds.

3:05 p.m.: St. Anthony leads 30-26 with 1:48 left in the third quarter after Devon Collier just scored on a nice pass by point guard Elijah Carter. I’m wondering if fatigue is going to be a factor for CBA, especially inside, as Pat Light and Matt McMullen have rarely left the floor and have battled all game long with an army of Friars’ big men. They will need to fight through the fatigue for one more quarter to keep them off the offensive glass.

A quick side note, St. Anthony guard D’Marcus Owens, a Neptune resident, has not seen any minutes in the game.

3:01 p.m.: St. Anthony leads 28-26 with 3:46 left in the third quarter. This is the type of game CBA wanted – low-scoring, with St. Anthony being baited into long-range shots against its zone and CBA shooting a high percentage from behind the 3-point line.

2:56 p.m.: CBA is tied at 23 with St. Anthony with 4:52 left in the third quarter after the Colts briefly took a 22-21 lead on a 3-pointer by Travis Farrell, CBA’s sixth 3-pointer of the game.

2:53 p.m.: CBA has cut St. Anthony’s lead to 21-19 with 6:36 left in the third quarter after a pair of free throws by senior center Pat Light. Light backs down from no one, that’s for sure. He is getting offensive boards amidst a thicket of 6-7 or taller St. Anthony forwards.

2:47 p.m. (SA up 21-17 at half): Rutgers coach Fred Hill is sitting two spots to my left at the press table and there are plenty of other college coaches in the crowd as well. Obviously they are here to see St. Anthony’s arsenal of talent, but it can never hurt for somebody like Brian Neller or an up-and-coming player like Matt McMullen to have a nice game on a stage like this in front of the important sets of eyes in this crowd. CBA manager Kevin Belbey is even getting in on the act, as he is being interviewed on MSG’s broadcast right now and getting a chant from the Colt Crazies.

2:40 p.m.: St. Anthony leads 21-17 at the half. Brian Neller missed a pair of 3-point attempts that could’ve cut it to one before the break. The storyline is basically the Friars’ offensive rebounding and interior play vs. CBA’s long-range shooting. St. Anthony has missed numerous lay-ups off lobs into the paint and offensive rebounds to help keep CBA in the game. Neller has 9 points and Roy Mabrey has 8 for CBA, while Villanova-bound guard Dominic Cheek leads the Friars with 8 points. CBA is also an uncharacteristic 0-for-4 from the foul line.

2:29 p.m.: CBA has cut St. Anthony’s lead to 20-17 with 1:54 left in the first half. Brian Neller has drained two threes during an 8-3 run that helped wipe out a 17-9 deficit. St. Anthony’s is playing volleyball on the offensive glass but has missed a few chippies. Five of CBA’s six field goals in the game thus far have been 3-pointers, so it’s clear that the Colts are going to have to keep the hot shooting up and hope that St. Anthony continues to have trouble finishing on the offensive glass. St. Anthony’s Dominic Cheek also has already knocked down a pair of threes against CBA’s 2-3 zone. Neller and Mabrey have combined for all 17 of CBA’s points thus far.

2:17 p.m.: St. Anthony leads 13-9 after the first quarter. CBA is going to have to have a good shooting game from the perimeter because it’s a jungle inside the paint with the Friars’ size. They already have four blocks and have challenged everything by Pat Light and Matt McMullen. CBA is still in a 2-3 zone, while offensively it has handled St. Anthony’s full-court press pretty well. Senior guard Travis Farrell is starting in place of the injured Adam Spengler, who broke his hand in a win over Howell earlier this week. St. Anthony is on a 5-0 run to end the period after CBA had taken a 9-8 lead on a 3-pointer by Roy Mabrey.

It’s clear that CBA is hoping to turn St. Anthony into a jumpshooting team and praying that Villanova-bound guard Dominic Cheek doesn’t kill them from the perimeter.

2:11 p.m.: St. Anthony leads 10-9 with 2:46 left in the first quarter and you can see which way this game is headed. CBA is in a zone, and the Friars are hurting them inside off the lob and off the offensive glass with their size, while the Colts are hot from 3-point range. Roy Mabrey already has two 3-pointers and Brian Neller has added another for all of their points thus far.

2:03 p.m. For those of you who couldn’t make it, you can watch the replay of the game on MSG + Plus at 11 a.m. on Sunday or for our members, check out the highlights on our site whenever you want.


Another key injury from Friday night, this one on the girls side/Quick football alumni update

January 31, 2009

It seems like the injury bug does not discriminate by gender, as not only did two talented Shore Conference boys pivot players (Middletown South’s Kyle Cancillieri and St. John Vianney’s Mike Balkovic) suffer bad injuries on Friday night, but I’ve also heard that talented Jackson Memorial sophomore center Christa Evans suffered a bad ankle injury (potentially fractured) in the Jaguars’ win over Brick Memorial on Friday night. Evans is a top scorer and rebounder for Jackson, and that is a major blow to the first-place Jaguars in their quest to wrap up the Class A South title, as well as to their postseason hopes. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery (and I would really like to stop using that sentence as frequently as it has been used lately).

A quick football note. It was great to hear that former Keansburg star quarterback Anthony Valle is now enrolled at Albright College, which also features his former Titans teammates Josh Bakala and Scott Pillar. Valle plans on playing football at Albright next fall after not having played anywhere during this past fall, according to Titans offensive coordinator Tom O’Keefe, who is also the boys basketball coach. Good for Valle, who pretty much has every quarterback school record known to mankind at Keansburg and was a first-team All-Shore player in 2007.

An Injury-Riddled Friday Night and More

January 31, 2009

(For info on some of Saturday’s big games, check the previous post)

A quick style note: I switched up the theme on the blog a little bit because that wide page was making me nuts, so hopefully this is easier to read.

I was talking to a coach on Friday night who was out scouting and watched the Christian Brothers Academy-Middletown South and St. John Vianney-Manasquan games and the first thing he said was, “If you are a big man in the Shore Conference right now, you might be scared to even go on the court at this point.” Yes, the injury bug is loaded up on Red Bull and stinging everyone in sight. In Middletown South’s loss, junior center Kyle Cancillieri took an elbow to the nose from CBA senior Pat Light, who had the ball and was trying to clear out space after a rebound, resulting in a bloodbath that sent Cancillieri to the hospital with what is most likely a broken nose. The question now is how much time he will miss as the Eagles get ready for the stretch drive to the postseason.

CBA is rolling on its way to the Class A North title and will face the monster on Saturday when it takes on St. Anthony, as legendary Friars coach Bob Hurley Sr. was at Middletown South on Friday night to get a look at the Colts. At least it’s not last season’s St. Anthony team, which might have been the best high school team I’ve ever seen in person, better than the legendary 1989 St. Anthony team with Bob Hurley Jr., Rod Rhodes, Jerry Walker, etc. The Friars led CBA 42-5 at halftime when the two teams met last year by the way. I remember people e-mailing and texting me to say that my scoreboard was messed up on my old site, but unfortunately for Colts fans, it was all too true.

I actually saw one of St. Anthony’s stars from last year, point guard Jio Fontan, recently when I went up to Fordham University in the Bronx, my dad’s alma mater, with my parents and Miss All Shore Media to watch the Rams’ game against Duquesne on Jan. 25. First off, Rose Hill Gymnasium at Fordham is a cool place to see a basketball game. It only seats about 3,200 in this old building, but the crowd is filled with old-school hoops fans (the guys behind me knew the names of the officials and what games they had refereed the night before) and there’s not a bad seat in the house. Unfortunately, there is something bad there – the team. The Rams were 2-15 after a loss to Duquesne and shot 2-for-23 from 3-point range, but Fontan was their best player on the floor as a freshman (although he still can’t shoot free throws). Another player from that St. Anthony team, freshman Alberto Estwick, also starts for the Rams, who also feature Mike (Oh Please God No) Moore, who was a sizzling 1-for-7 from behind the arc. Fontan is legit, though, and I could see him rising through the ranks to be one of the Atlantic-10’s best point guards before long.

But I digress. Back to last night. Over at Manasquan, St. John Vianney sophomore center Mike Balkovic went up for a dunk and came down awkwardly, sticking out his arm to break his fall and ending up with a broken wrist (sound familiar Monmouth fans?), most likely ending his season. That torpedoes St. John Vianney’s playoff qualifying push to a degree because Balkovic drew a consistent double team in the post and is the team’s best scorer (he had 25 points before he got hurt in the 4th quarter against the Warriors). I know the talk is of fellow sophomores Jarelle Reischel of Point Beach and Jarrod Davis of Lakewood when it comes to Division I players in the current sophomore class, but I think Balkovic can be a D-I player as well because he is already about 6-7 and has range out beyond the 3-point line. He could be the next Joe Willman, or even like former SJV standout Matt Mullery, who is now at Brown. I talked to Balkovic after SJV’s win over Red Bank Catholic the other day and he strikes me as a good kid as well, which is what I have heard from other coaches, so here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for Balkovic.

Balkovic is also from Neptune – imagine what the Fliers would be with him and Lakewood’s Jacob Grant (a Neptune transfer) in the frontcourt, although I know we could play that game all day with a number of teams. Just ask any coach from the Freehold Regional District about who should really be on what team and you will get a 20-minute dissertation.

These injury updates came after I was at the Monmouth-Neptune game and saw Monmouth’s Joe Willman with one arm in a cast and a sling and the other forearm in a cast after breaking both of his wrists recently to end his season. Willman was giving out elbow hand shakes all night as the well-wishers came to wish him luck in his rehab after Monmouth fell 59-52 to the Scarlet Fliers. Willman is not an emotional player, but that had to kill him to sit there and watch that game knowing he could help. I know I had my emotions surgically removed back in sportswriter school, but I had to say it was just tough to see Willman like that, and I’m sure he will grow and move on from it, but that is a tough hand to get dealt.

The moral of the whole story of the last two weeks is that if you are a talented big man in the Shore who has all of your limbs and bones intact, don’t let any black cats near you or break any mirrors or walk under any ladders. And wrap your wrists in about 6 rolls of tape before every game. And don’t try any dunks.

As for Neptune’s win over Monmouth, it was weird because although Monmouth entered at No. 1, Neptune felt like the favorite because it was in their building and the Falcons were without Willman. The biggest developments for Neptune have been its increased aggressiveness off the dribble, better rebounding and just better shooting overall. I also have been impressed with the shooting range of junior forward Jamaal Hubbard, who was knocking down 17-footers after setting high picks and finding an open space for the kickout. If he can do that with any regularity, that’s a big, extra dimension for their offense. D.J. Gutridge is also relentless and plays at a faster pace than most guards. A team will be celebrating a basket and he will have already sped to the other end of the floor and dropped in a lay-up before they can react. He has gotten some good Division II looks, including an offer from one school in New York, and with the effort he brings regularly, a team will be happy to have him.

As for Monmouth, its lack of depth really hurts right now because it’s hard to suddenly make up 20 points and about 12 boards a game in Willman’s absence without a group effort. Neil Thompson and Anthony Gibson have done their best to carry the offense, but if Brent Shelton or Austin Whitehurst doesn’t crack double digits against a good team, they will be fighting a major uphill battle.

I also caught up with former Neptune great Bobby Braun, a member of the legendary 1980-81 team that shocked Camden, at halftime of the game against Monmouth on Friday night. There was a benefit to help Braun with his medical bills during the Holiday Jubilee Tournament earlier this season, as he was almost fatally injured in a catastrophic jet ski accident in 2006 and had to undergo radical surgeries and intense rehabilitation since then, but is doing much better. I actually know Bobby from my days of covering the Lakewood BlueClaws, because he used to work for HomePlate, which serviced Lakewood’s concession stands, and he is a good guy. It was great to see him doing much better, and he said in two weeks he is off the crutches and will use a cane, and then two months after that, he should be walking on his own again. “It makes you gain a whole new appreciation and outlook on life, that’s for sure,” Braun said. You’ll be back on the golf course in no time, Bobby.

In other news, Howell continued its strong push toward a state playoff berth with a 52-45 win over a depleted Colts Neck team that just lost talented freshman guard Brian Kenny to knee surgery. Sophomore guard Ryan Keegan is one to keep an eye on for the Rebels, who are now 8-9 with the state playoff cutoff coming up next Saturday. Give head coach Brian Quick credit for keeping this team focused when its season could’ve gotten away from it early on.

Also, while I mentioned the CBA-St. Anthony game on Saturday as the game of the day, there are two others to keep an eye on. St. Rose is heading to Asbury Park’s janitor closet-sized court for a big Class B Central game. The team waving the purple and yellow pom poms will be Point Beach, which would be tied with the Blue Bishops for first place if the Purple Roses can pull off the win, and the Garnet Gulls still have a game with Asbury Park remaining. The whole game will come down to how St. Roses’s guards handle Asbury Park’s full-court pressure, plain and simple.

Middletown South also hosts a Rumson-Fair Haven team that has shown some signs of life lately with wins over Manasquan and Holmdel. Plus, there’s a good chance Middletown South will be without Cancillieri, one of its top scorers, which helps Rumson’s cause and could make the game interesting.

On the girls side, Colts Neck and Neptune continued their inexorable march toward division titles with lop-sided wins that clinched no worse than a tie (although no one is beating them anyway) for the Class A North and Class B North crowns, respectively. Jackson Memorial made it past a potential landmine in its quest to win the Class A South title when it knocked off Brick Memorial behind Caitlyn Testa, who is one of the more underrated point guards around.

The win of the night belonged to Holmdel, which surprised Raritan in the Rockets’ home gym, 46-43. The Hornets overcame a 28-point night by Raritan junior guard Nicole Lentine, as Melissa Martorelli had 16 points and Alex Diekmann added 12. Holmdel is fighting for its playoff life right now at 7-9 on the season, which always makes an opponent dangerous.

Sourlis Going for 500th career win on Saturday/Ocean’s Lyster Commits to Lafayette/Hoops Extras

January 30, 2009

Rumson-Fair Haven girls coach George Sourlis, who is in his 23rd season with the Bulldogs, is in line to claim his 500th career win with a victory over Middletown South in a nondivisional game at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Rumson. That is a tremendous milestone, and what I am trying to figure out is if Sourlis is the first Shore Conference girls coach to ever reach the mark, making him the all-time winningest girls coach in Shore history. I don’t know much about teams before the rise of St. John Vianney in the late 1980s and if there were any dynasties or long-time coaches from the 1970s to early 1980s that might have reached the 500-win plateau, but I don’t think it’s been done by a Shore Conference girls coach. Sourlis may be writing Shore Conference history as we go here, which I’m sure he’ll shrug off with some sarcasm and give credit to his players as usual, but that is something to really take a minute and admire the accomplishment.

Also, some quick football updates. Ocean defensive lineman Rick Lyster, an All Shore Media first-teamer and the Liberty Division Defensive Player of the Year, has committed to Lafayette, according to Ocean coach Don Klein, so congrats to Lyster. Another Ocean senior, safety/wideout Rhett Cowley, is narrowing it down between Lafayette, Holy Cross and Sacred Heart. Also, our wrestling writer, Bob Badders, spoke with Point Boro senior Jeff Keffer, a defensive tackle who was one of the top defensive players in the Shore this season and an All Shore Media first-teamer, and Keffer will most likely be committing to Sacred Heart. I also spoke with Freehold coach Mark Ciccotelli on Thursday and it looks like star wide receiver/defensive back Brandon Brown, another first-teamer, will end up at either Kean University or Rowan University, according to Ciccotelli. Senior quarterback Nick Tyson is still undecided.

One other quick thing: I have two boys basketball features coming that I thought I would have gotten done by now (stupid eating and sleeping, always getting in the way), but I hope to have them up before you are stuffing yourself with chips, dips, those mini hot dogs, buffalo wings and everything else under the sun while watching the Super Bowl on Sunday night, so stay tuned for those.

Tonight I will be at the Monmouth at Neptune boys game after watching the Scarlet Fliers top Freehold, 56-55, in a thriller on Thursday night. CBA at Middletown South is another game to keep an eye on tonight. A few quick points on that game that weren’t addressed in the game story and then I will get to some other stuff from Thursday night before Friday’s action gets underway.

  • He may have only had 2 points, but burly center T.J. Hicks gave Neptune something I thought it lacked in its earlier losses this season – a sense of toughness and nastiness. Hicks was not going to let his teammates get pushed around and dealt out a few hard fouls during the game. His contribution didn’t show up in the box score, but I thought he was important to Neptune’s success.
  • I know it sounds a little crazy because of the Fliers’ guard depth, but Neptune’s best 3-point shooter might be senior forward Dan Singleton. He doesn’t shoot a lot of them because he spends most of his time in the paint, but he can knock it down from the outside.
  • Neptune was able to slow down Freehold’s Andrew Gerbehy because it had a healthy amount of respect for him. Talking to Neptune’s Lem Walker after the game, he said that in the first game, they knew Gerbehy could shoot, but they didn’t think he had the ability to put it on the floor and get to the rim, and he surprised them. This time, they came out knowing what to expect and did a better job.
  • Neptune is started to play with more fire. I thought in their previous losses to Monmouth and Freehold that they didn’t play with energy and they looked for other people to make a play when things are going wrong.
  • Freehold senior swingman Will Howarth might be one of the most improved players in the Shore Conference this season. He went from a bit player last year to someone who is not afraid to take and make big shots in the fourth quarter, and he has range out to about 23 feet. You can tell he has worked hard on his game and now has the confidence to go with it.

Monmouth’s Anthony Gibson and Neil Thompson, who I think are the only ones who might see more games than me, were in attendance last night, so they saw firsthand what to expect from the hard-charging Scarlet Fliers right now. If Monmouth gets this one without Joe Willman, I think the Falcons will start to make others believe that they can still make a run to the Shore Conference Tournament final without the Shore’s best player.

The other games that jumped out on Thursday night were Lacey‘s 59-51 win over Toms River North, Mater Dei‘s overtime win over Keyport and Lakewood escaping Central in overtime. Lacey senior point guard John Pierce nearly had a triple-double in the win and showed how dangerous that team can be when he plays well because it usually leads to a big game from forward Justin Smith (24 points against TRN), who is on the receiving end when Pierce drives and dishes. Pierce is quietly a four-year varsity player and one of the most experienced guards in the Shore, which could make a difference come tournament time. The Lions’ win also means that Brick Memorial can take the Class A South title all for itself by beating TRN on Monday and winning the rest of its divisional games.

Class B Central is getting a little wild as Keyport handled St. Rose without Tony Lopez and then came back and got beat by Mater Dei in overtime. That’s a good win for the Seraphs, who are fighting for their postseason lives right now. After beating Point Boro last week, Central nearly took down Lakewood in overtime before Ibn Moye fouled out on a call that left a lot of Central fans angry. Central is showing that it may not be a team people want to see in a preliminary-round SCT game because if Moye, JoJo Hardy and Mo Ibrahim get it going offensively in the same game, th Golden Eagles can pull off a surprise. Lakewood, meanwhile, set itself up for a showdown with Point Boro on the road in a huge Class B South game on Monday.

Monday is shaping up to be a doozy of a day on the boys side. Monmouth travels to Freehold for a huge Class B North game that also will have major SCT seeding implications, Brick Memorial heads to Toms River North with the Class A South title up for grabs and Lakewood heads to Point Boro for a huge divisional game as well. That’s a day for the cloning machine.

As for Saturday, the game of the day is Christian Brothers Academy vs. St. Anthony at Monmouth University at 2 p.m.. This is not the St. Anthony team that Rumson hung around with earlier in the season. Devon Collier, Ashton Pankey and Derrick Williams are three talented transfers who became eligible on Jan. 19, boosting the Friars dramatically. Collier is 6-8 and already has offers from St. John’s and Villanova, Williams is 6-7 and 235 pounds and Pankey is 6-8. They are added to a team that already includes Villanova recruit Dominic Cheek, one of the top guards in the country, and Quinnipiac recruit Jamee Jackson, another big body in the middle. Also on the team is Neptune resident D’Marcus Owens, the younger brother of former Neptune guard Kevin Owens, who sees significant time and is a distributor and defensive player at point guard.

In other words, CBA’s Pat Light and Matt McMullen are going to have to rebound better than they have all season because the Friars have an army of big bodies attacking the offensive glass. The other bad news is that CBA starting guard Adam Spengler broke his hand against Howell, leaving them with one less experienced ball-handler against St. Anthony’s trademark full-court pressure. CBA is going to need Brian Neller to step up not only on the scoring end, but also help out with the defensive rebounding. If the Colts can turn St. Anthony into a jump-shooting team and limit second chances, they will have a shot. However, that is much more easier said than done.

As for the girls side, I took in Neptune‘s 66-46 win over Freehold and I’m happy to report that all the action took place on the court, as opposed to the first meeting between the teams. Neptune sophomore guard Syessence Davis is one of the toughest players in the Shore. Apparently she broke her nose in the Trenton game over the weekend, and I was at that game and she never came out or never gave any indication that an elbow had just fractured her nose. She is playing with a facemask now and will have surgery on Feb. 3. She is expected to miss about a week after the surgery, so she may be back just in time for a key nondivisional game against St. Rose on Feb. 11 that will have SCT seeding implications. Her defense is crucial to Neptune’s full-court press, and she also is a very underrated passer as well.

Red Bank Catholic nearly stunned Rumson-Fair Haven in falling 39-36, but I can’t say I’m ever shocked when one of these teams plays the other very tough regardless of record or past history. They both know each other so well that these games are often ugly offensively because the defense can anticipate everything. The main difference is that RFH has Kate Miller and RBC does not. She had 21 points in a low-scoring game and was the difference.

Also, Barnegat nearly pulled an upset before falling in overtime to Point Boro in Class B South. Sophomore guard Autumn Herring is a player to watch for the Bengals, who have given some solid teams a run for their money this season.

Coaches vs. Cancer Benefit at Raritan on Friday/Some quick hoops extras

January 29, 2009

Raritan will be hosting a Coaches vs. Cancer Fundraiser on Friday night as part of a boys-girls doubleheader at Raritan against Class A Central rival Holmdel. The boys game is at 5 p.m., followed by the girls game at 6:30 p.m. The admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children, a special 50-50 will be held and all proceeds from the admission and the 50-50 will be given to the American Cancer Society. Raritan also is selling cards for $1 to post in the gymnasium as a tribute to the fight vs. cancer.

It’s also always fun when Holmdel’s boys meet Raritan because Holmdel coach Sean Devaney led Raritan to its best season ever when the Rockets won the Group III title and the Shore Conference Tournament title on the Qa’rraan Calhoun-Marques Johnson teams a few years back, and his head assistant was current Rockets coach Denis Caruano, who is good friends with Devaney. Plus, the Rockets are looking to solidify a spot in the state playoffs and the SCT field, while Holmdel is hoping to keep pace in the Class A Central race to set up a showdown with Manasquan for the title.

As for Thursday, the big match-up is Freehold at Neptune (5:30 p.m.) on the boys side and Neptune at Freehold (3:30 p.m.) on the girls side. The Neptune boys are looking to spice up the Class B North race by handing Freehold just its second loss of the season, while Freehold is hoping that a win over Neptune on Thursday and then a Neptune win over Monmouth on Friday can set up a winner-take-all for the division title with Monmouth on Monday. Freehold’s Christian Garcia killed Neptune inside in their first meeting at the beginning of the season, so we’ll see how much Neptune has improved in the interior and in the outside shooting department since that first meeting. Freehold dared Neptune to beat it with jumpshots the last time against its zone, so we’ll see if any changes in strategy are made this time.

As for the girls, Freehold is looking to try and push undefeated Neptune a little bit as this is the Scarlet Fliers’ last real obstacle to the Class B North title. The real hope is that there are no ugly incidents after the game like in their first meeting, and that the focus is just on basketball. Freehold senior Shannon Mayrose has had some huge games against Neptune over the years, and the Colonials will need it again today against the fearsome foursome of Sehmonyeh Allen, Shakena Richardson, Marley Mauvais and Syessence Davis. Still, I think this really comes down to how guards like Alex Eagle and Ashley Lewis along with swing Simone Dixon play in this game. Of course, as we know from the first time, this rivalry has been dramatically ramped up since Allen transferred from Freehold to Neptune before the school year.

Some Red Bank Catholic football college commitments

January 27, 2009

With senior quarterback Connor O’Leary already committed to Campbell, Red Bank Catholic, which finished No. 1 in the All Shore Media Top 10 in the fall, has had several other players make their decision or narrow it down to their final choices.

Linebacker Anthony Lubischer, a first-team All Shore Media All-Conference selection, has committed to Division I-AA Fordham University up in the Bronx, and his teammate, senior offensive lineman Chris Spahr, will now be his Patriot League foe as Spahr, also a first-team selection, has committed to Bucknell. Senior wideout/defensive back Alex Taylor will choose between Sacred Heart and Monmouth University of the Northeast Conference, according to RBC coach Frank Edgerly, and first-team lineman Shawn Smith is down to either Wagner or Central Connecticut State. Senior defensive back/running back David Reeves and Liberty Division Offensive Player of the Year Nolan Vill, both first-team selections, are still undecided.

Any coaches or players who have football college commitments to report with National Signing Day coming up on Feb. 4 can e-mail me at and I will post them. It doesn’t matter if it’s Division III or Division I, junior college or anything in between, I would like to recognize any players going on to play at the next level.

Boys/girls hoops ramblings/More football commitments

January 26, 2009

Barnegat’s Dan Cintron isn’t the only wideout from the Shore Conference headed to Lehigh as Freehold Township wideout Ryan Spadola also has verbally committed to play for the Mountain Hawks, while his teammate, linebacker Paul Amakihe, is headed to William & Mary. That still leaves Patriots linebacker Matt Faiella, who has received several high-level Division I-AA looks, to commit for the Patriots. For a list of the college commitments that have been reported from the Shore so far, click here.

Now, on to a few quick boys and girls basketball extras. On the boys side, Monmouth is showing it can get it done so far without Joe Willman as it picked up a convincing win over a reeling Freehold Township team on Monday night thanks to 28 points from Anthony Gibson. I actually ran into Gibson and junior guard Neil Thompson at the Neptune game out in Trenton on Saturday and asked them how it was going and they said that Willman was not outwardly trying to show it, but they could tell how disappointed he was inside after his season-ending injury. They also noted how they didn’t even have a chance to practice without Willman before they had to play Red Bank the next night and pulled out a two-point win. Now that they had a couple days to get used to their sets and their attack without Willman, they did a nice job on Monday night. They have a huge 1-2 coming up as they play Neptune on the road on Friday and then Freehold on the road next Monday in what will decide the Class B North title.

Toms River North and Brick Memorial appear set up on a collision course for the Class A South title as North picked up a key win over Toms River East on Monday night and Memorial took care of business against Lacey. If the two take care of business the rest of this week, Memorial will head to Toms River North on Feb. 2 (next Monday) for all of the marbles in A South. I’ll tell you who wouldn’t mind Brick Memorial winning the division – Holmdel. The Hornets beat the Mustangs 52-49 in the final seconds on Saturday as junior guard Erik Shirvanian had 22 points, so a win over a division champ is never a bad thing when heading into the Shore Conference Tournament seeding meeting.

One team that appears to be coming on strong is Middletown South. They might be my darkhorse pick to reach the SCT final if they don’t run into Christian Brothers Academy in the semifinals. With junior point guard Pat O’Connell helping to stabilize the ball-handling situation, they are looking strong right now, and they beat Southern by 22 points on Saturday on the road for a solid win.

I took in a little bit of Neptune‘s blowout of Trenton on Saturday, and beforehand I was talking with our good friend Nep84 (yes, he is alive and well and tied up in meetings for hours on end every day) that the Fliers would have to break out of their shooting slump sooner or later and bury somebody. As I was driving home I got a text message with the final score that said “Today was that day,” so maybe the Fliers are starting to come around as they get ready for a huge game with Monmouth on Friday.

Monsignor Donovan caught St. Rose at the perfect time on Saturday after the Roses had played their best game of the season in a big divisional win over Point Beach on Friday night and had to come back to earth a little, and the Griffins capitalized with a 71-60 win that will help their argument come SCT seeding time. Sophomore Anthony Duszczak is one to watch for Mon Don after star Sean Grennan, as he continues to hover right around a double-double in most games. The more he comes along, the more dangerous this team is going to be.

One other note from Saturday – if that Monsignor McClancy (N.Y.)-Mater Dei score looked a little crazy (McClancy won 89-78), don’t forget about a certain wrinkle in the New York City game. As Seraphs assistant Pat Riddell put it in a text, “The shot clock is fun!” I really wish there was a shot clock down here because watching 43-40 games is brutal.

As for the girls side, I saw Neptune roll past Trenton on Saturday and I’m definitely interested to see how the Scarlet Fliers do come SCT time. I really think they are going to have to show they can consistently knock down jumpers because I can’t see too many teams playing them man-to-man. Teams can’t match Neptune’s speed usually, so they play a zone and try to turn the Fliers into a jumpshooting team while limiting second shots, but teams like Colts Neck and St. John Vianney can match Neptune’s speed, so those are the two that could play them man-to-man. I just wouldn’t want to have a guard have to try to stay in front of Syessence Davis or Shakena Richardson for a whole game because that has foul trouble written all over it. Still, Colts Neck has three guards who can rotate on them and St. John Vianney is so deep that it can afford to get into foul trouble because there is plenty of help off the bench. Still, I think Neptune has a shot against those teams.

I could see guard Morgan Thompson becoming important if she can regularly knock down threes when the others draw attention. Neptune’s shots weren’t really falling from the outside, and it kept Trenton in the game for a little while considering Trenton didn’t have anybody who could shoot, so all the Fliers had to do was seal off the defensive backboards to get the win. Senior forward Marley Mauvais has definitely improved on her game from last season and is a reliable finisher inside and much more of an offensive threat. Depth is huge with Neptune. If it gets in foul trouble early against a good team, it could spell doom. Sophomore point guard Shakena Richardson has become more patient and under control offensively, and she might be the best passer in the entire Shore.

With Monday’s action, Lacey had a nice win over Brick Memorial, and the most important win was probably Manchester‘s dismantling of Point Boro, 72-37, in Class B South. Point Boro was the Hawks’ closest pursuer, so that win all but iced the division title for the Hawks.