Check here throughout the day for updates, observations, random notes, and anything else I can think of as we go through a full day of basketball.
Updated 8:52 p.m.
And that will do it sports fans, three thrillers out of four games in a great day of hoops at Convention Hall. I will have plenty of stories as well as video highlights from all of the games, so make sure to check back Sunday for all of that before I’m sitting right back here again and taking in the girls hoops action on Sunday. Stay warm everybody.
Neptune 50, Middletown South 48 (Final)
Updated 8:26 p.m.
D.J. Gutridge was named Neptune’s MVP with 14 points and 4 rebounds, while Rob Callori was picked as Middletown South’s MVP with 16 points, which tied Kyle Cancillieri for the game high. The Eagles shot 10-for-21 from the foul line, which proved to be their undoing, and committed 23 turnovers to only 9 for Neptune. The Scarlet Fliers, who also got 11 points and 6 rebounds from Dan Singleton, won despite shooting 1-for-19 from 3-point range.
The most surprising stat was that Neptune outrebounded South 31-27 despite having a size disadvantage at almost every position. The win avenged a loss to the Eagles from last season’s Central Jersey Group III final.
Updated 8:20 p.m.
Senior guard Jabari Joyner hit a pull-up jumper from the foul line with 2.8 seconds left in the game to win it after Middletown South had missed a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left in a tie game. On the final play, Will Low heaved a baseball pass that found Kyle Cancillieri about 17 feet from the rim but his desperation shot was short to give Neptune the second thrilling win in the game.
Updated 8:13 p.m.
Midd. South is clinging to a one-point lead and has the ball after a made jumper by Neptune’s Jabari Joyner with 35 seconds remaining.
Updated 8:02 p.m.
Just when I made a crack about Neptune’s outside shooting, D.J. Gutridge drained a 3-pointer for the team’s first 3-pointer of the game to cut the lead to four with 3:06 to go.
Updated 8 p.m.
Neptune just called timeout as Midd. South took a 40-34 lead on a jumper by Kyle Cancillieri. Neptune continues to struggle offensively and from the foul line, as its outside shooting continues to be unsuitable to be viewed by children under 17. However, the Fliers’ defense is keeping them in it, while South continues to get good play from Jake Brodsky, who has a 3-pointer in this quarter, and Rob Callori, who is playing his best game of the season.
Updated 7:48 p.m.
There’s a clear pattern emerging here as when Middletown South gets into its halfcourt sets, it gets buckets, but getting it past halfcourt has been a big ‘if’ because of turnovers. Rob Callori has 13 points through three quarters to lead South. Matt Callori and Kyle Cancillieri have also had success scoring in the paint. Neptune is getting all of its points off turnovers and offensive rebounds, as Middletown South had another 8 turnovers in the third quarter and has 20 in the game so far. When Neptune is in a halfcourt game, it can’t buy a basket from the outside, so it’s best chance is to get penetration and a dish, usually by senior guard D.J. Gutridge.
Updated 7:34 p.m.
Neptune has claimed a 23-22 lead with a 5-0 run to start the third quarter as South has already turned the ball over four times in the first 1:58 of the second half, leading to runouts and easy baskets for the Fliers.
Updated 7:25 p.m.
Middletown South is sitting in that same zone that stymied Neptune in the Central Jersey Group III final and it’s worked well so far as the Scarlet Fliers are 0-for-7 from 3-point range as their long-range shooting woes continue. South, meanwhile, is 4-for-8 from downtown, including three 3-pointers by Rob Callori, to give the Eagles the lead at the break.
South’s guards are having some trouble getting it past halfcourt, which has let Neptune stay in the game as Middletown South committed 12 turnovers in the first half. Neptune shot 8-for-25 (32%) from the field in the first half. D.J. Gutridge leads the Fliers with 6 points, while Rob Callori has a game-high 9 at the half.
A quick extra CBA note, I was just thinking of how many tough ones they have had in this building. They got beat on last-second bank shots this season and last season and Neptune’s Marques Alston, a forward who never shot threes in high school, beat them on a 3-pointer at the buzzer a few years back as well at the Boardwalk. As CBA coach Geoff Billet joked, “I might have to ask Rob to leave us out of this next year for our own sanity,” referring to Hoop Group president Rob Kennedy, a CBA grad himself, just like Billet, and the tournament organizer. I will have all of the video highlights for our members, so be sure to check them out or sign up if you aren’t a member yet.
St. Patrick’s 60, CBA 59 (Final in 2 OT)
(Brian Neller was CBA’s MVP with 18 points, 15 of which came after the third quarter, and Pat Light also had 18 points, while 6-7 sophomore Michael Gilchrist was the MVP for St. Pat’s with 15 points. Derrick Gordon had a game-high 20 pts. for St. Pat’s and Paris Bennett added 12 points and the game-winner).
Updated at 6:45 p.m.
OK, clarifying some stuff on the ending of the CBA game, another heartbreaker for the Colts at Convention Hall. Talking to CBA coach Geoff Billet, he said he was told only half a second came off the clock on the inbounds play with 1.9 seconds left that hit the rim and went out of bounds off a CBA player. As I understand it, the rule is that the clock doesn’t start until a player touches the ball, and CBA touched the ball for an instant before it went out of bounds.
Secondly, St. Pat’s Paris Bennett caught the ball, gathered himself and then shot the game-winner all in 1.3 seconds? I think CBA might have got robbed on this one, but it was awfully close and he could have gotten it off in time. It would have raised a very interesting situation in that Monmouth is considered the No. 1 team in the Shore, but CBA would have just beaten the No. 10 team in the country. How do you rank them after that?
Updated at 6:30 p.m.
St. Pat’s stunned CBA at the buzzer as Paris Bennett caught an inbounds lob in the paint and hit a bank shot from about 13 feet as time expired to give the Celtics a 60-59 win that was not without some controversy. St. Pat’s had taken it inbounds with 1.9 seconds left and the lob pass from the sideline hit the rim and then went out of bounds, and a CBA player and a St. Pat’s player hit it on the way out of bounds but only a split second was taken off the clock. St. Pat’s then got the ball on the baseline with 1.3 seconds left and lobbed it to Bennett, who came down with the ball and fired it up as time expired to get the victory for the 10th-ranked team in the nation. Unbelievable game. This marks the second time in two seasons at the Battle on the Boardwalk that CBA was stunned in the final seconds, as Boys and Girls (N.Y.) scored with 1 second remaining last season to beat the Colts.
Updated 6:26 p.m.
Brian Neller just drained an NBA 3-pointer from the wing to give CBA the lead (!) with 15 seconds left and St. Pat’s just called timeout with 3.2 seconds left in double OT and then another timeout with 1.9 seconds left. And now for the big finish…
Updated 6:22 p.m.
CBA is down 58-56 with 44 seconds left and just called timeout after getting a St. Pat’s turnover to secure a potentially game-tying or go-ahead possession. St. Pat’s has missed 3 free throws during the second OT and CBA has missed two.
Updated 6:14 p.m.
Brian Neller hit two free throws with 8 seconds left in the first OT for CBA to tie the game and St. Pat’s missed a desperation 3-pointer to send it into double overtime. St. Pat’s continues to leave the door open for CBA with missed free throws.
Updated 6:04 p.m.
St. Pat’s went up 53-49 with 2:05 left in OT and Mike Gilchrist at the line after he scored and was fouled on a putback before pointing and smiling at the CBA student section. Pat Light just fouled out with 1:44 left in OT on a questionable offensive foul call.
Updated 5:59 p.m.
CBA’s Pat Light knocked down two free throws with 15 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, and St. Pat’s had a long 3-pointer to win it that hit the back of the iron, so we’re going to overtime.
Updated 5:55 p.m.
CBA got a defensive stop on a block and now has the ball with 26.8 seconds left in the game, down by 2. The Colts just called timeout to set up the final possession.
Updated 5:51 p.m.
Brian Neller just drained consecutive threes, including an NBA-range bomb, to bring CBA within two at 49-47 with 1:35 to go in the game. He tripled his points for the game on those two shots and now has nine. CBA has to get stops now or hope St. Pat’s misses free throws, as there is 1:09 left in the game and they’re down two. CBA has come out of its zone to play man and its next foul will put St. Pat’s in the bonus.
Updated 5:44 p.m.
OK, we’re back in business. Nothing to see here people, move along. Just CBA trying to take down the 10th-ranked team in the nation.
Updated 5:40 p.m.
The fire alarm at Convention Hall is currently going off and the game has been halted with 6:54 left in the fourth quarter, but it is being announced as a false alarm. If there is a fire, I would like someone to point me in the direction of it so that I can huddle around it for warmth at this point.
Updated 5:39 p.m.
The Colts had a 38-36 lead, but St. Pat’s recovered with 5 straight points to close the quarter on a pair of lay-ups off penetration and dishes to the block to take a 3-point lead. CBA had a chance to tie it but Brian Neller missed a 3-pointer long with 18 seconds left in the third quarter. If the Colts can limit second shot opportunities, they have a chance to win this. Neller only has three points in the game, so the Colts will need him to get some buckets in the fourth and Pat Light continue to play well to pick up a great win, although the no-Dexter Strickland thing will probably be brought up incessantly. Hey, he is one of the top five players in the country, but this is the first time that I can remember St. Pat’s not just rolling out another future D-I stud off the bench.
Updated 5:25 p.m.
This game is heating up as CBA’s Travis Farrell just got fouled on a 3-point attempt and went 3-for-3 to give CBA a 36-34 lead with 3:41 left in the third quarter. St. Pat’s is having trouble with CBA’s zone, while the Colts went on a 9-0 run to take the lead that featured 3-pointers by Adam Spengler and Pat Light before Farrell’s free throws. St. Pat’s without Strickland in the lineup is a very mortal team, so we’ll see if the Colts can pull it off.
Updated 5:07 p.m.
A 5-1 run to end the half by CBA, which included a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Matt McMullen with 33 seconds left in the half, has the Colts right in the game. They are sitting in a 2-3 zone and have really slowed down St. Pat’s offense, while guard Roy Mabrey has gotten into the lane to set up some opportunities for Pat Light (12 points at the half) on the block.Mabrey lost a contact lens late in the second quarter and didn’t have a replacement, so we’ll see if that has any effect on him in the second half.
This place is just about full now as this is the marquee game of the day, and so far, so good, as the Colts are still within upset striking distance.
Updated 5 p.m.
CBA almost had the game tied when Adam Spengler looked like he had a lay-up and a foul, but the officials waved it off and called a charge with CBA down three. That could be a pivotal play in hindsight, if this game is close. St. Pat’s just dropped in two straight buckets to take a 27-20 lead with about 2 mins. left in the first half.
St. Pat’s went on an 11-0 run after CBA scored first in the game, but the Colts recovered as Pat Light had six quick points to get them back in it. Good quarter for CBA because it’s all about not letting a team like St. Pat’s blitz you right off the bat, which they looked like they would do when they went up 11-2. A huge factor for CBA is that North Carolina recruit Dexter Strickland is not playing for St. Pat’s because of a recent knee injury.
Monmouth 66, Lakewood 52 (Final)
Updated 4:20 p.m.
The Falcons pulled away in the fourth quarter by running right through Lakewood’s defense in a glorified lay-up drill. Senior Joe Willman finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds on his way to MVP honors, including 12 points in the fourth quarter, and he also became Monmouth’s all-time leading scorer in the process. Senior swingman Jacob Grant had 17 points and 11 rebounds in the loss for Lakewood and was named the Piners’ MVP. Jarrod Davis added 14 points in the loss.
Neil Thompson had 17 points for Monmouth and continuously broke down Lakewood’s defense for easy baskets or dishes to Willman and Brent Shelton (13 points). Lakewood was also letting Willman catch the ball deep on the block without fronting him, and Willman made basket after basket from inside 5 feet. Lakewood hung around for a while, but turnovers finally caught up with the Piners.
Updated 4:01 p.m.
Monmouth went on a 10-0 run to start the quarter but Lakewood hung in there. Neil Thompson is taking over the game with his dribble penetration for Monmouth, however. Jarrod Davis is having a strong game for Lakewood with 13 points through three quarters.
Updated 3:36 p.m.
Lakewood is shooting the lights out as a good match-up has been Joe Willman vs. Jacob Grant. Willman had all 10 of his first half points in the second quarter while Grant had 9 first-half points and nailed a pair of threes. Lakewood had a lot of unforced turnovers in the first half but has gotten some buckets in transition and has hit three 3-pointers. By the way, it’s frickin’ freezing in here. It feels like about 50 degrees in here right now and everyone is in the stands with their winter jackets still on.
Updated 3:18 p.m.
The Piners shot out to a 9-2 lead, but Monmouth pulled back within two as junior guard Neil Thompson dumped in 7 first-quarter points. Monmouth is getting turnovers on defense, which doesn’t bode well for Lakewood, but the Piners are explosive off the dribble. Monmouth is sitting in a zone against Lakewood and it has slowed the Piners down.
Asbury Park 43, Rumson 41 (Final)
Updated at 2:50 p.m.
Senior guard Matt Blumel was Rumson’s MVP with a game-high 21 points, including a 14-for-16 showing from the foul line, while Lamar Young was named Asbury Park’s MVP with 8 points and 11 rebounds as well as the game-winning putback with 5.7 seconds left in the game. Rumson just could not get a defensive rebound when it absolutely needed it, and to Asbury Park’s credit, Young made the play to win the game. That no-call on Blumel at midcourt at the end could be questioned because he was jostled by about three Asbury defenders, and the officials had called the game tightly up to that point (there were 49 free throw attempts in the game), so you would think they would make the call there at the end. It was definitely a borderline play that could have gone either way.
Updated 2:42 p.m.
Lamar Young’s putback with 5.7 seconds left in the game after a game-tying 3-pointer by Rumson’s James LeCardi with 57 seconds left in the game gave Asbury Park the win. Rumson had one last chance by Matt Blumel got caught in a crowd near midcourt and the ball came loose with no call as time expired.
Updated 2:33 p.m.
RFH has pulled within 38-36 with 2:05 left in the game after a steal and lay-up by guard James LeCardi for his first field goal of the game. The Bulldogs have forced two straight turnovers and turned them into four points to cut the lead to two points. Nobody on Asbury Park has more than 8 points in the game.
Updated 2:26 p.m.
Asbury Park has pulled out to a 37-30 lead with 5:16 left in the game because it has ramped up the defense and forced turnovers. Now it can force Rumson to come out of its zone or Asbury will just sit on the ball and drain the clock. Both teams are in the bonus, so this could be a foul-shooting contest the rest of the way.
Updated 2:19 p.m.
Rumson led for much of the third quarter before AP reclaimed the lead on a running bank shot by Ron Madeleone with 2 seconds left in the period off a turnover. Asbury is killing RFH on the offensive glass, and it may get worse considering that RFH center Dean Wise has 4 fouls heading into the 4th Q. Matt Blumel had 17 points to lead all scorers.
Updated 1:57 p.m.
After a second quarter that set basketball back about 50 years, Asbury Park leads 17-16 at the half. The Blue Bishops were held to four points in the second quarter as Rumson’s zone is baiting them into launching threes, so the only way they are scoring is by playing volleyball on the offensive boards, getting to the foul line or the occasional turnover. Somewhere, Reggie Miller is crying as the teams combined to miss 5 of 12 free throw attempts in the second quarter. Rumson is getting some open looks but can’t get anything to go down, which has been a problem all season.
Matt Blumel leads Rumson with 11 of their 16 points at the half, while Joe Anderson has 6 points to lead Asbury Park. The fact that it’s pretty cold in here may be having an effect on anyone getting into an offensive rhythym.
Now that I have a minute, I saw Manasquan-Holmdel on Friday night, and the Hornets were without injured guard Erik Shirvanian, which made it an uphill battle. Manasquan’s Matt Vadas could not be stopped on his way to 27 points, but I already knew how good he was. The player I was impressed with was Holmdel junior point guard Mike Perillo, who looks like he’s a freshman but plays like a senior. Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau had plenty of praise for Perillo after the game, as he plays hard for 32 minutes, never comes off the floor, scores, distributes and defends. He looks like he is too small to finish in the paint, but he gets inside and finishes the play.
Manasquan is solid but is going to need that extra scorer beyond Vadas to make a deep run in the postseason. Senior Kyle Wehner has been shut down lately as teams crowd him and force him to take it to the hoop because they want to deny him 3-point attempts. This team definitely has potential because the frontcourt group of Neal Sterling, Rob Forst and Zack Rodgers could really be trouble if all them round into form in time for the SCT. Sterling has quickness, Forst has size and strength and Rodgers has length to rebound and alter shots, so they could become a tough group.
In the other games, Shore picked up a double-OT win over a hot Red Bank Catholic team, and I actually was talking to Bilodeau about Shore before the game and he remarked about how hard they defend and how they slow the game down, giving the other team fewer possessions to get any kind of separation on the scoreboard. I can’t say enough about how senior guard Mike Pillari has emerged as one of the Shore’s most improved players and is a knockdown shooter who has become a real problem for opponents.
The eye-opener of the night belonged to Middletown South, which routed Freehold Township 71-42 and whom we will get to later in the day when they play Neptune here at Convention Hall. Also, their cross-town rival, Middletown North, has quietly roared back to .500 after a dismal start as the Lions knocked off Manalapan and are back in the mix for a postseason berth.
Updated 1:28 p.m.
Asbury Park and Rumson are tied at 13 with 6 minutes left in the second quarter. Rumson is sitting in a zone, daring Asbury Park to beat it with jumpshots, but the Blue Bishops are creating scoring opportunities with turnovers in the backcourt. The crowd here at Convention Hall is decent for the first game, which is usually the least attended. There’s a little bit of a cold draft up here on the press table, but th heat is acceptable. Matt Blumel is off to a good start for the Bulldogs with 8 of their first 13 points.