Before I get to some quick hoops thoughts, Red Bank Catholic senior quarterback Connor O’Leary has committed to Division I-AA (or FCS, whichever you prefer) Campbell University in North Carolina, which is a member of the Pioneer League, whose champion plays the winner of the Northeast Conference (the league Monmouth University and others are in) in a bowl game every season. Campbell just completed its first season of football in 2008 after a 58-year hiatus. Congrats to O’Leary, an All-Liberty Division selection who was part of a Caseys’ team that finished the season ranked No. 1 in the All Shore Media Top 10.
If any coaches or players out there have football commitments to report, please e-mail them to me at email@example.com.
Now, on to the hoops. The boys basketball Shore alumni page is up and running now and can be found by clicking here or by going to the “Boys Basketball” page on the site and clicking on the “Alumni” link. I’ll work on the girls page tomorrow because it is insanely tedious, but worth it to keep up on all the former Shore players. I’m sure I probably missed some people, so feel free to fill me in on anyone who is not on the list by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I also will try to post some blog entries with the latest news on the accomplishments of former Shore players.
Time for some ramblings, starting with the girls hoops side.
Can a freshman make All-Shore if she doesn’t start but is excellent in big games (cough, cough, Michaela Mabrey)?…Can Jackson Memorial finish strong and close out the Class A South title despite a loss to Southern on Monday? If they can, that would be a great confidence-booster for a team that is experienced but still fairly young…Holmdel’s Alex Diekmann might be known a little more as a field hockey standout but has been an underrated scorer for the Hornets…When Red Bank Catholic‘s guards get used to getting Sam Guastella and Chyna Golden the ball in the right spots to score and consistently knocking down 3-pointers to allow the Caseys to play inside-out, this could be a much different team. Think about the Achilles’ heel of St. John Vianney and Colts Neck – defensive rebounding. Guastella and Golden are built to punish teams on the offensive glass, but RBC’s guards have to avoid the large amount of turnovers that have doomed them in big games this season…Senior Alex Eagle played a great game on both sides of the ball for Freehold, including a huge steal near the end, in its upset of RBC…It was a little under the radar, but nice win for Manasquan over Shore on Tuesday, with Tori Grille leading the way with 19 points…Brick is quietly playing much better as the season goes on and that was an impressive win over Toms River North on Tuesday given that the Mariners had recently knocked off Southern. Vicky DeTata is one of Ocean County’s more underrated players….Mater Dei and Keansburg played an overtime game and a 3-point game, both of which the Seraphs won, in their two meetings this season, which is a nice showing for the Titans because Mater Dei and St. Rose have usually had a decent amount of separation from the rest of Class B Central for the past few seasons…Wondering just how good Middletown South is – not quite in Neptune and Colts Neck’s league, but could the Eagles beat RBC, Freehold or St. Rose? I would like to see one of those games happen…While Mabrey, St. Rose’s Samantha Clark and others deservedly get recognition as top freshmen in the Shore, Point Beach’s Brianna Feerst has quietly emerged as one of the Garnet Gulls’ top scorers and has them on pace for another trip to the postseason…Can we just skip to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals now so we can see the match-ups we’ve been waiting for?
And now on to the boys side...
Class A Central, you’re killing me. Shore Regional is the hottest team in the division right now, and a week ago it was Red Bank Catholic, and before that it was Manasquan and Holmdel. It’s getting hard to pick a team to rank because once one of them starts to look good, another one yanks they back down into the moshpit. This race looks like it will come down to the last week, with the winner getting a home game in the SCT. Things aren’t looking too good over at preseason contender Rumson-Fair Haven, either, as leading scorer Matt Blumel went scoreless and was benched in the second half of a loss to Matawan, which was winless in the division before the win over the Bulldogs on Tuesday. RBC got back on track with a win over Raritan, which has already surpassed last season’s win total (6), but is being ravaged by injuries to its front line. RBC plays at Manasquan on Thursday, so we’ll see if the madness continues…Middletown South could be gaining steam now that point guard Pat O’Connell is eligible, as the Eagles avenged an earlier loss to Colts Neck. The more this team can get into its halfcourt sets without turnovers, the more difficult it becomes to stop because with the emergence of Rob Callori and Jake Brodsky as 3-point threats, they can make teams pay for doubling down on Kyle Cancillieri and Matt Callori. It also means that those last two will have to handle the ball less and can worry more about just lighting up their defender…I’m curious to see how Middletown North does on its second trip through Class A North because the Lions were on a roll before running into CBA, who would halt pretty much any team’s momentum right now. Can they recapture that momentum and keep making a push to the postseason? It’s certainly not going to be easy because guess who the Lions play on Thursday? That’s right, No. 1 and undefeated Monmouth. That’s the most brutal 1-2 punch a local team could face right now…
Holmdel’s Erik Shirvanian returned with a vengeance after sitting out the Manasquan game as he put 30 on St. John Vianney on Tuesday night. With him as a 3-point threat, the Hornets are a different team because opponents can’t sag in the lane, which slows down junior forward Mike Kelly and allows more defenders to rotate and help when point guard Mike Perillo takes it to the hole. With Shirvanian out there, it helps court spacing and keeps teams honest or he will just fire away from behind the arc. Manasquan’s players essentially said that they defended Holmdel much differently than they would have had Shirvanian not been out of the lineup with an injury…Brick Memorial almost got caught looking ahead to a big game against Toms River East on Thursday when Toms River South took the Mustangs to overtime. However, that’s what seniors are for, to bail out the team in those situations and pull out the win, and that’s what Matt O’Brien did with 24 points…Senior forward Corey Whitman quietly had a 28-point night for Wall against the No. 3 team in the Shore, Freehold, on Tuesday…Marlboro showed how treacherous Class A North can be when the two-win Mustangs pushed Freehold Township to quadruple overtime on Tuesday. There are no days off in that division. The Patriots have a big one on Thursday as they face off with No. 3 Freehold after having lost to the Colonials in the Jack Kuhnert Holiday Tournament semifinals and in last season’s Shore Conference Tournament. Both of those wins took place on Township’s home court, where the game will tip off at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in front of what is sure to be a raucous home crowd.