Boys/girls hoops ramblings/More football commitments

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.

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