Posted 2:10 p.m.
Some quick hoops stuff to watch for tonight and some reaction from last night.
On the girls side, my apologies first for not getting out to see Rumson’s George Sourlis and Kate Miller get their twin milestones of 500 wins and 1,500 points on a snowy Tuesday, as shaking hands and talking with too many sick teenagers, coaches and fans finally caught up with me and knocked me flat for a day. Congrats again on two tremendous accomplishments.
Tonight, Freehold heads to Middletown South in a nondivisional game that should have some big Shore Conference Tournament seeding implications. Middletown South, led by senior Danielle Pankey, is a defensive-minded team, so we’ll see if the Eagles’ scheme can slow down the top scorer in the Shore in Freehold senior forward Shannon Mayrose. Freehold likes to push the ball, while Middletown South is a little more of a half-court team, so we’ll see who wins the battle of tempo. The key is keeping Mayrose off the offensive glass, where she can kill teams with putbacks.
As for last night, that’s a big and gutsy win for Toms River North over Jackson in a game where both teams were missing top players. Jackson center Christa Evans is out for the season with an injury, while TRN guard Dana Coronato missed the game with illness. That meant the game was begging for someone to step up, and it was TRN’s Ashley Vandenbulcke, who had a career-high 16 points in the game. Those cheers you heard after that 44-40 win came from Southern, which now has a chance to tie for the Class A South title or even win it outright if Jackson stumbles again and the Rams win their final divisional game. Jackson has hung tough without Evans, who leaves a big void in the middle, so we’ll see if the Jaguars can pull it together and win their final A South game to get their piece of the title after so much hard work to get to this point. Toms River North also now boasts wins over Jackson and Southern, which can’t hurt come SCT seeding time.
Congrats to Barnegat, which has qualified for the state playoffs for the first time in school history after a win over Pinelands. Howell also picked up a crucial overtime win against Lacey to get to 7-8 with the state cutoff coming Saturday, as they withstood a 30-point effort by Lacey’s Jami Snyder, who hit a school-record six 3-pointers.
Also, Neptune‘s undefeated girls can put the finishing touches on the outright Class B North title with a win over Wall tonight. St. Rose, which is unbeaten in Class B Central, can clinch the non-public division title tonight by knocking off Mater Dei. I believe the Nixon administration marked the last time St. Rose lost a B Central game. Manchester can also clinch at least a tie for the Class B South title by knocking off Central tonight.
On the boys side, the two big games that stand out tonight are Point Boro at Monsignor Donovan and Middletown South at Freehold. Monsignor Donovan handed Point Boro its first loss of the season with an overtime victory in their first meeting that was basically a game of one-upmanship between Point Boro’s Pat Hart and Mon Don’s Sean Grennan. This game is all about execution in the half-court sets, and we’ll see if each coach decides to run extra defenders at Hart and Grennan to make someone else beat them. Mark Ward and Wil Hawthorne are the ones to watch on Point Boro, while Anthony Duszczak has been a good complement to Grennan for the Griffins.
The Panthers could take a huge step toward claiming at least a piece of the Class B South title with a win, while Mon Don has home games against Point Boro and Lakewood and could win another Class B South overall title if it can knock off both of those teams. If Point Boro gets a win and then Mon Don beats Lakewood, that would give the Panthers the outright crown. This is provided that all three teams win their other remaining Class B South games.
As for the Freehold-Middletown South game, it has SCT seeding implications just like the girls game between the two teams, and both teams come in banged up. Middletown South’s Kyle Cancillieri has not played since Friday because of a broken nose, while Freehold’s Christian Garcia is out with a sprained ankle suffered on Monday against Monmouth. The 6-5 Cancillieri should be suiting up, so we’ll see if he can take advantage of Garcia’s absence in the middle against a Freehold team where everyone is about 6-3 and under. I think Middletown South needs this game a little more than Freehold as far as ammunition in the SCT seeding argument, but it is big for both teams.
Brick Memorial can clinch at least a tie for the Class A South title by beating Southern tonight, while No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy can take care of the formality that is clinching the overall Class A North title this afternoon by beating visiting Marlboro.
Mater Dei, which is fighting for its playoff life at 8-8 and just added a game against Jackson Memorial on the state cut-off day on Saturday, will face St. Rose in Class B Central. Raritan against Shore is another game pitting two teams hovering at or just above the .500 mark as the state cutoff looms.