It has been an amazing season for the Monmouth University basketball team and tonight the Hawks can secure their first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2006.

Monmouth started slowly but eventually caught and rolled past Fairfield 76-63 to reach the MAAC Tournament Championship game where tonight in Albany they will face Iona in a game broadcast on ESPN as well as the Shore Sports Network’s 1160 & 1310AM. The Hawks & Gaels split two regular season meetings and the winner gets the automatic bid to the NCAA but with a 27-6 record the boys from West Long Branch could still be tourney-bound even with a loss. Of course it would be easier to secure that tonight then have to wait for Selection Sunday to learn their fate.

It was certainly not the best weekend for Shore Conference wrestlers at the NJSIAA Individual Championships in Atlantic City but CBA’s Sebastian Rivera gave the shore a champion in one of Sunday’s most exciting finals. Rivera trailed Patrick Glory of Delbarton 4-0 going into the final period but rallied and secured his school’s first championship in 47 years with a pin with one second left. He also joined his father Steve who was a state champion at Manalapan in 1987.

Toms River East 152-pounder A.J. Meyers had an outstanding weekend and finished second in his weight class coming one win shy of giving Coach Warren Reid his 7th state champion. Reid was one of three Ocean County coaches honored at Boardwalk Hall as he was saluted for his contributions to wrestling in the state over his 37 years as the East head coach.

Meanwhile the New Jersey Wrestling Coaches Association named Southern’s John Stout as the state Coach of the Year while his assistant Dan Roy was honored as the Assistant Coach of the Year. The Rams won the Group 5 championship last month and Stout and Roy helped Southern finish as the 4th ranked team in New Jersey.

Rutgers head wrestling Coach Scott Goodale has his first-ever Big Ten champion as Anthony Ashnault won the 141 pound title Sunday in Iowa City. A four-time state champion at South Plainfield, Ashnault’s performance helped the Scarlet Knights finish fifth in the team standings and send at least nine wrestlers to the NCAA Championships at Madison Square Garden later this month. Among that group is Toms River East graduate Richie Lewis, who finished 5th at 157 pounds.

Goodale, the former head coach at Jackson Memorial, lives in Toms River.