Basketball NJSIAA Sectional Final Scoreboard, 3/7/17
Central Jersey Group IV
(2) Hunterdon Central 41, (1) Freehold Twp. 39
Junior Anthony McDowell buried a game-winning, corner three-pointer with seven seconds left and the Red Devils (26-3) rallied to stun the Patriots (25-3) and win the program's first ever sectional championship.
Freehold Township held an 12-point lead in the third quarter and led 34-26 heading to the fourth. Senior Steve Staklinski gave the Patriots a 39-38 lead on a free throw with 27 seconds left, prompting a Hunterdon Central timeout. McDowell lost his defender in the corner as the final seconds ticked away and stroked the go-ahead basket.
Staklinski led Freehold Township with a game-high 20 points and fellow senior Ryan Zyskowski added 13. The two seniors combined for 22 of Freehold Township's 26 first-half points and Staklinski scored nine of the Patriots' 13 in the second half.
Freehold Township held Hunterdon Central leading scorer Tucker Richardson (18 points per game) to seven points. Senior Chad Dreswick and junior Sam Johnson each scored 10 points to lead the Red Devils. McDowell also scored seven.
For the last three seasons, Freehold Township has been on the cusp of its first sectional championship only to watch its opponent celebrate its first title instead. Tuesday's heartbreaker marked the third straight year in which Freehold Township lost a Central Jersey Group IV championship game and the second straight in which the Patriots lost a lead in the final seconds.
Colts Neck's Brendan Clarke hit a jumper as time expired in last year's championship game to give Colts Neck a 45-44 win. In 2015, Freehold Township led with four minutes left in its own gym against 13th-seeded Hillsborough, only to watch the Raiders closed the game on a 16-4 run to win their first sectional title.
Hunterdon Central will play in the Group IV semifinal Thursday, 5:30 p.m. at Egg Harbor Township against South Jersey champion Shawnee, which defeated Toms River North, 76-72, in triple-overtime.
Central Jersey Group II
(1) Rumson-Fair Haven 57, (1) A.L. Johnson 51
Sophomore Ian O'Connor scored 19 points and grabbed nine boards and senior Tyler Pierson capped a landmark night with a two-handed dunk in the final seconds as the Bulldogs (24-2) beat the Crusaders (22-5) to win the program's first ever sectional championship.
Pierson - one of two seniors in the starting lineup along with guard Tommy Oakes - finished the game with eight points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals.
Rumson took the lead for good during a 25-9 run that answered an 8-0 run by Johnson to start the game and never gave the lead back. The Crusaders, however, cut the Rumson lead to 34-33 and 36-35 by the end of the third quarter. They also pulled within 44-42, 49-47 and 51-48 before the Bulldogs put the game away by making their last six free throws.
With 10 seconds left, junior Teddy Sourlis fired a one-handed pass down the floor to Pierson on a side inbounds play in the back court and the senior slammed it home to end the win with an exclamation mark.
Sourlis finished with 10 points, including three three-pointers. Junior Jack Solano and sophomore Jackson McCarthy each added seven points apiece and Oakes poured in six. McCarthy's seven points came off the bench.
Rumson will take on South Jersey champion Camden in the Group II semifinals Thursday, 7 p.m. at Perth Amboy High School. The Panthers won their fifth straight sectional title Tuesday by beating Haddonfield on a shot at the buzzer in overtime.
South Jersey Group IV
(2) Shawnee 76, (1) Toms River North 72 (3 OT)
Senior Jaden Rhoden scored 22 points and hit a pair of free throws to force a third overtime, but the Mariners (28-3) - playing in their first ever sectional final - could not overcome junior Dylan Deveney and the Renagades (28-2).
Deveney finished with a game-high 31 points, including 25 after halftime.
Shawnee nearly won the game in regulation but a tip-in was ruled to have come after the final buzzer, sending the game into overtime. The Renegades were just seconds away from finishing off the Mariners in the first overtime but Toms River North junior Holden Petrick hit a leaning 15-footer with 2.1 seconds left to tie the game at 54 and send the game into the second overtime.
Rhoden's free throws to tie the game at 60 in the final seconds of the second overtime kept Toms River North's chances of a first-ever sectional title alive, as did senior Mike Nyisztor when he stole the ball and hit a three-pointer with 19 seconds left to cut Shawnee's lead to 73-70. The Renegades, however, made free throws down the stretch and denied the Mariners history.
Shawnee will take on Central Jersey Group IV champion Hunterdon Central in the Group IV semifinals Thursday, 5:30 p.m., at Egg Harbor Township High School.
Central Jersey Group III
(1) Ewing 65, (2) Neptune 52
Central Jersey Group I
(1) Bound Brook 73, (14) Shore 33
South Jersey Non-Public A
(2) Red Bank Catholic 64, (4) Paul VI 48
Junior Rose Caverly scored a game-high 22 points and the Caseys (26-3) pulled away to beat the Eagles (23-6) and reach the Non-Public A final for the first time in four years. Red Bank Catholic will play the winner of Wednesday's North Jersey Non-Public A final between Holy Angels and Immaculate Heart Academy on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
Senior Josie Larkins added 14 points and junior Katie Rice pitched in 13 for RBC.