TOMS RIVER - Christian Brothers Academy basketball coach Geoff Billet has always referred to Pat Andree as "the best bad-shot-maker" he has ever seen but he is starting to change his opinion.

"Now there are no bad shots with him," Billet said of Andree. "I stopped worrying about coaching his shot selection and just let him do his thing."

Andree hit three high-degree-of-difficulty shots to open the third quarter to spark a breakthrough surge that propelled the Colts - the No. 2 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament - to a 53-41 in over No. 3 Manasquan in Tuesday's SCT semifinals.

Senior Pat Andree scored 24 points Tuesday night vs. Mansaquan. (Photo by Rob Samuels)

CBA will play in its third straight SCT title game Saturday night against top-seeded Mater Dei Prep at Monmouth University.

"We're grateful to play at CBA and everybody who has come here is grateful to have the opportunity to have a chance to play in another one of these games," Andree said. "It says a lot that it's, not just mine, but Jack McGuire's, John Salcedo's third time out there."

Andree finished with a game-high 24 points to lead CBA, including nine of the team's 12 points during the third quarter. The Colts defense clamped down after entering the second half tied at 26 with the Warriors, holding the opposition to just two points in the quarter.

Manasquan junior Devin Jensen buried a three-pointer just before time expired in the first half to even the score at 26 and Andree answered after the 10-minute halftime break. He converted a foul-line hookshot, a contested fadeaway, and a stepback three-pointer with a hand in his face to complete his own personal 7-0.

"I wasn't going to force anything because I trust me teammates with the ball," Andree said. "At the same time, it's my last year and any game could be my last Shore Conference game so I want to make sure I'm leaving it all out there. Every open look I got, I knew I was shooting because I know I can make those shots."

The teams slowed the tempo during the third quarter and the change of pace benefitted the Colts, who relegated the Manasquan guards to the perimeter for majority of the game while crowding the frontcourt duo of Ryan Jensen and Tommy Sheehan when either got near the rim.

"Sometimes I think our guys feel we have to win every game by twenty," Billet said. "That's just not realistic at this time of year. We're facing good teams and sometimes, they make shots even when we execute the way we want to on the defensive end. As long as they weren't penetrating, I was fine with them hitting some threes because we thought that eventually they'd stop going down."

Andree added a pair of free throws in the third and senior Nick Mugavero hit his third three of the game to cap the third quarter scoring and send CBA to the fourth quarter up 38-28.

Mugavero scored 13 points off the bench for CBA, including the three three-pointers. Mugavero aided fellow senior John Salcedo in guarding Manasquan senior guard Jack Sheehan, who did not score in the second half after pouring in 13 in the first half. Sheehan scored 35 points in Manasquan's triple-overtime win over Rumson-Fair Haven on Sunday.

Sheehan did much of his damage from the three-point line, which was more reassuring than disconcerting to Billet.

"I was ecstatic to be tied at the half," Billet said. "It wasn't the defense that I was concerned about but more the offensive because we just weren't getting much against them in the halfcourt and we had to go to our trap on defense to get some stops and easy baskets.

Mugavero has emerged as a capable third scoring option alongside Andree and Jack McGuire and Mugavero even helped pick up McGuire, who finished with four points on Tuesday. Senior Sam Houston has also stepped up as a productive offensive player and he finished with seven rebounds and five assists to go with his four points.

"Coach (Billet) told me at the beginning of the year that I was going to be coming off the bench for energy and that's all I've been trying to do," Mugavero said. "Pat and Jack do a good job of getting me open looks and I'm just taking what the defense is giving me. All the guys who are in there are capable of making open shots and that's what coach wants us to do."

Salcedo also added eight points for CBA. Ryan Jensen, meanwhile, chipped in 13 for Manasquan to match Jack Sheehan for the team-high and scored all of his points in the second half after getting shut out in the first.

Andree, on the other hand, faced both Sheehan brothers on the offensive end - Tommy during the first half and Jack during the second.

"It gets us pumped to see him go off like that," Mugavero said of Andree. "It gave us a good lead and it encourages us to keep up the energy because we know we have a chance to put the game away."

Manasquan got as close as 40-34 on a pair of baskets by Ryan Jensen, but McGuire answered with a basket as he was fouled to push the lead back to eight. Although McGuire missed the ensuing free throw, Andree came back with a floater in the lead to increase the lead to 44-34 and McGuire then found a cutting Salcedo for a layup to make it 46-34 coming up on two minutes to play.

After his 24-point, seven-rebound night Tuesday, Andree has 1,937 career points - 63 away from 2,000 in his career. With three guaranteed games remaining - including a regular-season game against Middletown North on Thursday - Andree needs only to average 21 points in those three games to become the first CBA player 2,000 career points. CBA is the No. 2 seed in the NJSIAA Non-Public A South Bracket and is likely to extend the team's number of remaining games beyond three in case Andree needs an extra opportunity.

Before concerning himself with 2,000 points, Andree will look to help his team win its first Shore Conference Tournament title since 2010 by beating top-seeded Mater Dei on Saturday. The Colts have lost in each of the last two SCT championship game, including last year's shocking 50-24 loss as a No. 1 seed to No. 11 Rumson-Fair Haven.

In those two championship games, CBA has averaged only 32.5 points and Andree managed only seven points in last year's final after scoring 17 as a sophomore in 2013. If there is a noteworthy difference between this team and the teams from the past two years, it's that CBA's top six players in the rotation are seniors.

In addition, unlike last season when the Colts were the No. 1 seed, CBA will enter the game as the underdog according to the seeds.

"We don't like how the last two turned out, obviously, but we're the underdog this time," Andree said. "We love being the underdogs and we can't wait to go out and prove that CBA's the team to beat this year.

"We have a little chip on our shoulder. We wanted the one seed and they took it from us. We haven't lost in the Shore Conference, they haven't lost in the Shore Conference either and it should be a great game."

 

Box Score

CBA 53, Manasquan 41

1 2 3 4 F
Manasquan (21-3) 14 12 2 13 41
CBA (21-3) 12 14 12 15 53

 

Manasquan (41): Jack Sheehan 5 0-2 13, Shane Flanagan 0 0-0 0, Ryan Jensen 4 4-5 13, Tommy Sheehan 1 1-2 3, Devin Jensen 2 0-0 6, Brian Paturzo 1 0-0 2, Kyle Coyne 2 0-0 4, Pat Kinneally 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 5-9 41

Three-pointers: J. Sheehan 3, R. Jensen, D. Jensen 2

CBA (53): John Salcedo 3 1-4 8, Jack Boyan 0 0-0 0, Pat Andree 8 6-7 24, Jack McGuire 2 0-3 4, Sam Houston 1 2-2 4, Nick Mugavero 5 0-0 13. Totals: 19 9-16 53

Three-pointers: Salcedo, Andree 2, Mugavero 3