COLTS NECK - An opening-night loss to Long Branch has forced the Colts Neck boys basketball team to take the long road toward a potential Shore Conference Class B North championship, but after Saturday's rematch against the Green Wave, the Cougars are back on course.

Senior Lloyd Daniels scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter and senior Jordan deGroot turned in a standout defensive performance to go with 10 points as Colts Neck earned a 46-42 win over Long Branch to pull even with the Green Wave in the B North standings.

"The one thing I tell our guys the one thing we have control over is how we defend," Colts Neck coach Lou Piccola said.


Although Colts Neck's offense struggled to get on track througout Saturday's game, the Cougars remained solid on the defensive end. DeGroot led the effort by limited Long Branch leading scorer Anthony Velazquez to six points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field, which included a 23-foot three-pointer with under 10 seconds to play that cut Colts Neck's lead to three.

Velazquez burned Colts Neck for 19 points in the first meeting between the two teams, which ended in a 57-54 Long Branch victory on opening night.

"Last game, we let him get too close to the basket too often," deGroot said. "Today, I just tried to stay in front of him and keep him out up top. He's a good kicker too, so he can beat you a lot of different ways if he gets past you."

"I watched the tape of the last game and they (Long Branch) got five open layups from halfcourt to the basket," Piccola said. "How are you going to win championship games if you don't take a charge? I said, 'Five charges and I'll take you out to dinner.' We didn't get one. I saved a lot of money on that one game."

Seniors Kyle Gordon and Tom O'Reilly, as well as junior Brendan Clarke, were also instrumental on the defensive side for Colts Neck. Gordon finished with six points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks while battling Long Branch's deep stable of interior players.

"Today we were more focused," Gordon said. "We definitely knew what was coming at us. We had a very good gameplan and we were able to follow it pretty well."

O'Reilly and Clarke each blocked three shots, part of an eight-block game for Colts Neck as a team. O'Reilly also finished with eight points and six rebounds despite battling foul trouble that limited him to nine minutes in the first half.

By the end of the game, however, the fouls favored Colts Neck. The Cougars shot 17-for-26 from the line, while Long Branch went 2-for-5, with two of the attempts coming on a technical foul.

Long Branch held Colts Neck without a field goal for a stretch of 7:30 that spanned the final six minutes of the second quarter and the first 1:30 of the third. As a result, the Green Wave took a 21-18 to halftime and eventually grabbed a 29-22 lead during the middle of the third quarter thanks to a 8-0 run.

"We just tried to keep pounding it inside," deGroot said. "They have some pretty big guys down low, but we also have some guys who can score inside so we just tried to keep getting the ball in there. If the kick-out is there, if we're not making shots, just keep going down there and getting good shots until they start going in."

Colts Neck stormed back with a 10-2 run to end the third quarter and carried a 32-31 lead heading to the fourth. The Green Wave took the lead again on a three-pointer by senior Jamar Foster, one of his five threes in the game. Foster matched Daniels with 17 points.

Gordon answered with a follow on a miss by O'Reilly to tie the game at 34 and Colts Neck took the lead two possessions later on a pair of free throws by Daniels. Velazquez found Jaquel Presley for a layup on Long Branch's ensuing trip to re-tie the game.

After the Green Wave got a stop on defense, deGroot stole the ball and drew a foul on the breakaway. He then knocked down the go-ahead free throws, which gave Colts Neck the lead for good with a little more than three minutes left.

Daniels put the game away on the offensive end by hitting a pair of free throws to make the score 41-36 and scored off a pass from Clarke on a cut to the basket with 57 seconds remaining to put his team ahead 43-36.

"This is a lot of motivation for us," Gordon said. "We're going to use this win to hopefully get some momentum and capitalize on it. Our future is in our hands right now for the B North title and we want to keep it that way and finish the regular season with a championship."


Box Score

Colts Neck 46, Long Branch 42

1 2 3 4 F
Long Branch (11-5, 8-2) 12 9 10 11 42
Colts Neck (12-3, 8-2) 12 6 14 14 46


Long Branch (42): Mark Dennis 3 0-1 6, Anthony Velazquez 2 1-2 6, Jashawn Boynton 1 0-0 2, Tyree Morris 1 0-0 2, Jamar Foster 6 0-0 17, Cascius Briggs 3 0-0 6, T.J. Fosque 0 0-0 0, Jaquan Presley 1 1-2 3. Totals: 17 2-5 42

Three-pointers: Velazquez, Foster 5

Colts Neck (46): Lloyd Daniels 4 9-13 17, Jordan deGroot 2 6-8 10, Rob Hill 0 0-0 0, Tom O’Reilly 3 2-5 8, Kyle Gordon 3 0-0 6, Brendan Clarke 2 0-0 5, Tim Cavrak 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 17-26 46

Three-pointers: Clarke