Boys Basketball: Defense and Duo of Andree and Laffey Lead CBA into SCT Semifinals
MIDDLETOWN - While junior Pat Andree has built his reputation with dynamic offensive play for his size at 6-foot-8, it was his interior defense that was just as important as his game-high 22 points against Manasquan in Sunday's Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
Andree limited Manasquan junior standout Ryan Jensen to seven points on 2-for-10 shooting to highlight a Colts defensive effort that held the eighth-seeded Warriors to 40 percent (15-for-37) shooting while also forcing 11 turnovers. It added up to a 61-50 victory at Brookdale Community College's Collins Arena that put top-seeded CBA (19-4) back into the SCT semifinals for the second straight season after reaching last year's championship game. The Colts will take on fourth-seeded Toms River North at 6 p.m. back at Brookdale on Wednesday.
"It was a good challenge for Pat and a different challenge for him,'' CBA coach Geoff Billet said. "We haven't faced too many guys as good in the frontcourt as Jensen. I had a lot of confidence in Pat, and I think Pat stepped up and did a good job. We never let (Jensen) get comfortable.
"He never got a clear look or a clear drive. He never got anything easy. He's such an energy player, and I think we did a good job of not allowing those easy baskets that get him going."
Andree scored 18 of his 22 through the first three quarters and then senior Jack Laffey helped bring home the win with 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, including an 8-for-8 showing from the foul line in the final two minutes. Senior point guard Shaun Belbey also had a strong game with 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting, using the defensive attention drawn by Andree and Laffey to get into the lane and make plays off the dribble.
"(Belbey) penetrates, and teams don't have a lot of options to come off guys,'' Billet said. "When he was able to turn that corner and get by his man, it puts a lot of the pressure on the 'D' because they have to make a decision."
"He stepped up big time,'' Laffey said. "He was driving on those pick-and-rolls. He knows they're going to double Pat, so he just went in and finished."
Against a tough defensive Manasquan team, CBA (19-4) scored 18 first-quarter points, 11 combined by Laffey and Andree, and also pinned two fouls on Jensen with 4:16 remaining in the opening period after Laffey took a charge. Jensen did not return to the game until there were four minutes left in the half.
"We know he gets in foul trouble sometimes,'' Andree said. "He's very aggressive, and that's a good thing for him because that's how he gets most of his points, but we were able to use that to help us. With two fouls in the first three minutes of the game, he wasn't really a factor until the second half."
Belbey's driving lay-up gave CBA an 18-13 lead going into the second quarter, but the Warriors came back to tie it at 23 on a 3-pointer by junior guard Jack Sheehan with 2:27 left in the half. Sheehan led Manasquan with 15 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter when the Warriors (18-5) were trying to rally from a double-digit hole.
A jumper by Andree and another driving score by Belbey gave CBA some separation with a 29-24 halftime lead, and the Colts never relinquished it. Manasquan had the margin down to 33-30 in the third quarter after a bucket in the lane by Jensen, but CBA responded with an 8-2 run fueled by an Andree dunk that extended the lead to 41-32 with 2:33 left in the period.
Andree had seven third-quarter points and Laffey scored on a backdoor cut off a feed by junior Jack McGuire in the final seconds to help the Colts take a 43-34 lead into the fourth. CBA was able to get Andree the ball on the move to allow him to prevent Manasquan's big men from being able to just lean on him in the post. He also played through foul trouble, picking up his third foul with 3:50 left in the third quarter but not letting it become a factor.
"If you can get Pat moving it a little bit, it's not just, 'Dribble down to the wing, five guys standing around, 10 eyes on him, waiting to enter it inside,''' Billet said. "We were able to get him in some positions where at least it was one-on-one for a few seconds."
Defensively, CBA's guards did a solid job of keeping Sheehan and senior Luke O'Shaughnessy out of the paint on dribble drives and forcing Manasquan to settle for contested jumpers or tough shots in the lane among clusters of defenders.
"We thought we definitely had to control Sheehan and Luke because they're very good at penetrating and dishing to the big guys, so that was our main thing - just stay in front of them,'' Laffey said.
CBA got the lead into double digits when McGuire canned a 3-pointer to make it 48-36 early in the fourth quarter. Manasquan was never able to get the lead under 10 after that, as CBA answered every basket by the Warriors with scores by Andree or Laffey before closing it out at the free throw line when they went into a stall with three minutes remaining.
The Colts are now two wins away from ending the longest drought of SCT titles in their illustrious history. Since winning their first SCT title in 1984, they had never gone more than four years in between winning conference tournament titles until now. Their last SCT championship was in 2010.
"Being CBA, we always have the bull's-eye on our back, so we're used to it,'' Laffey said.
"We kind of embrace that,'' Andree said. "We like to be the team to beat."
CBA 61, Manasquan 50
Manasquan (50): R. Jensen 2 3-4 7, McMenaman 3 3-4 11, O'Shaughnessy 0 3-4 3, J. Sheehan 5 2-3 15, Bradshaw 2 2-6 6, T. Sheehan 3 2-2 8, D. Jensen 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 15-23 50.
CBA (61): Andree 10 1-3 22, Laffey 5 8-8 19, McGuire 2 1-3 6, Salcedo 1 0-0 3, Belbey 4 3-3 11, Aldridge 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 13-17 61.
Manasquan (18-5) 13 11 10 16 - 50
CBA (19-4) 18 11 14 18 - 61
Three-pointers: (M) J. Sheehan 3, McMenaman 2; (C) Laffey, Andree, Salcedo, McGuire. Fouled out: None.