Boys Basketball – Donovan Catholic Stays Perfect With Win Over Red Bank Catholic
TOMS RIVER - The wins may not necessarily be getting prettier as they go, but with each win to begin the season, the Donovan Catholic boys basketball team is passing a tougher test at each turn.
The Griffins extended their perfect start to the season to four games Saturday by taking down Red Bank Catholic, 57-49, in the WOBM Christmas Classic quarterfinals. The fourth-seeded Griffins will now take on top-seeded Manasquan in the semifinals on Monday night.
"It wasn't the prettiest game for us, but we got the win and we're moving on," senior guard Riley Collins said. "That was probably the worst we've shot the ball this year but we played hard defensively, we scrapped and we found a way to survive."
Collins was one third of a trio that drove the Donovan Catholic scoring. Collins scored 14 points to go with nine rebounds, senior Tyler McShea put up 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots, and senior Mike Boice added 15 points in the win.
Sophomore Jetthro Moll also played a key roll in the win, drawing the assignment of guarding RBC leading scorer Evan Madigan for most of his time on the floor. Madigan finished with 20 points - right at his season average through five games - on 6-for-12 shooting while going 5-for-8 from the free-throw line.
Boice, meanwhile, shadowed Caseys forward Eddie Hahn, who finished with 10 points. The RBC duo did combine for 30 points and helped keep the game close, but Donovan Catholic closed with a 12-3 run to put RBC away.
Boice and Collins make up a returning backcourt that combined to average a shade under 23 points per game last year and Collins is off to a strong start after averaging 10.8 points as a junior transfer from Central Regional playing his first year with the Griffins. In his second year at Donovan Catholic, Collins is averaging 21 points per game through the first four games.
"Last year was an adjustment for me, being at a new school and with a new team," Collins said. "I was also playing off the ball, which I wasn't used to doing, so that was an adjustment as far as fitting in. This year, I've had the ball in my hands more, which is what I'm used to, but I also put a lot of work in trying to learn how to work without the ball and become a little more balanced."
McShea continues to be a force on the glass and blocking shots like he was last year, but he has added to his offensive game this season. After scoring 16 points on Saturday, he is averaging 11.5 for the season - nearly four points higher than he did last year - and he has been a reliable option to beat defenders in the low post, giving the guards more room to operate.
"Last year, we didn't have the threat inside that we do this year," Collins said. "Tyler is playing out of his mind. He's able to take kids one-on-one, which has opened the diagonals, the backdoor cuts, it's opening everything up and it's taking a lot of pressure off me and Mike and allowing us to attack."
Donovan Catholic will now step up its game even further to meet its next challenge: unbeaten Manasquan, the defending NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II champion and the top seed in the tournament. The Griffins have beaten Jackson Liberty, Brick Memorial, Point Boro and RBC on their way to 4-0 and will try to make it 5-0 by beating another team looking for the same mark.
"It was only preseason, but we did scrimmage Manasquan and we ended up beating them by 12," Collins said. "It doesn't mean anything (when) we play them again, but I feel like at least we got an idea of what we're up against and we left there feeling like if we saw them, we would know how we want to play them. Now it's just a matter of going out and playing our best game, because that's the kind of effort it's going to take."