Boys Basketball: Gesicki Puts on a Show in His Final Game
WALL - In the final game of a brilliant basketball career, Southern senior Mike Gesicki put on one last show for a packed house at Wall in Friday night's Shore Basketball Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game.
The 6-foot-6 Penn State football recruit poured in a game-high 24 points, the majority of them on dunks, to earn Most Valuable Player honors in a 116-104 win by the West all-stars over the East.
"It was definitely fun to go out like this,'' Gesicki said. "I have been playing basketball since I was three years old. It was definitely my first love. I never thought I would be going to college to play football. I really enjoyed playing tonight in front of a nice crowd and going out like this in my last game."
Whether it was reverse throwdowns, dunks on passes off the backboard or slams in transition, Gesicki wowed a packed crowd to end his basketball career on a high note after finishing as Southern's all-time leading scorer with more than 1,800 points. One of the best all-around athletes in the Shore Conference in recent memory, Gesicki is also a volleyball standout for one of the state's best teams. He is an explosive leaper despite his size, so the all-star game was tailor-made for him.
"The whole 'no defense' thing I like a lot,'' he joked. "Everybody wants to see the alley-oops, the windmill dunks and off the backboard and all that stuff, so I really enjoyed it."
In the win for the West, Iowa-bound Point Beach forward Dom Uhl added 17 points, Christian Brothers Academy forward Chima Ekekeugbor had 16, Notre Dame football recruit Quenton Nelson of Red Bank Catholic had 13, and Rumson-Fair Haven's Jack Herrmann chipped in with 10. In the loss for the East, St. Rose's Dan Borner and CBA's Louie Pillari, a Navy recruit, each finished with 14 points. Long Branch's Terrel Cox added 11, and Manchester's KaShaun Barnes, Keyport's Alex Thomson and Keansburg's Kason Preston each chipped in with nine points.
As for Gesicki, it was almost certainly his final basketball game after being a four-year varsity starter, although he has entertained the notion of trying to play football and basketball at Penn State.
"I talked to (men's basketball) coach (Pat) Chambers, and it would kind of be up to whether I could balance both or do both, but I would say as of right now this might be it,'' Gesicki said.
Gesicki also is playing volleyball this spring for the Rams, who are perennially one of the state's best teams.
"(Penn state football) coach (James) Franklin says that he loves the fact that I'm playing three sports and I'm always active, and that it makes me a better football player and a better athlete,'' he said.
Marlboro's Justin Markowitz edged Monsignor Donovan's Eamonn Kearney to win the halftime 3-point shootout, and Notre Dame-bound Point Beach point guard Matt Farrell and Matawan coach Tom Stead were honored as the coaches' selections for Player and Coach of the Year, respectively.
A pair of coaching luminaries were also honored with lifetime achievement awards. Former Freehold Township girls coach John Sciarappa, who had 450 wins, seven division titles, three trips to the sectional finals and one trip to a Shore Conference final in his career, was honored along with former Central boys coach Mike Clemente, who had 361 career victories and six division titles with the Golden Eagles.
Barnegat senior Shannon DiGrazio and Southern senior David Hunter were each awarded scholarships by the SBCA for their performance on the court and in the classroom.
West 116, East 104
West (116): Gesicki 11 2-2 24, Nelson 6 0-0 13, Kearney 2 0-0 6, Richardson 3 0-0 6, D. Pillari 1 0-0 3, Herrmann 5 0-0 10, Ekekeugbor 7 2-4 16, Yates 3 0-0 7, Toole 3 0-0 7, Gordinier 0 0-0 0, O'Brien 1 0-0 3, Tawiah 1 0-0 2, Uhl 8 1-2 17, Davis 1 0-2 2. Totals: 52 5-10 116.
East (104): Gray 2 0-0 4, Barnes 4 0-0 9, Farrell 3 0-0 8, Markowitz 0 0-0 0, Cox 4 0-0 11, Fay 2 0-0 6, Nocera 2 0-0 4, Thomson 4 0-0 9, Borner 6 0-0 14, Wyckoff 0 0-0 0, Boccanfuso 3 0-0 7, L. Pillari 6 1-2 14, Preston 4 0-0 9, Watson 2 0-0 4, Cerami 2 0-0 5. Totals: 44 1-2 104.
West 53 63 - 116
East 45 59 - 104
Three-pointers: (E) Cox 3, Fay 2, Farrell 2, Borner 2, Barnes, Thomson, Boccanfuso, L. Pillari, Preston, Cerami; (W) Kearney 2, Nelson, D. Pillari, Yates, Toole, O'Brien.