BAYVILLE - For senior Maks Gruszecki and the Central Regional boys basketball, Tuesday's Shore Conference Tournament game against 20th-seeded Barnegat turned from a nightmare game into a memorable win and a potential resurrection of a promising season.

Gruszecki scored 15 points, including the 1,000th of his career, and the No. 13 Golden Eagles rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to send the game to overtime and pull out a win over the Bengals.

Central advances to the round of 16 and will travel to No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven on Thursday.

Gruszecki reached the milestone in the third quarter on the second of three free throws, but Central trailed Barnegat 37-26 heading into the final quarter. Gruszecki scored 10 of his points in the fourth and overtime as the Golden Eagles grabbed the lead back by the three minute mark before heading into overtime tied at 44.

The senior guard entered the game needing only four points shy of 1,000 and now has 1,009 for his career. Gruszecki is currently averaging 18.1 points per game as a senior after putting up 16 as a junior and 8.3 as a sophomore.

Gruszecki is the fourth Shore Conference player to cross the 1,000-point threshold this year - all four of whom play in Ocean County. Manchester's L.J. Robinson was the first to hit the milestone, followed by Toms River North seniors Mike Nyisztor and Jaden Rhoden - who both hit the mark in the same game.

Gruszecki and Rhoden were teammates at Central before Rhoden transferred to Toms River North prior to the 2015-16 season. Coincidentally, the next Shore Conference player likely to reach 1,000 points is Mater Dei senior Elijah Barnes, who also played with Rhoden and Gruszecki on the 2014-15 Central team when all three were sophomores. Barnes is 28 points away from 1,000 for his career.

Junior Mike Revello led Barnegat with 16 points and sophomore Sean Morris added 10 in the loss. The Bengals shot 6-for-11 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and missed the front ends of three one-and-ones to help Central rally to force overtime.

 

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