TOMS RIVER - The Manasquan boys basketball team proved last year - as if it needed to be proven - that a slip-up in a tournament setting in December won't prevent a good team from making a tournament run in March.

While the Warriors have their sights set on a build-up toward another state title run like the one that yielded them an NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II championship last year, they wouldn't mind completing an impressive tournament run to close out 2015 as well.

Manasquan played three dominant defensive quarters Monday and rode a big scoring night from senior Jack Sheehan and an all-around game from senior Ryan Jensen to a 65-44 win over Donovan Catholic in the WOBM Christmas Classic semifinals at Pine Belt Arena.

The Warriors - the No. 1 seed in the field - will take on No. 2 seed and tournament hosts Toms River North Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. inside Pine Belt Arena.

Manasquan senior Jack Sheehan brings the ball up against Donovan Catholic senior Riley Collins. (Photo by Matt Manley)

"Losing early in the season last year left a bad taste in our mouth and we just tried to come out stronger this year," Sheehan said. "We've got some motivation and we're just going to try to keep rolling."

Sheehan scored a game-high 24 points to go with five assists to pace Manasquan's offense, while Jensen turned in a near triple-double with 15 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots.

Junior Devin Jensen also added 11 points and senior Shane Flanagan and juniors Tom Sheehan and Brian Paturzo all contributed heavily to the defensive effort. Tom Sheehan added four steals to go with eight points, while Flanagan and Paturzo combined to shadow Donovan Catholic guard Riley Collins, who entered the game averaging 21 points per game to lead the Griffins.

"Collins can go off the bounce, can play medium range, pull-up, can get to the rim, can shoot the three - he's 23 points a game," Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau said. "(Starting guard Mike) Boice is a bull. He's a hard-nosed driver and lot of stuff comes off his penetration-and-kick ability. They're great in the pick-and-roll game and we wanted to take them out of the pick-and-roll game with some different zones - triangle-and-two and different things like that."

Facing a mix of defenses that included a heavy dose of the box-and-one on him in the second half, Collins finished with nine points on Monday. Boice led Donovan Catholic with 11 points.

Manasquan got off to a fast start for the second straight game, and for the second straight game, they allowed an opponent to creep back. After falling behind 11-4, Donovan Catholic cut Manasquan's lead to 16-14 by the middle of the second quarter.

Unlike the quarterfinals, when Toms River East battled back from an early 22-7 deficit and lost 56-51 to the Warriors, Manasquan did not let Donovan Catholic hang around for long. Jack Sheehan hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to provide a 19-14 cushion, which ignited a 12-0 run to close the half.

"We always want to start fast and we did a great job of that today," Sheehan said. "We kind of let them back in the game, but then we went on a run to close out the half. In the second half, we came out strong and played great defense."

"There's some potential there defensively," Bilodeau said of his team. "We're a little bit quicker than we were last year. The size isn't what it was, but we're doing a good job rebounding the ball right now, relatively speaking. I think we can be pretty good defensively. It's all we talk about."

Sheehan later converted a three-point play to open the second-half scoring and Ryan Jensen scored inside to round out a 17-0 Manasquan run that spanned parts of the second and third quarters and buried Donovan Catholic.

Manasquan will take on Toms River North Monday in a game that features a pair of teams that has been mostly dominant so far this season. While the Mariners have won all four of their games by a double-digit margin, Manasquan is outscoring opponents by an average of 21.4 points per game.

"I love it because we get to play good competition right away and that's only going to help us in January and February," Ryan Jensen said. "It's a lot better getting our first big game now rather than in the Shore Conference Tournament when it's win or go home."

Box Score

Manasquan 65, Donovan Catholic 44

1 2 3 4 F
Donovan Catholic (4-1) 6 8 11 19 44
Manasquan (5-0) 11 17 22 15 65

 

Donovan Catholic (44): Riley Collins 3 2-3 9, Mike Boice 5 0-0 11, Tyler McShea 0 2-5 2, Kevin Singleton 2 0-0 4, Jetthro Moll 0 0-0 0, Joe San Fillipo 2 0-0 4, Marcus Rosario 0 0-0 0, Erik Braaten 1 0-0 2, Nico Rispoli 0 0-1 0, Jared Small 0 0-0 0, Caleb Kearney 0 0-0 0, Sean Yager 1 0-0 3, Anthony Silvestrone 2 0-1 5, Garrett Carter 0 0-0 0, Pete Schlendorf 1 1-2 4, Matt Melon 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 5-12 55

Three-pointers: Collins, Boice, Yager, Silvestrone, Schlendorf

Fouled Out: McShea

Manasquan (65): Jack Sheehan 7 8-8 24, Shane Flanagan 0 0-0 0, Ryan Jensen 6 3-3 15, Tom Sheehan 2 4-5 8, Devin Jensen 3 3-3 11, Brian Paturzo 2 1-2 5, Kyle Coyne 0 0-0 0, Pat Kinneally 0 0-0 0, Seamus Hogan 0 1-2 1, Kevin Dempsey 0 0-0 0, Adam Schreck 0 0-0 0, Dan Mopsick 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 21-25 65

Three-pointers: Sheehan 2, D. Jensen 2