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Boys Basketball – Manchester, Jackson Survive Rallies at WOBM

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Manchester-Toms River South Photo Gallery by Bill Normile

Jackson-Freehold Twp. Photo Gallery by Bill Normile

TOMS RIVER – A team with three sophomores in the starting lineup figures to endure its share of hard lessons during the course of a season, and Saturday served the Manchester boys basketball team one of those lessons at the WOBM Christmas Classic against third-seeded Toms River South.

It turns out Manchester has some fast learners, as well as a senior to help bail them out.

After squandering a 10-point lead in the final 2:42 of the fourth quarter and trailing in each of the two overtime periods, the Hawks closed the game strong and beat the Indians 65-60 in double overtime to advance to the WOBM Classic final on Monday against top-seeded Jackson Memorial. It marks the Hawks’ first trip to the WOBM final since losing to Raritan in 2004.

Manchester senior guard KaShaun Barnes handles the ball against Toms River South senior Marquis Davis during Manchester’s 65-60 overtime win over the Indians. (Photo by Bill Normile)

Senior KaShaun Barnes – a three-year varsity player at Matawan prior to this season – scored a team-high 19 points and buried two crucial 3-pointers in the second overtime, including the go-ahead three that gave Manchester the lead for good at 61-58 with a minute left in the period. The three helped ignite Manchester’s 8-2 run to close the game.

“If one guy is hanging his head, there are four other guys in the huddle who are ready to make a play and pick him up,” Barnes said. “Nobody has to say anything, we just do it. If something bad happens, we play hard on the next play and try to get it back. These are young guys, but they all played as freshmen and learned that.”

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Barnes was also part of the collapse that came seemingly out of nowhere with Manchester ahead 46-36 and 2:42 left on the clock. He missed the front-end of a one-and-one after Toms River South senior forward Darrius Hart knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the Manchester lead to 46-39.

Indians junior Khaleel Greene then knocked down two free throws to cut the lead to 46-41 after Barnes’ miss and the Indians quickly scored off a turnover when Hart stole the ball from sophomore Jordan Torney and got the ball up to senior Marquis Davis (15 points) for a layup.

After Davis’ lay-up cut the Toms River South deficit to three, Barnes hurried a pass up court to sophomore Shavar Reynolds, whose driving layup attempt was blocked by Hart to give Toms River South the ball back. Indians senior Tymere Berry (22 points) capped the comeback by nailing a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 46.

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Berry’s three capped a 10-0 burst by the Indians in just 1:05 and tied the game with 1:37 left. Toms River South pressured Barnes into a turnover on Manchester’s final possession of regulation, but Berry missed a three-point attempt as time expired.

“We were given a second chance to win the game and we knew we needed to take it,” Barnes said. “It shouldn’t have gotten to that point, but we were there and we had to find a way out and that’s what good teams do. They find a way.”

Toms River South carried its momentum into overtime by scoring the first four points of the period, bringing the run to 14-0 over a span of four minutes. Manchester trailed 52-48 in the final 1:30 and had not scored a field goal in more than six minutes when Torney buried a corner three to cut the Toms River South lead to 52-51 with 37 seconds left.

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After benefiting from Manchester’s haste to shoot the ball despite holding a three-point lead, the Indians then returned the favor by putting up two quick shots and then fouling sophomore Israel Almestica on the rebound with 26 seconds left.

Almestica, who scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, hit the first free throw to tie the game at 52 and the game would head to a second overtime.

“I definitely felt like tonight was an opportunity to go out and have a big game,” Almestica said. “They don’t have a lot of size, so my size was going to be an advantage for us, and I had to help my team by rebounding and making plays inside.”

Toms River South again appeared poised to put the game out of reach after Berry stole the ball and converted a lay-up as Reynolds committed an intentional foul against him. The layup cut Manchester’s lead to 55-54 and gave Berry two shots, plus the ball underneath the Hawks basket. Berry missed both free throws, but Hart scored on the ensuing inbounds play to put Toms River South ahead, 56-55 with 2:25 left.

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Almestica and Toms River South sophomore Tyler Fall traded baskets and Barnes made one of two free throws to tie the game at 58 with 1:41 left. Manchester then got a much-needed stop and Barnes nailed the go-ahead three from the left wing to give his team the lead. Torney then sealed it by converting a transition lay-up as he was fouled to stretch the lead to 63-58.

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“When things are going bad, we just tell ourselves, ‘Let’s get stops,’” Almestica said. “If you’re going to come back or stop a run, you have to stop the other team and that’s what we kept saying in overtime. Our defense is our strength and it definitely helped us tonight.”


Jaguars Block Party Turns Back Patriots

Jackson Memorial senior and University of Delaware recruit Eric Carter is the leader of the defense and at 6-foot-8 is one of the more imposing shot-blocking figures in the Shore Conference. Pairing Carter with 6-7 Monsignor Donovan transfer Jesse Hill, the Jaguars have two towering obstacles for teams to overcome in the paint.

Freehold Township found out just how hard it is to score in the paint against the Jaguars on Saturday when Jackson Memorial edged the Patriots, 51-47, to advance to the WOBM final on Monday against Manchester. Carter and Hill each scored 14 points, but it was the shot-blocking of Hill and Carter’s ability to change shots that stood out.

Hill finished with seven blocked shots and while Carter blocked only one shot, his presence was a big factor in funneling Freehold Township’s slashing perimeter players to Hill, according to Jaguars coach Joe Fagan.

Jackson Memorial senior Eric Carter goes up for a shot attempt over Freehold Township senior Chris Talbott during Jackson’s 51-47 win over the Patriots on Saturday. (Photo by Bill Normile)

“Eric is the captain of our defense and everything from inside out runs through him,” Fagan said. “He actually changes more shots than he blocks, and he still blocks a lot of shots. He has a great understanding of the game on that end of the floor and when he’s at his best, it shows.”

Carter blocked four shots in a 53-42 win over Point Boro on Thursday and Hill took over that role on Saturday while also grabbing eight rebounds. The junior transfer – who led Monsignor Donovan in scoring as a sophomore – has fit in nicely alongside Carter through the first three games of the tournament.

“He’s a Division I mid-major level shot blocker,” Fagan said of Hill. “There are plenty of tall, athletic players who don’t do what he does because they don’t have a feel for it. Jesse just has a knack for timing and awareness it takes to block a shot.”

Freehold Township stayed within striking distance of the top-seeded Jaguars into the fourth quarter and trailed 38-34 early in the period. Hill then took over by scoring nine unanswered points on his own to push Jackson Memorial’s lead to 47-34.

The Patriots scored the next eight points to get back to within five, but Gino Palummo and Hill combined to go 3-for-4 at the line to push the lead back to eight. Freehold Township junior Jason Czajkowski hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to 50-45 and Carter went just 1-for-6 from the free-throw line down the stretch, but Freehold Township could not score on the Jackson defense.

Carter took the game over for a stretch of the third and fourth quarters in which he scored 11 points and set up two layups by Hill. The senior finished with nine rebounds and three assists to go with his 14 points.

“The difference for us so far has been that we have a great player who has raised his game when we’ve needed it,” Fagan said. “Our defense is not where it needs to be right now. Yes, we are long and athletic, but that’s not what made us a great defensive team last year. It was the heart to defend every possession, and we’re just missing that now. Thankfully, Eric has picked us up outside of some missed free throws, he’s playing flawless right now.”


Box Scores

Manchester 65, Toms River South 60 (2 OT)








Manchester (3-1)








Toms River South (3-1)









Manchester (65): Darius Barlow 2 2-2 6, Shavar Reynolds 3 4-5 10, Israel Almestica 6 4-6 16, Jordan Torney 5 3-7 14, KaShaun Barnes 6 4-7 19, Devin Tomei 0 0-0 0, Robert Planter 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 17-27 65

Three-pointers: Torney, Barnes 3

Toms River South (60): Marquis Davis 7 0-0 15, Khaleel Green 2 2-2 6, Darius Hart 4 2-4 11, Tyler Fall 2 2-2 6, Tymere Berry 7 6-8 22, John Timmes 0 0-0 0, Francis Hearn 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 12-16 60

Three-pointers: Davis, Hart, Berry 2


Jackson Memorial 51, Freehold Township 47






Freehold Twp. (3-1)






Jackson Memorial (4-0)







Freehold Twp. (47): Jason Czajkowski 3 1-2 9, Kyle Czajkowski 4 0-0 8, Brian Dziobak 0 0-0 0, Danny Saunders 3 0-0 6, Chris Talbott 3 5-9 11, Jordan McGill 1 0-0 3, Tyree Wilson 3 1-2 7, C.J. Stenftennagel 1 1-1 3, Mike Staklinski 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 8-14 47

Three-pointers: J. Czajkowski 2, McGill

Jackson Memorial (51): C.J. Blue 2 2-5 8, Gino Palummo 1 4-6 7, Eric Carter 4 6-12 14, Jesse Hill 4 5-6 14, Marcus Ademilola 1 0-0 2, Jimmy Markham 2 0-0 6, Eddie Landi 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 17-29 51

Three-pointers: Blue 2, Palummo, Hill, Markham 2

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