Boys Basketball: Manchester Wins First WOBM Classic Title
Manchester heard all the talk in the preseason about how it was too young to be a factor this season, but the Hawks showed on Monday night at Pine Belt Arena that they are way ahead of schedule by making school history.
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A team that only has two seniors and starts three sophomores went out and won the program's first WOBM Christmas Classic title in the 30th anniversary of the tournament by taking down top-seeded Jackson Memorial 58-42 to serve notice that they will be a team to watch when the Shore Conference regular season resumes. Their guards were outstanding, burying a combined 11 3-pointers, including four by senior KaShaun Barnes, who finished with a team-high 20 points and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Sophomore guards Jordan Torney (13 points) and Shavar Reynolds (11) each buried three 3-pointers, and Torney earned first-team All-Tournament honors from the coaches. Reynolds was named to the All-Tournament second team.
"They thought that we were too young to win, but we showed we're a good team,'' Torney said.
"This should send a big statement,'' Reynolds said. "We're coming."
Seventh-seeded Manchester, which was unranked in the preseason, was also not intimidated in the least bit against the veteran Jaguars, a Shore Sports Network preseason top-five team that has become a program that routinely posts 20-plus victories.
"Definitely not,'' Reynolds said. "Whoever they put on the court, we're going to play them. We're not going to change our plan for somebody else."
After Barnes capped a sluggish opening quarter with a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Manchester a 7-6 lead, the Hawks never trailed again.
They buried five 3-pointers in the second quarter on 10 attempts to offset a seven-point quarter by Delaware-bound Jaguars star Eric Carter, a 6-foot-8 center who finished with a game-high 23 points in the loss. The Hawks were knocking down trifectas off the dribble, on kickouts, and in transition, including three by Barnes in the first half.
"My teammates trusted me and told me that if I'm open, keep shooting it, and it was the same thing for them,'' Barnes said.
Jackson Memorial closed a seven-point gap to tie the game at 18 on a pair of free throws by forward Jesse Hill (12 points), but Manchester closed the half on an 8-0 run that included a 3-pointer by senior guard Darius Barlow and then another longball by Reynolds in the final seconds for a 26-18 advantage at the half.
"We're all good shooters, and when we hit threes, we're a dangerous team,'' Reynolds said. "Getting that lead was huge. They got a D-I-bound 6-8 guy, so to come out and get that lead and make them start forcing things, that was big."
The Hawks came out in the second half and picked up right where they left off, as Torney and Reynolds buried consecutive threes to push the lead to 32-18. Consecutive threes by Barnes and Torney then pushed the lead to 41-22 with 3:23 left in the quarter.
Manchester hit four threes during the third quarter while forcing five turnovers defensively to keep the lead at 43-32 going into the final period. Not only were Manchester's guards hot offensively, they stifled their counterparts, limiting Jackson's guards to five total points in the game. They also made sure that Hill and Carter both didn't have big games by limiting Hill.
"We couldn't let them both go off, and I think as a team we did a good job on them,'' Torney said.
The Jaguars got the lead down to single digits at 47-38 with 5:05 left in the game on a free throw by Carter, who struggled to a 5-for-12 performance from the line in the loss. Manchester answered with, of course, another 3-pointer, this one from Torney on a kickout from Barnes.
Jackson was forced to extend its defense and run-and-jump on the perimeter to try to trap Manchester's guards in a bid to create turnovers, but the Hawks were patient and handled the pressure well by using their speed to blow by defenders and get into the lane for lay-ups or kickouts to open shooters. Barnes in particular did a great job of splitting double teams off the dribble or throwing over the top of two defenders.
Torney's final 3-pointer on the assist from Barnes essentially sealed the win, as Barnes went 4-for-5 from the foul line in the final 2:49 to help bring home a landmark victory for the Hawks.
"It gives us lots of confidence knowing we can beat teams like this,'' Torney said.
Barnes earned tournament MVP honors after an outstanding run that included games of 21, 20, 19 and 20 points. In addition to Torney, the All-Tournament first team consisted of Hill, Carter, and Toms River South's Tymere Berry and Marquis Davis. Named to the All-Tournament second team were Reynolds, Brick Memorial's Aaron Scheiderman, Point Boro's Peyton Wejnert, Lacey's Chris Iapicco, and Freehold Township's Jason Czajkowski.
Manchester 58, Jackson Memorial 42
Manchester (58): Torney 5 0-0 13, Barnes 6 4-5 20, Tomei 0 0-0 0, Barlow 2 0-0 5, Almestica 3 1-1 7, Planter 1 0-0 2, Reynolds 4 0-0 11. Totals: 21 5-6 58.
Jackson Mem. (42): Markham 0 0-0 0, Palummo 0 2-2 2, Blue 0 0-0 0, Carter 9 5-12 23, Landi 1 0-0 3, Ademilola 1 0-0 2, Hill 4 4-6 12. Totals: 15 11-20 42.
Manchester (4-1) 7 19 17 15 - 58
Jackson Mem. (4-1) 6 12 14 10 - 42
Three-pointers: (M) Barnes 4, Torney 3, Reynolds 3, Barlow; (J) Landi. Fouled out: None.
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Pre Game/1st Quarter
4th Quarter/Post Game