UNION TWP. - The Ranney boys basketball team has dominated the Shore Conference landscape for the pas season-and-a-half but on Friday, the Panthers stepped up to the national stage and found out what life is like on the other side.

Montverde - the Florida powerhouse coached by former St. Patrick's coach Kevin Boyle and ranked No. 4 in the country by USA Today - physically handled Ranney and shot a scorching 70 percent from three-point range on the way to a 89-51 rout of the Panthers at Friday's Metro Classic at Kean University.

"Against a team like that, you've got to do things right," Ranney coach Tahj Holden said. "You've got to do things right and you have to do them consistently and we did not do that tonight.

"Over the course of the year, when you are better than most of the team you play, you can get away with some stuff. Against a team like Montverde who are in the top-five in the country, you have to do more right than you do wrong and we didn't do that."

On top of the loss on the scoreboard, Ranney lost senior Bryan Antoine to a left foot injury. Antoine scored all 13 of his points in the first half and after trying to play through the injury in the third quarter, retired to the bench for the final 14 minutes.

Senior Scottie Lewis led Ranney with 21 points and four blocked shots and senior Ahmadu Sarnor added nine in the loss.

Junior Moses Moody led Montverde with 20 points and shot 6-for-6 from beyond the three-point arc as part of a 14-for-20 (70 percent) performance on three-point shots by Montverde as a team.

The Eagles opened up by hitting their first four three-pointers and hit 5-of-6 in the first quarter. Sarnor came up with back-to-back steals and fed Lewis for a dunk that cut Montverde's lead to 26-16 but freshman Ryan Nembhard hit his team's fifth three just before the buzzer to put Monteverde up 29-16.

Montverde went on to hit its next five three-pointers to make it to 10-for-11 and took a 54-31 lead into halftime.

"Watching them on film, we saw a couple guys could knock down shots by 14-for-20 is ridiculous," Holden said. "I don't think I have ever seen that. I think it did happen when we played UCLA my freshman year (at Maryland) and they shot about 70 percent from the field."

Things did not get much better for Ranney in the third quarter, during which Montverde outscored the Panthers, 19-7.

Senior Harlond Beverly added 15 points, senior and McDonald's All-American Precious Achiuwa scored 13 and junior Cade Cunningham added nine points and eight assists for Montverde.

Ranney will look to bounce back Saturday against Asbury Park at Red Bank Regional High School before hunkering down in preparation for the Shore Conference Tournament. The Panthers are likely to draw the No. 1 seed and open up their SCT title defense on Thursday in the round of 16.

Antoine said his focus will be on getting as healthy as possible to help his team make a run at a second straight SCT title and a first ever state championship.

"I'm trying to focus on getting healthy as soon as I can," Antoine said. "The Shore Conference Tournament starts next week so I'm trying to get healthy for that, so whatever I need to do to recover so I can help my team, that's what I'm going to do."

 

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