POINT PLEASANT BEACH - During its four-game losing streak leading up to a Shore Conference Class B Central showdown with St. Rose on Wednesday, the Point Pleasant Beach boys basketball twice nearly rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to nearly pull out a win.

The reason the Garnet Gulls had to rally in those situations was because of a lackluster third quarter in both instances. Wednesday night the No. 7 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 made the third quarter count - this time in its favor.

Point Beach began the second half on a game-breaking run en route to a 54-49 win over the Purple Roses that snapped the Garnet Gulls' four-game losing streak and secured a regular-season sweep over their B Central rivals.

"We played four really good teams and had three really tough losses that came down to a possession, so it was good to get back on the board against a good team to get everybody's confidence back," Point Beach coach Nick Catania said.

Point Beach junior Danny Frauenheim. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Junior Danny Frauenheim went coast-to-coast for the final score of the first half to cut St. Rose's halftime lead to 25-19 and the basket turned out to be the start of a sizeable run. The Garnet Gulls then kicked down the locker room doors and began the third quarter on a 19-2 run to go up 38-27 with just under three minutes left in the third. What was once a 25-17 St. Rose lead was now an 11-point Point Beach advantage thanks to a 21-2 run that spanned parts of two quarters.

"We watched film for two hours on Sunday and the guys saw that in that third quarter, a lot of times it was our effort that was lacking," Catania said. "So that was a huge point of emphasis in practice. Even at halftime, we reminded them about playing 32 minutes with energy."

Frauenheim and fellow junior Chris Pina led the run, with Pina scoring seven points of his 15 points during that stretch and Frauenheim adding five points and three assists. Pina also finished the game with seven rebounds and four blocked shots, while Frauenheim led Point Beach with 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

"We needed to focus on getting back to playing as a team," Frauenheim said. "I think we got caught trying to play individually at times, and we really wanted to focus on working together on both ends of the floor for a full 32 minutes and it turned out in our favor."

St. Rose pulled to within five points six different times during the remainder of the game but could not draw closer. After St. Rose cut the deficit to 38-32 on a drive and three-pointer by Billy Frost on consecutive possessions, Pina and Frauenheim combined for eight more points over the next five minutes to stretch the lead back to 46-37, with Pina accounting for six of those eight points. The junior scored 13 of his points in the second half.

It was then junior John Crowley's turn to score on consecutive St. Rose possessions to pull his team within 46-41 before Frauenheim hit one of two free throws and junior Trevor Covey drove for a left-handed finish to push the Gulls lead back to eight. Crowley then connected on a three-pointer with 46 seconds left, but the Gulls went 5-for-6 from the line the rest of the way to close out the game.

"We're a defensive team," Pina said. "We revolve around our help defense and that was really what won us the game tonight."

Covey scored eight of his 12 points in the first half, with his four second-half points coming in the final 2:30 to help close out the game. Frost was the only St. Rose player to reach double-figure scoring with 10 points, while senior forward Nick Paterno scored all eight of his points in the first half and also grabbed eight rebounds.

Point Beach's four-game losing streak included losses to three teams (No. 1 Ranney, No. 2 Mater Dei and No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven) ranked in the top five of the Shore Sports Network Top 10 and another (Middletown North) that was ranked No. 4 in the preseason before a key injury set the Lions back in the early going. The losses to Mater Dei, Rumson and Middletown North were all by five points or fewer and against both Rumson and Middletown North, the Garnet Gulls nearly erased double-digit fourth-quarter deficits.

Prior to losing four straight, Point Beach had won nine in a row since an opening-night loss to Ranney. The first game of that winning streak was a road win at St. Rose and in that win, the Garnet Gulls also benefitted from a game-breaking run. Trailing 67-63 with three-plus minutes remaining, Point Beach ripped off a 17-0 run to close the game and pull out an 80-67 win over the Purple Roses.

"I think we learned we have to get that much better," Catania said, referring to the four-game losing streak. "We feel like we can play with those teams and we have to get a little bit better to get over the hump. Really, we're looking at those games as learning experiences. Our schedule is really tough, but it gives us an opportunity to learn what we are and what we need to work on."


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