Boys Basketball: SCT Final Four is Set
We are now down to the final four teams in the Shore Conference Tournament after an exciting day of action on Sunday at Brookdale Community College.
Shore Sports Network broadcast schedule
Tuesday (tomorrow) Girls Semifinals
St. John Vianney vs. Point Boro (6pm)
Red Bank Catholic vs. Middletown South (7:45)
Wednesday Boys Semifinals
Point Beach vs. Manasquan (6pm)
Lakewood vs. Toms River North (7:45)
For the first time in recent memory, three of the four semifinalists are from Ocean County, which is guaranteed to have one team in the championship game for the first time since Monsignor Donovan in 2008. Top-seeded Lakewood will play fifth-seeded Toms River North in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Brookdale, followed by second-seeded Point Beach and third-seeded Manasquan at 7:45 p.m. in a rematch of a regular-season game that Point Beach won 48-42.
The championship game will be Saturday at 3 p.m. at Monmouth University.
The most impressive and thrilling victory on Sunday came from Toms River North, which beat fourth-seeded Colts Neck 58-57 thanks to a free throw by senior point guard Damien Singleton with 5.1 seconds left in the game to cap an outstanding, 18-point performance. With the victory, the Mariners (22-2) set the school record for wins and reached the SCT semifinals for the first time since 1998, according to head coach Rory Caswell. They withstood a brilliant, 30-point effort by Colts Neck senior guard Brandon Federici, who buried a deep 3-pointer to tie the game with 16 seconds left before Singleton got into the lane off the dribble and drew the foul that led to his game-winning free throw.
"It's all about confidence with (Singleton),'' Caswell said. "Once he hit a bucket or two, I told him, 'You need to lead us.' He took it on his back and just went. He's that type of athlete that can just make play.''
The Mariners are in search of their first appearance in an SCT final since 1996 and their first title in school history. To get there, they will have to go through a Lakewood team on its own mission. The Piners, who were the last Ocean County team to win the SCT back in 1991, ended the Cinderella run of No. 24 seed Matawan with a 57-42 victory. Senior guard Tyrice Beverette burnished continued an outstanding season with a game-high 22 points to lead the way.
Manasquan is the only semifinalist from a season ago to make a return trip to the final four, as the Warriors edged sixth-seeded Jackson Memorial 45-41 thanks to 13 points and 13 rebounds by senior forward Jimmy Walsh, 12 points by senior guard J.R. Hobbie and some key buckets down the stretch by freshman forward Ryan Jensen. The Warriors are looking to reach the SCT final for the first time since 2005 and are in search of their first SCT title since 1957.
Point Beach, which has never won an SCT title, grinded out a 52-45 comeback win over 10th-seeded Manalapan to reach the semifinals for the second time in three seasons. Junior point guard Matt Farrell matched Manalapan senior star Anthony Firkser with a game-high 16 points, and junior forward Dom Uhl added 11 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in the win. The Garnet Gulls are now one win away from their first SCT final appearance since 1963 as they shoot for the first SCT title in program history.
The quarterfinals at Collins Arena were the latest chapter in an SCT that was highlighted in the early rounds by the performance of Matawan, which knocked off No. 9 Red Bank Catholic and No. 8 Christian Brothers Academy on the road in the first two rounds. The Round-of-16 victory over CBA was the most exciting of any game in the tournament, as sophomore guard Joe Piscopo buried a 16-foot baseline fadeaway after a scramble for the ball as time expired to give the Huskies a 51-50 victory. It was Matawan’s first win ever over CBA, the first home loss in SCT history by the Colts, and the Huskies’ first trip to the quarterfinals since 1958.
On the same night, Manasquan also won a last-second thriller to escape an upset bid at the hands of 14th-seeded Long Branch. Junior guard Tommy Toole hit a baseline jumper with two seconds left in regulation to pull out a 57-55 victory and keep the Warriors on a path to the semifinals. Walsh also had 21 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
In a regular-season game on Friday night, Red Bank Regional honored the 30th anniversary one of the greatest teams in Shore Conference history and also one that most likely will never be seen again. The 1983 Bucs team finished a perfect 31-0 and is the last Shore Conference team to go undefeated. With the advent of the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions in 1989, it has made going unbeaten nearly impossible for a Shore team given the dominance of St. Anthony and other parochial powers in the TOC. Former NFL defensive lineman Danny Stubbs came from his home in Boca Raton, Fla., as a majority of the team coached by former Red Bank athletic director and current acting Middletown athletic director Nick Pizzulli gathered for a memorable celebration before the Bucs game against Monsignor Donovan.