Photo Gallery by Doug Bostwick

LITTLE SILVER – Shore Regional senior point guard Dan Pillari rarely knows who he is passing the ball to when he is on the floor, but he knows if that player is wearing the same color jersey that he is, the ball will be in good hands.

All five Shore starters scored in double-figures Monday night and the Blue Devils routed defending Shore Conference Class A Central champion Manasquan, 76-56, to capture the school’s first ever Albert Martin Memorial Buc Classic championship.

Photo by Doug Bostwick

Junior Dan Largey scored 16 points and Pillari added 13 points and five assists while taking home tournament Most Valuable Player honors. Junior Kevin Bloodgood scored 15 points and senior Matt Cosentino and junior Jack Byrne each chipped in 12 points to round out the big day for the starting five.

“We all have complete faith in one another and that’s what makes us dangerous,” Pillari said. “Everyone has the ability and the confidence to score, and we all have confidence in each other. Sometimes I don’t know who I’m passing the ball to. Tonight, if I saw a white jersey and he was open, I was going to give him the ball, and he was probably going to make the shot.”

Few teams even have five players capable of scoring 12 points in a game, let alone five who can do so in one game. That balance on offense is what made Shore the favorite to win Class A Central this season, but Rumson-Fair Faven knocked off the preseason No. 4 team in the Shore Conference, according to Shore Sports Network, on opening night.

“We played selfish basketball on opening night and that’s why we lost,” Pillari said. “We’re at our best when we’re sharing the ball and that was the lesson we took from Rumson. If we’re not trusting in one another and we’re all doing our own thing, we’re not a very good team.”

“We’ve been playing together for a long time, not just during the school season, but in the summer and on travel teams,” said Bloodgood, who was named first-team all-tournament. “If we have a bad game, it’s not going to stick with us because we know what we can do when we’re playing our best basketball together.”

Not only did Shore put on an offensive clinic Monday, but it did so against one of the Shore Conference’s best defenses during the early stage of the season. In their first three games of the season, Manasquan had allowed opponents to score only 35 points per game and held a solid Red Bank Catholic team to 31 points on opening night.

“You’re talking about, year in and year out, one of the best public school program’s in the Shore Conference in Manasquan,” Shore coach Dave Emery said. “They are well-coached and even when guys graduate, the pride stays and the next guy steps up. We expected them to fight and they played us tough, but they struggled shooting the ball and that allowed us to build up the lead.”

Shore junior Dan Largey (15) goes up for a shot against Manasquan's Matt Paturzo. Largey scored a game-high 16 points. (Photo by Doug Bostwick)

Largey is the only one of the five starters who did not play significant minutes last year, but he again showed his scoring ability at 6-foot-5.

“At the end of last year, I wouldn’t have expected this from him, but as soon as I saw him in the summer, I knew he was ready to step in and be a big contributor,” Emery said of Largey. “He is far and away the most improved player in the program from last year, and he has improved in every single aspect of the game.”

Manasquan kept it close through the middle stages of the second quarter Monday before Shore broke the game open with an 18-8 run to close the first half and stretch its lead to 42-27 at the break. Pillari scored the first four points of the run and Bloodgood keyed the surge with seven points. Manasquan never got closer than 13 points.

“I don’t want to say this game was about payback, but it was definitely a big game and a statement game for our team,” said Bloodgood, whose Blue Devils lost twice to Manasquan last season in division play. “We were favored in the division coming into the season, but we haven’t had success against Manasquan, so one of the first things we had to do was play a good game and finally beat those guys.”

The Blue Devils defense allowed 56 points and six 3-pointers to Manasquan’s up-tempo offense, but the Warriors shot just 6-for-25 from 3-point range and did not consistently get out in transition as they were able to during a 3-0 start to the season.

“When we scouted them, we saw we had to stop their transition game, and we did a nice job of containing them in that aspect of the game,” Emery said. “They have a couple dangerous shooters who you need to challenge, but for the most part, we were comfortable getting them into the half court and packing it in a little more than usual.”

Since losing at Rumson-Fair Haven, 64-58, in its opener on Dec. 20, Shore has played state power St. Joseph of Metuchen to the wire (78-68 after trailing by two in the final 1:30), and defeated Freehold, Middletown North and Manasquan by an average margin of 17.7 points per game. The Blue Devils take on Red Bank Catholic Friday in their first Class A Central game of 2014.

“We have a list of goals and the first thing on that list was ‘Win the Buc Classic,’” Pillari said. “We got our first goal and the fact that we were able to beat Manasquan in the championship was a cherry on top. Now we can get back and focus on the division.”

 

Box Score

Shore 76, Manasquan 56

1

2

3

4

F

Manasquan (3-1)

14

13

15

14

56

Shore (3-2)

18

24

17

17

76

 

Manasquan (56): Jack Fay 3 4-4 12, Tommy Toole 6 0-1 14, Ryan Jensen 4 4-5 12, Luke Tousek 0 0-0 0, Jack Sheehan 2 3-6 8, Ryan Kavanaugh 2 1-4 5, Aidan McMenaman 1 0-0 2, Matt Paturzo 0 0-0 0, Nick Gilly 1 0-0 3, John White 0 0-0 0, Shane Flanagan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 12-20 56

Three-Pointers: Fay 2, Toole 2, Sheehan, Gilly

Shore (76): Dan Pillari 3 7-7 13, Kevin Bloodgood 4 5-6 15, Dan Largey 5 6-8 16, Jack Byrne 4 4-4 12, Matt Cosentino 3 4-5 12, Clayton Coffey 0 0-0 0, Matt McCarthy 1 0-0 2, Billy Deerin 1 2-2 4, James Kelly 0 0-0 0, Alex Mango 0 0-0 0, Tom Treshock 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 28-32 76

Three-Pointers: Bloodgood 2, Cosentino 2