ABERDEEN TWP. – Matawan senior Chris Tawiah came into this season wanting to exhibit more confidence as Matawan’s third scoring option alongside two breakout sophomores from a year ago, juniors Jason Dunne and Joe Piscopo.

Armed with the boost in confidence, Matawan’s No. 3 scorer has become its No. 1 scorer.

Chris Tawiah (11) scored 26 points to lead Matawan to a key Class B North win over Long Branch on Monday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Tawiah led Matawan in scoring for the fourth time in six games Monday with a career-high, 26-point performance to help lead the Huskies – the No. 6 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 – to a 60-48 win over No. 4 Long Branch.

“I wasn’t as confident as I needed to be last year,” said Tawiah, who hit five 3-pointers on Monday. “I made some shots here and there, but I only took about four or five a game, and I was sometimes hesitant to take a shot or make a pass because we had Joe and Jason out there. I’ve been playing with those guys since middle school and I always felt comfortable playing with them, but I needed to be more confident in myself to help this team like I know I can."

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Dunne added 15 points and Piscopo chipped in 10 for Matawan, which won its fourth straight and took over sole possession of first place in the Shore Conference Class B North division during the early part of the season.

The Huskies overcame a 20-point game by Green Wave senior Terrel Cox, who scored the 1,000th point of his career early in the second quarter.

Tawiah scored eight points in each of the first two quarters to pace Matawan to a 30-22 halftime lead. The Huskies started the third quarter on a 7-1 run before Long Branch battled back to within eight points heading into the third quarter, 42-34.

The Huskies put the game away during the middle-to-late stages of the fourth quarter with a 6-1 run that stretched a 49-40 lead to 55-41. Tawiah capped the spurt with a putback and two free throws to end his scoring.

“Most people who talk about us are going to look at Jason and Joe as the guys to stop and I told (Tawiah) coming into the year that he was going to have a chance to do damage,” Matawan coach Tom Stead said. “He’s got such a quick release, so when you get him running off those double screens, it doesn’t take much for him to be able to get off his shot.”

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Cox helped keep Long Branch in the game during the second quarter, when he scored nine of his team-high 20 points and also joined his father, Timmy Cox, and cousin, Darryl Daniels, in Long Branch’s 1,000-point club. Cox stole the ball near midcourt and finished a lay-up as he was fouled to put him at 1,001 career points. After Monday, Cox now has 1,012 career points.

“I grew up with Terrel’s father in the same neighborhood and there’s a lot of pride in this program, especially when you’re talking about an accomplishment like this,” Long Branch coach Stan Mooney said. “Terrel has had family come before him and I know it means a lot to be able to follow in their footsteps.”

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Matawan won the game despite shooting 16-for-29 (55 percent) from the free-throw line because Long Branch was even worse. The Green Wave shot just 7-for-21 (33 percent) and after taking away Cox’s contribution (4-for-6), Long Branch shot only 3-for-15 (20 percent).

“We got lucky tonight because under different circumstances, we really could have cost ourselves at the free-throw line,” Stead said. “We were really fortunate that they had trouble too and going forward, that’s something we’re going to have to get better at because there are going to be games that come down to making foul shots.”

Piscopo and Dunne each added four assists and Piscopo had three steals to cap a solid all-around game for the Huskies' trio of guards, which combined for 51 of the 60 Matawan points.

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“Those guys combined to make over 150 threes last year, so we knew coming in we had that scoring,” Stead said. “We get in trouble when we rely on that too much, and I’d like to see us work the ball inside and then kick it out rather than just settling. These guys are all capable players and they come ready to work so it’s something I think we’ll get better at and if we do, I think we can be a pretty dangerous team.”

 

Box Score

Matawan 60, Long Branch 48

1

2

3

4

F

Long Branch (4-2, 1-1)

11

11

12

14

48

Matawan (5-1, 2-0)

13

17

12

18

60

 

Long Branch (48): Izayah Irizarry 3 0-0 7, Terrel Cox 7 4-6 20, Myson Pennington 1 1-2 3, Deon Williams 1 1-2 3, Hassan Foster 3 1-9 7, Kenneth Barrow 1 0-2 3, Jamar Foster 2 0-0 5, Edward Jones 0 0-0 0, Dave Colbert 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 7-21 48

Three-Pointers: Irizarry, Cox 2, Barrow, Foster

Matawan (60): Joe Piscopo 3 3-6 10, Chris Tawiah 8 5-8 26, Nick Tomkins 1 1-1 3, Austen Planes 2 0-0 5, Jason Dunne 3 6-8 15, Dritin Gyjrigi 0 1-6 1, Nick Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 16-29 60

Three-pointers: Piscopo, Tawiah 5, Planes, Dunne 3