Boys Basketball – Week 9 Jersey Mike’s Team of the Week: Ranney
When Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine, Alex Klatsky and Chris Autino arrived on campus as freshmen at the Ranney School in the fall of 2015, the expectations for the boys basketball program immediately went from non-existent to limitless.
Since Lewis and Antoine burst onto the Shore Conference scene as stars in 2015-16 with Autino and Klatsky playing their supporting roles as starters, Ranney has added current junior Ahmadu Sarnor and senior Savior Akuwovo to a team that has emerged as one of the state's best.
With all of that talent, winning the Shore Conference Tournament would seem to be a drop in the proverbial bucket and while the Panthers made winning its first ever Shore Conference Tournament look routine, it was a landmark accomplishment for a group that went to Ranney to make history and did just that by beating two-time defending champion Mater Dei Prep, 52-28, on Thursday.
For making that bit of history, the Panthers are the Week Nine Jersey Mike's Team of the Week.
A team's first championship of any kind typically involved a turning-point play or a memorable moment in a close win. Ranney, however, did not need either it steamrolling the SCT field. The Panthers won four games by an average margin of victory of 24.25 points per game, capped by a resounding 24-point win over the Seraphs.
The 24-point margin was the second-largest defeat for Mater Dei since coach Ben Gamble took over three years ago and the worst - a 27-point loss to the Patrick School in last year's NJSIAA Non-Public B quarterfinals - came against the No. 1 team in the state with leading scorer Elijah Barnes injured.
Ranney also beat tradition-rich Christian Brothers Academy, 69-53, to advance to the championship game and put away Toms River North - a team that had reached the SCT semifinals in three consecutive years - by a 76-52 count.
While junior Scottie Lewis was Ranney's most consistent performer throughout the tournament with scoring outputs of 22, 23, 24 and 15 points in the four games, the Panthers won their first title win contributions from all five starters. Sarnor matched Lewis with 15 points in the championship game, Antoine averaged 16.7 points for the tournament, Akuwovo was a regular presence scoring and rebounding on the inside and Klatsky hit four three-pointers in the win over CBA.
Ranney will look to continue its historic season by pursuing the program's first ever NJSIAA sectional title. The Panthers have never been to a sectional final, making it as far as the South Jersey Non-Public B semifinals last year, where they lost to eventual Tournament of Champions winner the Patrick School.
2018 Team of the Week Winners
Week 1: Manasquan
Week 2: Rumson-Fair Haven
Week 3: CBA
Week 4: Central
Week 5: Red Bank Catholic
Week 6: Holmdel
Week 7: Neptune
Week 8: Barnegat