By Ian Roth - Shore Sports Network contributor

MANAHAWKIN - Southern senior star Dylan Jinks hit a rare milestone as top-seeded Southern Regional beat visiting Ocean 15-4 in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night.

The Rams (15-0) were led by Jinks’ six goals and one assist, while Nick Simonelli added two goals and three assists. Jinks recorded his 400th career point and Simonelli his 100th for the unbeaten Rams, ranked No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10. Southern advanced to the SCT semifinals for the third straight season and will play fourth-seeded Manasquan on Saturday at Toms River East in a bid to return to the SCT championship game.

Southern senior captain Dylan Jinks hit the rare 400-point milestone for his career to help the Rams return to the SCT semifinals. (File photo by Cliff Lavelle).

The fog at Southern’s Ron Emmert Field certainly had no bearing on the quality of play under the lights on Thursday night. Ocean struck first in the first quarter when Sam Hannah found the net to open the scoring, but Southern responded later in the quarter in the form of a Chris Smith goal with 2:13 to go. With 48 seconds remaining, Jinks scored his first goal of the night, putting them up 2-1 at the end of the quarter.

In the second quarter, Southern’s quick offense continued its push. With help from Smith and Jinks again, Nick Simonelli, Sean McManus, and Kyle Mulrane combined to fire off another five unanswered goals that spanned most of the quarter. Ocean scored once on a clutch, buzzer-beating goal by junior Eric Rant. Defensively, Rams' junior Gordie Von Schmidt and senior Mike Adragna stymied many of Ocean Township’s first-half efforts to give Southern a 7-2 lead at the half.

The Spartans looked to be poised to make a comeback when they poked through Southern’s defense for two goals in the middle of the third quarter, as Rant and Hannah both found the net within a few minutes of each other. Hannah scored with 7:28 left to make the score 9-3, and then Rant scored his second goal of the game with 4:39 left in the period. Those two scores book-ended Southern’s three goals of the quarter, all by Jinks.

The Rams then turned up the defense in the fourth quarter. With great man-to-man defense by Adragna and Von Schmidt, along with help from Jon Manzo and Anthony Triola, the Rams were able to thwart the hard charges at the goal put up by the Spartans. The game-changer, though, was senior goalie Brendan “Cheeks” Lefanto, who finished with 14 saves.

“We go out and play every game like it’s our last,'' Lefanto said. “The defense was locked down, and we had great communication,” said Lefanto.

The defense as a whole had 12 ground balls. Evan Henken and Giancarlo Disporto were also part of the strong effort on that side of the field.

The offense, meanwhile, was its explosive self behind Jinks, one of the state's top scorers.

“I like to think of the offense as a unit, and if one thing goes wrong then we aren’t playing to our full potential,'' Jinks said.

The Rams rolled past an Ocean (10-2) team in the midst of its best season in program history.

“Ocean is a really talented team who’s put up a tremendous season, and I thought we played really good lacrosse today,'' Southern coach John Pampalone said.