To me without a doubt the Shore Conference Basketball Tournament is the highlight of the hoops season and it’s obvious I’m not alone because regardless of who is playing the crowds pack the house, especially for the semifinals and finals.

CBA senior Chika Ekekeugbor blocks a shot during the Colts' win over Lakewood. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Like with the girl’s semifinals on Tuesday they jammed into Brick Memorial for the boys final four last night and when it was over Point Pleasant Beach and Christian Brothers Academy had earned spots in Saturday’s championship game.

The top-seeded Garnett Gulls started slow against upset-minded Matawan before turning it on in the second half and pulling away for a 53-39 victory. While Beach did not shoot very well they dominated inside during the second half and put three players in double figures led by Iowa-bound Dom Uhl’s 14 points with ten of them coming in the 4th quarter. Standout point guard Matt Farrell added 11 points as did Noah Yates, who was our Klee’s/Ocean Trophies Player of the Game.

The Garnett Gulls improve to 23-1 and advanced to the SCT title game for the second straight year. Many expected they would face Lakewood with a chance to avenge last year’s championship game loss but CBA spoiled that with a 57-47 win over the Piners. Louie Pillari, who is headed to the Naval Academy, scored 14 points and was our player of the game while sophomore center Tim Andree added 13 for the 17-4 Colts. Without question the best player on the court was Lakewood senior Dan Niblack whose 25 points accounted for more than half of his team’s offense but was not enough as the Piners will now turn their attention to the state tournament.

Point Beach senior Dom Uhl had a team-high 14 points, all in the second half, to help power a win over Matawan that put the Garnet Gulls back into the SCT final.(Matt Manley)

CBA and Point Beach will meet on Saturday at 3pm at Monmouth University following the girl’s final between St. Rose and Manasquan. Both games will be broadcast on our Shore Sports Network.

So how is that for role reversal? Last week Toms River East named Meghan Wood their new softball coach as she left Monsignor Donovan to take the head coaching job at her alma mater. Wood is replacing her former coach Debbie Schwartz, who could not continue guiding the Raiders due to a policy change that prohibits administrators and supervisors from coaching in the district. However Schwartz is allowed to coach outside the district and yesterday Donovan hired her as Wood’s replacement.

The Griffins get one of the most successful coaches in the state as Schwartz won 501 games in 25 years at East, including 19 Class “A South” titles and 19 Ocean County Tournament championships. Her longtime assistant Dawn Dziedzic will join her in the move to the Griffins.