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Brick Memorial boys basketball was the headliner of Tuesday night, as the Mustangs took down the last remaining undefeated team in the Shore Conference, No. 2 Toms River North, with a 59-47 win in Class A South.

The Mustangs are on a roll, as the win over the Mariners followed a victory over No. 4 Southern and thrust Brick Memorial right into the thick of the division title chase by putting them in a first-place tie with Toms River North. Senior guard Aaron Scheiderman had 17 points to lead four scorers in double figures, and senior center R.J. Hernandez had a big night with 10 points and 20 rebounds while also holding Toms River North standout center Jordan Craig scoreless.

"We just kind of figured it out,'' head coach Ed Sarluca said. "We're playing as a team. We knew that we were capable of being towards the top of this division and that we could play with anybody if we started playing together. Between fatigue, sickness and injuries early in the season, I think guys started playing as individuals and lost trust in each other. It took a couple bad losses and long film sessions to figure it out."

Brick Memorial senior R.J. Hernandez, shown earlier this season, had a strong all-around game, including 20 rebounds, in an upset of No. 2 Toms River North. (Photo by Matt Manley)

After a nondescript showing in the WOBM Christmas Classic, the Mustangs are finding their stride with still a month to go before the Shore Conference Tournament gets going. While they are known as a potent offensive team, the win over the Mariners highlighted their defense. In addition to Hernandez, guard Scott White held Toms River North's leading scorer, sophomore guard Mike Nyisztor, to five points, while scoring 10 of his own. Senior Joe Hans added 12 points in the win.

"We played good team defense,'' Sarluca said. "They hit the first three shots they took, all 3-pointers, but we played off them and welcomed that 3-pointer. With Nyisztor and (Ted) Thelemaque, we tried to run them off the 3-point line. Scott White did a great job of staying with Nyisztor, and we didn't help off him. The idea was to make those other guys shoot jumpshots."

Sarluca said he believes this is the first time in program history that the Mustangs have ever beaten two teams ranked in the top five in the Shore in back-to-back games. With two wins like that, the target will now be on the Mustangs' back, and they have another tough test at home on Friday against Toms River South.

"I believe that's where our kids want to be,'' Sarluca said. "They'll take that and keep that chip on their shoulder."

Manchester's Jordan Torney swats a shot in a key divisional win over Donovan Catholic on Tuesday night. (Photo by Sports Pix NJ)

There were some other notable games in Ocean County as Manchester is emerging as the primary challenger to defending champion Lakewood in Class B South after pulling out a 51-49 win over Donovan Catholic on a bucket by Robert Planter with 15 seconds left in the game. The Hawks are now 4-0 in the division thanks to Planter and junior Shavar Reynolds, who had a double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) in the win and made the game-winning assist to Planter.

Photo gallery from Manchester-Donovan Catholic by Larry Murphy of Sports Pix NJ

Manchester junior Shavar Reynolds had a double-double to help the Hawks edge Donovan Catholic. (Photo by Sports Pix NJ)

One other score of note was Barnegat beating Point Boro 53-33 in Class B South, marking the first time the Bengals have ever beaten the Panthers at home in program history. Barnegat (4-5) has now won three in a row to surpass last season's win total.

The student also beat the teacher for the first time, as Barnegat head coach Mike Puorro played at Point Boro under coach Kevin Hynes and is the Panthers' second all-time leading scorer. Puorro, who previously coached at Wall before getting the Barnegat job this season, was 0-5 in his coaching career against Hynes before Tuesday night. Senior Ricky Gerena, also a football standout, led four scorers in double figures with 17 points to lead the Bengals despite the absence of leading scorer Nick Camarato, who has a high ankle sprain.

Lacey center Chris Iapicco continues to put up big numbers as he had 27 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Brick. Also on a roll is Toms River South senior guard Tymere Berry, who had 26 points in a one-point win over Jackson Memorial.

Finally, the gutsy performance of the night came from Holmdel senior guard Jeff Harris, who had 19 points in a loss to Manalapan. Harris tore his ACL in the fall while playing in the league at Hoop Group Headquarters in Neptune, but decided not to have surgery and to gut it out playing limited minutes for the Hornets so he wouldn't miss his senior season. Clearly his role has gone beyond that as he dropped in a season-high 19.

In girls basketball, congrats go out to Central head coach John Truhan, who picked up his 300th career win with a 44-38 victory over Pinelands. Truhan had a successful stint at Toms River South and then took Colts Neck to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions before taking the Central job.

It's the second milestone in two weeks, as St. John Vianney head coach Dawn Karpell won her 200th game last week in only her ninth season at her alma mater.

One quick baseball college commitment: Tyler Kay, a three-year starting outfielder for Colts Neck, will go the juco route and continue his career at Mercer Community College.

More on Wednesday: 

  • Our own Kevin Williams gives his take on the controversy with Manasquan/Point Pleasant ice hockey coach and former New Jersey Devil Jim Dowd, who has been accused of assault and temporarily relieved of his duties as head coach.
  • In the score heard across the nation last night, Linden took down New Jersey's No. 1 team, Roselle Catholic, which is ranked No. 2 in the country by USA Today and No. 4 by Maxpreps, with a 75-61 win. Linden is the reigning Group IV champion and has a Hall of Fame coach in Phil Colicchio, so it's not a total shock, but still that is an impressive win. The Tigers never back down to anyone and are always a hard-nosed team, and they did the job despite being undersized compared to Roselle's huge front line.
  • In some states, like California, recruiting violations in high school basketball are actually, you know, enforced. A team in Sacramento is trying to recover after last year it was "ruled parents of Sheldon players used 'undue influence' to lure players to the school. Four Sheldon players were ruled athletically ineligible for one calendar year, until Jan. 27. The violations included providing a free ticket to a player for a section playoff game, a parent of a Sheldon player paying for meals for players not enrolled at Sheldon and summer open-gym sessions that included athletes not enrolled at Sheldon."
  • In the "Wait, what?!" story of the day, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch said in testimony that his ex-girlfriend is a trained assassin who killed drug lords, and he claims she once returned to a hotel room "wearing an evening gown splattered with blood and other matter." Gotta say, if my wife ever comes home with her Raritan gear splattered in blood with a bunch of guns in the trunk, that's gonna be a deal-breaker.
  • An Ohio furniture company lost $1 million because of a promotion refunding customers if Ohio State won the national title. Oops.
  • Just because you win an Olympic gold medal, the path to financial security is not guaranteed.
  • Gary Payton's son, Gary II, is repeating his old man's success at Oregon State. The Glove was definitely a trash-talking favorite of my youth.
  • Mark Hendrickson is the rare grandfather trying to make an MLB roster.

On tap for tonight: 

Wednesday is all about wrestling, and there are some key divisional matches tonight to highlight the action.

Jackson Liberty hosts Point Boro at 6 p.m. in a match that should decide the Class B South title. The Lions look to keep making history after senior Mike Russo became the program's all-time wins leader with 130 and his twin brother Matt registered his 100th career win last week.

No. 10 Middletown North hosts No. 6 Brick in a nondivisional match-up of Top 10 teams at 5:30 p.m. Toms River South heads to Southern at 6:30 p.m. as the Class A South wars continue, and No. 7 Long Branch travels to Raritan at 6 p.m. for their annual nondivisional showdown between two teams that often see each other again in the state tournament.

Ocean also heads to No. 8 Wall at 6:30 in a match-up of old rivals in Class B North. Point Beach hosts Shore Regional at 6 p.m. in a match that usually decides the Class B Central title.

Finally, I'll end with this junior hockey player leaving the ice to make you feel better if you're having a tough day.