The Shore Daily, 1/18
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Leading the way was No. 2 Brick Memorial wrestling picking up a 37-20 win over No. 6 Brick for a big Class A South win. In reading Bob Badders' story, the thing that clearly sticks out is the great level of sportsmanship in this rivalry. In most sports, this is a heated rivalry between the two schools, but the wrestlers often work out together in the offseason and cheer each other on in the individual tournaments when they are not going head-to-head.
Brick Memorial has been the 800-pound gorilla in town in wrestling since just about the inception of the school from back in the days when current St. John Vianney coach Tony Caravella built the Mustangs into a powerhouse in the 1980s. Brick has been in the shadows of Brick Memorial, but has built a very solid foundation of its own at the team and individual level, including winning the Central Jersey Group III title last season.
It was refreshing to read about the level of respect between the wrestlers on both sides. Wrestling is such a punishing sport that its competitors know what goes into being successful and the price you have to pay, so I think that also naturally engenders some respect of the guy on the other side. As for the dual, the Mustangs match up well with the Green Dragons because they can negate the avalanche of bonus points that Brick usually gets from its stellar upperweights, which they did on Saturday to keep things close before the Mustangs' lower weights brought it home.
The bout of the day was Brick Memorial's Rob Ruggiero winning 6-4 in overtime against good friend Nick Pollara at 152 with both going for judo throws and Ruggiero hitting a standing Merkle in the third period before Pollara rallied to send it to overtime. Watch it all here.
Brick Memorial also beat St. Joseph's-Montvale, where the highlight was senior Alec Donovan, who got his 100th career win earlier this season, decisioning two-time Bergen County champion Matt Zovistoski, 6-5, at 145 pounds.
There is no time for Brick Memorial to pat itself on the back, as a huge divisional match with No. 3 Jackson Memorial is coming up Wednesday. The Jaguars went 2-0 in a tri-match on Saturday, which included a 39-21 win over perennial state contender South Plainfield that they closed with four straight wins, getting bonus points in three of them. Sophomore Tim Hamman got a big 8-6 win in overtime at 138 to get the ball rolling on a big day for him as he also won 1-0 in double overtime in a victory over a tough Paramus team.
In other matches of note, Southern righted the ship after a tough loss to Toms River South on Wednesday by sweeping a quad that included a 29-26 win over perennial state power Hunterdon Central. One of the Shore's top wrestlers also made his season debut as Middletown North junior Chad Freshnock, a 1,000-yard rusher at running back in the fall for the Lions' football team, returned from injury to post a 5-2 decision over Christian Brothers Academy's Will Oxley at 220. The Colts, however, picked up the team win, 39-19, in Class A North.
One other match of note was No. 9 Toms River South edging out a tough Delsea team, 34-33, on criteria thanks to a pin by Owen McClave in the final bout at 132 that allowed the Indians to pull out the win by having the most bouts won. The Indians continue to wrestle well after stunning Southern on Wednesday.
In basketball, I give up trying to make sense of the Shore Conference at this point. It's become an "any given day" season. One thing is for sure, unless things change in the next month and a hierarchy starts to form, the Shore Conference Tournament should be wildly entertaining because so many teams will have a chance to make a serious run.
As I noted in this column on Friday after Colts Neck junior Lloyd Daniels had a rough night in going scoreless in a loss to Red Bank, those clunkers can happen to good players, and it's all about how you bounce back. Well, Daniels wasted no time doing that, pouring in 25 points, 19 after halftime, and hitting the game-winning shot with eight seconds left in overtime for a solid nondivisional win over Point Beach.
Two things stand out. 1) If Lloyd Daniels has the ball in the final seconds and you are an opposing coach, you might want to take a Valium and start breathing into a paper bag. That is the third game-winner inside 10 seconds remaining that Daniels has made this season. 2) Daniels should make sure good luck charm Matt Manley covers as many Colts Neck games as possible, because Matt has been there for two of those game-winners, including yesterday's against Point Beach.
Also, in the Random Injury of the Year category, Point Beach senior center Jesse Hill sat out the first half with a sprained ankle that he said he got from chasing his dog on Friday night when it darted into the street.
Daniels wasn't the only last-second hero on Saturday as Holmdel guard Luke Mayell knocked down a 3-pointer with four seconds left in regulation to beat St. Rose on the road. The Hornets had plenty of open looks all game and couldn't get anything to fall, but Mayell was money when they needed it most. He also answered a game-tying 3-pointer by St. Rose standout Nolan Slattery that had the home crowd roaring, so the Hornets showed some good mental toughness in the win to get them closer to .500.
That was definitely a "practice makes perfect" play as Mayell said they work on those "crackback" plays where a penetrator gets into the lane but knows he has a 3-point shooter behind him to reverse it back out for a look if the lane clogs up with defenders. The Hornets executed it to perfection.
Neptune continues to push for Most Bizarre Season honors as the Scarlet Fliers took out No. 6 Manasquan with a 44-35 nondivisional win thanks to tough defense and 16 points from sophomore guard Barry Brown. Neptune is now 4-1 outside Class B North with wins over Lakewood and Manasquan, yet 0-6 in its own division. The Scarlet Fliers should file secession papers from B North.
Three teams kept it rolling on Saturday, which is a rare feat in this Shore season, as Rumson-Fair Haven won its sixth straight by beating Middletown South as Brendan Barry continues to light it up, Wall made it seven in a row with an eight-point win over Marlboro as Run-JMB (Janeczek-Mitchell-Barcas) combined for 52 points, and Howell continued its bounceback season with an impressive 61-47 win over a Brick Memorial team that has now lost two straight after taking out Southern and Toms River North back-to-back.
This is Wall's week to really make a statement as the Crimson Knights take on Colts Neck and Red Bank, the two teams they are currently tied with for first place in Class B North.
One game after Matawan buried Red Bank Catholic by 29 to seemingly get back on track, St. John Vianney, playing without injured leading scorer Grant Goode, beat the Huskies by six thanks to 19 points by Zach Howarth. Again, if you're looking for logic during this Shore Conference season, you're barking up the wrong tree.
Finally, congrats to Southern senior Jake Logue, who scored his 1,000th career point as part of a 27-point afternoon in an 80-59 romp over Millville. He joins Matawan senior guard Jason Dunne among those in the 1,000-point club so far this season, with Lacey's Chris Iapicco and Shore's Kevin Bloodgood looking like the next candidates in line to hit the milestone, as both are under 70 points away.
One other thing to keep an eye on this week is Central, where 6-foot-7 sophomore Elijah Barnes will be eligible for his first game on Tuesday against Donovan Catholic in Class B South. Barnes sat out 30 days via the NJSIAA transfer rule after coming over from Freehold Boro. A terrific shot blocker with Division I potential, he should make a big impact for the Golden Eagles, who also recently added 6-5 senior Anthony Arneth, a football standout who joined the team a week ago after initially deciding not to play this season.
Barnes' return adds spice to a Donovan Catholic game that already has the subplot of Griffins' junior guard Riley Collins facing his old team, as he transferred from Central in the offseason. Barnes' father, Robert, actually played high school ball with Central coach Steve Zengel at St. Rose. They were part of some of Dennis Devaney's first teams at St. Rose back in the late 1980s.
Finally, congrats to Rumson-Fair Haven senior safety Sam Eisenstadt, who had 60 tackles, 10 for a loss, and 10 passes defensed for the reigning Central Jersey Group II champions. He announced on Saturday night that he has committed to play at Elon University.
More on Sunday:
On tap for today: Wall/Rutgers grad Tim Wright, a tight end for the Patriots, will try to become the second straight Shore Conference alumnus to play in the Super Bowl, one year after Middletown South legend Knowshon Moreno played in it for the Broncos. The Patriots play the Colts in the late game at 6:40 on CBS in case you are currently reading this from your cave in the Philippines and were not aware.
I'll end with a high school game-winner from Utah with a great celebration on Saturday night and Steph Curry with eyes in the back of his head.