The Shore Daily, 2/22
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It was a day filled with some upsets, thrilling matches and wild finishes at the four District wrestling tournaments involving the Shore Conference, while Middletown South was the headliner at Saturday's girls basketball Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals at Brookdale Community College.
I'll start with wrestling, where Jackson Memorial (District 21); Christian Brothers Academy (District 22); Brick Memorial (District 23); and Southern (District 24) all took home team titles while there were a host of interesting storylines across the four districts.
The biggest surprise of them all was Brick Memorial freshman 106-pounder Matt Wardlaw, who entered the District 23 tournament with a record of 5-13 as the No. 7 seed yet stunningly won the title by beating Shore Regional's Matt Dean 5-4 in the championship match on a takedown with 10 seconds left.
Wardlaw earned Outstanding Wrestler honors for the tournament for his out-of-left-field performance and enters the Region VI Tournament this week as a wildcard to shake things up further given his performance.
District 23 also had what Bob Badders called one of the best matches he has ever seen in person when Wall junior Brett Donner won a 13-11 overtime classic against Brick's Kyle Wojtasek at 170. Wojtasek, who became Brick's all-time wins leader earlier in the tournament with 114, came out and threw Donner to his back for a 6-0 lead to stun the crowd, as Donner is ranked in the nation and took third in the state at 160 last year. Donner then responded by throwing Wojtasek to his back and nearly pinning him to get right back into it. The two kept the battle going before Donner pulled it out in overtime.
There also was a little bit of controversy as Brick's Will Scott beat good friend Cliff Ruggiero of Brick Memorial because of a disqualification. Ruggiero was called for an illegal slam by the officials while winning, and when Scott couldn't continue, he was awarded the title at 160 because of Ruggiero's slam.
That was the second illegal slam of the day endured by Scott, who was also thrown on to his head and neck by Monmouth's Mike Montefinese for a scary moment in the semifinals and shook that off to win by technical fall. In the quarterfinals, Scott set a Shore Conference record by registering a technical fall in only 57 seconds for the latest feat in a career in which he has the most technical fall victories in state history.
Brick Memorial's Alec Donovan pinned Shore's Alex Johnson in 33 seconds at 145 to become the fifth wrestler in Mustangs' history to win four District titles in his career. Donovan, a returning state place-winner, is one of the Shore's better bets to make a deep run in Atlantic City in two weeks.
Wardlaw wasn't the only underdog wrestler to make a storybook run as Colts Neck 220-pounder Fred Womack fought his way to the District 21 title as the No. 7 seed, earning Outstanding Wrestler honors after pinning top-seeded Alex Schtindler of Marlboro in the championship. In two anticipated showdowns in District 21, Jackson Memorial's Fred Terranova edged top-seeded Paul Piccione of St. John Vianney 3-2 in double overtime at 120, and Jackson Liberty's Matt Russo decisioned cross-town rival Tim Hamann of Jackson Memorial 3-1 at 138.
The wrestler with perhaps the most impressive victory of the day across all the districts was Raritan senior Dylan Seidenberg, who defeated nemesis Marcus Iwama of Rumson-Fair Haven, 8-6, to win the title at 132 in District 22. Iwama is a reigning Region VI champion and had beaten Seidenberg earlier in the season.
However, Ocean's Zach Hertling earned Outstanding Wrestler honors in District 22 for his dominant run of pins to the 170-pound title. In another highlight bout of District 22, Middletown North junior Chad Freshnock edged CBA's Will Oxley 3-1 at 220. CBA's third-seeded Chris Koutzen also picked up a solid win by taking down top-seeded Nick Bohal of Raritan 6-4 to win the title at 160.
In District 24, 11 of the 14 titles were won by the No. 1 seed, and no seed lower than No. 3 won a championship, so no major surprises in that district. A pair of Southern teammates, Peyton Blauvelt and Pat Mooney, won titles as No. 3 seeds at 170 and 138, respectively, to help the Rams claim the team title. Lacey's Luke Moynihan was named Outstanding Wrestler after beating top-seeded Jeff DeLuise of Barnegat 11-7 to win the title at 106.
The second- and third-place finishers from each district will now wrestle on Wednesday at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River for the right to make it to this weekend's Region VI action on Friday and Saturday, also at Pine Belt Arena.
For the second time in three seasons, Middletown South edged Rumson-Fair Haven in the 4-5 game in the girls SCT quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals.
Juniors Stephanie Karcz and Julia Valkos each scored 15 points to key a 55-48 win over the Bulldogs and set up a semifinal showdown on Tuesday at Brick Memorial against top seed St. Rose, which is undefeated and ranked No. 14 in the nation by MaxPreps. The Eagles put the clamps down on defense, allowing only 17 second-half points to Rumson after giving up 16 in the first quarter alone. A 7-0 burst inside the final three minutes of the game put away the win.
In the other games, Neptune hung around for a while with defending SCT champion Manasquan before the Warriors picked up a 10-point win thanks to 24 points and 15 boards by Notre Dame recruit Marina Mabrey. That set up a third meeting of the season in the semifinals with St. John Vianney, which rolled past Freehold Township, 72-37, thanks to 17 points by Kelly Campbell. The Lancers and Warriors split their two regular-season games in Class A Central, so Tuesday night's semifinal should be a doozy.
St. Rose routed Holmdel 70-24, led by a game-high 23 points by Jess Louro, to set up a semifinal against Middletown South as the Purple Roses look to reach the SCT final for the third straight year and win their second title in three seasons.
More on Sunday:
- Syracuse retired the jersey of one of its basketball greats and spelled his name wrong on it.
- Seton Hall Prep won its 16th Essex County Tournament title in basketball.
- Holy Spirit was no match for St. Anthony on Saturday.
- A lacrosse and field hockey coach in San Diego is being accused of bullying before the lacrosse season even starts.
- Photos of the last residents of a sinking island in India.
On tap for today: It's all about the boys SCT quarterfinals at Brookdale Community College today. Matt Manley has his picks and the schedule here.