The Shore Daily, 2/27/15
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*Note: Tonight's girls and boys SCT championship games at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at Monmouth University will be broadcast live on the radio on 1310 a.m. and 1160 a.m., and the audio will be streaming online right here on ShoreSportsNetwork.com. You can also listen on your phone with this free app.
We have arrived at one of the best days in the winter season calendar, as the boys and girls basketball Shore Conference Tournament championships will be back-to-back at Monmouth University while the Region VI wrestling tournament quarterfinals are held at Pine Belt Arena.
No. 1 St. Rose and No. 2 Manasquan will square off in a titanic battle in the girls final between the state's top teams and a pair of nationally-ranked squads at 6:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year's championship game won by the Warriors, while No. 11 Rumson-Fair Haven faces off against No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy at 8:30 p.m. in the boys championship.
By now, you know the main facts, but here they are just in case: This is the third match-up in the SCT finals in the last four years between St. Rose and Manasquan, with the two teams splitting the games, and St. Rose beat the Warriors during the regular season this year. CBA is gunning for its 17th SCT title and first since 2010, while Rumson is trying to make history with its first SCT championship.
The St. Rose-Manasquan game is essentially a pick 'em. Both teams are so talented and so evenly-matched, it could once again come down to the final seconds like it did in St. Rose's regular-season win on Kat Phipps' late 3-pointer. This game has everything - an undefeated team (St. Rose), a third meeting in a grudge match, several of the state's top players, a McDonald's All-American (Marina Mabrey), and two great coaches. More than a few people have expressed to me that this should be the prime-time game at 8:30 and the boys game should be first. Regardless, it should be a great show.
The boys game is not quite David vs. Goliath, but it's in that realm given CBA's history and pedigree vs. a Rumson team that has never won the SCT before. Much of it will come down to whether the Bulldogs can prevent that CBA front line of Jack Laffey, Jack McGuire and Pat Andree from overwhelming them with their size and athleticism. Unlike the girls game, there is a clear favorite in this one, and it's the Colts.
Senior forward Morgan Maguire and freshman center Elijah McAllister are both going to be important for Rumson to hold that CBA front line at bay. Junior guard Brendan Barry is going to need to be on his game in the backcourt, where Rumson has an advantage, and the Bulldogs will most likely need double-digit scoring from one or more of the trio of Alex Geiger, Thomas Famulary and Jack Luby. Their backcourt also needs to be able to create turnovers that lead to easy scores.
What I most hope for in this game is for someone to just crack 50 points. Just do that for me. Since they moved the finals to Monmouth University in 2011, no team has even scored 50 points, and there were two games where both teams scored in the 30s as James Naismith screamed in agony from beyond the grave. Point Beach came the closest last year with 49 points in a win over CBA. You know the crowd is going to be phenomenal because the Colt Crazies and RFH Dawgpound will be shaking that place. Hopefully the players ride those roars to an entertaining performance.
CBA is particularly adept at crushing the hopes and dreams of public schools that make rare appearances in the SCT final, so Rumson is hoping to reverse that trend. The Colts beat Middletown South in 2010 in the Eagles' first appearance in the final since 1979, they beat Manasquan in 2005 in the Warriors' first appearance in the final since 1980, and they beat Toms River North in 1996 in the Mariners' only SCT final appearance ever. This is only Rumson's second final appearance in its history and first since 2011.
The Region VI Tournament really gets rolling tonight with the quarterfinals at Pine Belt Arena to set up tomorrow's big finish. Bob Badders has the full preview of all the action.
In commitment news, Toms River South senior offensive lineman Jimmy Allen has joined teammate Joe Odebode in signing with East Stroudsburg University after having originally been committed to Kutztown.
More on Friday:
- Former Lakewood star Anthony Walker has been named the Garden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year for Ocean County College.
- You think it gets bad in the stands with signs and chants at the Shore? Look at what goes on in Texas.
- Kentucky recruit and Roselle Catholic star Isaiah Briscoe scored his 2,000th career point in style last night.
- The Don Bosco Prep team that beat CBA in the season opener won the Bergen Jamboree Tournament last night.
- That ESPN the Magazine feature that I mentioned a few columns ago about MMA fighter Cat Zingano is now online. Worth your time. The Denver Post also did a big feaure on Zingano in advance of tomorrow night's fight against Ronda Rousey.
- High school football coaches are starting to stand up to big names like Urban Meyer and Bobby Petrino who burn their players during recruiting.
- There is a college basketball team made up of monks, friars and priests in training. The head coach: “Celibacy,” Woelkers sighs, “is not the best recruiting tool.”
- Matt Harvey, please stay healthy and give me a reason to at least be able to watch a Mets game every five days without throwing something at the TV.
On tap for tonight: Whichever big Shore Conference event you're going to attend tonight, enjoy. And if you're stuck in the house or somewhere else, there's always our radio broadcast of both SCT finals on 1160/1310 a.m. or streaming right here.
I'll end with this. Only two teams are leaving with them tonight at Monmouth University. Who wants it more?