The Shore Daily, 2/28/15
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What a tremendous night of Shore Conference basketball in front of a capacity crowd at Monmouth University on Friday.
I have to start with the Rumson-Fair Haven boys, who made history with their first Shore Conference Tournament title in a stunning 50-24 rout of No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy as junior guard Brendan Barry single-handedly outscored the Colts 27-24. Did I think Rumson could win? Yes. Did I ever envision anything like that? I don't even think many of the Bulldogs' faithful even did.
The last time a team scored 24 points or less in the SCT final was Neptune in 1938 with a 28-22 loss to now-defunct Atlantic Highlands High School. Matt Manley has all the pertinent shooting stats by CBA and Barry along with everything else in the game story.
Rumson-Fair Haven coach Chris Champeau came out with an audacious defensive gameplan that worked to absolute perfection. The Bulldogs were hell-bent on someone else besides CBA's frontcourt trio of Pat Andree, Jack Laffey and Jack McGuire beating them.
Champeau took long-armed 6-foot-6 freshman Elijah McAllister and stationed him right in front of the basket as almost like a one-man zone who wasn't guarding any specific player. Any time Andree, Laffey or McGuire caught the ball in the post, McAllister rotated right on them for a double team and senior forward Morgan Maguire was also usually lurking in the paint.
That strategy essentially left one guard on CBA completely unguarded at all times. There were numerous possessions where CBA's guards didn't have a defender within 10 feet of them, but they wouldn't shoot the ball, or they hesitated and missed. Any time CBA's frontcourt players tried to score inside, three defenders were in their face, so the Colts mainly settled for 3-pointers, going 2-for-22 from behind the arc, and long two-point attempts.
Champeau's scouting told him that CBA essentially plays 3-on-5 on offense much of the time, with the complementary players getting their points on penetration rather than jumpers. To add to that, the Colts' big three only had a combined 14 points after averaging more than 50 combined during the season.
When I informed Champeau that the last team to turn in a defensive effort like that was Atlantic Highlands shortly after the Great Depression, he could only laugh.
"Atlantic Highlands?!" he said. "I guess they hopped off the ferry and laid down some 'D.'''
On the other end of the court, senior Thomas Famulary carried them to a 19-19 halftime tie with all nine of his points and then Barry brought it home by exploding for 25 of his 27 in the second half. He ripped off 16 straight points at one juncture beginning in the third quarter.
CBA had no natural match-up for Barry, who has been receiving Ivy League and Patriot League interest. Either a taller defender like the 6-7 McGuire or the 6-4 Laffey tried to check him and he used a hesitation dribble to step back before blowing by them and scoring in the lane, or he ran smaller defenders off a blizzard of picks and knocked down jumpers. He was feeling it when he pulled up from Asbury Park and canned this 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
He had only been averaging 13 points per game in the SCT after putting up 23 per game in the regular season, but he saved his best for last, stamping himself as the strong front-runner for Player of the Year.
He nearly could've been wearing the other uniform, as he told me he was torn between attending CBA or Rumson when he was in eighth grade. The rise of the Bulldogs' program under Champeau, who has put himself at the front of the conversation for Coach of the Year, and their Cinderella run to the 2011 SCT final helped convince him to stay, which I wrote about more in depth in my column off the game.
As expected, the crowd was tremendous, with CBA's Colts Crazies and the RFH Dawg Pound shaking the roof with the building filled to the rafters.
While it was a rough night for the Colts, at least they'll always have this guy from halftime.
With two SCT final appearances in four years, a trip to the Central Jersey Group II final last season and a Class A Central co-championship this winter, Rumson is getting to the point where you can start penciling in the Bulldogs as a Top 10 team in the Shore every year no matter who graduates. With Barry returning next season, they should once again be right in the hunt for the SCT title.
Speaking of back-to-back SCT titles, the Manasquan girls made their own history by winning consecutive crowns for the first time in their history, both at the expense of St. Rose, by handing the previously unbeaten Purple Roses their first loss with a 69-60 victory. Notre Dame recruit Marina Mabrey had 29 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, which speaks for itself, while her younger sister, freshman Dara Mabrey, helped hold St. Rose star Kat Phipps to 10 points after Phipps burned the Warriors for 34 in a regular-season win over Manasquan.
Dara clearly got under Phipps' skin, as the two were whistled for a double foul at one point, and Dara was hit with a technical for jostling with Phipps in the second half after the whistle. She did a great job of crowding Phipps at the 3-point line every time she caught the ball to negate Phipps' lightning-quick release. One game after Phipps hit six 3-pointers in the semifinals against Middletown South, she only attempted five total shots and one 3-pointer on Friday night. As Marina jokingly noted about Dara after many driveway one-on-one battles, "She's a pain when she's playing you."
It was a team effort overall, as senior guard Courtney Hagaman added 10 points, sophomore forward Victoria Galvan had nine points and nine rebounds, sophomore point guard Stella Clark played a solid all-around game, and junior Gillian Black came off the bench to score 11 points on 3-for-3 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Marina Mabrey got her teammates involved early and then let her killer instinct take over in the third quarter, when she erupted for 17 points to give the Warriors a 19-point lead, which included this nasty crossover where she nearly dropped a defender.
Mabrey made some great comments after the game about how her experience at Manasquan last season and this season made her appreciate being a team player. She was part of a two-girl operation that essentially scored almost every single point at Point Beach with current Michigan guard Katelynn Flaherty in winning the NJSIAA Group I title as a sophomore before transferring back to Manasquan, where she played as a freshman. Matt goes more in-depth on that topic in his column.
"Junior year, I learned how to be a team player,'' Mabrey said. "Sophomore year, it was a two-man team. I came to realize this year and last year that that is not really that fun. Having the whole team involved, everyone really anxious and really caring - everyone wants to be a part of it. It's a lot of fun when it's a team-oriented thing. Coach (Lisa) Kukoda taught me how to be a team player."
Kukoda now has two SCT titles, a Group II title, and a trip to the TOC final on her resume in only her third season as a head coach. One of the best young coaches in the state, she has had the talent, but she has gotten the results, which is not as easy as it looks, as CBA can attest. She made subtle adjustments like switching Dara Mabrey on to Phipps for this game and having Marina run the point more often to help out Stella Clark, and it helped completely turn things around from the first meeting.
There is certainly a chance St. Rose and Manasquan could meet for a third time this season in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions, as the Warriors are the defending Group II champions and the Purple Roses are the defending Non-Public B champions.
"That can't be our focus or concern, but it's the 600-pound gorilla in the room that everyone is talking about,'' St. Rose coach Joe Whalen said afterward. "Would we love to do it again? Absolutely. But we need to take care of business."
In one other note from last night that obviously was overshadowed by the SCT finals, very classy showing by Pinelands in its win over Mater Dei Prep. In what could be (but hopefully is not) the last home boys basketball game in Mater Dei history unless the students and community are able to save the school from closing in June, Pinelands came out wearing #SavetheSeraphs T-shirts in warm-ups as a show of support. Wildcats head coach John Tierney is a Mater Dei Prep graduate and his team definitely made a classy gesture.
The Region VI semifinals kicked off at 10 a.m. on Saturday to whittle down the field for the championship matches at 4 p.m. We will have full coverage of all of it on the site tomorrow. You can follow along with all the live updates by Bob Badders right here.
More on Saturday:
- RIP Anthony Mason. As a life-long Knicks fan, Mase was always one of my favorites. He also was a long-time fixture at the Jersey Shore Basketball League in Belmar over the summer for RKE Athletic. He was a cartoon character who could be cracking up laughing one minute and snarling mean the next. Arguably one of the hardest things I ever had to do as a journalist was ask him about a situation with an alleged prostitute at a hotel in Tinton Falls while covering the JSBL after being ordered by my editors. He loomed his giant frame over the top of me and said in the most menacing way possible, "I ain't got no comment on that $*&^," while I hoped he didn't put both hands around my neck. Two days later, he was laughing and joking with me in an interview after a game.
- A St. Augustine team that CBA could see in the state playoffs is in the Cape-Atlantic League championship game.
- The Orioles were doing pop-up drills with crowd noise so loud that they got a complaint from a nearby apartment complex tenant.
- The 9-year-old cowgirl who could win $1 million.
- Someone stole a NASCAR race car, which was found 20 miles away. Must have been a hell of a joy ride.
On tap for today: As mentioned, it's the Region VI wrestling finals, so check back for all that coverage later tonight/tomorrow.
I will leave you with the two celebrations for both SCT champs. Congrats.