The Shore Daily, 2/8/15
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St. Rose snapping a long divisional winning streak by Point Beach boys basketball, some good individual match-ups in wrestling, and Rumson-Fair Haven girls basketball losing a heartbreaker to deny coach George Sourlis a Shore milestone headlined Saturday's action.
St. Rose broke Point Beach's iron grip on Class B Central with a big 68-57 win on the road that snapped a 39-game divisional winning streak by the Garnet Gulls, the longest current one in the Shore Conference. It marked Point Beach's first B Central defeat since losing to Asbury Park in February of 2012. Lakewood now has the longest divisional winning streak in the Shore at 36 games in Class B South.
Senior Nolan Slattery led the way with a team-high 22 points as St. Rose overcame a career-high 37-point explosion by Point Beach senior center Jesse Hill, a Florida Atlantic recruit. St. Rose took Point Beach to the wire in losing their first meeting this season, and this time finished the job, which means the two teams will most likely share the overall division title because neither has lost to any other team in the division. That also is one of the better offensive outputs St. Rose has had against a winning team this season, which is also a good sign for the Purple Roses heading into the Shore Conference Tournament.
Matt Manley took in Wall's one-point win over Red Bank Catholic that kept the Crimson Knights right there for a remarkable turnaround. They finished last in the division last season with only one win in Class B North, and now they are two divisional wins away from clinching no worse than a tie for the division title with Red Bank. That would be a rare feat in general in Wall's history, as there are not many boys basketball division titles in the program's history. If they finish the job, you have to put Matt Kukoda right there as a top Coach of the Year candidate heading into the tournaments.
Matawan picked up a key win over Holmdel for its SCT qualifying hopes, as the Huskies got back to .500 thanks to 16 points and 7 rebounds by senior Nick Smith. Also, Barnegat beat New Egypt to improve to 9-8 and go over the .500 mark for the first time since the 2011-12 season after starting last season 0-17.
The wildest game of the day belonged to Southern, which played Newark Arts and lost 98-87, with junior Peyton Wejnert dropping 34 in the loss. I wish all games were that fun. If New Jersey would just join the 21st Century and get a shot clock, there could be more great action like that.
I've had plenty of longtime Shore hoops fans and coaches tell me that this is a really down season for the Shore Conference, and it's hard to argue that when you see how Shore teams do when they go out of conference to play other top teams. It's been pretty ugly on that front so far this season.
The latest evidence came on Saturday when Neptune's eight-game winning streak came to a halt with a 15-point loss to Plainfield at the Prime Time Shootout, and No. 3 Toms River North was routed by Ridge, 58-36. The Shore will take another crack at getting a quality nonconference win today when Lakewood and Point Beach play in the Prime Time Shootout up at Roselle Catholic.
One other note from Saturday is that Rumson junior guard Brendan Barry is now 52 points away from 1,000 after dropping 30 on Saturday in a win over Fort Hamilton (N.Y.). Barry will join Wejnert and CBA's Pat Andree as juniors to hit 1,000 points this season.
On the girls basketball side, I took a trip to Rumson to watch the Bulldogs play another top 10 team in the state, Paterson Eastside, as coach George Sourlis went for win No. 626, which would have put him first all time in victories for a Shore Conference boys or girls basketball coach. He currently is tied with retired Christian Brothers Academy great Ed Wicelinski with 625.
It looked like it would be a perfect ending for Sourlis to get the milestone when the Bulldogs rallied from a 10-point hole in the third quarter to roar into the lead in front of their home crowd. Things were looking good when Villanova recruit Grace Stant buried this 3-pointer for a 3-point lead with three minutes left.
However, they couldn't hold on to a four-point lead in the final two minutes because of Paterson Eastside guard Kayla Diaz, who buried a 3-pointer after a turnover to cut it to one point, and then nailed what turned out to be the game-winning 3-pointer with 21 seconds remaining for a 49-48 win that denied Sourlis the record-setting victory. With everything set up for the storybook comeback win and the record, Diaz stole the show.
Next up for Rumson is winless Raritan on the road on Tuesday, with Sourlis looking to reach the mark then.
One other game of note from Saturday was Neptune beating perennial Mercer County power Trenton thanks to a 35-point eruption by Marajiah Bacon.
The dual meets on Saturday were just the final tune-ups for the NJSIAA Tournament, which starts on Monday with the sectional quarterfinals. Nineteen Shore Conference teams qualified for the tournament, with some getting byes into the semifinals for being the top two seeds.
Brick senior 182-pounder Dean Sherry and Marlboro senior 152-pounder Dan Saraiva each picked up their 100th career win in Saturday's action, while Keansburg star Tyree Sutton won one of the marquee bouts of the day with a 5-0 win at 220 over Middletown North junior Chad Freshnock.
The list keeps growing for Red Bank Catholic junior lineman Liam Smith, who added an offer from Pittsburgh on Saturday to give him nine FBS offers and counting. He looks to be one of the top linemen in New Jersey for the Class of 2016.
Manalapan standout quarterback Dan Anerella, an All-Class A North selection who threw for 1,515 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Central Jersey Group V champs, committed to Pace University on Saturday.
Also, Red Bank Catholic defensive lineman Dan Wilen signed with Sacred Heart University after being a key cog on a defense that helped the Caseys win the Non-Public Group III title. His teammate, senior offensive lineman Nick Roy, announced that he will continue his career at Tufts University.
Finally, after the girls basketball game against Paterson Eastside on Saturday, Rumson-Fair Haven unveiled its latest state championship banner after repeating as Central Jersey Group II champions this fall.
More on Sunday:
- RIP Dean Smith. A true legend, and the answer to the trivia question of "Who was the only person to ever hold Michael Jordan under 20 points per game?"
- The last place in America where all the stores are still closed on Sundays - Bergen County.
- A Staten Island neighborhood has rallied around a girls basketball player battling a brain tumor.
- Patrick School and Ewing played a thriller at the Prime Time Shootout last night.
- The longtime coach of St. Augustine coached against his son for the first time in a game vs. St. Joe's-Hammonton.
- A Haitian player for James Madison University had his life change forever with the earthquake of 2010.
- Pitcher has gone from working at Lowe's and UPS to getting a shot with the Yankees in spring training.
- This just in: James Dolan is still the worst owner in sports.
On tap for today: Lakewood and Point Beach are in action up at Roselle Catholic in the Prime Time Shootout. The Piners are playing Teaneck at 1 p.m., followed by Point Beach vs. St. Joseph's-Metuchen at 2:30 p.m. The marquee game is at 7 p.m. when the No. 1 team in the state, host Roselle Catholic, plays a fellow Top 10 squad, Paterson Eastside.
I'll leave you with the awesome story of Michigan's Austin Hatch. I've written about this for the TODAY Show, but ESPN did their own version as well. He has survived two plane crashes. Unbelievable story.