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It was more frustration for Shore Conference boys basketball at the Prime Time Shootout on Sunday, while the home stretch of the team portion of the wrestling season starts tonight as the NJSIAA Tournament gets underway.

First, in case you missed it, I wrote an update on the top upcoming football prospects for the Shore Conference Classes of 2016, 2017 and beyond.

On the basketball side, the Shore came up short against quality nonconference competition again, although both Lakewood and Point Beach took the games to the wire, including an overtime loss for the Piners at Sunday's Prime Time Shootout. Lakewood pushed perennial power Teaneck to the brink in a 57-52 loss that went to an extra period thanks to a game-tying buzzer-beater lay-up by the Piners' Tyreek Grayson.

A win in that game would have given Lakewood a solid case to jump Christian Brothers Academy for the No. 1 ranking in the Shore. I do give credit to Lakewood coach Randy Holmes, who always schedules tough nonconference opponents and doesn't duck anybody to help get his team ready for the postseason.

As for Point Beach, the Garnet Gulls fought hard despite the continued absence of starting guard Jimmy Panzini, who remains out with an ankle injury. They looked like they were going to get run out of the gym by reigning NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winner St. Joseph's-Metuchen in trailing 30-12 at halftime, but rallied to cut it to six points in the second half before ultimately falling 45-36 to the Falcons.

Center Jesse Hill and guard Mike Rice have stepped up in Panzini's absence, which is a good sign for when they do get Panzini back. Matt Manley reported that Feb. 18, the opening night of the SCT, is the target date for Panzini's return for the defending SCT champions.

WRESTLING 

The NJSIAA Team Tournament gets rolling with the sectional quarterfinals tonight, with 19 Shore Conference teams competing in the tournament overall. Bob Badders has his latest wrestling Top 10 as we hit a stretch that will ultimately define the final rankings. Bob also has a full preview of all the anticipated action.

The two most anticipated potential sectional finals on Friday look to be a Brick-Jackson Memorial rematch in Central Jersey Group IV after Brick won on criteria in the regular season in Class A South, and the South Jersey Group V final. Top-seeded Brick Memorial should roll into the final and most likely face the winner of a Howell-Southern semifinal. Howell and Brick Memorial both beat Southern during the regular season, but the Rams have turned in some of their best wrestling in the last two weeks to come in hot.

Long Branch, Jackson Memorial and 17 other Shore Conference wrestling teams will be in action this week as the NJSIAA Team Tournament kicks off. (Photo by Scott Stump)

Howell beat Brick Memorial to win last year's Central Jersey Group IV title and the two did not meet this season because Jackson Memorial handed the Rebels their first loss in the SCT semifinals before Brick Memorial beat the Jaguars in the championship match.

The Shore could potentially have finalists in eight different brackets, including Long Branch in Central Jersey Group III, Raritan in Central Jersey Group II, Point Beach in Central Jersey Group I, Toms River South in South Jersey Group IV, Wall in South Jersey Group III, and CBA in Non-Public South A, in addition to the aforementioned Central Jersey Group IV and South Jersey Group V brackets. Outside of the potential All-Shore match-ups in CJ IV and SJ V, every single one of those other teams would most likely be an underdog in the championship match if the seeds hold true.

THE WEEK AHEAD

This is the last week of the regular season in basketball, as teams must have a .500 record or better through Saturday's games to qualify for this year's Shore Conference Tournament. All the division titles will also be finalized this week.

On the girls side, Rumson-Fair Haven coach George Sourlis will take a second crack at a milestone victory when the Bulldogs travel to winless Raritan on Tuesday. He and former CBA coach Ed Wicelinski are currently tied for the most victories of any basketball coach in Shore Conference history at 625, so Sourlis looks to be alone at the top after Tuesday night.

Updated Shore Conference boys basketball standings

On the boys side, CBA can clinch the overall Class A North title outright today with a win over Middletown South, while Freehold Township can lock down the Class A North public title all for itself with a win over Freehold Boro on Wednesday. In Class A Central, Rumson-Fair Haven, Manasquan and Shore are all tied for first, and each has two divisional games remaining, none of them against each other. All three are unbeaten against the rest of the teams in the division, so if they all win out, it's a tri-championship, which would be the third straight season that Manasquan has won or tied for the division title.

In Class A South, Toms River North has to beat Brick on Tuesday and Jackson Memorial on Friday to claim the outright title. If the Mariners slip up, Southern and Toms River South are one game behind and can tie them for the title by winning each of their last two divisional games.

In Class B North, Red Bank and Wall are tied for first and will tie for the title if they each win their two divisional games this week. Red Bank is on the road at Colts Neck on Tuesday and then has Ocean at home on Wednesday to try to lock down its share, while Wall has a tough one at home against resurgent Neptune tomorrow night and then is at Colts Neck on Thursday, so the Crimson Knights have no easy road.

In Class B Central, St. Rose's takedown of Point Beach on Saturday most likely means they will share the overall title. Technically, Point Beach wins the public title and St. Rose gets the non-public title if you care about that stuff. The Garnet Gulls have two division games left and St. Rose has three, but neither of them have lost to anyone else in the division all season.

In Class B South, Lakewood has continued its reign, remaining unbeaten in the division yet again. The Piners can clinch at least a tie for the title at Point Boro on Tuesday night and then can claim it all for themselves with a win at Manchester on Friday.

Matt Manley will have a breakdown of all the teams jockeying for spots in the SCT with his annual SCT Watch this week, so stay tuned for that as well.

More on Monday:

  • Asbury Park resident Nazreon Reid, a 6-8 freshman at Roselle Catholic, had 13 points in a win over Paterson Eastside at the Prime Time Shootout last night in a match-up of top 10 teams in the state.
  • Former Toms River South and Rutgers star Todd Frazier had a nice day for his bank account after signing a two-year, $12 million deal to stay with the Reds.
  • Holy Spirit took down South Jersey's second-ranked team, Camden Catholic, on Sunday. That Non-Public South A bracket is going to be an uphill battle for CBA and RBC with Holy Spirit, Camden Catholic, St. Augustine and St. Joe's-Metuchen all in the way.
  • Coach K isn't the only college coach with 1,000 career wins as Philadelphia University's Herb Magee achieved that milestone on Sunday.
  • An Islamic school that competes in sports against private Christian schools in Florida has helped to defuse stereotypes.
  • Duquesne women's basketball offered a scholarship to a seventh-grader.
  • From the slimeball files, a rival coach sent out anonymous, untrue emails smearing a local girls basketball power in Philly that has several stars who are from Africa.

On tap for tonight: In addition to the aforementioned wrestling team tournament, Shore basketball heads to St. John Vianney for a key Class A Central game it needs for its division title aspirations.

I'll end with St. Joe's-Metuchen's Breein Tyree, one of the most ferocious dunkers in New Jersey. He threw down so hard against Point Beach yesterday that he hit his head on the backboard.