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It was a strong opening night for the Shore Conference in the NJSIAA Tournament, with Howell headlining a group of 12 teams that advanced to Wednesday's sectional quarterfinals.

The 12th-seeded Rebels went on the road and stunned fifth-seeded East Brunswick, a perennial contender, in Central Jersey Group IV. It continued the resurgent season under coach Pat Ramsay that also included a Shore Conference Tournament berth. Aaron Trimble is not letting his senior year end without a fight as he poured in 33 points, burying six 3-pointers, to lead the way.

Preview: Groups I, III and Non-Public A and B

He is now one point shy of 1,000 for his career going into Wednesday's quarterfinal game against Hillsborough. The Rebels will be hosting their first state playoff game in history, as 13th-seeded Hillsborough upset Howell's Class A North rival, No. 4 Manalapan, to make it a 12-13 game for the right to go to the semifinals.

Aaron Trimble and Howell picked up a great upset win over East Brunswick to reach the Central Jersey Group IV quarterfinals. (Photo by Sports Pix NJ)

This is the kind of run that can help generate enthusiasm for the basketball program at a school where the powerhouse wrestling team looms large in the winter. Howell is going to have to replace Trimble, senior forward Will Kocsis and guard Gino Palummo next season, so a nice playoff run here could help with the off-season momentum going into a crucial year three under Ramsay.

Also in CJ Group IV, Freehold Township topped Brick Memorial as the Patriots play in support of senior Kyle Czajkowski, who is out for the season with a broken wrist. His twin brother, Jason, gave him a proper salute last night with a team-high 19 points in the win over the Mustangs. Next up is perennial Patriots' playoff nemesis Trenton on Freehold Township's home floor.

Freehold Township has never won a sectional title, not even with the best team they've ever had, the one that captured the 2007 SCT title, as they fell to a really tough South Brunswick squad that year. Looking at how wide open this bracket is this season, this is certainly a good shot for the Patriots to make school history.

Trimble wasn't the only one to go for 30 last night as Colts Neck senior guard Chris O'Reilly poured in 30 in a win over Hunterdon Central. Marlboro also advanced to a meeting with top-seeded Montgomery, so four of the eight teams still standing in CJ IV are from the Shore.

Central Jersey Group II went as planned, as five of the eight quarterfinalists are from the Shore. All of them were the higher seeds except for defending champion Matawan, which went on the road and took out Governor Livingston behind 23 points from senior guard Jason Dunne. Manasquan had a close call against 15th-seeded Cinnaminson, pulling out a 54-51 win.

Defending Central Jersey Group II champion Matawan is into the quarterfinals thanks to 23 points by senior Jason Dunne. (Photo by Larry Murphy/Sports Pix NJ)

You think Rumson is riding the momentum of its SCT championship? The Bulldogs dropped 91 points on Delran, which may be a school record, and hit 17 3-pointers. Brendan Barry continues to light it up as he had 29, and Alex Geiger buried seven threes of his own. The Bulldogs host Manchester on Wednesday. The winner of that game most likely heads to top-seeded Lakewood in the semifinals, so a possible Bulldogs-Piners showdown could be in the works.

I think it's become an NJSIAA by-law that Southern must play Atlantic City every year in the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. The Rams will once again meet the Vikings after knocking off Shawnee behind 23 points from Peyton Wejnert. Southern upset Atlantic City last season and will take another crack at it again on the road on Wednesday. Also in SJ Group IV, a banged-up Toms River North team missing two starters rolled over Clearview by 20 but should have a dogfight on its hands at home on Wednesday against No. 8 Rancocas Valley.

On the girls side, the majority of the high seeds advanced with a few exceptions. Ashley Tutzauer poured in 25 points to help No. 11 seed Toms River North take out No. 6 Clearview on the road in South Jersey Group IV, and defending Central Jersey Group IV champion Colts Neck went on the road as the 11 seed and beat No. 6 Brick Memorial thanks to 22 points by Noelle Frost. Also, Southern's season came to a tough end as the No. 4 seed in SJ IV with a loss to No. 13 Washington Township.

FOOTBALL 

Mater Dei Prep senior quarterback Christian Palmer, a first-team All-Shore selection who set a Shore Conference single-season record with 44 touchdowns between passing and rushing this fall, announced on Monday that he will continue his career at Salve Regina University.

(Photo by Sports Pix NJ).

BASEBALL

The Division I commits keep coming from Shore Conference baseball, as Manalapan junior left-hander Jake Sadowitz announced on Monday that he is headed to the Ivy League after verbally committing to the University of Pennsylvania. Manalapan is becoming an Ivy League factory considering football standouts Dan Debner and Kyle Mullen are both headed to Yale and former star Anthony Firkser is a tight end at Harvard.

TWITTER

Some moron has created a fake Brendan Barry Twitter account, @brendan_barry3, so don't follow it and block it. Besides the fact that it's pathetic in general, this genius doesn't realize that he or she could be messing with his recruiting, as college coaches may erroneously follow it thinking it's the real Barry, and when stupid or vulgar stuff is posted on it, they think it's Barry putting that out there, and it isn't.

I also wrote a story on Curt Schillling going after the Twitter trolls saying heinous things about his daughter. One of them is a student at Brookdale who has been suspended by the school, while another one got fired from his job with the Yankees. It's great to see some real-world consequences behind this stuff. There's always that whole, "He was just joking bro, why get him in trouble?" backlash to this, but I'm on the other side of things. You should face bad things happening to your life if you put that kind of stuff out there.

I've occasionally mulled over sending screenshots of horrible stuff sent to me on Twitter from high school athletes to their respective principals and athletic directors. I once had a St. John Vianney baseball player openly wish that I would get Lou Gehrig's disease, others saying they would break my jaw if they saw me because I picked against their team, others claiming they will rape my daughter (I don't have children yet, FYI), etc., but I don't want to be a total narc about everything, and plus it usually accomplishes little. The kid gives some mumbled fake apology or lame email that usually translates to, "My coach made me do this dumb apology and I still hate you Mr. Stump." I will say I have had some athletes over the years approach me at games and offer me sincere apologies for tweeting something nasty, and I think that speaks to their character that they can man up about it.

I can never reply to any of it because that only escalates things, so I just block people, and even if I try to defend myself it immediately devolves into "Ur an old man fighting with hs kids loser!" or something like that. It's a no-win situation, and I'm pretty numb to it at this point. The only thing that bothers me is that there are no real-world consequences for a lot of this stuff. If I start saying some of the really offensive stuff that some of these kids have said, I could lose my job(s), but others can just fire off what they want and laugh it off with, "What, u mad bro?" That's just life on social media, I guess. I still think the good outweighs the bad, but it was nice to see Schilling bury a few of these guys.

More on Tuesday: 

  • A Los Angeles-area girls basketball team got kicked out of the state playoffs for illegal jerseys because they had pink on them in support of breast cancer awareness and they didn't obtain the proper waiver to wear them.
  • Can't believe it's been 25 years since Hank Gathers died. He was one of my favorites in grammar school, and it was that devastating moment when you realize that even at a young age, it could all end in an instant.
  • Sophomore catcher Matthew Gaeta (CBA) and freshman pitcher Marshall Kramsky (Marlboro) are part of a revived NYU varsity baseball team playing its first games in 41 years.
  • A four-star cornerback in Oregon fractured his skull in a 7-on-7 tournament.
  • The resurrection of a University of Rhode Island program that includes former Point Beach star Jarelle Reischel has been remarkable. They are two wins away from the Atlantic 10 regular-season title under Dan Hurley.
  • The fatal car crash that shattered a small town.
  • The origins of a national gang of identity thieves that started in (of course) Florida.

On tap for tonight: The Group I, Group III and Non-Public A brackets get started tonight in basketball as the playoffs roll on. Check out the schedule here. Only two All-Shore match-ups, Henry Hudson at Point Beach in CJ I, and Holmdel at Red Bank in CJ III.