Shore Sports Network basketball blogger Tim "Nep84" McCollum gives his take on the latest in Shore Conference boys basketball

Nep’s Top 10

Let’s get right into this with a quick top 10.

  1. Point Beach
  2. The next 13 teams in the Shore Sports Network top 10.

This became abundantly clear to everyone sitting at the table on Saturday at the Boardwalk Showcase. I’ve seen parity in the Shore Conference before, but this is ridiculous. The folks here at the Shore Sports Network have done a great job of sorting this all out in their top 10, and mine would look exactly like theirs the last two weeks. But just like everything else these days, it's out of date before you print it.

Garnet Gull mania

At this point I would be shocked (and y’all know how I like to hedge on these things) ….. I repeat …. shocked if Beach is not in the SCT final. Sorry Coach Catania but you get the target on your back. That’s the breaks. In fact I got three more words for you beach fans …. TOC or bust.

Do you think I was impressed with them on Saturday? The performance they displayed in dismantling one of those 13 teams ranked #2 was impressive. Their level of basketball was head and shoulders above every other Shore Conference team I saw Saturday.

Matt Farrell has my vote for Shore Conference Player of the Year …. and it isn’t close.  He toyed with Jackson on Saturday. You got the sense he could do what he wanted when he wanted and he was under complete control.

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I know he’s no longer committed to Boston College and there was talk around the table “is he an ACC player or not?” Well, I’ll let people a lot smarter than me (like Butler University for example) make that decision.  Suffice it to say that whomever gets him on their team next year is getting a hell of a basketball player.

Player Shout-outs

It was nice to see a piece from the Shore Scout recently. Welcome to the new digs amigo. Folks, there is one thing you can count on from the Shore Scout - good scouting reports.  Let’s have some fun with this.

Watching CBA's Pat Andree on Saturday reminded me of watching Dan Werner as a sophomore play against Neptune at the Boardwalk Showcase (could that really have been more than 10 years ago?). I’m not talking about performance or numbers here. Pat Andree is looking more and more like a 3/4 combo forward and not a true 5. He hit a three in the corner right in front of the Colt Crazies with every Friar since Terry Dehere running at him. It was the biggest moment of the game for CBA, but it was then when it became clear to me that Pat is not and will not be a center.

Shore Scout, you are right on the money to talk about Point Boro's Peyton Wejnert, who I believe is the Shore’s leading scorer at the moment. I agree completely. However, the kid who stood out to me when I saw the Boro play was freshman John Venturi. Remember this name. I don’t know what kind of player this kid is going to be, and I’m not about to forecast greatness because he doesn’t deserve expectations like that. In fact he flew under the radar early in the game I saw.

Point Boro freshman point guard John Venturi is one to keep an eye on. (Photo by Cliff Lavelle)

As it got to crunch time, though, is when he stood out. His poise, composure, and maturity on the floor is well beyond his years. That’s what got my attention. If he’s showing that in what was at the time his second varsity game, what will he show three seasons from now as a senior? This was the game he calmly knocked down 14 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the game. Yeah, keep fouling the freshman. Good plan.

What can I say about the Toms River South backcourt? What adjective can I use? Do you remember the "Natural Disasters'' tag team from the old WWF days? Nahhhh that doesn't fit because I would need a third natural disaster, plus Earthquake and Typhoon were big, burly guys while these kids are a little bit more...sleek. Yeah that’s it. How do you describe a three-headed monster that left carnage in its wake as they did to Barnegat in the game I saw them? I got it. Berry, Davis, and Greene you are now officially the Hanson brothers of Shore Conference basketball (Editor's note: He means the brothers from the movie "Slap Shot," not the ones who tortured us with MMMBop). It isn’t that they were great players individually, even though they each are talented.

Tymere Berry (above) is one-third of a stellar backcourt at Toms River South that also includes Khaleel Greene and Marquis Davis. (Photo by Cliff Lavelle)

Basketball is the sum of its parts and these kids collectively formed a giant sledgehammer and hit the Bengals over the head with it. I love writing about basketball IQ, and here is a good example. Tymere Berry was running the break, and I forget who threw the three-quarter-court bounce pass to him (I think it was Greene) but Berry in a split second realized to take the ball at the apex after the bounce would leave him out of sync for the layup, plus he had space ahead of the defender. What does he do? Lets the ball take a second bounce, adjusts his run to time it right, and makes a nice layup in transition. Great stuff.

Speaking of basketball IQ, it must be a coach’s dream to have identical twins on the floor. Two players, one fused brain. There are two sets I’ve seen. The Czajkowskis on Freehold Township and the Kirkwoods on Neptune. First to a pair of Patriots. I mentioned poise and composure on the floor before. The Czajkowskis showed it in spades. They were a do-a-little-bit-of-everything combined point guard. Two floor generals for the price of one! Order now and you get this set of steak knives! Yeah I’ll take two please. They controlled the game. Good shooters, good handle, rebounding, passing. Nice all-around game from them.

Here is an important safety tip. Never play a game of keep away with Kerry and Keishawn Kirkwood. You’ll never catch them. I need these kids taped so I can watch it in slow motion and see these kids play because in real time the ball is inbounded, there is a blur on the floor, and suddenly somebody shoots a layup. Don’t compare them to Hawaii wide receiver Keith Kirkwood, their older brother. Different body types. Different positions. Different players. I’d like to see the kid who steals the ball from these two. I saw them on the floor together for the first time on Saturday.

While I’m on the subject of the Fliers,  Myles Mooney is the best power forward Neptune has. He is playing much bigger than he is.

 

Random Ravings

Is there anything worse than a 5:15 start time for a high school basketball game? Excuse me there ADs, may I vent for a moment please? I presume you want us to support the kids, right? You want us to support the teams, right? You want fannies in the seats, right? You want my $2, right? Then PLEASE give a fella a chance to get home for the game, will ya?  I leave Secaucus at 5 p.m. and even I can’t get from Secaucus to Neptune in 15 minutes.

Look at Neptune’s schedule. Road games at 6:30 all over the place. Home games at 5:15 pm consistently. No home game should start before 6:30. Period. Don’t let me sic the MLB investigators on you folks. They have plenty of time on their hands now that A-Rod is irrelevant.

So B North trades Freehold Boro for Colts Neck, and Matawan for RBC in the new football alignment. Gee, thanks a lot football computer. Just call the new B North the Shore Conference Norris division.

What happens when you do a live chat and no one attends? Sadly the live chat on Saturday will be the last one. It was innovative 10-ish years ago when Stump and I decided to try it. At times those chats had more than 100 people on them, especially during the MonDon-CBA game years ago and the SCT games. But sadly, like any innovation, its time has passed. Thank you Twitter! I hope your stock plummets. Now I just have to think of the next innovation.

Until then I’ll be reading your tweets …. Right here on the ShoreLine.