Blue Heaven: Shore beats rival Point Beach to win first NJSIAA sectional title
After years of frustration at the hands of its grappling nemesis, Shore Regional’s championship moment finally arrived on Friday night.
A capacity crowd witnessed history as the Blue Devils won 10 of 14 bouts to take down three-time defending champion Point Beach, 45-19, and capture the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 1 title. Jamie Mazzacco, Brendon Denovaes, Jack Maida and Matt Klemser each won by fall, Mike McGhee won by technical fall and Jack McCrae won by major decision to lead Shore to its historic first state sectional championship.
Point Beach had won three straight CJ-1 crowns and two consecutive Shore Conference Class B Central division titles heading into this season. In 2016 Shore won the division title, but Point Beach won the rematch in the sectional semifinals en route to winning its first sectional title. The Garnet Gulls beat the Blue Devils to win the division title in 2017 and repeated as sectional champs and did the same last season, including a 38-22 win in the championship match.
“As great as the sectional championship is, it’s so much more glorious to win it over Point Beach,” said Shore head coach Dave Porta. “They have been our kryptonite. You get punched in the mouth so many times by somebody and that last punch was just the one that made us say enough.”
Point Beach struck first when Jared Kerr won by 15-2 major decision over Cody Joyce at 132 pounds, but the heart of Shore’s lineup won the next four bouts to open a 15-4 lead. Junior Al DeSantis, a two-time state qualifier, won 5-2 over Jesse Bowers at 138 pounds and McGhee scored a 17-2 technical fall over Macky Liotta at 145. Ian Smith then won 5-2 over Jason Schulz at 152 and McCrae authored a 15-4 major decision over George Kaiafas at 160.
After Point Beach’s hammer, junior Jason Sherlock, won by fall at 170 pounds Shore extended its lead to 27-10 thanks to pins by Mazzacco and Denovaes at 182 and 195 pounds. Point Beach’s Liam Buday defeated Taylor Sousa, 3-1, at 220 pounds, but the Blue Devils would go on another run to clinch the match. Cade Torres edged Connor Smith, 3-2, at heavyweight before Maida and Klemser won by fall at 106 and 113 pounds to clinch the win. Gabe Scalise polished off the win with a 5-2 decision over Kip Lovgren at 120 pounds.
“We got to start with our big guns and we got the crowd into it right away,” Porta said. “They won the first bout but after that, we never looked back.”
Shore began to open eyes late in December when it defeated West Deptford, 36-31. The Eagles were a returning sectional semifinalist and ended up reaching the South Jersey Group 2 final this season. Then came the regular-season win over Point Beach, 40-27, to basically locked up the division title. The biggest win came on Jan. 8 when the Blue Devils stunned Ocean, 34-33 at home, for the program’s first win over a team ranked in the Shore Conference top 10. Ocean won the Central Jersey Group 3 title on Friday night. Shore went on to finish fourth at the Shore Conference Tournament, as well. Its only loss this season is to Manalapan, which reached the Central Jersey Group 5 final.
“The most special part has been the buildup all season long,” Porta said. “We don’t want to be known just as a good Group 1 school, just as a good wrestling school. Most people know about us that we’re not just some fluky team, we’re a good wrestling team all-around.”
Paulsboro is the overwhelming favorite to win the Group 1 title. The Red Raiders are ranked No 2 in New Jersey and have won an incredible 31 NJSIAA Group 1 titles – all of but five of the title matches ever contested. The good news for Shore is that it is the No. 3 seed for the Group 1 tournament on Sunday at Toms River North’s RWJBarnabas Health Arena and won’t have to face Paulsboro in the semifinals. Instead, the Blue Devils will tangle with Kittatinny in the semifinals at 2 p.m. The Cougars have eight NJSIAA group titles to their credit but aren’t a juggernaut despite upsetting Emerson-Park Ridge in the North 1, Group 1 sectional final.
1-Shore 45, 2-Point Beach 19
Jared Kerr (Point Beach) over Cody Joyce (Shore) (MD 15-2)
Al De Santis (Shore) over Jesse Bowers (Point Beach) (Dec 5-2)
Michael McGhee (Shore) over Macky Liotta (Point Beach) (TF 17-2 3:01)
Ian Smith (Shore) over Jason Schulz (Point Beach) (Dec 5-2)
Jack McCrae (Shore) over George Kaiafas (Point Beach) (MD 15-4)
Jason Sherlock (Point Beach) over AJ Stuart (Shore) (Fall 1:49)
Jamie Mazzacco (Shore) over Ryley Thomas (Point Beach) (Fall 0:31)
Brendon Denovaes (Shore) over Joshua Ramos (Point Beach) (Fall 1:57)
Liam Buday (Point Beach) over Taylor Sousa (Shore) (Dec 3-1)
Cade Torres (Shore) over Connor Smith (Point Beach) (Dec 3-2)
Jack Maida (Shore) over Teddy Jarahian (Point Beach) (Fall 1:41)
Matt Klemser (Shore) over Jonah Bowers (Point Beach) (Fall 3:10)
Gabe Scalise (Shore) over Kip Lovgren (Point Beach) (Dec 5-2)
Riley Simon (Point Beach) over Unknown (For.)
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.