Boardwalk Hoop Group Showcase Preview
It's that time again, as the annual Boardwalk Hoop Group Showcase featuring match-ups between some of the Shore Conference's top teams will unfold at Long Branch High School with a five-game slate on Saturday.
The 15th annual event, which has formerly been held at venues like Convention Hall in Asbury Park and Monmouth University, features some old-school rivalries and nine Shore teams in action across the five games that get underway at noon, with tickets available at the door. Tickets are $13 for the full day to watch all five games, and students get in for $6.
Here is a look at the match-ups.
(Records are through Thursday's games)
Long Branch (0-5) vs. Shore Regional (4-2), noon
The host Green Wave get the event underway in search of their first win of the season against a Shore Regional team looking to regain its footing following losses in its two biggest tests of the season.
Long Branch is a young team that appears to be a year away. The Green Wave play multiple freshmen and are led by sophomore guard Raheem Carter and junior Jamar Foster. They will be the underdog against a veteran Shore Regional team led by high-scoring senior Dan Largey, who is part of a trio of experienced seniors that also includes Kevin Bloodgood and Jack Byrne.
This is Shore's first season under coach Frank Carmody, and the Blue Devils are still trying to find their rhythm after entering the season with high expectations following back-to-back 20-win seasons and a trip to the Central Jersey Group I final last season. They were blown out by Red Bank in the semifinals of the Albert E. Martin Buc Classic over the holidays and fell 56-46 to rival Rumson-Fair Haven in Class A Central on Tuesday. This is the type of game for Shore to iron out the kinks and gain some confidence going back into the divisional schedule, while Long Branch will try to start the day with an upset win.
Neptune (2-5) vs. Lakewood (7-0), 1:40 p.m.
You look at those records and figure Lakewood should roll right through this one, but don't forget, this is one of the Shore Conference's oldest and best rivalries, so Neptune will give the Piners its best shot.
Lakewood enters ranked No. 2 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 and right now looks like a team with the goods to return to the Shore Conference Tournament final after winning it in 2013. The Piners have a balanced scoring attack featuring junior guards Amir Tyler and Tyreek Grayson and senior guard Ryan Lawrence along with junior Sean Barksdale and football standout Chapelle Cook, a Temple recruit on the gridiron.
You know what you are going to get with a Randy Holmes-coaches team. Lakewood will pressure Neptune defensively full court the entire way and try to convert turnovers into instant offense. The Piners share the ball well and have several solid long-range shooters who can be zone-busters when teams try to slow down the game. Tyler has become one of the Shore Conference's top guards, explosive off the dribble, a bulldog on defense and a physical presence under the boards for a guard. He is also a football standout as a linebacker, who currently has an offer from Temple.
Neptune's record is a little deceiving as four of its five losses are by single digits, and two of them are in overtime in its first season under new coach Joe Fagan. The main issues have been foul-shooting woes and consistent scoring. Neptune, which is coming off a 17-point loss to Red Bank Catholic, has been led by senior twin guards Keishawn and Kerry Kirkwood, senior forward Micah Kerr, and senior guard Royal Moore, an Ocean transfer who was a standout on the football field.
Sophomore guard Barry Brown, a transfer from Cardinal McCarrick, is coming off his best game with Neptune after dropping 19 points and burying four 3-pointers in the loss to RBC. Junior Marcque Ellington is another offensive threat as a 6-foot-5 forward with a solid mid-range jumper. Six-foot-6 freshman Jared Kimbrough is another to watch as he has shown some good potential early on.
Much of this game will come down to how Neptune handles Lakewood's relentless pressure and how well the Scarlet Fliers do in the defensive rebounding department. When Lakewood's guards are able to get into the lane, it also allows their forwards to pound the offensive glass after their defenders rotate, and they can overwhelm teams with second-chance points.
Christian Brothers Academy (5-2) vs. St. Anthony (6-1), 3:20 p.m.
The Colts enter as the No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 and No. 18 in the state by the Star-Ledger, while the Friars are ranked No. 2 in New Jersey by the Star-Ledger and No. 3 by MSG Varsity.
This game has been a staple of the Boardwalk event over the years and has featured some classics. As we all know, the Friars are perennially one of the best teams in the state and in the nation. Last week they took an absolutely loaded Roselle Catholic team, the No. 1 squad in the state and a top-five team in the country, to the brink in a three-point loss for their only defeat.
CBA's losses this season are to Don Bosco Prep, a Top 10 team in the state, and Cardinal McCarrick. The Colts only have one loss to a Shore Conference team since the 2012-13 season, and that was against Point Beach in last year's SCT final. They have a standout tandem under coach Geoff Billet in Adelphi recruit Jack Laffey, a senior who has been unconscious from 3-point range this season in addition to being a versatile defender, and 6-foot-8 junior Pat Andree, who has multiple Division I offers and has great shooting range for his size. Six-foot-7 junior Jack McGuire also has been a force in his first season as a starter.
CBA has some veteran guards led by seniors Shaun Belbey and Connor Aldridge, and they will be the key. St. Anthony's trademark is suffocating full-court pressure under Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley Sr., so the Colts have to be able to handle it. Belbey, Laffey and Andree saw it first-hand last year in an 18-point loss to the Friars at the Boardwalk Showcase, so this is a group that knows what to expect. Defensively, the Colts usually sit in a zone in this game to try to keep the Friars in front of them and force them to shoot contested jumpers while limiting them to one shot.
That will be easier said than done against a group that include 6-foot-8 senior wing Markis McDuffie, a Wichita State recruit, senior Mohamed Bendary, an NJIT recruit, as well as 6-foot-8 junior power forward Taurean Thompson and junior forward Idris Joyner. There also is a local in the Friars' backcourt, as junior guard Jagan Mosely is one of the state's best with interest from Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton and offers from Boston University, Brown and Fairfield. Mosely is from Marlboro, and his older brother, former St. Anthony guard Cheddi Mosely, is now a freshman guard at Boston University.
The longer CBA can keep it close, the more the crowd at Long Branch will be on the side of the Colts to cheer the Shore team to the upset. Either way, it's another great nonconference test for a team looking to finish the job and win the SCT this season.
Rumson-Fair Haven (4-2) vs. Point Beach (5-2), 5 p.m.
I think this could be the most entertaining game of the day because of the way both of these teams play - up-and-down, jumping into traps, forcing turnovers and launching threes.
Point Beach, the defending SCT champion, showed it should once again be a team to reckon with under coach Nick Catania when it took undefeated Lakewood to the wire earlier this season, losing on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Three new additions have boosted the Garnet Gulls as they look to remain among the Shore's elite. One of them will be saying hello to some old teammates before the game, as junior guard Jimmy Panzini is a St. Anthony transfer. He gives them a solid backcourt along with junior Mike Rice, the son of the former Rutgers coach, who transferred from Red Bank Regional.
The top threat for the Garnet Gulls is well-traveled senior Jesse Hill, a Florida Atlantic recruit who transferred from Jackson Memorial and is at his third high school in three years after playing at Donovan Catholic as a sophomore. The 6-foot-7 forward has solid shooting range and can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. He should be a primary challenge for a guard-oriented Rumson team. Senior guard Mike Frauenheim is a football standout who played big minutes for last year's team, and forward Chris Schifano is a four-year varsity player who is the glue as an experienced senior.
Rumson is led by junior guard Brendan Barry, who is in shooting range once he steps into the parking lot. Senior guard Thomas Famulary is another top scoring threat, and seniors like Morgan Maguire and Kenny Ferrare are multi-sport standouts who add toughness under the boards. When Rumson gets hot from 3-point range, it's fun to watch, and much of what it does under coach Chris Champeau comes on dribble hand-offs, one-on-one penetration and kickouts, and screen-and-roll action. A win over the Garnet Gulls would immediately put Rumson in the conversation as a Top 10 team in the Shore, while Point Beach is looking to continue to integrate its new parts and form an efficient unit with its sights set on making a run in the postseason starting next month.
Matawan (4-3) vs. Manasquan (6-1), 6:40 p.m.
Matawan is struggling coming into this game, having lost two straight with a blowout against Red Bank Regional and then a last-second loss to Colts Neck on Thursday night, while Manasquan looks like a team that is once again equipped for a deep run in the SCT and state tournaments.
The Huskies are hoping for a healthy Jason Dunne, the Hartford-bound senior guard who has had a trying week. He was taken out on a stretcher and hospitalized due to dehydration against Red Bank, then came back two days later and had a team-high 11 points in the loss to Colts Neck. Matawan and coach Tom Stead will need Dunne and senior guard Joe Piscopo playing their best against a deep Manasquan team that just added another weapon this week.
Under coach Andrew Bilodeau, the Warriors are led by junior forward Ryan Jensen, a double-double machine who is also a solid shot-blocker in his third season on varsity. Senior forwards Aidan McMenaman and Luke O'Shaughnessy are also solid scorers who can hurt teams who devote too much attention to Jensen.
The backcourt is anchored by junior guard Jack Sheehan and senior guard Matt Paturzo. A key addition has been 6-foot-4 senior forward Kyle Bradshaw, a transfer from Monmouth Regional who played his first game with the Warriors on Wednesday, a 15-point night in a win over Bishop Ahr, after missing the first five games with a right foot injury. He joins a front line that will look to pound Matawan on the glass.
This is Matawan's chance to show that writing the Huskies off as a legitimate SCT contender might be premature, while Manasquan looks to add another solid win to its resume. The Warriors also will be looking for a little payback, as Matawan beat Manasquan in last year's SCT quarterfinals on the same court at Long Branch.