Boys Basketball – 2017-18 SSN Player of the Year: Bryan Antoine, Ranney
Spending just a few minutes watching Ranney junior Bryan Antoine and classmate Scottie Lewis is enough to appreciate how unique the last three years have been for Shore Conference boys basketball. The talent the two five-star members of the national Class of 2019 possess is just about unrivaled throughout the history of the conference, save for a handful of possible exceptions.
The seemingly endless stream of highlights on social media and around the internet will come to define the four years both have played at Ranney, but to look past the numbers Bryan Antoine has already put up in his first three years of high school basketball is to overlook what will likely be the greatest high school basketball career in the history of the Shore by the time Antoine is finished at Ranney.
At different points this season, either Lewis or Antoine could have made the case as the most important player on the Shore’s No. 1 team and anyone who cares to advocate on behalf of Lewis would not exactly be peddling magic beans. Lewis is an all-around talent whose game continues to grow toward its sky-high ceiling, one that could be higher than that of his teammate.
Going strictly by production over the course of the 2017-18 season however, Bryan Antoine is the Shore Sports Network Player of the Year for the second straight season and he still has one more year to go in a most memorable four-year run at Ranney.
In every sense of the term, this was a career year for Antoine, who has authored three seasons that almost any high school senior could only dream of having. He has averaged between 20.7 and 21.4 points in his three years, steadily improving toward the 21.4 he averaged while playing in all 33 of Ranney’s games this season – which no other Panthers starter did this season.
To hit that scoring average, Antoine was one of just two players to cross the 700-point mark for the season and Antoine’s 706 points left him behind only Wall’s Steve Geis in total scoring among Shore Conference players.
Combining Antoine’s junior season total with his scoring from his first two seasons is when history starts to sink in. With his 700-plus-point season, Antoine is now at 1,811 points for his career, which leaves him just 492 points from setting a new Shore Conference career scoring record. The current record is held by Norman Caldwell, a 1973 graduate of Croydon Hall, which has long since shut its doors as a high school.
While Antoine is poised for a run a 2,500 career points heading into next year, his 2017-18 campaign warrants a closer look. Conventional wisdom might offer the conclusion that Antoine racked up a lot of his points against the bottom half of the Class B Central division – which contains the smallest programs in the Shore Conference.
That line of thinking would be incorrect. In Ranney’s 22 games against teams with a winning record – which included nine games against NJ.com Top 20 teams and four games at the prestigious City of Palms Classic – Antoine surpassed his season averages in scoring (21.9 to 21.4), rebounding (5.04 to 4.96), assists (2.7 to 2.3), steals (3.4 to 3.1) and blocks (1.1 to 0.9) against some of the best competition any Shore team has faced in recent memory.
In those nine games vs. the NJ.com Top 20, Antoine averaged 21.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.3 blocks. Four of those games were against Class B Central rival Mater Dei and Antoine did a number on the Seraphs in two of the four wins. He scored 28 points and scored two baskets in the final 1:30 to give Ranney a 65-61 win over the Seraphs and put up 31 points, five assists and four steals in a South Jersey Non-Public B semifinal win over Mater Dei. In four games vs. Mater Dei – the two-time defending Shore Conference Tournament champions – Antoine averaged exactly 20 points.
Antoine followed the 31-point outing with 30 points, six rebounds and five assists as Ranney beat Trenton Catholic to win its first ever sectional championship. Even with a modest 13-point outing against Roselle Catholic in the Non-Public B final, Antoine averaged 23.2 points in five NJSIAA Tournament games to lead Ranney’s deepest run ever in the state tournament.
Even in playing sidekick to Scottie Lewis during the Shore Conference Tournament, Antoine still averaged 16.75 points to help the Panthers win their first ever SCT title and the first Shore Conference team title for any Ranney sports program since joining the conference ahead of the 2012-13 season.
The numbers are staggering and will be part of Antoine’s legacy as a high school player in the Shore Conference, but it’s hard to imagine those numbers overshadowing the smooth jumpshot, the fastbreak dunks after jumping the passing lane and moments like the halfcourt shot he hit at the buzzer to win the City of Palms consolation title.
Antoine, as well as Lewis, are part of the social media era of everything and unlike their predecessors, whose exploits are remembered more by press clippings and word or mouth than they are by the occasional video footage of them, their best moments are captured and disseminated almost instantly.
Those moments may live forever, but their high school careers – to the chagrin of spectators and elation of opponents – will be over next year. The two are expected to announce their college choices at the end of the summer before making one more run at a Tournament of Champions title that just barely slipped through their grasp this season.
That march will be their final one as Shore Conference basketball players, but it’s still only the beginning for the two standouts. A beginning that will live on both on video and in the record books.