Boys Basketball – Barcas Carries Wall to Triple-OT Win Over Colts Neck, Elusive Division Title
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COLTS NECK – Brendan Barcas has driven in game-winning runs in the bottom of the last inning for the Wall baseball team and scored game-winning goals for the Crimson Knights soccer team, but his late-game heroics on the court Thursday night at Colts Neck mean he will remembered first and foremost as the basketball player who carried Wall to its first outright Shore Conference division title in four decades.
Barcas drove for the game-winning lay-up with 0.5 seconds left in the third overtime and the Crimson Knights, ranked No. 7 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 entering Thursday, won a 76-75 overtime thriller over No. 8 Colts Neck to clinch the outright Class B North championship – the program’s first outright division championship since 1974.
“This was our goal from the very beginning,” Barcas said. “The first thing we said we wanted to do this year was to win a division championship, and to be there now is a great feeling.”
Barcas scored a career-high 37 points, including 26 in the fourth quarter and three overtime periods combined. His previous career high was 31 points, which he scored on Tuesday in a 52-49 road win at Neptune. With Wall needing to win both of its games this week against stiff competition, Barcas scored a combined 68 of Wall’s 128 points in the two Crimson Knights victories.
“It’s all about the win,” Barcas said. “My concern was just doing what I needed to for us to be able to win this game. But it’s an awesome feeling to be able to have the two games I just had to help the team go out and win a division. It’s not the way I pictured it, but it’s a great feeling.”
“I started training Brendan four years ago and I told him then, ‘You will be the next All-Shore guard that I coach,’” first-year Wall coach Matt Kukoda said. “From that point on, we worked, worked, worked, and to see him turn the corner and become the player that he is is very fitting, and I’m very proud of him. I can’t take any credit. I’m just fortunate enough to be around him, and we’re fortunate enough to have him.”
Colts Neck senior Chris O’Reilly outscored Barcas with a career-high 43 points, the most by a Shore Conference player in a single game this season. While Barcas scored 12 points in the three overtimes, O’Reilly topped him with 13 of his points during the extra session and his baseline fadeaway with 35 seconds left stood as the potential game-winning shot before Barcas drove the lane for the winner.
“You hate to lose a game like that, but I’ll always remember it as a great basketball game,” Colts Neck coach Lou Piccola said. “Both teams played their hearts out and two great players went back-and-forth. They were just a little bit better.”
Wall clinched its first division title share since 1992 when it beat Neptune on Tuesday. Not only did Wall win its first outright division championship in four decades Thursday, but they did so one year after finishing in last place in a seven-team Class B North division with a 1-11 divisional record.
“We went in with high expectations last year, and we were in a lot of games that just didn’t go our way,” said senior guard Ryan Janeczek, who added 16 points on Thursday. “This year, those games are going our way and you’re seeing the results of the work we’ve put in that maybe people didn’t see last year. From the time me, Brendan and Trent (Mitchell) got here, we knew we had something special and before we graduated, we were going to do something special.”
Barcas, Janeczek and Mitchell were sophomore starters on a team that went 8-4 in the division and finished one game behind division champion Neptune in 2012-13, only to plummet in the standings as juniors.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” Mitchell, who finished with 10 points, said of the past three seasons. “From being so close as sophomores to going through last year, we’ve definitely been through the highs and lows as a group, and to end up where we are right now makes it worth it.”
While Barcas’ athletic exploits in other sports helped already-established Crimson Knights baseball and soccer programs, his late-game surge will represent at worst a high point for a long-suffering program and at best a turning point.
“It’s not just on the court or on the field with Brendan,” Kukoda said. “This is my first year teaching in Wall and I can’t tell you how many teachers come up to me and commend him for the kind of kid he is and the kind of family he comes from. He’s a great student, he’s a soccer star, he’s the starting shortstop. He’s the golden boy of Wall High School right now.”
A lay-up by Cougars senior Kyle Gordon off a drive and dish from junior Tom O’Reilly gave Colts Neck a 55-53 lead with 4.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter. O’Reilly had tied the game at 53 with a long three-pointer from the top of the key with a little more than two minutes left.
With the ball under his team’s own basket out of a timeout, Barcas took the inbound pass and drew a foul on Tom O’Reilly near midcourt with 2.6 seconds left. Not only did Barcas calmly bury both ends of the ensuing one-and-one from the free-throw line to send the game into overtime, but he drew the fifth foul on Colts Neck’s top rebounder.
“The play was designed to get Janeczek a shot in the corner, and as I was looking up I saw that I had a step on O’Reilly and just tried to get an extra dribble in or maybe get some contact,” Barcas said.
Wall would take advantage of a Colts Neck lineup without Tom O’Reilly by grabbing seven offensive rebounds in the three overtimes while limiting Colts Neck to one. Crimson Knights senior Joe Tashjy scored on a putback to cut Colts Neck’s lead to 59-57 and later snatched an offensive board on a missed free throw by senior Trent Mitchell, who converted a lay-up as he was fouled to cut Colts Neck’s lead to 61-59 with 33 seconds left. That offensive rebound led to a go-ahead, step-back three by Barcas from the right wing that gave Wall a 62-61 lead with 10 seconds left in the first overtime.
Mitchell, however, committed his fifth foul in identical fashion to Tom O’Reilly when he bumped Colts Neck junior Jordan DeGroot with 5.4 seconds left to give the Cougars a chance to win the game. DeGroot missed his first attempt, but got the roll on the second shot to tie the game at 62. Barcas got off a clean look to potentially win the game, but the shot fell short as time expired.
Each team scored only four points in the second overtime, with O’Reilly scoring all four for Colts Neck and sophomore Matt Andrejco scoring on a putback to tie the game at 66 with 1:20 left.
“When I saw the plays Brendan was making and kids like Andrejco stepping up to make plays, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we were winning that game,” Mitchell said. “Even with O’Reilly making all of those crazy shots.”
Barcas scored Wall’s last nine points of the third overtime to lead the Knights to the win, while O’Reilly scored the final four for Colts Neck. He scored on a drive to the basket to give his team a 73-71 lead while also drawing a foul. O’Reilly, however, missed the free-throw, one of many Colts Neck misses from the foul line in the overtime session. The Cougars shot 22-for-35 (63 percent) from the free-throw line for the game. After shooting 13-for-16 over the first three quarters, Colts Neck shot 9-for-19 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Barcas then hit a three to give the Crimson Knights a 74-73 lead, which O’Reilly followed with his go-ahead fadeaway with 35 seconds left. Colts Neck senior center Mike Lamb blocked a shot by senior Mike Andrejco with 15 seconds left, but Andrejco recovered the ball and Wall spent a timeout with 12.9 seconds to regroup and draw up a final shot.
Barcas took the clock down and dribbled the ball from the top of the key straight down the lane before laying up a shot that hung on the rim and dropped through.
Of the 27 combined field goals by Barcas and O’Reilly, 12 of them – six by each – either tied the game or gave the player’s team the lead. O’Reilly scored 14 points in the first half to help Colts Neck take a 32-28 lead and then scored 11 in the third to help stretch the lead to 48-38.
Barcas, meanwhile, entered the fourth quarter with a mere 11 points, but scored 10 points to spark a 13-1 run over the first 4:02 of the fourth to catapult Wall into the lead, 51-49.
“It’s tough when you have a guy hitting shots like that, but we’re used to coming from behind and hitting big shots,” Barcas said. “We just had to remain calm and know that if they hit one, we were going to come right back and hit one on the other end.”
Wall trailed 20-5 at the end of the first quarter, 26-10 early in the second quarter and 48-38 heading to the fourth. Wall finished the first half on an 18-6 run to close the halftime gap to four and needed only four minutes to erase the 10-point deficit to start the fourth quarter.
“One thing about us is we came in as freshmen and heard about how good we were going to be by the time we were seniors, and we really just took it year by year,” Janeczek said. “I think as sophomores, we thought, ‘Why can’t we win right now?’ And as juniors we got ahead of ourselves and thought winning was just going to come to us. It’s been a process all along and nights like tonight are what we’ve been working for.”
Wall 76, Colts Neck 75 (3 OT)
|Wall (15-5, 11-3)|
|Colts Neck (11-6, 8-5)|
Wall (76): Brendan Barcas 13 7-7 37, Ryan Janeczek 5 3-5 16, Joe Tashjy 3 0-0 7, Mike Andrejco 0 1-2 1, Trent Mitchell 4 2-4 10, R.J. Janeczek 0 3-4 3, Matt Andrejco 1 0-0 2, Shaun Scott 0 0-0 0, Eddie Polluzzi 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 16-22 76
Three-pointers: Barcas 4, Ryan Janeczek 3, Tashjy
Fouled Out: Mitchell, R.J. Janeczek
Colts Neck: Colton LaLima 1 0-0 2, Jordan DeGroot 1 4-11 6, Mike Lamb 2 5-6 9, Tom O’Reilly 4 0-0 8, Chris O’Reilly 14 11-16 43, Kyle Gordon 2 2-2 7, Tim Cavrack 0 0-0 0, Brendan Clarke 0 0-0 0, Rob Hill 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 22-35 75
Three-pointers: C. O’Reilly 4, Gordon
Fouled Out: T. O’Reilly