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BAYVILLE - Must-win games for the Christian Brothers Academy basketball team don't typically happen until late-February but Saturday's meeting with Mater Dei Prep was one the Colts had to win in order to stop a tailspin that could still result in the Colts missing the Shore Conference Tournament.

That is an unthinkable fate for a program that has won 16 SCT titles since 1984 and never endured a losing season, and the current Colts agree. They are not going to think about it.

Coming off three straight double-digit losses to Wildwood Catholic, Freehold Township and Manalapan, CBA dug deep in the fourth quarter Saturday to shut down Mater Dei and pick up a much-needed, 50-43 win at the Coaches vs. Cancer Showcase at Central Regional High School.

CBA junior Colin Farrell. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
CBA junior Colin Farrell. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

"We went into halftime (Thursday) against Manalapan tied and it was like a morgue in the locker room," Billet said. "It was the first time it seemed like the way we were playing was starting to get to them. We went to practice the next day and we just said, 'Don't worry about how many games we have to win or anything like that. Think of it like 11 one-game seasons. We just have to play every game like it's the only one that matters.'"

Juniors Colin Farrell and Ryan keyed the win with 16 points apiece, with Farrell earning game MVP honors and Cremen handing out six assists to go with his game-high point-total.

"After coming out as poorly as we did in the last game, we knew we had to be a lot better," Farrell said. "Coming out here and beating these guys - big game. Big win."

Cremen also hit a corner three-pointer off a drive-and-kick from Farrell that served as the dagger, giving CBA a 48-40 lead with just under two minutes to go in the game.

The Colts - ranked No. 6 in the latest Shore Sports Network Top 10 - entered the fourth quarter trailing Mater Dei, 37-35. Junior Dane Moran, who finished with six points, eight rebounds and seven blocks, scored in the post to tie the game and junior Mike White, who also scored six points, converted a three-point play to give CBA a 40-37 lead it would not give up.

After the Seraphs cut the Colts lead to 42-40 on a free throw by senior Tahaj Parland, CBA senior Charlie Ruoff (six points) hit a top-of-the-key three to extend the Colts lead to five. Two possessions later, Farrell hit Cremen in the left corner, where the junior knocked down the wide-open shot that effectively put Mater Dei away.

CBA employed different versions of a zone defense throughout most of the game to slow down Mater Dei's speedy backcourt, led by senior Pete Gorman, who entered Saturday averaging 20.5 points per game. Gorman led Mater Dei with 15 points to win MVP honors, but he and his backcourt mate Parland both came in below their season averages.

"Usually, at this point in the year, we start to play the way that we want to play and we do that every game," Billet said. "It's a little different with this team. We have to be more like a chameleon and adapt the way we play game-by-game."

Sophomore center Anthony Tancredi poured in 11 points for Mater Dei, while junior Andreas Von Fricke made his Mater Dei debut after transferring from Monsignor Farrell on Staten Island and sitting for 30 days.

While Mater Dei was getting players back, CBA remained without sophomore point guard Ryan Mabrey due to an ankle injury. A knee injury kept Mabrey out for six games and in his fourth game back from that absence, he injured his ankle Monday against Freehold Township. Billet said he hopes Mabrey will be able to return in two weeks.

"It's not just any starter - it's a guy who has played like an All-Shore guard when he was in there as a freshman," Billet said of Mabrey. "You don't just take him out of the lineup or even put him back into the lineup and expect there not to be an adjustment. It's unfortunate for him but we're hoping by the end of the year, he'll be close to 100 percent and we'll be a more complete team."

CBA will close out its first turn through the Class A North schedule against Freehold Boro on Tuesday, then will have to figure out a way to improve on a what is currently a 2-4 divisional record the second time trough the division. CBA's lone out-of-division games remaining on the current schedule are against Piscataway and Red Bank Catholic.

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