Boys Basketball – Championship Pod Day One Highlights from the Jersey Shore
The most unique Shore Conference postseason of all time tipped off Monday and eight of the 42 teams competing in the week-long festivities began the evening in search of an unofficial Shore Conference championship to close out their respective 2021 seasons.
When the final buzzers sounded in each of the four quarterfinal games in the Pod A Playoffs - also known as the "championship pod" - it was the four favorites and home teams advancing to Wednesday's semifinal round.
You can read the recap of all the games from Monday - including the four in Pod A - but it's always nice to have a visual. Here are some key highlights from the four quarterfinal matchups.
Manasquan Survives Neptune's Methodical Upset Bid
Having lost to Manasquan by a combined 33 points in two meetings just one week earlier, Neptune knew it had to change things up to have a chance against the Warriors.
The Scarlet Fliers did just that, grinding the game to a slower pace by using up large chunks of the clock on their offensive possessions and being selective about their shots. The strategy made a difference, as Neptune led 15-11 early in the second quarter and was down, 34-32, with inside of four minutes to go.
Neptune also clamped down on Manasquan's supporting cast and forced junior guard Ben Roy to have to carry the offense throughout the game. Unfortunately for Neptune, Roy delivered with 26 of his team's 41 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
Check out the extended highlights from the Shore Sports Network Broadcast with Matt Harmon and Kevin Williams (full replay here) to see how the Warriors prevailed in a surprisingly tough playoff opener.
Colin and the Colts Conquer the Caseys
There were two parts to Christian Brothers Academy's impressive dissection of a Red Bank Catholic team that entered play Monday a perfect 9-0. The first was the defense, which bottled up imposing 6-foot-5, 240-pound point forward Alex Bauman by limiting the RBC junior to only nine points - eight below his season average.
Led by brothers Mike and Joe White - the latter of whom drew the assignment of covering Bauman - the CBA defense held RBC to 33 percent shooting while forcing 15 Caseys turnovers. Senior Colin Farrell and junior Pat Lautato also contributed three steals apiece.
On the other end of the floor, it was Farrell who starred. The 6-1 senior scored a career-high 30 points and got his looks in every way possible - transition off turnovers, moving off the ball on the perimeter, cutting backdoor, knocking down shots from the perimeter and - most often - gashing the RBC defense off the dribble.
Check out the full story and highlight reel from the impressive CBA victory and hit "play" below to watch Colin Farrell's highlights while he talks about the performance.
The "Other Guys" Come Through for Marlboro
Jack Seidler and Jon Spatola have been as good as any duo in the Shore Conference on the offensive end and the two juniors are the engine has driven Marlboro to an 8-3 record and a spot in the Championship Pod semifinals Wednesday at Ranney.
With Monday's playoff opener against Holmdel close in the second quarter, however, it was Marlboro's supporting cast that took over the game and made an anxious start to the game a happy halftime (and ultimately postgame) locker room.
While Spatola (25 points) again starred and Seidler helped close out the game with nine of his 11 points in the third quarter, the two combined only four points (all by Spatola) in a 21-6 run that closed out the first half. Holmdel had Marlboro even at 21-21 but the burst over the half's final 4:10 sent the Hornets reeling and set up a third-quarter knockout blow.
Senior Nick Malucelli started the run by draining a three-pointer from the wing and converted a tough layup as he was fouled.
Junior Zach Molod and sophomore Ryan Mendez each hit a three-pointer during the run and junior sixth man Vinny Spatola sank two threes during the run.
Junior Jay Ratner did not score during the run but he assisted three of the baskets, including one by Spatola after hustling for an offensive rebound. Ratner's contribution was especially welcome after limping off the floor in some discomfort and remaining on the floor for several minutes before walking off the pain and returning to the floor.
Despite only scoring four points in the run, Spatola still made his mark. In one sequence, he dove on the floor for a loose ball and when Holmdel stole his pass attempt from his back, he jumped up and blocked the ensuing shot at the rim. Spatola then raced up the floor with the ball, drove into the lane and dished to Vinny Spatola, who spotted up for a corner three to make it 34-25.
Check out Marlboro's collective effort during the second-quarter run below.
Ranney Ends Feel-Good Run by Southern
Southern was the surprise team in the Championship pod, entering the quarterfinals as the No. 7 seed on a 10-game winning streak - the longest in the Shore Conference at tip-off time.
The magical ride - at least in pursuit of a Shore championship - ended Monday when the Rams encountered a Ranney team that far exceeded Southern's previous opponents in size and athleticism.
Ranney got just two points from leading scorer Isaac Hester, but it did not matter. Junior Elijah Perkins was disruptive on defense and got his teammates involved on offense, 6-9 Kyle Rhoden, 6-7 Ryan Zan and 6-6 Charles Anyichie all dominated the paint, and junior Brandon Klatsky knocked down a trio of three-pointers to help the Panthers coast.
The Panthers shook loose for a total of four dunks in the game: one by Rhoden off a dish from Perkins, another by Perkins off a steal, and two by Anyichie to put an exclamation point on the victory in the second half.
Watch Ranney did its thing in the game highlights below and check back Thursday for more highlights and a breakdown of the semifinal games between CBA and Manasquan, as well as Marlboro and Ranney.