Boys Basketball – Christian Brothers (N.J.) Makes Shore Playoff Case, Routs Marlboro
MARLBORO - The Marlboro boys basketball team has been no stranger to double-digit deficits in the still-young-but-also-halfway-over 2021 season and prior to Saturday, those leads for their opponents proved to be anything but safe.
Knowing Marlboro - the No. 3 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - is built to quickly erase sizable deficits, CBA coach Geoff Billet and his team knew the start of the third quarter was a make-or-break stretch for the Mustangs and it was at that point that the visiting Colts broke them.
CBA scored the first 20 points of the third quarter and blew open a 10-point game at halftime on the way to a convincing 75-42 win over Marlboro.
"We talked about how no lead is safe against these guys because that can turn out a 20-2, and 18-2 run in a matter of two or three minutes," Billet said. "We were well aware of that."
PHOTO GALLERY: CBA at Marlboro by Ray Richardson
The five CBA starters all scored between eight and 15 points, with 6-foot-8 senior center Dane Moran leading the way with 15 points to go with seven rebounds.
Senior guard Colin Farrell returned from a two-game absence due to a knee injury and put up 12 points, five rebounds and six assists to help spark the offense.
Senior Mike White and sophomore brother, Joe, were defensive difference-makers as well as offensive contributors. The White brothers took turns guarding Marlboro leading scorer Jack Seidler (24.5 points per game entering Saturday) and held him to seven points, while Mike White put up 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Joe White finished with eight points and six rebounds.
"I think me and my brother are some of the best defenders in the Shore," Mike White said. "We take it personal. Everyone's talking about their guards and their scorers and we just said, 'We're going to lock them down today and if they can't score, their team is going to have a tough time beating us."
Junior Pat Lautato also pitched in nine points, three assists and four steals in the CBA starting lineup.
CBA also bottled up Marlboro junior guard Jonathan Spatola, who entered Saturday averaging a shade under 20 points through four games and scored only six against CBA. Junior Jay Ratner led the Mustangs with 10 points and six rebounds.
Moran was a mismatch for Marlboro in the half court, with the 6-8 Colts center going to work on the block, the glass and even stepping out for a three-pointer in the second half.
"One thing Dane has evolved at is shooting the ball, so he adds an element to our perimeter offense," Billet said. "We like to get him out to the top of the key and his post moves are coming along too and he grabs a lot of offensive rebounds."
CBA also never let Marlboro get into its effective full-court press defense and even when the Mustangs tried to push the pace, they could not cause enough chaos. Less than 24 hours before tipping off against CBA, Marlboro dropped a competitive, 68-62 game to No. 2 Ranney and could not bounce back.
"They were in a tough spot today," Billet said of Marlboro. "A few years ago, when (Jack) Laffey was a senior and (Pat) Andree was a junior, we came over here (to Marlboro) and had an overtime win and we had St. Anthony's the next day. We actually thought we had a shot to beat them that year but we lost by about 25 because just didn't have anything. So I knew how tough this would be for (Marlboro) and we just wanted to make sure we were ready to go today."
"I think we looked at this game like they just had a tough game against Ranney, so let's get a dub," White said. "Hopefully we'll see Ranney again in the future."
Marlboro and CBA split last year's Class A North division series 1-1, with Marlboro beating the Colts convincingly at CBA on opening night when CBA was the higher-ranked team. This time it was the Colts that used the slight in the rankings as fuel for the first of two meetings between the teams - the second of which is scheduled for next Saturday at the Academy in Lincroft.
"We definitely took it personal this year," White said. "We saw the rankings and I think we're a better team. They (Marlboro) are a great team, don't get me wrong, but our defense is insane. He hustle, we play hard and we just came in here to do our business."
While the two teams were separated by one spot in the rankings and, despite Saturday's result, figured to be evenly-matched, the difference is in the senior presence. Marlboro has started an all-junior lineup in its last two games while CBA is fueled by its three senior starters - Farrell, White and Moran.
"We're so motivated every day," White said. "We work our tails off and we showed that today and hopefully throughout the season."
"Mike White is one of the best leaders we have ever had and Colin and Dane have both been through the battles," Billet said. "We said a few years ago that when these guys were seniors, we felt like we could be pretty good and having that leadership, for a coach, it's awesome because they're prepared to play. Sometimes, with young teams, you have to spend your time getting them ready to play. I don't have to get these guys ready to play - they do it themselves."
CBA's win on Saturday puts the Colts in prime position to move into the No. 3 spot in the Shore Conference rankings and could very well have set them up for a guaranteed spot in the top pod in the Shore Conference post season. The top eight teams in the Shore Conference, as determined by a seeding committee of Shore Conference coaches, will have a chance to compete for the de facto Shore Conference championship for 2021.