ABERDEEN TWP. – Colts Neck junior Lloyd Daniels just endured the two worst scoring and shooting games of his young season, and yet for the second straight game, he walked off the court celebrating one of the biggest shots of his high school career.

Two nights after sinking Neptune with a go-ahead 3-pointer in the last minute of the game, Daniels played hero again Thursday, hitting a baseline jumper with two seconds left to help Colts Neck score an early-season road win over Matawan, 34-32, in Class B North.

Colts Neck junior Lloyd Daniels hit a last-second jumper to give the Cougars a 34-32 win over Matawan on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Daniels finished with nine points on 3-for-11 shooting and did not score during the first half. In the final 2:30, however, the junior and son of former NBA player and New York City playground legend Lloyd Daniels, knocked down two different go-ahead shots. Late-game heroics have become a trend this week for Daniels, who scored only seven points in a 38-37 win over Neptune on Tuesday. The last three of those points came on a go-ahead shot from the corner with 45 seconds left to put Colts Neck ahead by two.

“If I’m open, I’m shooting,” said Daniels, who averaged 16.2 points per game over Colts Neck’s first five games heading into the week. “I didn’t shoot the ball great in the last two games, but that doesn’t mean anything at the end of the game. It’s a situation you dream of being in. If you make the last shot to win the game, it doesn’t matter what happened the rest of the game.”

“Lloyd is clutch,” said senior Chris O’Reilly, who led Colts Neck with 11 points. “In those situations, we know he’s not afraid to take the big shot and a lot of the time, he’s going to make it.”

Just as Daniels did, both teams in Tuesday’s game struggled to score throughout the evening. Colts Neck scored only two points in the first quarter and 10 in the first half, but still trailed by only three at halftime. The Cougars took their first lead with 5:34 left in the game and went up 29-26 on a controversial pair of free throws by Daniels.

On a loose-ball foul underneath, Matawan coach Tom Stead contended that Daniels was not anywhere near the foul and the officials labeled him the shooter after he walked to the free-throw line.

“Daniels wasn’t even in the play,” Stead said. “I didn’t realize at first who was on the line and when I realized who they put on the line, I tried saying something to the referees. They are always saying how they need a third official, and I guess that’s what it’s for. Those are two veteran officials, but I guess they couldn’t catch that. They (Colts Neck) pulled a fast one on us.”

“I couldn’t tell who was in the play,” O’Reilly said. “There were a bunch of guys down there, and I thought I saw Lloyd in there.”

Matawan senior Jason Dunne answered by hitting a 3-pointer as he was fouled at the top of the key and hit the free throw to give Matawan a 30-29 lead with 3:26 left.

Colts Neck regained the lead with 2:25 left, when Daniels knocked down another late go-ahead three from the left wing to put Colts Neck ahead, 32-30.

“It was a test for us because their crowd started to get in it and they fed off the energy on the defensive end,” Daniels said. “We just had to keep playing, and fortunately I was able to get open for that three.”

The Huskies pulled even thanks to two separate trips the free-throw line, the first by junior Mergim Gjyriqi – who knocked down one of two shots to cut the deficit to one. With Matawan needing to get the ball back to have a chance to take the lead, Dunne deflected the ball loose near midcourt and came away with it. He drew a foul going to the basket, and after missing the first free throw, he knocked down the second to tie the game at 32 with 34.3 seconds left.

After a timeout on the other end, Colts Neck isolated Daniels near midcourt. Daniels drove to his left and missed a running floater that did not hit the rim, but junior Tom O’Reilly tapped the rebound back over to Daniels along the left baseline. The junior quickly put up a seven-footer that dropped in for the go-ahead score.

“At this point in the season, my only concern is getting better,” Colts Neck coach Lou Piccola said. “Are we learning from the previous game? Are we improving on our mistakes? Those are the questions I care about. Tonight wasn’t pretty, but this was another gritty, gutty performance. These kids have a lot of heart. They were picked to finish fifth in the division and they just went out and beat the two top teams in the preseason and tonight was on the road against a state championship team.”

The buzzer sounded and Colts Neck’s bench cleared onto the court following Daniels’ shot, but the officials put two full seconds back on the clock. Matawan senior Nick Smith hit Dunne in stride at half court, but Dunne’s desperation heave from a step inside midcourt fell short of the rim.

Dunne led Matawan with 11 points and played 27 minutes two nights after leaving Tuesday’s game at Red Bank on a stretcher and being treated for dehydration at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. He did not practice on Wednesday and shot 3-for-13 in the game, with all three of his field goals coming on 3-pointers.

“I think he was a little shaken up the other night,” Stead said. “Jason’s a gamer so when he’s lying on a stretcher while the game’s still going on, I think it was a little scary. I think he was drained, both physically and mentally, by the end of tonight. He gave us everything he had and we needed every bit of it."

Colts Neck is now unbeaten against New Jersey competition, and all four games against in-state teams have been within the Class B North division. The Cougars have wins over three teams – Ocean, Long Branch and Neptune – that are winless within the division to this point, but Tuesday changed that profile. Colts Neck will next take on Red Bank Catholic on Monday, a game that pits first and second-place teams against one another.

“This division is a war,” Piccola said. “You beat one great team one night and you have to play another one a couple nights later. We found a way to win tonight, and now we need to find a way to beat Red Bank Catholic.”



Box Score

Colts Neck 34, Matawan 32






Colts Neck (6-1, 4-0)






Matawan (4-3, 2-2)







Colts Neck (34): Colton LaLima 0 0-0 0, Chris O’Reilly 4 2-3 11, Mike Lamb 0 2-4 2, Tom O’Reilly 3 1-4 7, Lloyd Daniels 3 2-2 9, Kyle Gordon 2 0-1 4, Jordan DeGroot 0 1-2 1. Totals: 12 8-16 34

Three-pointers: C. O’Reilly, Daniels

Matawan (32): Joe Piscopo 2 0-0 5, Jason Dunne 3 2-3 11, Matt Esposito 3 0-0 6, Nick Smith 1 5-6 8, Mergim Gjyriqi 0 1-3 1, Randy Myers 0 0-0 0, Samson Ore-Onitolo 0 0-0 0, Devon Spann 0 0-0 0, Michael Dunne 0 1-2 1. Totals: 9 9-14 32

Three-pointers: Piscopo, J. Dunne 3, Smith