Boys Basketball – Farrell’s 30, White’s Shutdown ‘D’ Lead CBA of Lincroft, NJ
MIDDLETOWN - During a preseason practice, Christian Brothers Academy coach Geoff Billet was watching his team during an intra-squad scrimmage and he noticed senior captain Mike White was having a bad day offensively. At that point in the preseason, Billet wondered what was wrong with his 6-foot-3 third-year starter.
As Billet came to find out, the problem was the guy guarding White: his younger brother, sophomore Joe White.
The younger White has joined with his older brother to form a shutdown defensive duo and Monday night's Shore Conference Pod A Playoff opener was an example of their ability to tilt a game in CBA's favor.
Joe White held red-hot Red Bank Catholic junior Alex Bauman to nine points and Mike White hounded Caseys junior sharpshooter Cyril Arvanitis to lead CBA's sterling defensive effort Monday in a 61-48 win over RBC to reach the Pod A semifinals.
Mike White, a senior, has been a defensive stopper for CBA since his sophomore year and his younger brother has shown he can do the same at the same stage of his career. He led an effort that held Marlboro's Jack Seidler (20.4 points per game) to seven points in a Feb. 13 meeting at Marlboro and on Monday, he took on his most physical challenge yet.
Bauman - a 6-foot-5, 240-pound football standout with offers from Rutgers and Notre Dame - was averaging 17.3 points per game entering Monday and was far less active than he was last week, when he averaged 20.7 points 14.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists in four Red Bank Catholic wins.
"Bauman is having a terrific year and I don't know if I thought he (Joe White) would do as well as he did tonight," Billet said. "But Joe is a big kid too. Not as big as Bauman, but we felt like athletically, he wouldn't get overwhelmed and overpowered."
CBA's defensive effort complemented a career night for senior guard Colin Farrell, who lit up RBC for a career-high 30 points to go with three steals. CBA's offense was less reliant on its vintage ball movement and more on the ability of Farrell to slash into the lane, as well as cashing in on transition opportunities off forced turnovers.
"Mike's offense suffered a little bit today because we asked him to chase around Arvanitis, but fortunately we were able to give Colin a little bit easier matchup and kind of unleash him on offense," Billet said. "There are some other good guards in the Shore, but you saw tonight, he can be right up there with the best."
Red Bank Catholic not only entered Monday undefeated at 90; the Caseys beat every opponent by double-figures, were averaging 69.2 points per game and hadn't scored fewer than 65 in any of their last eight games. Monday was also the highest point total RBC has allowed this season.
RBC led 1-0 for its only lead of the game before jumped on top and stayed there. The Colts held the Caseys scoreless for a stretch of 6:32 between the first and second quarters and without a field goal from the 5:09 mark of the first all the way to the 3:51 mark of the second.
"If I was going to draw it up in the sand, that's exactly how it would have looked, from a defensive standpoint," CBA coach Geoff Billet said. "We hoped that our pressure and getting into them and really competing with them would throw them out of their rhythm. On the games we saw on film, they looked really, really good and they just looked really comfortable and we just wanted to take away that level of comfort."
Farrell led the early onslaught with nine points in the first quarter, during which CBA came out playing full-court man-to-man to try to throw off RBC.
Mike White finished with 11 points and while he gave up 17 points to Arvanitis, it took the RBC junior 6-for-16 shooting to get there with a number of contested shots along the way.
Junior Pat Lautato added 12 points and three steals for CBA.
CBA got a chance to formulate its gameplan in practice, which many other team could not do with heavy schedules at the end of the last week. While other programs were showcasing themselves with high-profile games - CBA was back in the practice gym working specifically on its gameplan vs. Red Bank Catholic.
"I think the extra days helped us," Billet said. "Usually, you only get one day to prepare for your opponent (in the Shore Conference Tournament) so I thought the extra time to prepare definitely helped us. Our guys were very comfortable with what we wanted to do and they just executed perfectly."
The Colts' next gameplan will be an attempt to take down Manasquan - the team that has held the No. 1 spot in the Shore Conference since the beginning of the 2019-20 season. The Warriors will host the Colts Wednesday looking to improve to 11-0 and reach the de facto Shore Conference championship game for the third straight year.
Manasquan defeated CBA in the 2019 Shore Conference Tournament semifinals when White and Farrell were sophomore starters and a potential quarterfinal matchup a year ago never happened when CBA was forced to forfeit out of the SCT because it had played too many games.
Since that forfeiture a year ago, CBA has played like a team on a mission, transforming into a hounding defensive unit that has twice held high-scoring Marlboro under 60 points - once under 50 in a 33-point win - and also held No. 2 Ranney to under 60 as well.
Manasquan and CBA are the two most experienced teams left among the Shore's final four, with junior-heavy Marlboro and Ranney set to meet on the other side of the bracket. Manasquan starts four seniors to CBA's three, but the Warriors' top scorer at better than 25 points per game is junior Ben Roy.
"I think Ben's as good as any guard in the state and he's only a junior," Billet said. "I have watched a lot of their games and with the level of competition they have played, his level of play is tremendous. It starts there and obviously, they have a lot of other good players as well."
With Roy and Manasquan sitting at No. 3 in the state, according to NJ Advance Media, the Colts are looking to ride their stifling defense to an upset.
"It's a fun matchup for our kids," Billet said. "They knocked us out in the semifinals a couple of years ago when we had some high expectations with a senior-laden class. It should be a fun game, I wish there were some students in the bleachers for the kids to get the full experience, but they will look forward to the challenge."