Boys Basketball – Frauenheim Passes Farrell, Beach Cruises into Sectional Final
NEW EGYPT - Matt Farrell is the kind of player who only comes around every few generations for even the best of programs, let alone a Group I team like Point Pleasant Beach.
The current senior starting point guard at the University of Notre Dame left Point Beach in 2014 as the program's all-time leader in assists, but for as storied as Farrell's Point Beach career has become and will remain over the years, it turned out his replacement would be the one to break his assist record just four years later.
Senior Danny Frauenheim passed Farrell as the Garnet Gulls' all-time assists leader Friday night in a 63-42 win over New Egypt in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I semifinals and moved one win closer to doing something else Farrell accomplished as the floor general at Point Beach: win an overall Group I championship.
The Garnet Gulls will continue that pursuit on Tuesday in the Central Jersey I final at top-seeded Burlington City, which ended Point Beach's season a year ago in the sectional quarterfinals, 59-54.
"It's obviously a great honor given the caliber of player (Farrell) is," Frauenheim said of passing his predecessor. "It's a tribute to the coaches and players because without them, none of this would be possible. I told all of the guys in the locker room when coach told me about the record, 'Thank you to all you guys. This is really a record for everybody on this team.'"
"He never has a bad practice," Point Beach coach Nick Catania said of Frauenheim, whose record is currently 547 assists and counting. "He's going 100 miles-an-hour every time with everything he has and that's why he's able to accomplish what he's able to accomplish."
Frauenheim was an up-and-coming star as an eighth-grader at Antrim Elementary School in Point Pleasant Beach when Farrell and Frauenheim's older brother, Mike, helped lead Point Beach to the Shore Conference Tournament title and a second straight Central Jersey I title in 2013-14.
"When I was in eighth grade and he and my brother were seniors, I watched him a lot," Frauenheim said. "I still watch him and I try to emulate his game. He's a great player, so I've just tried to learn from the best."
Frauenheim finished Friday's game with 13 points, five rebounds and six assists to lead an efficient Point Beach offense that came out strong with an 11-0 start, shot 22-for-40 (55 percent) from the field, 9-for-19 (47.4 percent) from beyond the three-point line and 10-for-11 from the free-throw line - all while winning the turnover battle 17-9.
Frauenheim tied Farrell's record when he found senior Mohamed Traore for one of his three three-pointers in the third and broke it four possessions later by finding wide-open sophomore Jake Clark under the basket for the easy layup.
Although Frauenheim played off the bench as a freshman for Point Beach's sectional final runner-up team in 2015 his role was similar to that of Farrell as a freshman and Catania envisioned a similar high school career path for both before Frauenheim ever suited up for the varsity team.
"He always had that expectation and we expected it from him too," Catania said of Frauenheim's development. "He came in and played varsity right away as a freshman. He had to follow in his brother's footsteps - who is a great player, playing D-III at York (College). But the comparisons were always to Matt at a young age because of how good his last year was at Antrim. It's something he has always carried with him and he knows it all depends on hard work."
Traore led Point Beach with 21 points Friday and also contributed seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. The cast of players from last year's Point Beach-vs.-Burlington City game will be largely the same on both sides, but Traore provides a new wrinkle. He moved to N.J. from the Boston area for his senior year and has been a consistent scorer since becoming eligible on Jan. 16.
"He adds so many different things to our team," Catania said of Traore. "He's so versatile. It's hard to pinpoint where he makes the biggest difference, because he's good in so many areas - he rebounds, he defends, he can shoot the three, he takes it to the rim. It's not just one thing, it's his overall game that takes us to another level."
"It means a lot more to the guys that were here last year because they lost to this team," Traore said. "For me, I just want to win."
Senior Josh Yates added 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting from three-point range on Friday while also coming up with four steals. Senior Trevor Covey, meanwhile, added nine points, nine rebounds, two steals and three blocks and sophomore Jake Clark completed the widespread scoring game for the starting lineup with eight points.
More than any other player, Covey has been on the other end of Frauenheim's record number of assists. The two played varsity basketball as freshmen in 2014-15 and Frauenheim assisted Covey's 1,000th career point on Feb. 15 against Colts Neck.
"That's like my brother out there, so to see him break Matt's record - the kid is playing at Notre Dame and killing it at a high (Division I) level," Covey said. "We all saw him in high school and he was unreal, so for Danny to break that record is crazy in a way because you would never think coming in that anyone would be able to do what Farrell did."
Playing in front of an energetic New Egypt crowd, Point Beach quickly dampened the mood with 11 straight points to open the game. The Warriors chipped away and pulled within 18-14 in the second quarter before the Garnet Gulls finished the first half on a 9-1 run and scored the first two points of the third quarter to make an 11-1 run and stretch the lead to 29-15.
New Egypt drew within 31-24 in the middle of the third, but Point Beach responded by making five straight shots on five straight possessions, including four consecutive three-pointers - two by Traore followed by two from Yates to push the lead back to 43-29. Frauenheim then found Clark for the fifth straight make, which was also his record-breaking assist.
"We just kept our composure throughout," Traore said. "We went up 11-0, so we knew they would come back on their home court. We just kept the intensity level high on the defensive end and kept our composure on offense."
Frauenheim and Covey have been varsity players in each of their four high school seasons - careers that began one season after Point Beach's most recent sectional championship in 2014. Each of them has reached the 1,000-point milestone and would like to cap their Point Beach careers with the program's third sectional title in six years and second ever Group I title.
"I think we're playing our best basketball right now," Covey said. "All our guys are confident and excited to play every day. We have the confidence to do it, but it's also win or go home, so there is that urgency too."