Boys Basketball – Jersey Mike’s Week 2 Team of the Week: Middletown South
Considering it had one of the most inexperienced teams at the varsity level in the Shore Conference a season ago, Middletown South had a solid showing at 16-12 overall and 7-7 in one of the Shore's toughest divisions - Class A North.
But for every big win the Eagles had, there was a head-scratching loss to counter it - hence the 12 losses.
This year, Middletown South is a senior-heavy group and to date, there have been no letdowns and no let-up against some of the Shore's best.
Last week, Middletown South took down Christian Brothers Academy in double overtime, beat defending Tournament of Champions winner Ranney at the Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase on Saturday, then opened this week by topping then-A-North co-leader Marlboro on Monday to cap an impressive week-long stretch.
The performance was so impressive that the Eagles - the No. 3 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - are the second Jersey Mike's Team of the Week in 2020.
The week began with a home showdown vs. CBA in what was a virtual must-win for a Colts team trying to make it back to the .500 mark by the end of the week and stay in the Class A North race. CBA gave the Eagles all they could handle, but the home team held off a strong challenge by the Colts to win, 61-58 - the first win for Middletown South over CBA since 2008 and the first ever win over CBA at Middletown High School South.
Seniors Mike Dabas and Bobby Pirie - the fourth and fifth leading scorers on the team last year, respectively - led the scoring effort, with Dabas scoring 15 and Pirie picking up 14 as part of a balanced attack.
Two days later, the Eagles took on Freehold Boro and took care of business, 67-24. That might seem like an obvious outcome for the No. 3 team at the Shore to impose on a 2-9 Freehold Boro squad that lost nine in a row before winning on Tuesday night, but Freehold Boro beat Middletown South last year on a buzzer-beater by current junior Ryan Neely.
At the Boardwalk Showcase on Saturday, Middletown South beat another team desperate for a win when it defeated Ranney in a game the Eagles led wire-to-wire. Ranney managed to cut a 15-point deficit to two in the third quarter, but Middletown South responded with a 12-0 run to put the defending Shore Conference Tournament champions away.
Pirie again played a standout role, scoring 16 points to go with nine rebounds in the win, earning him game MVP honors.
The Eagles then opened up another big week by knocking off No. 4 Marlboro, 71-65, with a strong fourth-quarter performance. Senior James Anderson scored 19 points, Pirie added 15 points and 13 rebounds and Dabas contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
If Middletown South can stay the course, the Eagles are looking at a top-three seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and the No. 1 seed in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV bracket. Middletown South has not reached an SCT Final since 2010 and has not won it all since 1979. The Eagles' last sectional title came in 2008, when they won Central Jersey Group III.
Other 2020 Team of the Week Winners:
Week 1: Barnegat