Boys Basketball – Jersey Mike’s Week 5 Team of the Week: Middletown South
Most high school basketball teams that graduate an entire starting five and the first seven players in their rotation are in for a rebuilding year the following season - maybe a competitive season with some ups and downs if all goes well.
Middletown South lost its starting five and first two off the bench and has somehow been even better than it was in 2017-18, when the Eagles had their first winning season in seven years.
Last week was the apex of Middletown South's stellar year-to-date and with those two wins and a wild, entertaining loss to one of the Shore's top teams, the Eagles are the Week 5 Jersey Mike's Team of the Week.
Middletown South was on a nice run before getting hammered in the second half of a 19-point loss to Christian Brothers Academy on Jan. 19. The Eagles bounced back by beating Howell in their next game before CBA paid them a visit for a rematch on Jan. 24.
Middletown South climbed out of a early 15-point deficit to take the lead in the third quarter and set off a back-and-forth second half that came down to the final seconds. Sophomore Luke Albrecht converted a three-point play to tie the game at 70-70 to cap a career-high 29-point performance. Junior James Anderson later scored to re-tie the game at 72-27 inside the final minute.
CBA, however, prevailed with two free throws by Liam Kennedy with four seconds left to secure a 74-72 win over a game Middletown South squad.
The Ealges once again responded to a loss against CBA and on Saturday, their response sent a message to the rest of the Shore Conference. Middletown South made the short trip to Rumson-Fair Haven - traditionally one of the tougher gyms in which to win in the Shore Conference - and took down a Bulldogs squad ranked No. 2 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 at the time, 47-45.
Anderson and classmate Mike Dabas were the scoring standouts in that win over Rumson with 13 points apiece and Anderson scored all 13 of his in the second half.
While this season has been an exciting one for a junior-dominated Middletown South team, it has not come without its hiccups. Although the Eagles have played won of the Shore's toughest schedules and have wins over No. 4 Rumson, No. 7 Freehold Township and No. 8 Toms River North, they have also lost to Manalapan (3-14) on opening night and most recently to Freehold Boro (5-13) on Tuesday of this week.
Given that most of this year's roster played on the jayvee level last year, there were bound to be some ups and downs and to this point, the ups have far outweighed the downs for Middletown South - particularly last week.
2019 Team of the Week Winners
Week 1: Matawan
Week 2: Wall
Week 3: Red Bank Catholic
Week 4: Toms River North