Shore Conference Tournament Bracket

LAKEWOOD - Point Pleasant Beach senior Jesse Hill had designs of scoring 1,000 points in his high school career, although he did not necessarily expect the journey that would lead up to his milestone achievement.

Just like their versatile 6-foot-7 forward, the Garnet Gulls did not follow the planned course for this season, but they ended up at their destination just the same.

Hill scored his 1,000th point on a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter Thursday, part of a 27-point game that led Point Beach - the No. 15 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament - to a 67-63 win over No. 2 Lakewood. Hill entered the game 25 points shy of 1,000 and finished the night at 1,002 for his career.

Jesse Hill scored 27 points Thursday, including the 1,000th of his career, to lead Point Beach to a win over Sean Barksdale (11) and No. 2 Lakewood. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Point Beach will continue to defend its SCT title from a year ago when it plays No. 10 Neptune at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Brookdale College.

"It feels good to have this kind of game tonight," Hill said. "Us and Lakewood have had a good rivalry going and it's the Shore Conference Tournament, so we were definitely motivated to play our best game, especially after the way we lost earlier in the year."

Lakewood defeated Point Beach, 52-49, on Jan. 3 on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by junior Tyreek Grayson. The loss was one of six outside of Point Beach's Class B Central division schedule during the season, which saw Point Beach win only two games prior to Feb. 14 against teams that currently have a winning record.

"We've had such a limited number of games with our full lineup that we're just now starting to look like a team that's comfortable playing with each other," Point Beach coach Nick Catania said. "We had a bunch of new guys to begin with and we started the year with (senior guard) Mike Frauenheim injured and then just as we started to get everyone on the same page, Jesse hurt his ankle. Then, when Jesse started to bounce back, (junior guard Jimmy) Panzini hurt his anklem and when he came back (on Feb. 14 vs. Toms River North) it gave us our first look at what we had when we are fully healthy and all on the same page."

Hill (Jackson Memorial), Panzini (St. Anthony) and junior guard Mike Rice (Red Bank) are all starters for the Garnet Gulls and all three were at other schools last year. Freshman Danny Frauenheim is also new to the rotation, leaving only Mike Frauenhieim and senior Chris Schifano as holdovers from Point Beach's first ever SCT title team rotation.

Rice added 10 points Thursday for Point Beach, while Mike Frauenheim and Panzini each scored nine. Senior Ryan Sheehan came off the bench and knocked down two three-pointers, finishing with eight points.

Lakewood played its first full game without Grayson, who left the team for personal reasons earlier in the week and will likely not play again this season, according to Lakewood coach Randy Holmes. Senior Ryan Lawrence led Lakewood with 21 points while senior Chapelle Cook added 13 in the loss.

Hill is on his third team in three years after playing at Jackson Memorial as a junior and Donovan Catholic as a sophomore. He played in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals with the Jaguars last year and will be opposing his former coach, Joe Fagan, when the Scarlet Fliers take on Point Beach on Sunday.

Hill, Fagan and the Jaguars lost to eventual champion Point Beach in overtime last year and now both return to the quarterfinals with different teams, with Fagan again trying to beat Point Beach, and Hill now trying to lead the Garnet Gulls to a second straight title.

"Coach Fagan knows me as well as anybody and I have a pretty good idea what he is going to try to do against me," Hill said. "I'm a different player than I was last year. When we were both with Jackson, we had (University of Delaware freshman) Eric Carter and he was the man for us while I was more of a role player. This year it's been my time to shoulder more of the load, and I think that has forced me to step up my game."