Boys Basketball – Lakewood’s Sean Barksdale Ignites All-Star Rout
TOMS RIVER - Lakewood senior Sean Barksdale narrowly missed out on a number of distinctions at the end of his accomplished three-year varsity basketball career. He finished with 999 career points, missed out on playing in an NJSIAA sectional final when his team lost a significant fourth-quarter lead in its final game of the season, and - on a lighter note - was not voted to participate in Wednesday's first ever Shore Conference Slam Dunk Contest.
In one night, in the Shore Conference Coaches' Senior All-Star Game, Barksdale unofficially crossed the 1,000-point threshold, ended the season with a win and showed off what the dunk contest would be missing with an early slew of slams.
Barksdale finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in an MVP effort that sparked the East All-Stars to a 126-93 rout of the West All-Stars Wednesday night at Pine Belt Arena.
"This was the last game of my high school career and I wanted to go out with a bang," said Barksdale, who is drawing some late Division I interest, with St. Peter's chief among the list of interested parties. "I came up short of my thousandth point and we lost in the states, but this is a good way to end it."
As much as Barksdale's dunk show woke up the crowd in attendance, his focus and his team's focus was on a part of the game often missing completely from All-Star Games: defense.
"We wanted to blow them out of the gym," Barksdale said. "We wanted to work hard and we wanted to play defense. In all-star games, teams don't usually play defense, so we wanted to go all out and put it on them tonight."
Barksdale's block party was the highlight of an early-game defensive effort from a defensive-minded starting lineup that included Barksdale, Rumson-Fair Haven guard Brendan Barry, Manasquan guard Jack Sheehan, Point Pleasant Beach guard Jimmy Panzini and Matawan guard Mergim Gjyriqi.
After Colts Neck guard Lloyd Daniels opened the scoring with a three-pointer to put he West up 3-0, the East exploded for a 24-0 run that eventually turned into a 34-7 start before East head coach Jim Dempsey sounded the horn for his second line to replace his starters midway through the first half.
Barksdale scored 10 of his points before halftime to lead the first-half effort, while Barry scored nine of his 13 points before halftime. Gjyriqi also knocked down two early threes on the way to eight first half points and 10 for the game, while Sheehan buried three three-pointers and finished with 13 points.
Barry finished off his magnificent high school career with 12 rebounds and seven assists to go with his 13 points. Barry will graduate from Rumson-Fair Haven as the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,812 points after having led the Bulldogs to a Shore Conference Tournament championship as a junior last year. Barry expects to make his college decision within the next week or so, with his final choices coming down to Brown University, Dartmouth College and Colgate University.
Although the East stormed out to a 30-point first-half lead at one point, the West chopped its deficit to 58-44 by halftime. After Ranney freshman Scottie Lewis put on a show in the first ever Slam Dunk Contest, St. John Vianney senior guard Zach Howarth picked up the baton and carried the East to the finish line. The senior and 1,000-point scorer for the Lancers scored 21 of his game-high 28 points in the second half and hit six of his seven three-pointers after halftime.
Southern Regional forward Peyton Wejnert chipped in 16 points for the East, a strong end to the first 2,000-point career at the Shore Conference since Central's Jermaine Clay graduated in 1990. Hometown senior Pat Marinaccio from Toms River North also poured in nine points, while Manchester guard and Dunk Contest runner-up Jordan Torney added 10, including a two-handed alley-oop slam off a lob from Mater Dei Prep guard NyQuan McCombs.
Senior forward Jack McGuire represented Christian Brothers Academy with eight points while classmate Pat Andree - who was slated to play on the West team - was overseas and missed the festivities on Wednesday.
Red Bank forward Sadiq Palmer led the West with 14 points and Daniels and Manchester's Shavar Reynolds each chipped in 12 in the loss.
Long Branch senior Anthony Velasquez poured in 10 for the West, Mater Dei's Kyle Elliot, Lakewood's Amir Tyler and St. John Vianney's Grant Goode all scored nine each, and Manasquan's Ryan Jensen, Henry Hudson's Tom DeFillippo and Manalapan's Anthony Schimbeno scored eight points apiece.