Boys Basketball – Lewis, Antoine Put on Show in Toms River, Take Out TR North
TOMS RIVER - The last time the Ranney boys basketball team was on the floor at he RWJ Barnabas Health Arena before Sunday's Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinal round, the Panthers were on the wrong end of one of the more memorable tournament upsets of the last decade.
On Sunday, against a Toms River North team playing as an underdog on its home floor, Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine and the rest of the Ranney squad made the arena in Toms River their own personal playground.
With Villanova head coach Jay Wright sitting courtside, Lewis and Antoine combined for 44 points and a relentless stream of highlights that sparked the Panthers - the top seed in the SCT - to a 76-52 win over Toms River North.
PHOTO GALLERY: Ranney vs. Toms River North by Ray Richardson
"We had to be mentally ready coming back here," Lewis said. "We lost the last time we played here, so it was good to get a win today and now we're going to try to get one more here next Thursday."
Lewis led the way by making a run at a triple-double before settling for 23 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists. The 6-foot-5 wing, who has a long list of Division I offers that includes one from Villanova, also hammered home four dunks as part of the performance. The last of them was a one-handed slam that came after he blew past a defender and took off from a step inside the free-throw line, after which he pointed in Wright's direction.
"My job is to be a leader and a captain, first and foremost," Lewis said. "The rest of the guys feed off of what I do and they let me do what I do best. I know they're going to give me the ball and I want to return the favor by getting them the ball so they can get theirs."
Antoine - whose long list of high-major offers also includes Villanova - threw down three dunks and finished with a line of 21 points, 11 rebounds and three steals.
Toms River North hung right with Ranney over the first 21 minutes of the game before the top seed hit the host team with a 21-2 run to put to rest any hopes of an upset for the Mariners. The run turned a 51-45 Ranney lead with three minutes left in the third to a 74-47 advantage by the middle of the fourth.
"We knew they were going to set up in a zone because they couldn't stop us on the perimeter," Lewis said. "We didn't want to allow them to set up in their zone - we got a lot of rebounds and we pushed the ball up the floor so they couldn't set up. Once we did that, we played our game, played fastbreak basketball, we got layups and we got easy shots."
Both junior Ahmadu Sarnor and senior Savior Akuwovo reached double-figure scoring as well. Sarnor had 15 points, 6 rebounds and five assists and Akuwovo chipped in 10 points, five rebounds and four blocks for the Panthers. Junior Alex Klatsky also hit a pair of three-pointers during the 21-2 run and finished with six points.
Senior Holden Petrick led Toms River North with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting, while senior Travis Holland pitched in eight points and eight rebounds in the loss. Junior Nick Duncsak also threw in nine points on three first-half three-pointers for the Mariners.
Ranney will play fifth-seeded Christian Brothers Academy in the semifinals Thursday in Toms River in a matchup that pits the overwhelming favorite against the program that has won 16 championships in the last 34 seasons - the most of any team. It is also the round in which Ranney lost to No. 6 Marlboro as the No. 2 seed last season.
"Freshman year, we lost in the quarterfinals, last year we lost in the semis and this year we're looking to win the championship," Lewis said. "That's what our goal is, that's what we're fighting for, so I'm going to sit down, take some notes, figure out who I'm guarding and hopefully get ready to come out and do the same thing we did (today)."