MANASQUAN - For most of his first season as a high school player, Manasquan freshman Ben Roy has provided instant offense off the bench - that is, until he joined the starting lineup in the Shore Conference Tournament final against Ranney.

On Tuesday, in his first NJSIAA sectional final, Roy provided a starter's version of instant offense and his teammates kept it coming for 32 relentless minutes of championship basketball.

Top-seeded Manasquan stormed out to a double-digit lead in Tuesday's Central Jersey Group II final against third-seeded Lincoln and never let up in routing the Lions, 78-42, and winning its second sectional championship in four years.

PHOTO GALLERY: Lincoln at Manasquan by Paula Lopez

Photo by Paula Lopez.

"We came out ready to play," Roy said. "Everyone was hyped - it's a state championship game so we came out with a lot of energy."

Roy scored nine of his 13 points in the first quarter, during which Manasquan outscored Lincoln 22-6, and also dished out three assists. Roy hit a floater in the lane and pulled up for a transition jumper to open the scoring and ignite a 15-2 Manasquan run to open the game.

"If we didn't have Ben, I don't know where we would be right now," senior Brad McCabe said. "We would probably be at home by now. The job he has done as a freshman is unbelievable. He really completed our team and I'm thankful he is here."

McCabe led Manasquan with a game-high 23 points to go with four assists and three steals, including an early, back-breaking four-point play in the first quarter that made the score 15-2. McCabe finished the game 8-for-12 from the field and 6-for-10 from three-point range.

"We have to make a statement every game," McCabe said. "That's the way we have looked at it since our first loss. We have to get the first 10 block-outs, knock down our open shots and get after it on defense. I think our defense was unbelievable tonight. The fouls got a little out of control, but we stayed locked in."

Junior Alex Galvan poured in 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds handed out three assists and blocked two shots, while classmate Kieran Flanagan posted 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for Manasquan.

"This is the time of year you want to be playing well and I think we are," Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau said. "We're getting out in transition, we're defending well, we're moving the ball well, we're making shots. We're pretty crisp and that's important this time of year."

Galvan also played an leading role in Manasquan's strong 18-for-23 showing from the free-throw line by going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. Manasquan converted its first 16 foul shots of the game before finally missing.

The 78 points Manasquan scored was by far the most Lincoln has allowed in one game this season. Prior to Tuesday, the Lions had not allowed surrendered more than 65 points during the current campaign and that 65 points allowed against Marist was the only prior time Lincoln allowed 60 or more.

Manasquan's offensive explosion overshadowed a strong defensive outing that shut down Lincoln's supporting cast around senior guard Donte Darby, who finished with 20 of his team's 42 points. No other Lincoln player scored in double-figures.

"We were able to limit them to one shot, for the most part, and then get out in transition," Bilodeau said. "That was the key. Once we start doing that, it makes things tougher (on the other team)."

The championship-clinching win was extra sweet for the group of returning players from last year's team who suffered a season-ending loss to Lincoln last season in the Central Jersey Group II quarterfinals. Manasquan hosted that game as the No. 2 seed but the No. 10 Lions entered the game on a roll and knocked off the Warriors in overtime, 49-46.

"They are a good defensive team," Roy said. "I wasn't here last year, but the revenge factor was big tonight. The older guys wanted to pay them back."

Tuesday's drubbing was Manasquan's 20th win in its last 21 games and the only loss in that 21-game stretch came against Ranney - the No. 1 team in N.J. - in the Shore Conference Tournament final. The Warriors have steamrolled through most of their postseason schedule, including four victories in the Central Group II Tournament by an average margin of 30.25 points.

Manasquan will quickly turn around for Wednesday night's Group II semifinal game at Perth Amboy High School, where the Warriors will play another of the state's hottest teams. Defending Group II champion Haddonfield enters Wednesday 29-1 and on a 19-game winning streak after an improbable win over Camden in the South Jersey Group II final on Monday.

The Bulldogs trailed Camden by 12 with three minutes to go and 11 with a little more than two left before rallying to force overtime and winning, 69-67, to break the hearts of the Panthers for a second straight year.

Manasquan won sectional championships in 2009 and 2015 under head coach Andrew Bilodeau and were halted by Camden in this Group II semifinal round in both seasons. The opponent is different this year, but the challenge remains similarly daunting.

"It would have been helpful if the state moved the whole tournament back a day - we don't have a day to prepare," said Bilodeau, whose team's sectional final was pushed from Monday to Tuesday when Jersey City's Public Schools closed on Monday due to the snow that hit most of the state. "We're ready as coaches. We have scouted, we've got film. We'll go over it tomorrow and we'll have the kids ready."

This, however, will be Manasquan's most imposing team on paper - the Warriors score more and give up fewer points than any team in Bilodeau's tenure and have already won more games (29) than any other in the veteran coach's 11 seasons at the helm.

In order to reach 30 and reach the program's first trip to a group final since 2004, the Warriors will have to regroup in 24 hours and beat the defending champion and No. 11 team in the state, according to NJ.com.

"They're well-coached, Haddonfield, and they are really talented," Bilodeau said. "They are defending Group II champs for a reason. You know what? They've got to play us too."

The Warriors have never won an overall group title in the history of the program but this four-game run of dominance paired with its strong showing in the Shore Conference Tournament has certified Manasquan as a serious threat to reach the Tournament of Champions.

"We have shown we belong on the big stage and we want to take it as far as we can go," Roy said. "We competed with Ranney, so we feel like we can compete with anyone."

 

Box Score

Manasquan 78, Lincoln 42

1 2 3 4 F
Lincoln (20-9) 6 13 8 15 42
Manasquan (29-3) 22 16 25 15 78

Lincoln (42): Donte Darby 7 5-7 20, Wendell Moreland 2 2-2 7, Arkee Hatten 0 1-2 1, Toriano Munford 2 0-0 4, Prime Payton 2 0-1 4, Laquan Tyree 2 0-0 4, Kareem Howze 0 0-0 0, Greg Williams 0 0-0 0, Justin Murphy 0 0-0 0, Jerry Floyd 0 2-2 2. Totals: 15 10-14 42

Three-pointers: Darby, Moreland

Manasquan (78): Ben Roy 4 4-4 13, Kieran Flanagan 4 0-0 11, Alex Galvan 5 6-6 16, Xander Korolik 2 2-4 6, Brad McCabe 8 1-1 23, Casey Mulligan 1 2-2 4, Tim McEneny 0 3-4 3, Quinn Galvin 0 0-2 0, Jack Collins 0 0-0 0, Max O'Shaughnessy 0 0-0 0, Jack Heenan 0 0-0 0, Andrew Soloman 1 0-0 2, Connor Walsh 0 0-0 0, Shayne Leddy. Totals: 25 18-23 78

Three-pointers: Roy, Flanagan 3, McCabe 6

 

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