Boys Basketball – Manasquan Eyes First State Championship in Program History
NJSIAA Group II Championship
Saturday, March 4, 2023
At Jersey Mike’s Arena, Rutgers University
Manasquan vs. Caldwell, 7 p.m.
Head Coach: Andrew Bilodeau
Last Group Championship: None
Last Group Championship Appearance: 2004
Road to the Final: Defeated No. 15 Monmouth, 65-27; No. 7 Roselle, 76-41; No. 3 Raritan, 48-30; No. 1 South River, 60-52; Middle Twp. 46-43
Darius Adams, So., 6-3 (20.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals)
Ryan Frauenheim, Jr., 5-9 (11.2 points, 5.1 assists, 1.35 steals)
Griffin Linstra, So., 6-4 (7.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists)
Alex Konov, Jr., 6-7 (6.9 points, 50 3-pointers)
Jack Dettlinger, Sr., 6-4 (6.8 points, 5.4 rebounds)
Quinn Peters, Sr., 6-6 (5.5 points, 4.1 rebounds)
Head Coach: Mike Fees
Last Group Championship: None
Last Group Championship Appearance: 1931
Road to the Final: Defeated No. 16 Becton, 67-41; No. 8 Science Park, 52-36; No. 4 Newark Collegiate, 55-53; No. 14 West Side Newark, 66-38; Ramsey, 47-38
Ray Zamloot, Sr. (17.4 points)
Rocco Checchetto, Sr. (13.7 points)
Ryan Lawrence, Sr. (8.6 points)
Lorenzo Sozio, Sr., (7.1 points)
For the second time during the 2022-23 school year, a Caldwell sports team will try to capture an NJSIAA Group championship against a Shore Conference team and a few of the same players who were part of the first triumph will be trying to do it again on Saturday. Back in early December, Caldwell completed a 13-0 football season by beating Rumson-Fair Haven for the Group II championship and three of its players – senior Ryan Lawrence, senior Luke Kurzum and junior Dom Velardi – will try to add another state championship ring to their collection with the Chiefs basketball team.
While Caldwell has football DNA woven into its team, the Chiefs will look to a different two-sport athlete and a basketball-first point guard to carry the scoring. Seniors Ray Zamloot – a standout on Caldwell’s 2022 sectional championship baseball team – and Rocco Checchetto are the top scorers, combining to average 31 points per game, which is right around what Manasquan’s duo of Darius Adams and Ryan Frauenheim put up per game. Zamloot is the player Manasquan will have to be wary of when it comes to putting up a big scoring night, while Checchetto is a playmaker who can also get rolling when it comes to his own scoring totals.
Whether it is the basketball-first guys like Checchetto, baseball-basketball guys like Zamloot and Lorenzo Sozio or the football-basketball players like Lawrence and Kurzum, Caldwell is a senior-heavy team that will have an edge in the number of seniors on the court.
The Chiefs will be facing a Manasquan squad that plays three seniors with some regularity, but leans on a core of players who are in their second year of playing together and will still have one more year after this to add to their career résumés. Adams, Frauenheim, sophomore Griffin Linstra and junior Alex Konov led Manasquan to a sectional championship as underclassmen a year ago and in their second year together, the program’s first ever NJSIAA group championship is now 32 quality minutes away.
To get to the program’s first championship game in 19 seasons, Manasquan had to escape a stiff challenge from a young, emerging Middle Township team that got off a potential game-tying three-point attempt in the final seconds before Manasquan pulled out the victory on Thursday night at Central Regional. Getting past that game was huge for the Warriors’ psyche given how much the group semifinal has been a roadblock for Manasquan over the last decade and there should be a fast-and-loose element to Manasquan’s attack that might not have been there on Thursday night.
As much as Manasquan’s young core has been the story over the last two years, it will be worth following how the Warriors seniors go out. Jack Dettlinger followed up a rough offensive game vs. South River in the sectional final with 10 huge points and more great work on the glass and in the paint in the win over Middle Township. Quinn Peters has the size and strength to make an impact on Saturday night, particularly against a Caldwell team that has a physical element, but not a lot of height. Mike Flanagan, meanwhile, is a dependable bench player who is not afraid to mix it up on both ends of the floor – also valuable against this brand of opponent.
Caldwell has the makeup of a vintage team from Rumson-Fair Haven: multi-sport athletes with a football edge to them and enough shooting to really scare opponents if they can get those open looks. Manasquan has had some great battles with Rumson over the years and should be in for a scrum on Saturday night, but this particular Warriors group should have the answers to deal with the problems the Chiefs can cause. In the final game of the 2022-23 boys basketball season in New Jersey, Manasquan steals the show with their first ever group title. The Pick: Manasquan, 58-49