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TOMS RIVER - After his team just scored 85 points for the second time in less than 24 hours, Marlboro boys basketball coach Mike Nausedas applauded his team full of juniors and sophomores for buying into the program and the team concept more than any group he has coached in his eight seasons at the helm.

He is not taking the credit for that, though. That, Nausedas said, belongs to his senior captain, Alex Ratner.

After his 28-point performance sparked his Mustangs - ranked No. 10 in the Shore Sports Network Preseason Top 10 and seeded sixth in the WOBM Christmas Classic - to an 85-76 first-round win over No. 11 Manchester on Saturday, Ratner and his young supporting cast are the toast of the Shore Conference three days into the 2018-19 season.

Marlboro senior Alex Ratner. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Ratner scored 23 points Friday night in a resounding 85-70 win at No. 5 Christian Brothers Academy and was back at it the following morning against a young, upset-minded Manchester squad.

Not only did Marlboro win twice in under 24 hours - the Mustangs pressed on defense for the majority of each game.

"This game was exactly how I thought it was going to be," Nausedas said. "We weathered the storm. I was a little upset with the guys when they were telling me to take the press off. I know it's a lot to ask less than 24 hours after pressing all game against CBA but that's who we are. We have to be who we are, even when it's not easy, and I think our guys showed a lot today in the way they finished this game."

While Ratner's performance in the two wins was exemplary, the breakout performer of Marlboro's first two games is 6-foot-5 sophomore Jack Seidler. Seidler poured in 27 points Friday at CBA and followed that up with 26 more on Saturday morning.

"Seidler is huge right now," Nausedas said. "I think the state game against Montgomery last year was a wake-up call for him. He had a tough game and then he got after it in the offseason."

Marlboro sophomore Jack Seidler. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

"When I was a freshman, I was just trying to get into the varsity game and get used to everything, especially the speed and size of everyone," Ratner said. "Jack was in a similar situation - he got a little bit of time as a freshman and I think that gave him a good idea about what he needed to do and how he needed to improve and he has come back this year ready to go."

Marlboro's prospects for a 2-0 start looked questionable late in the first half, when Manchester ripped off an 11-0 run to take a lead to 39-31. The Mustangs, however, sliced the deficit to one by halftime and regained the lead with a 18-2 run that made it 48-42 early in the third quarter.

"Right when we got on the bus yesterday, coach (Nausedas) said 'Now it's all about Manchester,'" Ratner said. "Last night was a win you want to enjoy but we knew we had to get right back to work today. Beating CBA was great but we don't want to stop there."

Ratner's biggest stretch of the game was his third quarter, during which he scored nine points. Seidler, meanwhile, scored 10 points in the first quarter on the way to a 16-point first half. He scored 18 points in the first half on Friday vs. CBA.

Junior Aleksy Friedman provided 14 points on Saturday and sophomores Jay Ratner and Jon Spatola were integral in the two wins as well. Ratner scored eight points on Saturday and Spatola posted 12 points, four assists and four steals in Friday's opener.

"(CBA) was one of the craziest gyms I have ever been in, so to go in and get a win over a top-five team in the Shore was impressive," Ratner said. "Jack Seidler scored a career high in his first start ever. Jon Spatola has been like another leader for us. My brother has been playing really hard and we've go Alexy hitting some shots for us. Those guys are stepping up and we just gotta keep working and keep going as a team."

The Mustangs overcame a 28-point performance by 6-7 Manchester sophomore Wyatt Hasselbauer and 18 points from senior Josh Hayes.

Marlboro is three years removed from reaching the Shore Conference Tournament championship and just one from losing in the WOBM Christmas Classic Final, which ended on a buzzer-beating steal-and-floater by Red Bank Catholic's M.J. Wright. The Mustangs are hoping to start a banner season with a run to the WOBM championship.

"This is a true team and they respect Alex," Nausedas said of Ratner. "Alex is a true leader and those guys want to follow him."

 

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