JERSEY CITY - The Mater Dei boys basketball team has already opened eyes around the Shore and are beginning to do the same for people around the state.

In the long-run however, the Seraphs players are thinking even bigger under first-year coach Ben Gamble.

"We want to be a national program," 6-foot-7 junior Elijah Barnes said. "That's coach Gamble's goal for the program and we're the ones who have to lay the foundation."

Mater Dei continued its strong start in its first season under Ben Gamble by beating St. Peter's Prep, 51-38, Saturday at the Dan Finn Classic in the Jersey City Armory.

Elijah Barnes (31) accepts his MVP award at the Dan Finn Classic, flanked by coach Ben Gamble (far left). (Photo by Matt Manley)

The double-digit win over the Marauders Saturday preceded a meeting between the top two teams in the state - No. 1 St. Anthony and No. 2 Patrick School - according to Both programs are ranked in the top 10 in the country by both USA Today and MaxPreps.

"This is the stage we want to be on and those are two great teams to get a chance to play before," Barnes said. "Our goal to be headlining events like this one day."

Barnes was named team Most Valuble Player with 14 points, six rebounds and five blocks, while senior Kyle Elliot led the Seraphs with 15 points and nine rebounds. Senior NyQuan McCombs also scored 12 points for Mater Dei Prep.

The Seraphs took control of the game in the third with a 9-0 run that turned a 26-21 Mater lead into a 35-21 advantage. Kyle Elliot scored a pair of baskets and McCombs hit a three from the wing. Sophomore Sky Cherry capped the run with a basket as he was fouled off a pass from junior Elijah Mitchell.

Barnes put the game away with a two-handed dunk off a feed from Mitchell and converted a layup to put the Seraphs ahead, 46-33.

Barnes is one of nine transfers on Mater Dei's roster in their first year with the Seraphs, and the group of newcomers - along with Gamble's arrival - has come with new expectations. So far, the Seraphs have lived up to those.

"We expected a lot from ourselves this year because coach Gamble set the expectations so high," said Barnes, who began his career at Freehold Boro and played at Central Regional last year before transferring to Mater Dei prior to this school year. "When we take the court, we expect to win and that's been the attitude from day one. That's the way we all want it to be."

CBA 68, Bergen Catholic 43

Senior Jack McGuire scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and the Colts (10-2) bombarded the Crusaders (8-2) in the second half to win the finale at the Dan Finn Classic.

McGuire also grabbed five rebounds and handed out nine assists to earn game MVP honors, while senior Pat Andree scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half to go with nine rebounds and three assists.

"We came out really strong and we knew we needed that," McGuire said. "We played them twice in the summer. They're a great team and we knew they would come back, but if we play like we did the first four minutes, if we came out in the third quarter like that, this (would be) our game."

Andree is now 43 points shy of tying CBA's all-time scoring record, with home games against Howell and Freehold Township set for this coming week.

CBA started the first and fourth quarters with significant runs, scoring the first 13 points of the game and closing the game out with a 14-0 run to start the fourth quarter and extend its lead to 60-33.

CBA stormed out to a 13-0 lead in the game before Bergen Catholic rallied to tie the game at 18. The Colts took a 27-23 lead into halftime and ripped off a 12-0 run during the third to take a 43-27 lead late in the quarter. CBA put the game away with a 14-0 run to open the fourth quarter.

Senior Jack McGuire accepts the MVP award after helping CBA beat Bergen Catholic at the Dan Finn Classic. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Andree shot just 2-for-11 in the first half, but went 6-for-7 in the second half to finish 8-for-18. McGuire, meanwhile, finished 7-for-11 from the field and 10-for-14 from the free-throw line.

CBA had a balanced first-half scoring attack, with Andree scoring eight points, McGuire six, senior John Salcedo five and senior Sam Houston with four. In the second half, Andree and McGuire took over, combining for 33 of CBA's first 36 points of the second half.

"When we start with everyone scoring, team's have to adjust," McGuire said. "They come into the game, they know they have to pay attention to me and Pat. As soon as our other players start stepping up, it makes offense five times easier."