By Bobby Klatt
SSN Correspondent

ABERDEEN - After surviving a double-overtime affair against host Matawan in the semifinals on Wednesday, Ocean won another nail-biter that came down to the final play, defeating defending Husky Classic champion Old Bridge 41-38 to take home this year’s title.

“These grind it out games in the long run, as long as you stay on the winning side, they’re really building blocks for the team,” said Ocean head coach John Terlecsky. “We have a young team with a lot of guys that didn’t see too many varsity minutes last year. It’s something we’re very proud of with all the hard work in the offseason and to be rewarded like this early on in the season.”

Photo by Bobby Klatt
Photo by Bobby Klatt

After Darius Brown knocked down a pair of free throws for Ocean with 20.8 seconds left to open up a 40-35 lead, Old Bridge’s Rich Calandrillo answered right back with a three-point play of his own to close it to two.

Off the ensuing inbounds pass, the Knights’ Julies Belton forced a steal in the corner before driving to the paint, but a steal by Brown in the paint leading to a leak out that let the clock run down to just 4.2 second remaining.

“I just had an open mind and stayed confident and told myself I’m going to make these,” said Brown when asked about his free throws in the final minute.

Brown knocked down the front end of the 1-and-1 to cap off his 14 point night and extend the lead before missing the second and giving Old Bridge one last opportunity. Coming out of a timeout, the Knights inbounded it to Calandrillo just inside the half court line and his deep three hit the backboard and side rim with no opportunity for a second attempt to seal the Spartans 3-point victory.

The Ocean defense was up to the challenge all game long, holding Kyle Parris, who came in averaging 21 points per game, to just 12 points – 10 of which were in the second half, and keeping the Knights to 4-for-22 from behind the arc. Parris, along with Brown and Seager were named to the all-tournament team.

“I think these guys are learning to start grinding it on the defensive end,” said Terlecsky. “If you can’t defend like that in games like this, you’re going to lose.”

The game didn’t start out as both teams would have planned, as it took over five minutes for Old Bridge’s first field goal from Parris and just under seven minutes for Ocean’s from Andrew Seager, who finished with a game-high 17 points and was named tournament MVP. The teams combined to shoot 2-for-18 from the field in the quarter.

Both offenses woke up in the second quarter as Brown hit two of his three three-pointers and Old Bridge knocked down three threes in the first couple possessions thanks to Calandrillo, Will Oswald and Mike Olivia. Ocean finished the half on a quick 4-0 run in the final minute to take a 20-13 lead into the locker room.

“Coach said we were rushing our shots in the first quarter, but we were able to stay patient in the second quarter and the rest of the game and continued to run our offense,” said Seager.

The third quarter was more of defensive one for both teams with neither team giving an inch before Old Bridge stormed back to end the third with an 8-0 run in the final two minutes, taking a 29-28 lead at the end of the third.

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