POINT PLEASANT BEACH - To the four returning sophomore starters on the Ranney boys basketball team, Friday night was just another game playing with each other and fellow AAU teammate and current classmate, Ahmadu Sarnor.

For the Ranney program, coach Tahj Holden and for the rest of the Shore Conference, it was the debut of an upgraded and still up-and-coming Shore Conference power.

Sarnor scored 20 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and three steals in his Ranney debut and the Panthers - No. 2 in the Shore Sports Network Preseason Top 10 - routed No. 8 Point Pleasant Beach, 79-44, to open up a 2016-17 season accompanied by lofty expectations for the Shore Conference's most junior member school.

"It's a little different atmosphere because there are student sections and all that," Sarnor said. "They try to get in your head, so that's a lot different. Other than that, though, it was like any other game playing with these guys."

Bryan Antoine scored 20 points Friday night. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Sarnor is the only newcomer to Ranney's varsity team after he transferred to the school from Collegium Charter in Exton, Pa. While his Panthers career began with a 20-point effort, his coach and teammates had less to say about his scoring and more to say about everything else.

"A problem for us last year was brining that swagger and bringing that energy on defense last year and that's exactly what he brings," sophomore Scottie Lewis said. "He locks up, he stops the ball, he asks to guard the best players because he wants that challenge and he wants that responsibility. The way he goes after guys on defense is insane. A lot of point guards aren't going to be able to handle that pressure."

"He's got a lot of energy," sophomore guard Bryan Antoine said. "Teams focus on me and Scottie (Lewis) so they have their best players on us, but we have a secret weapon in Ahmadu just coming out and destroying. It's a pretty good addition to our team."

The 6-foot-2 guard scored all of his points in the first three quarters, including eight in the third to squash any hope Point Beach might have had to rally from a 42-15 halftime deficit. He also spent most of his time on the floor guarding Garnet Gulls junior point guard and offensive catalyst Danny Frauenheim, who finished the game with a team-high 10 points on 2-for-11 shooting with five assists.

"Ahmadu makes a big difference because he's probably our best on-ball defender," Holden said. "Frauenheim's a good guard and (Sarnor) made him work the whole game. The good thing is if he gets tired, I have Bryan or Scottie or other guys to play that role, so he's another guard who allows us to pick up our defensive pressure a little more. And he can score the basketball too."

Antoine matched his new high school teammate with 20 points and also had nine rebounds, four assists and six steals. He scored eight points during the second quarter, including a two-handed dunk as he was fouled that stretched Ranney's lead to 28-10. He also scored his final field goal on a two-handed stuff off a backdoor feed from Lewis.

Lewis also finished in double-figures with 12 points and added seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. He and Sarnor each scored six points during the first quarter, which Ranney closed with a 19-0 run after falling in an early 4-1 hole.

Ranney's other two sophomore starters were heavily involved as well. Center Chris Autino scored eight points while grabbing six rebounds and Alex Klatsky pitched in nine points and three assists.

In addition to adding Sarnor to the lineup, Ranney has a fully healthy - and not to mention older - version of Klatsky this season. At the beginning of last season, Klatsky was just 10 months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL and spent the season wearing a brace on the knee.

"It makes a huge difference to have Alex healthy and playing well," Holden said. "A lot of the stuff he does doesn't show up on the stat sheets. He's a level head on our offense so he can get us settled down and into things."

With another scorer in the lineup in Sarnor, Ranney was less reliant on Lewis and Antoine, and also less reliant on the three-pointer. The Panthers scored 79 points despite a modest 3-for-11 shooting game from three-point range, while Antoine (7-for-12) and Lewis (2-for-10) combined to shoot 9-for-22 after carrying a bulk off the offensive load last year.

"This is the offense we ran with Team Rio the entire summer, so when you have a starting five out there who all know the offense so well, everything just clicks," Lewis said.

Antoine's first-half dunk on which he also drew a foul from Frauenheim began a contentious game for the two B Central rivals. During the second half alone, five technical fouls were issued, including double-technicals on two separate plays. One double-technical came after Frauenheim took a foul against Antoine and knocked him to the ground and the other came after Point Beach junior seven-footer Jake Lorenzo and Ranney senior Sam Metzger were tangled up while going for a rebound. Lorenzo wound up with a head lock on Metzger and the exchange forced the teams to be separated.

"Things got chippy and that was motivation for us," Antoine said. "Coach was telling us to keep our heads. (I didn't expect) that at all. Last year, we played them and we were all friends, to be honest. Then I went up for a layup and (Frauenheim), it looked like he tried to take me out and I was kind of like, "Whoo, okay. I guess it's going to be like that tonight.'"

Although Antoine was surprised Friday's game got more heated than he expected, Lewis acknowledged the team is ready for anything given the team's standing within the Shore Conference.

"That's exactly what we want," Lewis said. "We want that kind of attention and focus on us because we know we can handle it. People still think we are young-minded and we need to prove them wrong and show them that we're strong mentally and physically and we have every capability of being the Shore Conference champions and going far in states."


Box Score

Ranney 79, Point Beach 44

1 2 3 4 F
Ranney (1-0, 1-0) 20 22 21 16 79
Point Beach (0-1, 0-1) 4 11 14 15 44

Ranney (79): Alex Klatsky 3 1-2 9, Bryan Antoine 7 6-7 20, Chris Autino 2 4-4 8, Scottie Lewis 2 8-12 12, Ahmadu Sarnor 8 4-4 20, Sam Metzger 0 1-2 1, Joe Mahoney 1 0-0 3, Kyle Smith 1 0-2 2, Rob Johnson 2 0-0 4, Andy Chu 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 24-33 79

Three-Pointers: Klatsky 2, Mahoney

Point Beach (44): Danny Frauenheim 2 6-10 10, Chris Pina 2 0-0 5, Jake Lorenzo 3 1-2 7, Steve Flanders 4 1-2 9, Trevor Covey 4 1-2 10, Josh Yates 0 0-0 0, Luke Frauenheim 0 0-0 0, Connor Prima 0 1-2 1, Hunter Clark 0 0-0 0, Phil Antoniotti 1 0-0 2, Matt Schatzman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 10-18 44

Three-pointers: Pina, Covey

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