Boys Basketball – Shore Beats Manasquan, Forces 3-Way Tie in A Central
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WEST LONG BRANCH – The senior class on the Shore Regional boys basketball team felt for its first three years as though it was constantly chasing a Manasquan team with more experience, more tradition and, ultimately, more wins.
Now that the Blue Devils are loaded with that senior experience they were trying to beat for the previous years, they have seemingly found the formula to beat the team that has been a step ahead during the first three years of their career.
Seniors Kevin Bloodgood and Dan Largey combined for 32 points on Senior Night and for the second time in as many tries this season, Shore Regional took down Manasquan, this time 48-42, to force a three-way tie for first place in the loss column in the Shore Conference Class A Central standings.
Manasquan is the defending champion of A Central two years running and now sits atop the standings with two losses, along with both Shore and Rumson-Fair Haven. While Shore has defeated Manasquan twice, Rumson has beaten Shore twice while losing twice to Manasquan. The three division leaders have all finished playing one another and have yet to lose to any other team in the division.
“Rumson had our number for two games, but Manasquan, we really match up well with them,” Bloodgood said. “We are able to ‘D’ their guys up and, I’m not trying to sound cocky, but we have better shooters than they do. Rumson has very good shooters too, so that made it hard for us to beat Rumson. Manasquan is a great team, for sure, but I think we just happen to match-up well against them and they probably match-up better against Rumson than we do.”
Bloodgood is a four-year letter-winner for the Blue Devils and had yet to beat Manasquan prior to this season.
“For the last two years, it’s been Manasquan and Rumson in our way in this division and we haven’t been able to beat them when we needed to,” Bloodgood said. “They always had a little bit more experience than we did, but this year, we are seniors and if we were going to get a little payback and have our time, it had to be this year.”
Bloodgood led all scorers with 21 points, including 12 in the third quarter on 4-for-4 shooting from behind the three-point arc. Shore outscored Manasquan 17-8 in the third and took its first lead of the game, 30-28, on the second of Bloodgood’s threes in the period.
Largey knocked down his only three of the game to make it 33-31 and the Blue Devils would not trail from that point on. Bloodgood’s third three of the quarter broke a 33-33 tie and gave Shore the lead for good.
“I blacked out (during the third),” Bloodgood said. “I don’t remember much about it, just that I was feeling good and guys were finding me for open shots. I don’t know how many I made or missed. I was just thinking about getting us a lead.”
Shore built up a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter when senior Rob Gialanella hit a baseline jumper to make it 43-33 with just under six minutes left. Manasquan pulled to within 44-40 with 49.8 seconds left on a driving lay-up by junior Jack Sheehan and forced a turnover on the ensuing Shore possession. Two free throws by senior Luke O’Shaughnessy trimmed the Blue Devils lead to 44-42 with 29.3 seconds left, but Largey knocked down both ends of a one-and-one to stretch the Shore lead back to four with 23.9 seconds to go.
Shore got stops on the last three Manasquan possessions with a pair of Largey free throws mixed in to close out the win.
“Those are the moments we live for,” said Largey, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half. “We want to be on the line with the game on the line because it means we have a chance to win. That’s what being a senior is about. You have to want those moments.”
Manasquan stormed out to a 16-9 lead through one quarter, but managed only 26 over the remaining three quarters against a Shore defense that switched out of a 1-3-1 zone and into a man-to-man look that helped turn the tide.
“Whenever we get into a slump, we always try to play man defense,” Largey said. “They can kind of pick apart our 1-3-1 with the short corners and the top-of-the-key passes, but once we go to man, we are pretty tough and we match up pretty well with them.”
Junior Ryan Jensen led Manasquan with 14 points. Each team got a lift from its sixth man, with Kyle Bradshaw chipping in eight for Manasquan and senior Billy Deerin giving Shore five points to go with six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block off the bench.
“Billy is an interesting player because when teams go to sleep on him, he will beat them,” Bloodgood said. “He seems like he’s just this energy guy off the bench, but he’s been a good offensive player for us in a bunch of games this year, and he always brings the energy on defense. Today, it seemed like whenever he got the ball, he wanted the ball and he made something happen.”
Shore has road games remaining against St. John Vianney and Holmdel to cap its division schedule and will have to win both while also getting one loss each from Rumson and Manasquan in order to win the outright division title. Should the Blue Devils win each of the final two games, they are guaranteed no worse than a division co-championship.
“This was definitely a must-win game for the division title,” Largey said. “Last year, we didn’t struggle, but we were still young. Now, we’re veterans and we’ve been in the program for four years now, and we wanted to get some payback throughout the year.”
Shore 48, Manasquan 42
|Manasquan (13-4, 8-2)|
|Shore (12-4, 8-2)|
Manasquan (42): Luke O’Shaughnessy 1 4-5 6, Jack Sheehan 2 1-2 6, Ryan Jensen 4 6-8 14, Aidan McMenaman 1 2-2 5, Matt Paturzo 0 0-0 0, Kyle Bradshaw 4 0-0 8, Devin Jensen 1 0-0 3, Tommy Sheehan 0 0-0 0, Liam McAllister 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 13-17 42
Three-pointers: J. Sheehan, McMenaman, D. Jensen
Fouled Out: McMenaman
Shore (48): Rob Gialanella 2 0-0 4, Kevin Bloodgood 8 0-0 21, Matt McCarthy 0 0-0 0, Dan Largey 4 4-4 13, Jack Byrne 2 0-1 5, Billy Deerin 1 3-5 5. Totals: 17 7-10 48
Three-pointers: Bloodgood 5, Largey, Byrne