Boys Basketball – Squan Pounds Shore in A Central Showdown
MANASQUAN – The difference between the Shore Regional and Manasquan boys basketball teams during their first meeting in the Buc Holiday Classic championship game on Dec. 30 was quite simply that Shore made most of its shots and Manasquan missed most of its shots.
Instead of hoping that they would simply hit more shots this time, the Warriors – the No. 6 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 – just made sure they got better ones.
Manasquan assaulted the rim, controlled the paint and got to the free-throw line in a 68-50 win over No. 9 Shore, avenging a 20-point loss to the Blue Devils from late December while moving to 6-0 in the Shore Conference Class A Central division.
Senior Jack Fay led the scoring effort with 26 points, including 16 in the second half and a 10-for-14 showing at the free-throw line.
“A lot of the responsibility falls on me when it comes to our shot selection because I have the ball in my hands as much as any of us, so when we’re not getting good shots, that’s on me,” Fay said. “Against this team, we knew we had to attack with our guards and from there, either we’re going to get ourselves good looks at the rim, we set up one of the big guys inside, or we kick out for an open look. No matter what shots we got, though, we knew we had to get them by attacking.”
Manasquan controlled the glass with 13 offensive rebounds and scored 14 of its 22 total field goals in the paint, with five of the eight field goals outside the paint coming on 3-pointers.
Sophomore forward Ryan Jensen scored 15 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, outdoing junior counterpart Dan Largey, who led Shore with 14 points on four threes.
“I definitely felt like I could do more inside against these guys than I did the last time and I knew I had to for us to win,” Jensen said. “All of their guys can step out and score from anywhere on the floor, but our focus was making them defend our quickness and our size.”
Sophomore Jack Sheehan also scored 15 points and added four assists, while senior Tommy Toole scored only seven points, but grabbed 11 rebounds with five assists and four steals while primarily playing point guard.
“We’ve stressed that we think we have three of the better guards in the Shore in Sheehan, Toole and Fay and I really believe that,” Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau said. “It’s a three-headed monster kind of thing we have going. They can all shoot, they can all play the point, and with those three, we really stressed ‘get to the rim, get to the rim’ and I guess we did it pretty well.”
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Manasquan broke the game open with a 14-1 run in the second quarter that turned a 15-15 tie into a 29-16 Warriors lead. From that point on, the closest Shore would get was 35-25 in the early part of the third quarter before Manasquan stretched the lead to 17 with a 9-2 spurt. The Warriors’ largest lead was 68-48 just before a late score made it 68-50.
The Warriors also clamped down defensively after the Blue Devils got off to a hot start. Shore took an early 13-7 lead behind 13 combined points by Largey and senior Dan Pillari. Largey scored the first five points of the game before Pillari then scored the next eight Shore points, six of which came on two long 3-pointers. After that eight-point outburst, Manasquan held Pillari to three points over the final three quarters.
“I thought Nick Gilly coming in off the bench was huge for us,” Bilodeau said. “We had a little bit of early foul trouble and he stepped in defensively in the box-and-one against Pillari, who’s just a monster.”
Manasquan has now won five straight games while taking sole possession of first place in Class A Central, one game ahead of surging Red Bank Catholic, which has won five straight as well. The Warriors are off to a fast start thanks to a balanced roster of improved players who have worked well with one another. The early-season chemistry, according to the players, has helped offset the loss of two 1,000-point scorers in Jimmy Walsh and J.R. Hobbie.
“I know I learned a lot from Jimmy about just being tough and playing hard every possession on both ends,” Jensen said. “We learned a lot from those guys and I think with what we learned and the chemistry we have with one another, it’s made us actually improved in some ways. It’s not going to be that one guy or those two guys that carry us, but we have a lot of guys who can step up on any given night.”
Fay has led the team in scoring with 17.6 points per game through Friday’s game, while Jensen is averaging 14.6 points and 11.1 rebounds after a third straight double-double on Friday.
“I’ve worked hard to get better, but I think I’ve had some of this in me all along, but when you’re playing with two 1,000-point scorers with the ability that those guys had, there just aren’t that many shots to go around,” Fay said. “Those guys commanded a certain number of shots and they earned those shots because of how good they were. Tommy and I passed up shots last year to get those guys the ball and the difference now is we’re taking those shots.”
With Fay, Jensen, Toole and the emerging Sheehan, the Warriors have boasted four legitimate scoring options to go with a group of athletic defenders in Luke Tausek, Aidan McMenaman, Gilly and Ryan Kavanaugh. Manasquan will also add junior Luke O’Shaughnessy, a transfer from Christian Brothers Academy, next month once he is eligible after sitting 30 days.
“We were a little more disciplined today offensively than we were early in the season,” Bilodeau said. “But you don’t want to be great in December, you want to be great in March, so that’s where we’re looking.”
Manasquan 68, Shore 50
|Shore (6-5, 3-3)|
|Manasquan (8-1, 6-0)|
Shore (50): Dan Pillari 4 1-2 11, Matt Cosentino 2 0-0 5, Dan Largey 5 0-0 14, Jack Byrne 2 2-4 6, Kevin Bloodgood 3 3-4 10, Clayton Coffey 1 0-0 2, Matt McCarthy 1 0-0 2, Billy Deerin 0 0-0 0, Rob Gianella 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 6-10 50
Three-pointers: Pillari 2, Cosentino, Largey 4, Bloodgood
Fouled Out: Byrne
Manasquan (68): Tommy Toole 3 0-0 7, Jack Fay 7 10-14 26, Ryan Jensen 6 3-3 15, Aidan McMenaman 0 0-0 0, Jack Sheehan 5 3-4 15, Luke Tausek 0 2-4 2, Ryan Kavanaugh 1 1-2 3, Nick Gilly 0 0-0 0, Matt Paturzo 0 0-0 0, Liam McAlister 0 0-0 0, Shane Flanagan 0 0-0 0, John White 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 19-27 68
Three-pointers: Toole, Fay 2, Sheehan 2