TOMS RIVER - Following an anxious couple of minutes at the end of his team's WOBM Christmas Classic quarterfinal against Marlboro Tuesday at Pine Belt Arena, St. Rose boys basketball coach Dennis Devaney lamented not being clearer with his players about what he wanted them to do while protecting a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

Devaney's trust in his team to rely on its instincts independent of the bench might have allowed Marlboro to get back in the game, but it also helped the Purple Roses come up with the biggest play in the game.

Just seconds after Marlboro tied the game in the final minute, and after missing an initial three-point attempt, junior Jared Scheininger drilled the tiebreaking, go-ahead three-pointer with 15 seconds left to lift St. Rose to a wild, 56-54 win over the resilient Mustangs.

"I just told my team they bailed me out," Devaney said. "They were clueless with seven minutes left. We're up 14 and I'm running a delay-game, telling them to shoot, then not to shoot - it was bad and that was on me."

St. Rose junior Jared Scheininger (1) hit the go-ahead three-pointer vs. Marlboro on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Manley)
St. Rose junior Jared Scheininger (1) hit the go-ahead three-pointer vs. Marlboro on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

St. Rose led by as many as 16 in the second half and with four unanswered points to open the fourth the quarter, the Purple Roses had built a 49-35 lead on a cold-shooting and turnover-prone Marlboro team. The Mustangs, however, came to life and authored a 13-0 run that cut the Purple Roses lead to 49-48 with 1:50 remaining.

The first key offensive play for St. Rose down the stretch came right after Marlboro sophomore Dylan Kaufman banked in a shot on the block to cut the Mustangs deficit to 49-48. On the ensuing St. Rose possession, senior Billy Frost dribbled around a host of defenders and got off a floater as he was hit. The ball bounced around the rim and fell to give St. Rose back a three-point cushion with a chance to add a point at the free-throw line.

Frost missed the free throw and Kaufman answered with the front end of a one-and-one to trim the St. Rose lead back to two, 51-49. Frost followed by missing an open 10-footer with a little under a minute left on the clock, giving Marlboro a chance to tie the game, which the Mustangs did on a layup by Kaufman with 47 seconds left.

Rather than call a timeout to discuss a potential final possession, Devaney decided to let his team play out the remainder of the game without and extra input from the sideline.

"I screwed (the game) up enough," Devaney said. "I didn't want to get involved at that point. They're good enough and I knew we'd get a good shot off. We were getting shots off, even in the first half, that were good shots."

The initial result was a three by Scheininger that hit the back rim with 25 seconds left. The possession, however, continued with an offensive rebound by senior Nick Paterno and after getting the ball back near the top of the key, Scheininger let another shot fly and this time drained it to give the Roses a 54-51 as the clock hit 17 seconds remaining.

"I think we were expecting to play it out," Frost said. "When we do run our stuff and get out freely, I think it benefits us. I think we have more confidence playing like that."

In the chaotic seconds following Scheininger's three, Marlboro threw away the ensuing inbounds pass and junior John Crowley stole the ball and finished a layup to put the Roses on top, 56-51, with just 8.9 seconds left. Mustangs coach Mike Nausedas could be seen signaling for a timeout following the Scheininger three but did not get his wish until after Crowley's steal and finish.

"I was trying to get a timeout and I didn't see what happened," Nausedas said. "I just saw the ball on the ground and figured I got the timeout. Then I saw them pick it up and score, so I guess we just got confused or careless. It happened before we figured out what was going on."

Marlboro senior Ryan LaRocca hit a three-pointer from the left corner out of the timeout, but it came with only 2.6 seconds left on the clock. Scheininger missed the front end of a one-and-one and all the Mustangs could muster with 1.3 seconds left on the clock was a fullcourt heave by Kaufman that came up well short.

In addition to winning the game on Scheininger's shot, the Roses also won the game with a dominant third-quarter. After shooting 6-for-22 in a 20-point first half, the Roses rolled up 25 points in the third and used a 17-0 run to turn a 26-25 deficit into a 42-26 lead by the final minute of the third.

"We're still learning this stupid offense," Devaney said. "The 'New Millennium Offense' - the dribble-drive. We couldn't put it in the ocean in the first half, so what do you do? Let them keep shooting and get buried or do you try to get some layups with the delay game?

"We went to our Princeton offense that we promised we wouldn't run (this year). But I wanted to win the game, so we stayed with it. In the third quarter, we were on fire. Then, up 14 with a quarter to go, we were thinking, 'There's no shot clock, no point spread, so we're only taking good shots.' It looked like we didn't know what a good shot was supposed to look like and that's on me for not making it more clear in practice."

Frost scored nine of his 11 points in that third quarter and hit two of those threes during the 17-0 run. Hueth had eight points during the run and junior Sean Culley scored all six of his points on two threes during the late stages of the third quarter. Hueth finished with a team-high 15 points.

Kaufman finished with 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the Mustangs, including 11 points in the final quarter. Junior Justin Marcus pitched in 15 points and senior Dan Weiss added eight points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

"It was all about keeping our composure," Frost said. "We scuffled a little bit and they got back in the game, but we were able to keep our composure enough."

Marlboro again played without senior guard P.J. Ringel (hand) and senior forward Emir Anda - the latter of whom received word late last week that he will require season-ending surgery on his right knee. Ander missed last season while recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee. Ringel, meanwhile, is on the road to recovery from a broken bone in his left hand and is targeting a return sometime in early January, according to Nausedas.

"The guys kept fighting, which was really great to see," Nausedas said. "We just keep turning the ball over too much. I've been telling them it's going to come back and bite us one of these games, and it did today."

The St. Rose win came a week after the Roses lost a home divisional game against Point Pleasant Beach in which the Garnet Gulls closed the game on a 17-0 run to win 80-67. Marlboro's 16-2 run to tie the game at 51 brought back some frightening memories, but Scheininger's shot avoided anything resembling an encore of that finish.

Now the Purple Roses will face top-seeded Toms River North in the WOBM Classic semifinals on Thursday night. The Mariners were in top form Tuesday in beating Point Pleasant Boro, 76-36.

"The last two years, we came here and lost in the first round," Frost said. "We made it a point to come here and get a couple wins so we could let people know that we're a pretty good team and we can play with just about anybody."

"Our guys realize we dodged a bullet and we beat a very, very good team that was a little bit handicapped," Devaney said. "But a win's a win and we feel pretty good about it. We were pretty good tonight and in 48 hours, we've got to be a little better."

Box Score

St. Rose 56, Marlboro 54

St. Rose (4-1)128251156
Marlboro (4-1)117142254

St. Rose (56): Jared Scheininger 2 0-1 6, Dave Calloway 1 0-0 2, Nick Paterno 4 1-2 9, Billy Frost 4 0-1 11, Brendan Hueth 5 4-7 15, John Crowley 2 2-2 7, Sean Culley 2 0-0 6, Matt Forlenza 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 7-13 56

Three-pointers: Scheininger 2, Frost 3, Hueth, Crowley, Culley 2

Marlboro (54): Brian Levine 2 2-2 6, Ryan LaRocca 3 0-0 8, Dylan Kaufman 8 1-4 17, Justin Marcus 5 5-6 15, Dan Weiss 3 0-0 8, Matt Cabrejos 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 8-12 54

Three-pointers: LaRocca 2, Weiss 2


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