Boys Basketball – Toms River North Throttles Rumson, Reaches Fourth SCT Semifinal in Five Years
TOMS RIVER - It shouldn't be that easy to overlook the fact that Toms River North entered Sunday's Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals on an 18-game winning streak, or that the program has three trips to the semifinals in the last four years, or the fact that the Mariners have won 32 straight Shore Conference Class A South divisional games or that they have won 20 games or more in five of coach Rory Caswell's first six seasons at the helm.
Maybe it's easier to forget the Mariners' success over the last six years because they have yet to win a postseason tournament, or perhaps because the top two seeds in this year's tournament are jam-packed with future Division I players.
In case anyone forgot what Toms River North has been all about for the last half-decade, the Mariners sent out an unmistakable reminder on Sunday evening against a Rumson-Fair Haven team that found itself in the path of a shooting cyclone.
Toms River North - the No. 5 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament - shot 14-for-26 from three-point range Sunday and overwhelmed the No. 4 Bulldogs, 79-35, to reach the SCT semifinals for the fourth time in the last five years with their 19th straight win.
Toms River North will take on Mater Dei Prep in Tuesday's semifinal at Pine Belt Arena - a rematch of last year's semifinal, which Mater Dei won, 62-50, on the way to winning its first ever SCT championship.
"There was kind of a chip on our shoulder," Toms River North senior point guard Darrion Carrington said. "We just said, 'Let's go make a statement and show why we should have been number four (seed). The main thing about this game was being together. Almost all of our shots came off of assists and that's the big thing about our team."
Senior Mike Nyisztor scored 18 points and hit six of Toms River North's 14 three-pointers, while junior Holden Petrick added 17 points and connected on three three-pointers - all of which came in the first 2:30 of the third quarter.
Senior Jaden Rhoden also added 10 points, 12 rebounds and five assists while Carrington chipped in six points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
"We've been (hitting three-pointers) the last couple of weeks and the reason we've been doing it is because they're wide-open looks," Caswell said. "It all just comes from Darrion doing a great job of handling the pressure. What we did was we held (Rumson) to one shot, so when we got the rebound, we ran out, we spread the floor and Darrion and our other guards made great decisions."
Toms River North put the game away early with a 13-0 run that turned a 14-10 edge into a 27-10 lead. After Rumson cut the Mariners lead to 14-10 late in the first quarter, Toms River North outscored the Bulldogs 25-6 to close the half.
Nyisztor hit a pair of three-pointers during the run and Rhoden added five points, including a old-fashioned three-point play.
Any hopes Rumson had of pulling off a colossal comeback were squashed by Toms River North right out of the halftime locker room. Nyisztor drilled a three and Petrick followed with three of his own, with a driving layup by junior Travis Holland (eight points) mixed in. The scoring spree was part of a 14-5 run that ballooned the Mariners lead to 55-21.
Sophomore Ian O'Connor and senior Tyler Pierson each scored eight points to lead Rumson, which shot 3-for-25 (11.5 percent) from three-point range as a team.
"We had our scout team chucking threes from pretty much anywhere to try to get used to what we were going to see," Nyisztor said. "We try to stay in the area of the guys on the perimeter because if you let them get hot, it can be a long day. Fortunately, we were able to challenge them and they missed some and they never really got going."
With its senior core of Rhoden, Nyisztor and Carrington leading the way, Toms River North hopes to be able to knock off the tournament's No. 1 seed on Tuesday while playing in its home venue. That wasn't enough for Toms River North to pull off the upset last year, but after lopsided tournament wins over Christian Brothers Academy and Rumson-Fair Haven, the Mariners have the look of a team playing at level it has not previously reached.
"I feel like if we all keep playing as a team and hit our shots like we've been doing, it's going to put a lot of pressure on Mater Dei to hit their shots," Rhoden said. "It just comes down to hitting shots."
Toms River North 79, Rumson-Fair Haven 35
|Toms River North (24-1)||18||19||23||19||79|
Toms River North (79): Darrion Carrington 3 0-0 6, Holden Petrick 7 0-0 17, Travis Holland 4 0-0 8, Jaden Rhoden 4 2-3 10, Mike Nyisztor 6 0-0 18, Mike Husni 2 2-2 7, Sean O'Donnell 2 0-0 6, Eliot Daks 0 0-0 0, Nick Duncsak 2 0-0 6, Najae Hallenback 0 1-2 1. Totals: 30 5-7 79
Three-pointers: Petrick 3, Nyisztor 6, Husni, O'Donnell 2, Duncsak 2
Rumson-FH (35): Tommy Oakes 0 0-0 0, Jack Solano 2 0-0 5, Tyler Pierson 1 6-8 8, Ian O'Connor 2 3-3 8, Teddy Sourlis 1 0-0 2, Connor Dupree 1 0-0 2, Jack Higgins 0 0-0 0, Jackson McCarthy 2 1-2 5, Phil Wheeler 1 0-0 3, Alex Sloan 1 0-0 2. Totals: 11 10-13 35
Three-pointers: Solano, O'Connor, Wheeler