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MIDDLETOWN - Moral victories are not part of the vernacular for a program that finished No. 1 in New Jersey one season ago but not many defending champions undertake the kind of rebuild that the Ranney boys basketball team is right now.

The 2019 Tournament of Champions winner took its young, inexperienced team to Brookdale Community College Wednesday night and stayed within striking distance of perennial power Roselle Catholic from start to finish in a 66-59 loss.

Considering the Lions are powered by two advanced seniors in Xavier commit C.J. Wilcher and 6-foot-10 center Cliff Omoruyi - both of whom shined Wednesday against Ranney's senior-absent lineup - Ranney (8-7) could walk off the floor with the notion that this year's group is progressing on schedule.

Ranney sophomore Elijah Perkins (2) goes up against Roselle Catholic (24) senior Cliff Omoruyi. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Sophomore Elijah Perkins scored 16 points and handed out 11 assists to lead Ranney in its bid to knock off the Lions. Wilcher, meanwhile, led Roselle Catholic with 20 points, including the 1,000th of his high-school career, in earning game MVP honors. He also dished out eight assists.

Omoruyi also threw in 19 points and nine rebounds for Roselle Catholic, which led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but saw Ranney cut it to three at 51-48 by the end of the third. Roselle Catholic (9-5) closed the first half with six straight points to take a 36-30 halftime lead and never led by fewer than three the rest of the way.

Freshman Zack Davis scored nine points off the bench on three three-pointers - part of an 11-for-21 game for Ranney behind the arc as a team. Sophomores Ryan Zan and Charles Anyichie each added eight points and Zan, sophomore Taheen Braswell, sophomore Brandon Klatsky and junior Nick Troccoli all hit two three-pointers apiece.

No. 7 Wall Ends Its Brookdale Blues

Collins Arena has been unkind to Wall in each of its first two trips there this season and its third game at Brookdale followed a similar script for much of the game.

The Crimson Knights trailed a three-win Howell squad in the second half before retaking the lead and ending their own version of the Jersey Blues.

Junior Pat Lacey scored a game-high 19 points, including a go-ahead three-pointer   with 5:50 to go and four game-clinching free throws in the final minute as Wall avoided an upset at the hands of the Rebels with a 56-53 win.

Wall senior Pat Lacey. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

 

Lacey's fourth-quarter three broke a 45-45 tie and give Wall (13-4) the lead for good, but Howell (3-10) fought back to cut the deficit to one point three different times.

Senior Matt Sgroi hit a three-pointer with 17 seconds left to cut the deficit to 54-53 before Lacey knocked down a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left to push it back to three.

Senior Chris Acampora hit what appeared to be a three-pointer but the potential tying shot came after the final buzzer sounded.

Sgroi led Howell with 15 points and sophomore Abdull Al-Shrouf chipped in 13 for the Rebels, whose latest lead was 45-43 early in the fourth quarter after a three-point play by Al-Shrouf.

Junior Logan Peters poured in 10 points for Wall and senior Quinn Calabrese, junior Tom Palluzzi and sophomore Colin Ackerman each added eight in the win.

Rumson-Fair Haven 64, Raritan 47

Junior Shane Shovelin scored 16 points and the Bulldogs (10-5, 6-3) rolled to a win over the Rockets (6-7, 3-6).

Shovelin scored 13 of his points in the first half as Rumson built a 35-15 lead by intermission thanks to a 22-7 second quarter.

Rumson senior Shane Shovelin. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Sophomore Geoff Schroeder added 13 points and senior Nick Donlon chipped in 12 for Rumson.

Senior Jaylen Smith led Raritan with 13 points, nine rebounds and a pair of blocks while freshman Will Tigar added 11 in the loss.