Boys Basketball – Wave Protect Home Court, Beat Neptune
LONG BRANCH – The Long Branch boys basketball players who played on last year’s team are left with the invisible scars of some tough losses during last season’s 15-10 campaign, and few scars cut deeper than a home loss to Neptune in which the Green Wave blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead.
Saturday at Long Branch High School, the Green Wave jumped out to another big lead against its Shore Conference Class B North rival and this time, Long Branch would not give it away.
Senior guard Terrel Cox scored a game-high 27 points and Long Branch – the No. 4 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - led from start to finish in a 54-49 win over Neptune.
“This was kind of a revenge game for us because they beat us on our home court last year when we were up big in the fourth quarter,” Cox said. “We didn’t forget that loss, so today we wanted to get an early lead and keep coming at them. Protecting our home court is one of the things we stress and to be able to do it against a good team feels good.”
Cox scored 15 of his points in the first half to help Long Branch stake claim to a 22-14 lead at the break. The Green Wave built the lead to as much as 14 in the third quarter and took a 43-30 lead early in the fourth quarter. Neptune broke out its full-court press in the third quarter, but Long Branch had no initial trouble breaking it.
“We talked about it halftime and we went over the press break a lot before the snow storm,” Long Branch coach Stan Mooney said. “Our guys knew what they were going to see from them coming out of halftime, and we handled that aspect pretty well.”
Neptune put a late scare into Long Branch by cutting the lead to 54-49 and getting the ball back with 22 seconds left, but Long Branch got a stop and dribbled the clock out.
Cox shot 8-for-15 (53 percent) from the floor and outdueled Neptune senior guard Shakeem Richardson. After sitting the final 10:45 of the first half with two fouls, Richardson finished with 10 points on 2-for-12 shooting.
“We didn’t do enough while Richardson was on the bench,” Cox said. “He was the guy we focused on stopping so when he went to the bench, we thought we should have done a better job.”
Most of Neptune’s offense came from three-point range, although the Scarlet Fliers shot only 7-for-22 (32 percent) from behind the arc. Long Branch held Neptune to only four field goals in the paint for the game and none in the first half.
“Our big guys – Myson Pennington, Hassan Foster and Deon Williams – have made a big difference for us so far this year when it comes to protecting the paint on the defensive end,” Mooney said.
Foster finished with nine points and five rebounds for Long Branch. Junior Dave Colbert came off the bench and knocked down two threes on his only two shot attempts to book-end an 8-3 spurt that stretched the Long Branch lead to 39-25 in the third quarter.
Senior Myles Mooney led Neptune with 14 points and junior Kerry Kirkwood added 11 off the bench. Kirkwood scored five points in the first half while Richardson sat with two fouls.
“Neptune has a lot of athletes coming off the bench that they can plug in and they’ll do a good job for them on both ends,” Mooney said. “Richardson went out, but Kirkwood came in and hit some shots. Kirkwood might be their second best scorer, so they didn’t miss too much.”
Cox also got into foul trouble when he picked up his fourth foul on a technical foul with 1:05 left in the third quarter. The foul was part of a double technical on Cox and Neptune junior Cameron Calderon, but Cox sat out for just two possessions.
“Terrel is a senior captain and a leader on the floor,” Mooney said. “Obviously he brings a lot of scoring, but he’s come to understand his role on the team and that he has to be involved in every area.”
Long Branch 54, Neptune 49
|Neptune (2-3, 1-1)|
|Long Branch (4-1, 2-0)|
Neptune (49): Cameron Calderon 2 1-5 7, Shakeem Richardson 2 6-8 10, Tyrell Montgomery 0 0-0 0 0, Diondre Dunn 0 0-0 0, Myles Mooney 4 4-4 14, Kerry Kirkwood 4 3-5 11, Sean McMillan 1 2-4 4, Marque Ellington 1 1-2 3, Lamar Ford 0 0-0 0, Alex Ennis 0 0-0 0, Anthony Mallory 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 14-24 49
Three-pointers: Calderon 2, Mooney 2, Kirkwood 3
Long Branch (54): Izayah Irizarry 2 0-0 5, Terrel Cox 8 9-12 27, Myson Pennington 2 1-2 5, Deon Williams 0 0-2 0, Hassan Foster 3 3-7 9, Kenneth Barrow 1 0-0 2, Jamar Foster 0 0-0 0, Dave Colbert 2 0-0 6, Edward Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 13-25 54
Three-pointers: Irizarry, Cox 2, Colbert 2
Fouled Out: Pennington