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MANASQUAN -- Like a lot of players in the Shore's preeminent summer league, Shavar Reynolds joined the Jersey Shore Basketball League in 2019 to work on his game between seasons of playing college basketball.

After the league helped Reynolds improve himself for successful seasons at both Seton Hall and Monmouth Universities, Reynolds has helped the league improve as well and that was no more evident than in Thursday night's JSBL championship game at Manasquan High School.

Reynolds and former Seton Hall teammate Myles Cale combined for 65 points Thursday night and Reynolds took home game MVP as his Stern's Trailer squad outlasted Orthopaedic Institute and its Big-East duo of R.J. Cole and Jagan Mosely, 119-117, to win the 2022 JSBL championship with an exciting, dramatic conclusion.

Stern's Trailer celebrates the 2022 JSBL championship. (Photo: Matt Manley)
Stern's Trailer celebrates the 2022 JSBL championship. (Photo: Matt Manley)
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"This game was a really high level of basketball," Reynolds said. "It wasn't guys out there trying to take a bunch of shots. We were sharing the ball, making the right plays and playing defense. It was a great game."

Not only did the JSBL final feature six former Big East players, but all four were playing in the league within the past three seasons. Cole and Cale just finished their college careers this past season at UConn and Seton Hall, respectively, Reynolds did the same at Monmouth as a grad transfer after playing four years at Seton Hall, and Mosely graduated from Georgetown in 2020. Cole also played in this year's NBA Summer League in Las Vegas as a prospect of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Reynolds and Cale both went head-to-head against Cole and Moseley, with Cole transferring to UConn from Howard for the back-half of his career. Cole and Mosely were also teammates on the 2015-16 St. Anthony team that went 32-0 on the way to finishing with the No. 3 ranking in the country.

"They kept attacking and I love playing that kind of competition," Reynolds said. "I loved playing against R.J. Cole at UConn. We had some great battles. They got the better of us a couple of times. Jagan is one of the most savvy guys in New Jersey, because we have been playing in the same tournaments and leagues and open gyms and he always finds a way to fit in and still stand out."

When Reynolds decided to head back to the Jersey Shore for the summer of 2019, it drew Seton Hall teammate Jared Rhoden into the league and three years later, Cale joined his former Seton Hall teammate.

With some high-level, New Jersey talent in the fold, Mosely and Cole were two more big names that joined the action this season, with the JSBL also getting noteworthy participation from players like Temple standout Nate Pierre-Louis, former Los Angeles Lakers forward Derek Caracter and current Rutgers center Clifford Omoruyi.

The influx of talent was a welcome sight for a league that was not able to hold a season in the summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and struggled to find a host court in 2021, jumping from the 16th Ave. courts in Belmar to the Our Lady Mount Carmel Church Center in Asbury Park.

This season, the league secured Manasquan High School and the commitment of the talent followed.

"This year was great," Reynolds said. "I know the last couple years has been a little up-and-down, but this year, there were a lot of great players. It was a high level out there every night.

The four Big East standouts played significant roles in Thursday's back-and-forth title game, which saw Stern's Trailer jump out to a double-digit lead that reached 14 in the middle of the second quarter. By halftime, however, Orthopaedic rallied to within 60-59 and actually took a 59-58 lead before Reynolds closed out the half with a go-ahead jumper.

In the second half, Orthopaedic controlled the early action and built its lead as high as 11, 97-86, early in the fourth quarter. An 8-0 run quickly cut the lead to three, with Monmouth University sophomore and former Toms River North standout Jakari Spence and Reynolds combining for back-to-back threes for the back-end of that run.

"We were in the huddle saying, 'This is going to be a long game. Just take it possession-by-possession,'" Reynolds said. "We had to start getting stops, because they were killing us. We had guys keep saying, 'Island, island,' and at some point, we just had to guard them. No scheme, no help; just guard your man and don't let him score."

Spence is another player that Reynolds has a history with, as both grew up in Manchester and were on Monmouth's squad in 2021-22.

"Those guys are two of my brothers," Reynolds said of Cale and Spence. "Jakari has been there ever since I came to Manchester from Japan. Myles Cale, we developed a brotherhood at Seton Hall, so this summer was fantastic for me, because basketball is such a feel game and we all know what each other is going to do."

Stern's pulled even at 101 with 5:40 left on a drive by Kessly Felizor and stepped on the gas to take a seven-point lead with just over a minute left. Two free throws by Princeton guard Jack Scott stretched the Stern's lead to 119-115 with five seconds to play but Steve Harris converted a quick layup out of a timeout and Orthopaedic forced a turnover to earn a chance to tie or win the game with 1.3 seconds left and the ball at midcourt.

Cole -- a left-handed shooter -- took the inbound pass, took one dribble and threw up an off-balanced runner with his right hand that came up short to end the game.

Reynolds finished with a game-high 34 points to go with 10 assists and Cale poured in 31 in the win. Felizor also dropped 23 points, Scott finished with 13 and Rob Ukawuba netted 11 for Stern's.

Former Monmouth guard and Christian Brothers Academy standout Louie Pillari had the hot hand for Orthopaedic on Thursday. Even with Cole, Mosely and JSBL veteran standouts Trevis Wyche and Steve Harris all playing major offensive roles, it was Pillari who led Orthopaedic with 28 points on 7-for-9 shooting from beyond the three-point arc, including 5-for-5 in the first half.

Mosely finished with 26 points, Wyche went for 24, Cole poured in 19 and Harris threw in 14 to carry the bulk of Orthopaedic's scoring for the game.

Coached by Ron Pastore, Thursday marks the third time that Stern's Trailer has won the JSBL championship and first time since 2012.

Many of the JSBL players will move on to play their regular teams in the weeks to come, both as college players and professionals. Reynolds is headed to play in the Netherlands and although the Manchester alum was born in Japan and is the member of a military family, he has never been to his future country of employment.

"I have been to Italy and obviously I was overseas earlier in my life, but this will be the first time I am on my own, so that's going to be different," said Reynolds who will leave for Europe on Aug. 20. "I'm looking forward to it, though. I get a couple weeks to relax and enjoy the end of the summer around my family and friends around here and then it's on to the next chapter."

 

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