MANASQUAN - Senior Kyle Bradshaw has taken some good-natured joking from his Manasquan teammates all season about the fact that he has never played in the state playoffs in his career until this year.

Bradshaw was part of a Monmouth Regional program that did not qualify for the postseason for his first three years, including a one-win season last year, before transferring to Manasquan as a senior. With only one chance to shine in the state playoffs, the 6-foot-5 forward is making the most of it.

He looked like a postseason veteran in front of a capacity home crowd on Monday night with a game-high 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting along with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks to power Manasquan's 61-45 win over eighth-seeded Bordentown that gave the second-seeded Warriors their first NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II title since 2009. Manasquan will now face South Jersey champion Camden at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Perth Amboy High School in the Group II semifinals.

"This is my first time ever being in the playoffs in my high school career so to win a sectional championship is amazing,'' Bradshaw said. "I love these guys on this team. This has been so much fun."

"He's a great kid, and he's got some thick skin because we're always messing with him, but he's been a huge addition to our team,'' senior guard Luke O'Shaughnessy said.

Bradshaw teamed with junior forward Ryan Jensen to overpower the Scotties (24-5) in the frontcourt, as Jensen finished with 14 points, 18 rebounds and 4 blocks.

Manasquan celebrated its first Central Jersey Group II title since 2009 after a win over Bordentown on Monday night. (Photo by Scott Stump)
Manasquan celebrated its first Central Jersey Group II title since 2009 after a win over Bordentown on Monday night. (Photo by Scott Stump)

"That was our gameplan - get the ball to the elbows and the blocks with me and Ryan and let us go to work inside, get a lot of fouls, and get layups and stuff like that because they couldn't match up with us that well,'' Bradshaw said.

O'Shaughnessy spearheaded the defensive effort by limiting Bordentown star Myron Gordon, a junior guard, to 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting, one game after holding Matawan star Jason Dunne to nine points in the semifinals. Gordon had scored 28 points in an upset win over Shore Conference Tournament champion Rumson-Fair Haven in the semifinals, but O'Shaughnessy never let him find a rhythm.

"I knew he was more athletic than me and more of a driver, whereas Dunne has a deadly jumper and will rise and fire in your face,'' said O'Shaughnessy, who also had eight assists. "I knew Gordon was going to be a little more of a driver, so I gave him a step and just tried to contest every jumper he took."

"The whole gameplan was stop No. 5 (Gordon),'' Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau said. "I thought he was the most athletic player we've played all year. O'Shaughnessy did a great job limiting penetration and contesting every shot."

The Manasquan players celebrated with a raucous student section after winning the championship on their home floor. (Photo by Scott Stump)
The Manasquan players celebrated with a raucous student section after winning the championship on their home floor. (Photo by Scott Stump)

On the occasions when Gordon did get into the lane off the dribble, Jensen and Bradshaw were usually waiting to challenge or alter his shot.

"The guy I was guarding wasn't much of a scorer, so coach wanted me to play off him and help on No. 5 (Gordon) because he's a big slasher, and really just rebound and block shots and play help defense,'' Bradshaw said.

The Warriors (22-6) came flying out of the gate with a 23-point first quarter to take seven-point lead as senior Aidan McMenaman hit a pair of threes and Bradshaw and Jensen set the tone up front by combining for 11 points. McMenaman also did a great job face-guarding Bordentown sophomore guard Darnill Brown, who entered the game with 63 3-pointers for the season but finished with two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

"First and foremost was stopping Myron Gordon, who is a heck of a player, and after that it was just making sure (Brown) didn't get anything easy,'' McMenaman said.

A 3-pointer by McMenaman and a pair of free throws by Bradshaw pushed the lead to double digits at 28-18 with 6:20 left in the second quarter, and the Warriors went into the break with a 36-28 advantage.

The third quarter was the turning point as Bradshaw scored all eight of Manasquan's points while the Warriors held Bordentown to two points on 1-for-7 shooting and forced five turnovers to take a 44-30 lead into the fourth quarter.

"We said in the locker room that the third quarter was where they were going to make their run if they were going to come back, so we knew we had to shut them down there,'' Jensen said.

"I think their confidence went down when we went on a little bit of a run, and once we saw that, we stepped on the gas pedal a little bit more and then after that it was over,'' Bradshaw said.

After a basket by sophomore forward Manny Ansong (11 points) cut the lead to 12 early in the fourth quarter, Jensen scored and was fouled for a 3-point play after a nice dish by O'Shaughnessy, and then Bradshaw hit a pair of foul shots to push the lead to 17 points. Manasquan went to the line 27 times in the game, making 21, compared to only 10 attempts for Bordentown.

The Scotties never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way, touching off a wild postgame as a roaring Manasquan student section dressed in various costumes stormed the court in celebration.

"That was a blast,'' Jensen said. "I've never played in an atmosphere like that. I couldn't hear at times. It was just surreal."

"There's no gym like this one,'' O'Shaughnessy said. "I can't even describe it. We saved the costume theme for the final, and once Lakewood lost, we knew it was going through our gym, and these fans and the entire community, parents and coaches, there's nothing like it."

It was the first time Bradshaw ever experienced anything like it, and he tried to drink in every moment.

"To go out with a ring is unreal,'' he said.

"These guys break his chops all the time about that,'' Bilodeau said. "The big thing for him was that he got hurt in October and he missed half the year (with a foot injury). This is like mid-season for him now and he's rounding into form at the perfect time."

Box score

Manasquan 61, Bordentown 45

Bordentown (45): Nemeth 1 0-0 3, Gordon 3 4-4 10, Gipson 2 3-3 8, Ansong 5 1-3 11, Vasil 0 0-0 0, Teel-Scott 5 0-0 11, Chiszar 0 0-0 0, Brown 1 0-0 2, Culda 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 8-10 45.

Manasquan (61): O'Shaughnessy 1 3-4 5, Paturzo 0 1-2 1, J. Sheehan 2 4-5 9, Bradshaw 9 5-6 23, T. Sheehan 0 0-0 0, R. Jensen 3 8-10 14, McMenaman 3 0-0 9. Totals: 18 21-27 61.

Bordentown (24-5) 16  12  2  15 - 45

Manasquan (22-6)  23  13  8  17 - 61

Three-pointers: (B) Nemeth, Gipson, Teel-Scott; (M) McMenaman 3, J. Sheehan. Fouled out: None.


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