*This article has been updated with information on the Shore Conference's all-time leading scorer and Antoine being the first sophomore from the Shore to ever reach 1,000 career points.

TOMS RIVER - Bringing the ball up the middle of the floor against Middletown North on Sunday, Ranney sophomore guard Bryan Antoine took a quick dribble to his left, stutter-stepped and then effortlessly drained a 3-pointer in the second quarter.

It was just another silky jumper to one of the best sophomores in the country, but it was a sight that had never been seen in Shore Conference history. The 3-pointer gave Antoine his 1,000th career point as a sophomore as part of a 33-point afternoon in the second-seeded Panthers' 79-63 win over the seventh-seeded Lions (14-9) at Pine Belt Arena that put Ranney (20-3) into its first Shore Conference Tournament semifinal in school history.


Antoine is the first sophomore in Shore Conference history to reach 1,000 points, according to N.J. basketball historian Chuck Langerman. 

"It's pretty incredible,'' said Ranney head coach Tahj Holden, who was a 1,000-point scorer himself at Red Bank Regional in the late 1990s. "With the talent and the history of the Shore Conference, you don't have a lot of guys that come in as freshmen and play a lot of minutes or score a lot of points like Bryan is doing. He's close to averaging 20 a game for his career, so it's a pretty special thing for him, but it's a credit to our team."

Ranney will face sixth-seeded Marlboro at 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday in the SCT semifinals back at Pine Belt Arena in a bid to reach its first conference final.

Antoine, who now has 1,020 career points, is on pace to become one of only a handful of 2,000-point scorers in Shore Conference history, with most of them having achieved the feat in a bygone era, like 1950s Lakewood star Jack Ardon, the first player in state history to cross that threshold with 2,152.

The Shore's all-time leading scorer is Norman Caldwell, a 1973 graduate of the now-defunct Croydon Hall Academy in Atlantic Highlands, who racked up 2,302 points, according to Langerman.  Caldwell went on to play at the University of Florida. 

Jim Dolan, who starred at the old St. Joseph's (now Donovan Catholic) in the early 1980s, finished with 2,175, Lacey's Chris Fleming remains Ocean County's all-time leading scorer with 2,235 points from his tenure in the mid-1980s, and 1990 Central graduate Jermaine Clay is right behind him at 2,212 points. 

For those wondering, the state record for career points is in the stratosphere. Camden legend Dajuan Wagner scored 3,462 on his way to becoming a first-round draft pick in 2002. 

The 33 points that Antoine poured in on Sunday isn't even his career high, as he had 39 against Asbury Park as a freshman, which for all we know is the most points ever scored in a game by a ninth-grader in Shore Conference history. Antoine considered it just another day at the office. His biggest gift may be making the extraordinary look effortless, just like the 3-pointer he nailed to reach the milestone. 

"To be honest, I don't really feel anything because it's the Shore Conference
Tournament and we have to focus on the next game,'' Antoine said. "I had no idea I scored 1,000 points. I did my celebration for making a 3, and then I hear the horn go off and I see Scottie (Lewis) running at me, so that's when it hit me that I had scored it."

"It's super impressive,'' said fellow sophomore guard Ahmadu Sarnor, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds in the win. "He works his tail off every day and he deserves it."

Sarnor is a 1,000-point scorer himself after reaching the mark as an eighth-grader and freshman at Collegium Charter in Pennsylvania before transferring to Ranney this season. Given that Lewis, a sophomore who had 18 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 blocks in the win, is also well on his way along with Middletown North sophomore guard Rob Higgins, who had a team-high 20 points on Sunday and leads the Shore at 24 per game, there could potentially be a remarkable four players on the floor from the game who make a run at 2,000 career points.

Bryan Antoine raises up for the 3-pointer that put him over the 1,000-point mark as a sophomore. (Photo by Ray Richardson)
Bryan Antoine raises up for the 3-pointer that put him over the 1,000-point mark as a sophomore. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

The perfect storm certainly existed for Antoine to reach the milestone so early in that he came to a program where he was an instant starter and he is surrounded by plenty of talent to get him the ball in position to score.

Regardless, the most outstanding aspect of his feat is that he did it within the framework of the offense. He is not a gunner jacking up 25 shots a game. He is an efficient shooter, he gets buckets in the lane and in transition, and he does plenty of damage from the foul line, where he went 12-for-14 on Sunday.

"It's pretty impressive when you see a guy who's not out there hunting his shot,'' Holden said. "There's a couple games where we're winning and I pull him out of the game and I'll be like, 'He had a pretty good game, I'm thinking like 15 or 16 points,' and you look at the book after the game and he's got 27. He's really unassuming."

"That's what makes him such a special player because the ball is getting spread around and everyone is getting their shots,'' said Ranney sophomore guard Alex Klatsky.

He also commands respect from opponents for the way he has compiled his numbers.

"It's incredible,'' said Middletown North head coach Mike Iasparro, a star guard in his own right at Mater Dei Prep in the early 1990s. "I'm most impressed with him of how he just lets the game come to him.

"It's a quiet 30 points. He makes the right play, even though if he really wanted to, he could come out here and score 50."

Not only is he a smart player and a standout passer in addition to being a scorer, he also has worked hard to improve his strength and leaping ability. At one point in the second half, he crossed over a defender in transition and rammed down a dunk for the type of play he would not have been able to make last season.


"Last year, AAU people were saying I was soft and couldn't take contact,'' Antoine said. "And my coach said if I'm going to be a good player, I have to absorb contact, so I had to get stronger."

"It's hard when you're a 6-4, 160-pound guy to take  the contact and get through the dribble move and finish like that, but he's been working on his body and getting stronger.,'' Holden said.

Antoine also has been able to shut out the deafening hype that follows him and Lewis, who are being recruited by every big-name program under the sun. Everyone from John Calipari to Rick Pitino has been in attendance to see them, yet they continue to play unselfish basketball.

"You just play every game like it's a normal game,'' he said.

As Antoine reached rarefied air in the latest step of what is shaping up to be a legendary career, he has earned perhaps the ultimate compliment from opposing coaches, who are not swayed by headlines and pure statistics.

"He plays the game the right way,'' Iasparro said.

Box score 

Ranney 79, Middletown North 63

Midd. North (63): Tomasetti 1 0-0 2, Higgins 6 6-10 20, Cerbo 1 5-8 8, Cherry 5 0-0 14, McDowell 3 0-0 7, Campbell 2 1-2 5, Pinckney 1 0-0 3, Kenny 2 0-0 4. Totals: 21 12-20 63.

Ranney: (79) Antoine 10 12-14 33, Smith 0 0-0 0, Klatsky 1 0-0 3, Mahoney 0 1-2 1, Sarnor 9 1-2 19, Lewis 8 1-3 18, Autino 1 2-4 4. Totals: 29 17-25 79.

Midd. North (14-9) 17  11  21 14 - 63

Ranney (20-3)       17   22  21  17  - 79

Three-pointers: (R) Antoine, Klatsky, Lewis; (M) Cherry 4, Higgins 2, Cerbo, McDowell, Pinckney. Fouled out: (M) Kenny


Contact: stump@allshoremedia.com; @Scott_Stump


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