February 14, 2017 Volume-IX Issue-3
The first thing fans, players, coaches & parents want to know after the big game is always,
â€?Is this going to be on
Shore Sports Network has established itself as a leader in scholastic sports coverage in Monmouth and Ocean counties, providing more video highlight clips, in-depth reporting, feature stories and regular updates than ANY OTHER OUTLET in the area.
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n Get Video Highlights of all the important games that Shore Conference fans will be talking about. n Catch up on the action you might have missed n Watch video clips of everything from the action early in the event to the big finish as well as video interviews with various athletes. n www.shoresportsnetwork.com is the most visited sports site in the Shore Conference during the scholastic year n Follow us on Twitter (over 16,000 followers) & Facebook, we keep fans posted on the latest scores and news n Established leading portal for local high school coverage.
KevinWILLIAMS S h o r e S p o r t s N e t w o r k Director k ev i n . w i l l i am s @ t ow n s qu a re m ed i a. c om
SteveMEYER Shore Sports Network Director High School Division s t ev e. m e y er @t own s qu a re m edi a. co m 7 3 2 - 2 3 3 - 4 4 6 0
Senior C ontent Providers BobBadders // firstname.lastname@example.org MattManley // Mmanley21@gmail.com
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Shore Sports Network to help present Shore Conference Basketball Tournament by Kevin Williams - Shore Sports Network Director
s the exclusive media partner of the Shore Conference of High Schools, Shore Sports Network will help present the 2017 Shore Conference Basketball Tournament February 14-23. The boys and girls tournaments will be seeded on February 14 and are open to teams with a .500 or better record. The schedule for this year’s tournament is listed below: Tuesday, Feb. 14
Thursday, Feb. 16
Round of 16 at higher seeds
Saturday, Feb 18
Girls Quarterfinals at Pine Belt Arena, TR
Sunday, Feb 19
Boys Quarterfinals at Pine Belt Arena, TR
Monday, Feb 20
Girls Semifinals at Pine Belt Arena, TR
Tuesday Feb 21
Boys Semifinals at Pine Belt Arena, TR
Saturday, Feb 25
Girls & Boys Finals at Monmouth University
ShoreSportsNetwork.com will be your one-stop shop for complete covera ge of this year’s tournament beginning with Ma tt Manley’s S C T p r e v i e w i n m i d - Fe b r u a r y. T h e w e b s i t e w i l l i n cl u d e u p d a t e d brackets, schedules, scores and highlights, game stories, videos and a histor y of what many consider the highlight of the basketball season. The Shore Sports Network Journal will print a special championship game issue which will ser ve as the official game-day program for the Bo ys & Girls Championship games on Februar y 27 a t Monmouth University. The FREE issue will include rosters for the four finalists, game previews and more and will be a vailable as fans enter Monmouth University. In addition the Bo ys and Girl’s semifinals will be broadcast live on the Shore Sports Network’s 1160 & 1310AM as well as streamed live on shoresportsnetwork.com. Those broadcasts will be handled by Ma tt Harmon, Kevin Williams and Ed Sarluca.
BE PART OF THE 2017 SHORE CONFERENCE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT WITH THE SHORE SPORTS NETWORK! The Shore Conference Basketball Tournament is the highlight of the basketball season and goes back to 1937. The Boys tournament is expected to feature teams like defending champion Mater Dei Prep, Ranney, Freehold Township and Toms River North while a very deep girl’s field will include Manasquan, St. Rose, Red Bank Catholic and St. John Vianney. Advertising within the official program now available contact Steve Meyer at email@example.com, 732-233-4460.
the US Army continues the Honor of presenting the Basketball Teams of the Week By Mat t Manley - S enior S taff Writ er
Du r i n g
the 20i7 boys basketball season, Shore Sports Network will be selecting an Army Strong Team of the Week, sponsored by the U.S. Army. The feature team will be selected based on performance from the prior week of action.
C o a c h G e o f f B i l l e t a n d C B A a c c e p t t h e Te a m o f t h e We e k g a m e b a l l
Coach Mike Gawronski and the Brick Township boys basketball team accept their game ball from Staff Sgt. Jonnathan Ruiz.
Li t sa srt eybeuai rl ,d itnhge pB rr oi ccke sbso ybsy bqausakleitfbyai nl lg pfroorg rtahme tSoh oo kr ea Ckoeny fse treepn ci ne Tournament for the first time in 10 years. Now, the expectations are raised and the Green Dragons will hit the postseason this week hoping to build on what is currently a 13-win season.
Brick beefed up its record with a season-best six-game winning streak and the tail end of that run earned the Green Dragons the Shore Sports Network Army Strong Team of the Week for Week Six.
The week began on Jan. 31 with a 74-66 win over Toms River East, led by d o u b l e - d o u b l e s f r o m b o t h s o p h o m o r e S h a n e Wi l l i a m s ( 1 9 p o i n t s a n d 11 rebounds) and senior Noah Buono (17 point s and 10 rebounds).
Wi l l i a m s s t a r r e d a g a i n o n F e b . 2 w h e n t h e G r e e n D r a g o n s b e a t K e a n s b u rg , 7 8 - 5 2 , i n a n o n - d i v i s i o n a l w i n . T h e s o p h o m o r e p o u r e d i n a c a r e e r- h i g h 3 5 points while Buono netted 19 to back up his teammate.
Brick wrapped up a 3-0 week with a hard-fought 56-55 win over Toms River S o u t h , w h i c h h a d u p s e t C e n t r a l R e g i o n a l e a r l i e r i n t h e w e e k . Wi l l i a m s o n c e again led Brick with 18 points while senior Anthony DeStefano added 16 and Buono scored 14.
ince joining the Shore Conference more than three decades ago, the Christian Brothers Academy basketball team has rarely played the role of underdog. Even this year, one in which the Colts sought to replace their top six players from last year, CBA served as a proving-ground opponent for many Class A North teams.
Last Friday Feb. 27th, however, the Colts rolled into Freehold Township as the unquestioned underdog against a 16-0 Patriots squad that already won at CBA, 54-39, in early January. CBA erupted for a 13-0 run during the first quarter and never looked back, knocking off Freehold Township, 63-58. For handing the No. 3 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 its first loss, CBA is the fifth Army Strong Team of the Week of the 2016-17 season.
The win over the Patriots was CBA’s fourth straight and the Colts extended the streak to five on Tuesday with a win over Freehold Boro. A trio of sophomores has fueled the resurgence: Josh Cohen (10.6 points per game), Liam Kennedy (10.6) and Stephen Braunstein (8.5) are the team’s top three scorers. Kennedy and Braunstein led the way against Freehold Township by scoring 16 points apiece and combining for seven of the team’s nine three-pointers. CBA began last week by defeating Howell, 63-44 on Jan. 24 behind a 19-point effort by Kennedy.
Rumson Fair Haven
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v e r y w e e k t h i s r e g u l a r s e a s o n , S h o r e C o n f e r e n c e B a s k e t b al l f a n s w i l l h a v e t h e i r c h a n c e t o v o t e f o r t h e Or th o pae d ic In s ti tut e of C e n tra l J e rs ey /S h o re S po rt s N et wo r k b a sk e tb al l Pl a ye r o f th e W ee k o n o ur we b s it e.
he Lancers have shown improvement over the course of the year and Moran’s emergence has a lot to do with it. The junior put up 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a win over Shore, then went off for 25 points and 13 boards in a win over Princeton. He also scored 12 points in a Senior Night loss to Newark Central. St. John Vianney drew the No. 13 seed in the NJSIAA South Jersey NonPublic A Playoffs and will tr y to make some postseason noise a gainst fourthseeded Notre Dame. Moran won this week’s Player of the Week competition with 38.7 percent of the more than 3,500 votes, beating out Brick sophomore Shane Williams, who garnered 20 percent. St. Rose junior Da ve Callo way picked up 17 percent of the vote and Manchester senior L.J. Robinson – who scored his 1,000th point last week – earned 14.6 percent.
St. John Vianney J r .
W e e k - 6 1/30/i7
W e e k - 5 1/23/i7 Pinelands So.
anthony diaz W e e k - 4 1/i6/i7 Toms River South Sr.
Matt Shiffer W e e k - 3 1/9/i7 Rumson-Fair haven So.
Ian O’Connor W e e k - 2 1/2/i7 Keansburg Jr.
Paul Eckleberry W e e k - 1 12/26/i6 Wall. Jr.
Photo provided by @sjv_basketball
Point Beach Nearly Derails Top-Seeded Kittatinny in Group I Semifinals By Bob Badders – Senior Managing Editor
oint Beach won the first bout of the day against perennial Group I power Kittatinny on Sunday morning, and from there the Gulls refused to go quietly.
Few people inside Pine Belt Arena for the NJSIAA Group Championships thought Point Beach could hang with top-seeded Kittatinny, but throughout the match that’s exactly what the Garnet Gulls did, leading midway through the bout and continually fighting back when the Cougars managed to pull ahead. There was no storybook finish for the Gulls as Kittatinny was heavily favored in the final match and won by fall to take a 39-33 win, but the growth for Point Beach was obvious. “Kittatinny’s for losses are to absolute hammer teams (Howell, Phillipsburg, Hunterdon Central and Delaware Valley, all of which will wrestle in state finals),” said Point Beach head coach Jeff Bower. “We wrestled tough, had some falls in critical situations. I’m just real happy wth these guys.” Will Jarvis started Point Beach off with a 2-1 win over Mike Nelson at 113 points, and after Kittatinny won by fall at 120, Jude Lovgren answered with a pin at 126 to give Point Beach a 9-6 lead. Roddy Rupp’s 3-1 decision over Perry Maio at 132 gave the Garnet Gulls a 12-6 advantage. Mike Callahan won by 13-7 decision over Jared Hoeler at 138, but saving bonus points was almost as good as a win four Beach. Calvin Brook followed with a pin in 4:26, however, to put Kittatinny up 15-12. Jimmy Sherlock responded by locking in a spladle and pinning Kasey Hotz in 1:49 to give the Gulls the lead back, 18-15. Jason Bowers then defeated Shane Smith, 7-0, for a 21-15 cushion.
Cade Watkins won by fall at heavyweight to tie the bout at 33, but Derek Molfetto was a massive favorite over Kerr in the final bout. He pinned for the win in 42 seconds to send Kittatinny to the Group I final vs. Paulsboro.
“Last year I think we were just happy to be here and everything was new to us,” Bower said. “This year we knew what to expect with everything. The step last year was to just make it here. The step this year was to make it to the finals, and even though we didn’t the way we competed was night and day compared to last year.”
A lightning quick pin by Josh Hiler in 10 seconds at 170 tied the match at 21, but Jack Baker got those points right back with a nasty cement mixer to deck Jacob Mafaro in 1:28 at 182 pounds. Point Beach’s 27-21 lead was short-lived, however, as Kittatinny would win by fall in three of the last four bouts.
“We’ve definitely made strides and hopefully we can continue to do that.”
Josh Klimek’s pin in 55 seconds at 195 tied the bout at 27 and Zach Mafaro’s pin in 1:41 gave Kittatinny a 33-27 lead with two bouts left. Point Beach felt Nick Kenmure was illegally slammed before being pinned at 220, but with the officials not agreeing on it (one referee thought it was a slam and one did not) the bout was allowed to continue. Point Beach was also in a precarious spot because Jarvis usually wrestles at 106 but was at 113 Sunday. That left inexperienced backup Jered Kerr as the only option at 106.
Last season Point Beach defeated Manville to win its first sectional title and promptly lost to Kittatinny by 21 points in the Group I semifinals. They were overmatched, no question, but last year was more about just making the trip. This season Point Beach blasted its way to the Central Jersey Group I championship, trouncing Manville, 57-9, in the final. Their attitude entering the final day of the team season was decidedly different.
www.shoresportsnetwork.com “All year they’ve taken it one day at a time and they really do think they can compete with anyone,” Bower said. “Up and down the lineup we wrestled tough as anything.”
Ray Rich Photography:
NJSIAA HONORS LIFE SAVERS By Kevin Williams - Shore Sp orts ne twork Dire ctor
here were plenty of cheers for the seven schools that won NJSIAA Group Team Wrestling Championships at the Pine Belt Arena but the biggest applause came during a special ceremony which honored those who helped save the life of a local wrestler last month. NJSIAA Executive Director Steve Timko took to the mat before one of the championship rounds to salute coaches and an athletic trainer who came to the rescue of Donovan Ca tholic wrestler Brandon Gonzalez. The 220p o u n d j u n i o r h a s j u s t p i n n e d h i s To m s R i v e r North opponent during a tri-meet a t Lakewood High School on January 4 but did not move when the bout was over. The referee quickly realized something was wrong as Gonzalez was unconscious.
P i c t u r e d f r o m l e f t t o r i g h t : J o h n D e M a r c o , J o s h H u b e r, B r a n d o n G o n z a l e z , Among those who came to his rescue and P a t H a l p i n , S t e v e G l a w s o n & S t e v e Ti m k o began performing life-saving efforts were Griffins head coach Steve Glawson, North Timko lauded the efforts of Gla wson, Huber, DeMarco and Halpin who received a assistants Josh Huber and John DeMarco and Lakewood a thletic trainer Pa t Halpin. All were trained in CPR and the use of automa ted external defibrilla tors and along standing ova tion from those inside the arena for their heroics on the ma t. Also on w i t h o t h e r m e d i c a l p e r s o n n e l h e l p e d r e v i v e t h e y o u n g w r e s t l e r b e f o r e h e w a s hand was Gonzalez who is doing well and has returned to school. transported to the hospital. Glawson is an oral surgeon who is also a captain in the Na vy Reser ve.
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he Shore Conference Tournament tips off Tuesday Februry 14 th and 24
boys teams are gunning for a trip – in some cases a surprise trip – to the quarterfinals at Pine Belt Arena and perhaps even beyond. Of course, some teams have a much better chance to make noise than other and a lot of that has to do with the draw. Below is a list of all 24 teams ranked from leastlikely to reach the semifinals on Feb. 21 to the most likely team to win it.
By Matt Manley - Senior Staff Writer
Final Four Material 12. CBA A lot of the factors that make Middletown North dangerous also apply to CBA, except the Colts got a much better draw despite being seeded five spots lower. That doesn’t, however, mean it will be easy. The Colts play Donovan Catholic in the first round and, with a win, would play a Toms River North team that beat CBA during the year, 57-51. Throw in a potential quarterfinal matchup with Rumson, and it’s a difficult collection of games, but it does avoid the big two until the semifinals. For a young, up-and-coming CBA squad, it’s not out of the question to expect a long run.
After catching their breath with a first-round bye, Marlboro will gear up for a likely meeting with Lakewood, which will be a serious test. Marlboro has been competitive with Freehold Township in two meetings and the Mustangs are well-rounded enough that they should hang around against any opponent – especially with a one-man press break like P.J. Ringel.
1. Mater Dei Prep The defending Shore Conference champions are the No. 1 seed in the tournament for the second straight year and appear poised to defend their title at Monmouth on Feb. 25. The Seraphs beat Ranney last week and secured a share of the Class B Central title by beating St. Rose and Point Beach later in the week. Senior Elijah Barnes is 28 points from reaching 1,000 for his career, so there is plenty of reason to follow the Seraphs in the early rounds. A matchup with Neptune in the round of 16 would not be a cakewalk and Point Beach and Manasquan in the quarters can also pose a threat.
5. Toms River North CBA’s seeding puts Toms River North in a tough spot as the Mariners try to reach the SCT semifinals for the third straight year and fourth time in five years. CBA played Toms River North very tough at the Boardwalk Showcase and the Colts are playing markedly better right now. TR North’s Jaden Rhoden The good news for Toms River North is that they are still one of the more senior-influenced rosters in the field and will be playing every one of their SCT games in their gym until the championship at Monmouth University.
2. Ranney School If the tournament were seeded on Monday morning instead of Sunday afternoon, Ranney probably would have been No. 1 on the strength of its win over Newark East Side Sunday night. The Panthers were sloppy in last week’s loss to Mater Dei, but still had the ball with a chance to tie it in the final seconds. The drama in this tournament will surround whether or not one of the underdogs can take Ranney or Mater Dei into the final minutes with a chance to shock one of the giants. If the answer is no, then the real drama starts on Feb. 25 with a Ranney-Mater Dei rubber match for the SCT crown.
4. Rumson-Fair Haven Toms River North might have an edge once the tournament reached the quarterfinals, but Rumson’s road to the semifinals is a little more manageable considering the Bulldogs don’t have to face a team like CBA. Central might be just as tough, but the Golden Eagles have not been playing their best basketball over the last two weeks. Rumson is like Middletown North in that they can win any game with their slashing and shooting, plus the Bulldogs will not have to play any of the top three teams until the semifinals.
Ranney’s Scottie Lewis
RFH’s Tommy Oakes
Mater Dei’s Elijah Barnes
17. Red Bank Catholic 3. Freehold Township When it comes to the question of which public school has the best chance to reach the championship game, there is plenty of room for debate. With that being said, Freehold Township is as proven as a team could want to be heading into the postseason and looks like the most complete public school roster. A scare against two-win Manalapan to end last week may have to serve as a wake-up call for the Patriots, but considering the game meant very little in the division title picture, it’s not quite the level of a red flag. Freehold Twp’s Steve Staklinski
Peaking at the Right Time 11. Lakewood The Piners have flown under the radar to some degree this year, but as has been commonplace in recent years, they head into the SCT as the B South champs. If there is one encouraging sign for Lakewood, it’s that the Piners are getting better as the season goes and have been tested plenty of times thanks to a strong non-divisional schedule. They also have the benefit of a pretty good draw, which will include a trip to Marlboro if Holmdel can’t win in Lakewood. The road to the semifinals from this portion of the bracket will likely run through Freehold Township as well and on a good day, Lakewood can likely give the Lakewood’s Adi Palmer Patriots a run for their money.
7. Middletown North We’re getting to the part of the list in which the draw means less than the team. Middletown North does not have an especially good draw, but the Lions do have the pieces to give Ranney or Mater Dei trouble. The Lions can put five shooters on the floor and they have improved on the interior over the course of the season as well. Throw in the fact that sophomore Rob Higgins has been playing as well as any player in the Shore since he returned from a wrist injury, and Middletown North should be take quite seriously as a team that has a fighting chance against one of the favorites.
Victims of the Bracket 18. St. Rose Unfortunately for the Purple Roses, it’s just not shaping up to be their year. They had to face the top two seeds in the tournament twice, they dropped a pair of competitive games to Point Beach, they are stuck in the toughest section of the NJSIAA tournament and here they are in one of the least enviable positions in the field. On the bright side, St. Rose is perfectly capable of winning a first-round road game at Long Branch. If they clear that hurdle, however, Ranney will be waiting in the round of 16.
The Caseys might have had an opportunity to climb into the top eight but losses to Long Branch and CBA relegated the B North tri-champs to a first-round road game against a tough Neptune team. Like St. Rose, Red Bank Catholic certainly has a firstround win in them, but that would only earn the Caseys a shot at the No. 1 team in the tournament.
15. Long Branch While Long Branch is essentially stuck in the same quicksand that St. Rose is, the Green Wave has flashed hints of brilliance this year that might be enough to bother Ranney in a potential round-of-16 game. Of course, Long Branch will have to win a game before it earns the privilege, but if the Green Wave can secure a trip to Ranney, they have the kind of athleticism and upside that might match up well with the Panthers in some spots.
16. Neptune Before this week, Neptune appeared poised to land the No. 7 seed after having played every opponent on its schedule tough other than Freehold Township. The Scarlet Fliers, however, have now lost four straight and went from what appeared to be a comfortable top-right seed to one of the toughest draws in the tournament. The silver-lining for Neptune is that it has a starting five that might fare well in a potential matchup against Mater Dei in the round of 16. That might end up being more of an inconvenience for the Seraphs rather than any kind of advantage for Neptune, but if nothing else, it would be a rather intriguing matchup that early in the tournament.
Neptune’s Jared Kimbrough
Dangerous Teams, Tough Odds 10. Colts Neck With so many new varsity players, Colts Neck was always expecting to be a project for most of the year. After losing some close games to other A North postseason teams, the Cougars have come on lately with wins over CBA and Neptune. They have played good enough competition that they will be ready for almost any challenge, but Colts Neck would have to find a way past Ranney in order to get to the semifinals. That probably limits their upside in this tournament, but a trip to the quarterfinals shouldn’t surprise anyone.
9. Manasquan Many coaches who saw Manasquan in the preseason thought they could be the best public school team in the Shore Conference this season. Injuries have put a damper on that pursuit, but the Warriors are beginning to get fully healthy and not a moment too soon. They lost competitive games at Rumson and Middletown North and will be much healthier on Thursday than they were when they lost to Point Beach in early January. If Manasquan can get past Brick and Point Beach, they have a scorer (Devin Jensen) who can give Mater Dei issues, as well as some length, depth and shooting. See
SCT Field p a g e
Continued from page 13
8. Point Beach
Although Barnegat does not have much in the way of eye-opening wins during the course of the season, the Bengals should like their chances. They drew a first-round opponent (Central) that has a loss to a non-tournament team (Toms River South) and survived recent close calls against Jackson Memorial and Brick Memorial. Barnegat has also faced their potential round-of-16 opponent, so another trip to Rumson shouldn’t scare the Bengals.
The Garnet Gulls earned a bye in the first round, so that alone gives them a better chance to make a run than Manasquan. It’s not a huge difference, though, and Point Beach has to be at least a little uneasy about likely having to beat Manasquan for a second time and if they are successful, likely a third meeting with Mater Dei. Point Beach has already took the Seraphs to the wire once, so the Gulls would be an underdog with an actual chance to pull off a big upset.
19. Ocean Among this group of teams, Ocean appears to have the best combination of draw and ability to make an actual surprise run through the tournament. The draw is not totally ideal because a first-round win over Point Boro would mean a trip to Freehold Township, but Ocean has a mix of shooting, size and athleticism that will make any opponent have to work. If there is a team outside the top 14 situated to win two games, it very well could be Ocean.
Pt. Beach’s Danny Frauenheim
Potential Cinderella Stories on quarterfinal Sunday 24. Brick The Green Dragons did enough damage in their non-divisional schedule to comfortably qualify for the tournament, but their record against quality competition does not inspire much confidence in their ability to win a first-round game. Brick does, however, have talent and roster versatility that could make the Dragons more dangerous than their resume might suggest and their draw (Manasquan) at least gives them a fighting chance to reach the quarterfinals, even if they are a longshot.
21. Donovan Catholic As recently as last week, the Griffins looked like they were skidding to the finish of the season, but they have some renewed hope after beating Point Boro for the second time this season to cap the week. The bad news for Donovan Catholic is the firstround draw: CBA is playing much better than a No. 12 seed and going to the Academy for a postseason game is always a challenge. While both Donovan Catholic and CBA are completely different teams from a year ago, the Griffins should feel confident knowing that last year’s group went into CBA and nearly pulled off a big state tournament upset. Although any subsequent game would be difficult, at least the Griffins would theoretically avoid the top two seeds over the first three rounds.
23. Matawan Many of the same concerns that Brick will have going into the tournament are concerns that Matawan shares, but the Huskies at least have a close loss to Rumson as proof that they can stay with a top team. The draw also is not so bad considering they will start off against a Colts Neck team without much postseason experience followed, potentially, by a Middletown North team that relies heavily on the three-point shot.
From Slump to Sleeper? 14. Point Boro Point Boro enters the tournament off a second loss to Donovan Catholic but has a decent draw. It would be fair to call the first round game between Ocean and Point Boro a tossup game, which means the two teams probably have similar odds of reaching the later rounds of the tournament. As the No. 14 seed, Point Boro would not be as big a shock to go deep as the teams listed ahead of them, but getting past Freehold Township would make for a pretty surprising story.
13. Central The Golden Eagles have had some trouble putting teams away ever since they beat Ridge on Jan. 28 for their eighth straight win. While most coaches would like to have some momentum entering a tournament, it’s more peace of mind than predictive. Central could very easily work out the kinks and roll into Rumson on Thursday as a very dangerous opponent. Since the Golden Eagles will avoid both Mater Dei and Ranney until the semifinals, they could be considered a sleeper to show up in the semifinals. Central’s Maks Gruszecki
22. Holmdel The Hornets enter the tournament with just one win over an SCT qualifier, so the prospects of them getting past Lakewood in the first round might be somewhat bleak. On the flip side, Holmdel – as usual – has shown a lot of toughness this year by grinding its way back to the SCT despite losing every starter from a year ago. If they can goad Lakewood into a bad shooting night, the Hornets will have a shot to advance and the road beyond the Piners could be a lot worse.
Photo by: Ray Rich Photography: rayrichphotography.smugmug.com Rob Samuels: www.boofacephotography.com Larry Murphy
Holmdel’s Nick Harris
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Howell Wins First NJSIAA Title with Epic 28-27 Win over Hunterdon Central in Group V Final By Bob Badders – Senior Managing Editor
Howell’s only loss this season came to Hunterdon Central, 30-29, on Jan. 7, and the Rebels knew if they made it back to the state final they’d see the Red Devils again. Revenge and redemption were on their minds.
rom 1965 to 2016, Howell’s wrestling program accomplished nearly everything possible in the world of high school wrestling. The Rebels won countless Shore Conference division titles and recently added Shore Conference Tournament and state sectional titles to their trophy case. To truly be considered elite in the tradition-rich state of New Jersey, an overall NJSIAA team title is a prerequisite. Heading into this season it was the one and only accomplishment Howell had yet to achieve. That changed in epic fashion on Sunday at Pine Belt Arena when Howell rallied to defeat Hunterdon Central, 28-27, to win the NJSIAA Group V title and secure the program’s first NJSIAA group championship. The Rebels won eight of the 14 bouts, and when freshman Luke Rada made sure he didn’t allow Jack Bauer to win by technical fall or fall at 113 pounds in the final bout, the Rebels finally had their elusive state championship. There were several heroes for Howell in its penultimate moment, and the biggest was senior 220-pounder Eric Keosseian defeating Victor Lacombe, 4-3 with a buzzer-beating takedown, to cut Howell’s deficit to 24-21 with three bouts left. Before that there was junior Dan Esposito riding out Vince Romaniello in ultimate tiebreaker to win 2-1 at 138 pounds. Sophomore Xavier Kelly, wrestling for all of 14 months, got a turn in the third period to defeat Br yce Hall, 3-2 at 145 pounds. Junior Jesse Liptzin provided massive bonus points at 106 pounds with a major decision to make Rada’s job a little easier.
“We lost to them earlier in the year and that just fueled the f i r e ,” E s p o s i t o said. “The goal was to get back here a n d g e t t h e m .”
Hunterdon Central grabbed an 8-0 lead after two bouts as Hunter Graf won by 16-1 technical fall over Eli Orford to start the match. Howell was pinned in that bout last time, so the Rebels were actually ahead of the game by one point. A setback came at 126 where Peter Nace defeated Darby Diedrich, 8-4, reversing a 9-5 loss in the team’s regular-season meeting. Junior Kyle Slendorn answered with a 12-3 major decision over Pasquale Vizzoni at 132 pounds, getting two takedowns each in the second and third periods, to get the Rebels on the board and cut the deficit to 8-4. Howell needed a win from Esposito at 138, and he delivered in white-knuckle fashion by riding out Vincent Romaniello in the second tiebreaker and then again in ultimate tiebreaker for a 2-1 victory. Each wrestler had an escape in regulation and neither could score from neutral in sudden victory. Esposito chose defense to start the tiebreaker round but couldn’t get out. Then it was Romaniello’s turn to try to get out, but Esposito quickly sank in his legs to keep him down for the 30 seconds. Esposito scored first in the bout and thus had choice for ultimate tiebreaker. He didn’t hesitate to take top.
“He rode me out and I just felt more comfortable on top,” Esposito said. “I definitely had to dig deep for that one, but I knew, as a captain, there was no way I could lose there. I knew it was an important match.”
It’s clichè to talk about a win being a ‘total team effort’, but in wrestling, state championships aren’t won without 14 wrestlers, or at least the vast majority, doing exactly what their team needs of them.
“Those guys never panicked,” said Howell head coach John Gagliano. “Hunterdon Central is a very good team and we didn’t start out the way we wanted, but we kept grinding and kept having faith.”
“ We f i n a l l y g o t h e r e a n d d i d i t ,” K e o s s e i a n s a i d . “ We ’ v e always been a good team but we had never been able to accomplish this before. We knew it wasn’t about one guy, i t ’s a b o u t t h e w h o l e t e a m i n t h e s e i n s t a n c e s , a b o u t 1 4 guys doing their job.”
Howell p a g e
Howell C o n t
from page 16
a matchup of state medalists from last year. Lacombe had won both meetings, however, pinning Keosseian in the fourth round of wrestlebacks during the state tournament last year and earning a 5-1 decision this year. Keosseian had to find a way to break through, and he did.
“That started to get us going,” Gagliano said. “The guys never quit and that says a lot about them, the way they just kept grinding. They knew we had to find a way to make up some points.” Kelly was taken down early by Hall at 145, but kept it at a 2-1 deficit entering the third period. Riding on top in the third, Kelly yanked Hall over with a tilt for two near-fall points that gave him a critical 3-2 win to put Howell up, 10-8. Kelly lost by fall to Kevin Ciresa at 152 pounds in the first meeting.
“I shot in on a dive double and I felt him resting, like he thought I was going to give up right there,” Keosseian said. “I peaked out, got behind him and got the two. I knew I had to redeem myself in this match. He beat me in states and again early this year, and I knew I had to come back and beat him.
This time Ciresa squared off against Nick Sulkowski at 152, and despite getting thrown to his back and nearly pinned in the first period, Sulkowski held Ciresa to a 10-2 major decision which put Hunterdon Central back on top, 12-10. Howell’s sophomore/freshman tandem of Christian Murphy at 160 and Shane Reitsma at 170 came through with major decisions to give Howell an 18-12 advantage. Murphy used a reversal, three nearfall points and a point for a second stalling call to win 12-2 over Chris Taylor. Reitsma, who is undefeated as a freshman (32-0), scored seven points in the second period on his way to a 13-4 major over Dan Fumato. Hunterdon Central had firepower coming, however, and would win by fall in the next two bouts to take a 24-18 lead. Julian Heiligtag pinned Rashaun Hansford in the early seconds of the first period at 170 to tie the match at 18, and Michael Iodice followed by pinning Danny Schick in 3:50 at 195. Howell needed a win badly to stay in the match, but the odds on paper weren’t in the Rebels’ favor.
Trailing 3-1 after Lacombe secured a takedown on the edge of the circle with under a minute left, Keosseian escaped to make it 3-2, then brought Lacombe to the mat just before time expired for the crazy and critical victory.
“Eric was huge,” Gagliano said. “He wanted to get back and get that match again, and I’m so happy for him.” Senior heavyweight Jake Nash followed with a 7-0 decision over Angelo Crespo to give Howell a 27-24 lead with two bouts left, and Liptzin’s 13-5 major decision over Anthony Romaniello put Howell up by four going into the final bout. Liptzin’s win wasn’t a reversal of a previous result, but instead a literal major improvement of his 2-0 win during the regular season.
At 220 it was strength vs. strength with Keosseian taking on Lacombe in
All that was left was for Rada to lose small so Howell could win bigger than ever. The Rebels freshman did his job by holding Bauer to a decision, kicking off a celebration years in the making.
“We put in so much work during the season to get here and we had 14 guys who knew what we had to do,” Nash said. “It’s awesome. There’s no better feeling in the world than being state champs.” 18
Slowly, Howell has erased years of frustration at the hands of teams deemed to be just a notch above them. The Rebels eventually did it to win the Shore Conference Tournament in 2014 and have now won two in three years. They got past Southern and Brick Memorial to win state sectional titles. This time it was Hunterdon Central, a program making its 14th appearance in an NJSIAA state final. Now, there’s no denying Howell is among New Jersey’s elite.
“100 percent,” Gagliano said. “This was our ultimate goal to get here, to win it, and for these boys to do this, for this town, it’s just awesome.”
HC John Gagliano, Kyle Slendorn, Dan Esposito, Eric Keosseian & Jake Nash
Shore Sports Network Top ten T
By Bob Badders – Senior Managing Editor
he dual meet portion of the Shore Conference wrestling season is over and that means we’re nearing the final Shore Sports Network Top 10 for 2017. The final set of rankings won’t be released until after the season, but with only the district tournaments left as actual team events the picture is just about all the way in focus.
Howell capped a banner season by winning its first NJSIAA title, edging Hunterdon Central, 28-27, in a memorable Group V championship match. The Rebels have been the No. 1 team in the Shore most of the season and nothing will change that going forward. There will be plenty of debate over this and the final rankings, but no one will be disputing Howell as the Shore’s marquee program in 2017.
Raritan reached the Central Jersey Group II final before falling to eventual overall Group II champion Delaware Valley, while Middletown North suffered the same fate against Phillipsburg in the North 2, Group IV final. The Stateliners went on to win the overall Group IV crown and Middletown North pushed them to the limit in the sectional final, ultimately losing 36-27. Southern started the season at No. 1 and was No. 2 for most of the year, but the season ended badly for the Rams. Standout senior Seon Bowker transferred to Rancocas Valley, significantly weakening the lineup, and the Rams were then disqualified from the state tournament for violating the protocol for weight certification at the start of the season.
Jackson Memorial captured its ninth sectional title when it topped Brick Memorial, 34-22, in the Central Jersey Group IV championship match. The Jaguars lost to Mendham in the Group IV semifinals, but are a solid No. 5 with two wins over Brick Memorial and a win over Long Branch. Long Branch, meanwhile, reached the SCT final four and the Central Jersey Group IV final.
Colts Neck piled up a program single-season record 30 wins to just three losses. The Cougars lost to Howell and twice to Long Branch, while posting victories over Manalapan, Point Boro and Ocean.
After No. 7 is where it gets confusing. There’s Brick Memorial, Point Boro, Point Beach and Ocean where a quadrangle (really) exists. Brick Memorial beat Ocean but lost to Point Beach. Point Beach Brick Memorial and lost to Point Boro. Point Boro lost to Ocean, but that came all the way back on Dec. 23. The rule of thumb when seeding a team or individual tournament is to drop triangles (or quadrangles in this case) and use the rest of the criteria to place the teams, and we use the same formula in our rankings. There can still be some movement between now and the final top 10 based on what happens during the individual tournament, but we’re nearing the end.
H ow e l l
The Rebels won the Class A North division title for the 12th straight season, won the Shore Conference Tournament for the second time in three seasons, captured the South Jersey Group V title and won then won the Group V title for the first time in program history. They will host the District 22 Tournament this weekend.
Raritan reached the Central Jersey Group II final before falling to Delaware Valley, which went on to win the overall Group II title. The Rockets’ three losses all came to group champions (Howell and Phillipsburg being the other two). Raritan won its seventh straight Class A Central and reached the SCT final for the first time in program history. The Rockets will compete in the District 20 Tournament this weekend.
M iddletown N orth
The Lions were impressive in defeat in the North 2, Group IV final, falling to Phillipsburg, 36-27, in a match they led with four bouts left. Phillipsburg went on to win the overall Group IV title. Middletown North’s other losses this season came to Group V champion Howell, Group III runner-up Delsea and Raritan. The Lions also captured the Class B North division title for their first outright division championship since 1996. They will compete in the District 17 Tournament this weekend.
The Rams’ season ended after a win over Rancocas Valley in the first round of the South Jersey Group V Tournament as the school self-reported a protocol violation during preseason weight certification and was thus disqualified from the state tournament. Southern won the Class A South division title for the third time in four seasons, which included wins over Brick Memorial and Central Jersey Group IV champion Jackson Memorial. The Rams did not enter the SCT for the sixth straight season. Their losses came to Group III champion South Plainfield, Group IV champion Phillipsburg and North 1, Group 2 champion High Point. They will be in action this weekend at the District 29 Tournament.
J ackson M emorial
The Jaguars came together late in the season to make a run at the program’s ninth sectional title, defeating Brick Memorial, 34-22, to win the Central Jersey Group IV championship. Jackson was defeated by Mendham, 30-28, in the Group IV semifinals. Jackson had two wins over Brick Memorial this season as well as a win over Point Boro. The Jags will compete in the District 25 Tournament this weekend.
The Green Wave advanced to the semifinals of the Central Jersey Group IV tournament, losing 26-25 to eventual section champion Jackson Memorial. The Wave also reached the SCT semifinals where they fell to eventual champion Howell. Long Branch holds two wins over Colts Neck as well as victories over Point Boro, Ocean and Wall (twice). They will participate in the District 23 Tournament this weekend.
C olts N eck
The Cougars set a program-record for wins in a season with 30 while qualifying for the Central Jersey Group IV playoffs as the No. 5 seed and reaching the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament. Colts Neck’s top wins are over Manalapan, Point Boro and Ocean with its losses coming to Howell and Long Branch (twice). The Cougars will wrestle in the District 21 Tournament this weekend.
P oint B each
The Garnet Gulls captured their second straight and second overall sectional title by blasting Manville, 57-9, in the Central Jersey Group I championship match. Point Beach was a big underdog against Kittatinny in the Group I semifinals but battled valiantly to earn a 7-7 bout split in a 39-33 defeat that came down to the final weight class. Point Beach’s only other loss came to rival Point Boro, but the Gulls did earn a victory over Brick Memorial. They will wrestle in the District 23 Tournament this weekend.
B rick M emorial (i3-7)
The Mustangs reached the Central Jersey Group IV final where they fell to Jackson Memorial, 3422. They also advanced to the SCT quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Howell. Brick Memorial also posted wins over Brick (twice), North 2, Group I champion Cedar Grove, Ocean and Northern Burlington. Four of the Mustangs’ seven losses came to teams that won sectional titles with the other three coming to Southern, Middletown North and Garfield. They will compete in the District 21 Tournament this weekend.
L ong B ranch
P oint B oro
The Panthers made it to the Central Jersey Group II semifinals where a loss to eventual overall Group II champion Delaware Valley eliminated them. Point Boro’s top win was over Point Beach and the Panthers also defeated Northern Burlington. Their losses came to Ocean, Long Branch, Colts Neck, Jackson Memorial, Buena and Delaware Valley. Point Boro will compete in the District 21 Tournament this weekend.
2017 Shore Basketball Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game
he Shore Sports Network is proud to announce this year’s Shore Basketball Coaches Association Senior All-Star Games on Thursday, March 23 at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.
basketball in New Jersey. The arena is home to the NJSIAA Group Finals and Tournament of Champions as well as many other tournaments and special events. The girls game will tip off at 6 p.m. on March 23 with the boys game to follow at 7:45. Admission for the doubleheader is $5 for Adults, $3 for Students/Seniors and free for High School and College Coaches, Athletic Directors and Children 12 and under.
For the second year the “I’m Possible Slam Dunk Contest” will be held at halftime of the boys game with Ranney’s Scottie Lewis expected to defend his title. Look for details to be announced shortly. There will also be a “3 Point Contest” held at halftime of the This is the second year the Boys and Girls games will be held at girls game. the Pine Belt Arena which allows many of the Shore's top players to Check our website for more information: put their talents on display in what has become the mecca of www.shoresportsnetwork.com
ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE
GAME DAY PROGRAM
Be part of a tradition at the Jersey Shore that
reaches a large and enthusiastic Basketball audience from Monmouth and Ocean counties by having your business featured in this year's 2017 Shore Sports Network Shore Basketball Coaches Senior All-Star Game official game day program. The detailed game program put together by the Shore Sports Network staff not only recounts the past season and highlights this year's group of All-Stars, it also serves as a keepsake for all the players, coaches and fans involved. Not only is the program a chance for your business to reach a wide and passionate audience, it is a chance to become a permanent part of a lasting memory for many members of the Shore Conference Basketball community.
CALL TODAY 732-233-4460 22
St o p by or
HERE ARE SOME SHORE-AREA FAVORITES TO VISIT BEFORE OR AFTER ANY GAMe
Geting something to eat before or after a sporting event is
Restaurant Feature Page Available from Feb – June & will consist of the following • 5.25w x 2.45h color ad in two issues of our Bi-WeeklySSN Journal Publications. • SSN Publications distributed to the High Schools, all Jersey Mike’s Subs & Super WAWA locations within Ocean & Monmouth counties as well as local business and HS hot spots. • Website restaurant page posting on SSN site • Restaurant digital link to your website/Facebook page
part of our culture and often it’s a spur-of-the-moment decision based on where you are at the time and what restaurants are you familiar with. The Shore Sports Network wants to make your restaurant top of mind by featuring you on our sports-themed dining page that will appear on both our website and bi-monthly Shore Sports Network Journal. Let our viewers and readers know you welcome them to stop in before or after the game. These are often passionate fans and families who can be your customers through this customized cost-effective marketing plan that puts CALL TODAY your restaurant front and center. Margaret Lynn Scheiderman 848-221-8155