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March 7, 2017 Volume-IX Issue-5

The first thing fans, players, coaches & parents want to know after the big game is always,

“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.

Shore Sports Network Website Features

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 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.

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

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

Senior C ontent Providers BobBadders // MattManley //

Shore Sports Network Journal is published by: T o w n s q u a r e M e d i a 8 Robbins Street Toms River, NJ 08753

Copyright 2016 Townsquare Media All rights reserved Reproduction in whole or in part without the permission of Shore Sports Network is prohibited




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Shore Sports Network and Surf Taco Honor SCT MVP’s By Kevin Williams - Shore Sports Network Director


s the media partner of the Shore Conference of High Schools the Shore Sports Network plays an active role in the Shore Conference Basketball Tournament.

Elijah Mitchell received the Surf Taco/Ocean Trophies MVP following the Seraphs 54-41 win over Marlboro which gave them their second straight title. Earlier Jen Louro was honored for helping St. Rose win their first SCT crown since 2012 with a dominating 56-31 win over St. John Vianney. The Shore Sports Network thanks Surf Taco for supporting this great event.

We once again helped coordinate media coverage, working with Tournament Director Nick Pizzulli and assistants Tom Stark and Randy Westrol throughout this year’s event, which culminated with championships for Mater Dei Prep boys and St. Rose. We thank Surf Taco and its founder and president Rob Nagel for sponsoring the Most Valuable Player awards which were awarded following the championships games at Monmouth University’s OceanFirst Bank Center on February 25.

SCT MVP Mater Dei Prep

Elijah Mitchell

SCT MVP St. Rose

Jen Louro

Mater Dei Prep Photos by:

Ray Rich Photography:

St. Rose Photos by:

Paula Lopez Photography:


2 0 i 7 Sh o r e B a s k e t b a l l Co a ch e s A s s o ci a ti o n S e n i o r A l l - S t a r G a m e


he Shore Sports Network is proud to announce this year’s Shore Basketball Coaches Association Senior AllStar Games on Thursday, March 23 at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.

This is the second year the Boys and the Pine Belt Arena which allows many put their talents on display in what basketball in New Jersey. The arena is

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 girls game.

Girls games will be held at of the Shore's top players to Check our website for more information: has become the mecca of home to the NJSIAA Group




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 4



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2 0 i 7 Se n i o r A l l - S t a r G a m e B o y s & G i r l s R o s t e r s B oys 20i7 Roster

G irls 20i7 Roster Alexandra Balsamo - Middletown South Stella Clark - Manasquan Maureen Coakley - Red Bank Catholic Haley Delonzo - Middletown South Emily Dominguez - Brick Memorial Hailee Hallard - Middletown North Karlie Kuhn - Lacey Josie Larkins - Red Bank Catholic Ally Lassen - Pt. Pleasant Boro Tia Montagne - Red Bank Catholic Sydney Schuler - Toms River East Ellie Sorrentio - Pinelands Cassidy Stimpson - Mater Dei Prep Ashley Toner - Barnegat Ashley Tutzauer - Toms River North

East Team

Desiree Allen - Neptune Sydney Coffaro - Holmdel Brianna Cucinelli - Freehold Twp. Grace Dengler - Red Bank Regional Kim Evans - St. John Vianney Katie Foos - Rumson Fair-Haven Emma Keegan - Red Bank Regional Jennifer Louro - St. Rose Alex Pendergrass - St. Rose Julia Ramos - St. John Vianney Allie Reiser - Shore Regional Sam Roth - Colts Neck Hannah Scanlan - Rumson Fair-Haven Ellyn Stoll - St. Rose Molly Weiss - Marlboro

West Team

PJ Ringel - Marlboro Jaden Rhoden - Toms River North Elijah Barnes - Mater Dei Prep Devin Jensen - Manasquan Denis Corbin - Central Regional Ryan Zyskowski - Freehold Twp. Terence Calandrillo - Red Bank Catholic LJ Robinson - Manchester John Venturi - Pt. Pleasant Boro Marc Cerbo - Middletown North Dorian Vaughn - Lakewood Nick Harris - Holmdel Nasir Williams - Red Bank Regional Gene Scott - Wall Bobby Weise - Freehold Twp.

Steve Staklinski - Freehold Twp. Elijah Mitchell - Mater Dei Prep Adi Palmer - Lakewood Darrion Carrington - Toms River North Maksymilian Gruszecki - Central Regional Mike Nyisztor - Toms River North Brian Paturzo - Manasquan Jack Waddleton - Pt. Pleasant Boro Darius Brown - Ocean Dan Weiss - Marlboro Brendan Clarke - Colts Neck Tyler Pierson - Rumson-Fair Haven Mark Valeriani - Southern Regional Cascius Briggs - Long Branch Billy Frost - St. Rose


Courtney Dobrzynski - St. John Vianney Hailee Porricelli - Freehold Twp. Jamie Prestigiacomo - Colts Neck


Brandon Williams - Brick Twp. Steve Flanders - Pt. Pleasant Beach Justin Black - Raritan


Jules Calhoun - Neptune Dan Cacciatore - Howell Dan Dinneny - St. John Vianney

Coaches: Vicki Gillen - Toms River North James Young - Red Bank Regional

Coaches: Tyler Schmelz - Red Bank Catholic Mike Gawronski - Brick Twp.

Coaches: Mike Nausedas - Marlboro Randy Holmes - Lakewood

Dejah Adams - Manchester Addie Masonius - Manasquan Bridget Sheeran - Jackson Memorial (i n o r d e r ) :

(i n o r d e r ) :

East Team

(i n o r d e r ) :

West Team


(i n o r d e r ) :

Injured: Megan Hughes - Pt. Pleasant Boro Coaches: Kevin Cohen - Toms River East Dave Callahan - Rumson Fair-Haven


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 t h e 2 0 i 7 b o y s b a s k e t b a l l s e a s o n , S h o r e S p o r t s N e t w o r k w i l l b e s e l e c t i n g

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.

Week Seven Marlboro coach Mike Nausedas and his team accept the Team of the Week Game Ball from U.S. Army Sgt. Jelissa Torres.

Coach Ben Gamble and the Mater Dei Prep boys basketball team accept the Team of the Week award from U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Josh Simpson.


ast season, the Mater Dei Prep boys basketball team put together a championship run that would have been unimaginable just one year earlier. Now an established Shore Conference contender, the Seraphs had the weight of expectations coming into this season and last week, they lived up to them.

Mater Dei outlasted upstart Marlboro, 54-41, in the Shore Conference Tournament final on Feb. 25 to win its second straight conference crown and earn the Week 9 Army Strong Team of the Week Award.

Marlboro led that game, 32-29, late in the third quarter, but Seraphs junior Kyle Cardaci caught fire over the final nine-plus minutes – during which he scored all 14 of his team-high scoring total.

Senior Elijah Mitchell added 12 points and took a key charge with Marlboro trying to stay in the game.

In order to reach the final, Mater Dei had to survive a battle with Toms River North on Feb. 21. The Mariners jumped out to a 10-point first quarter lead and had the ball with 20 seconds left and a chance to take the lead, but Mater Dei forced two turnovers in those last 20 seconds and sank four free throws to win. Senior Elijah Barnes led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

The Seraphs caught a bad break in the NJSIAA South Jersey NonPublic B first round when Barnes broke a bone in his right forearm in a win over Gloucester Catholic on Wednesday. The Seraphs bowed out of the tournament on Friday against Patrick School, the No. 1 team in the state.

After going 26-2 last year, Mater Dei followed that effort up with a 2534 season against an even tougher schedule. In two years under coach Ben Gamble, Mater Dei is an impressive 51-6.


h en th e pl a ye r s o n t he Mar lbor o boys basketb all team wo ke up f or sc h o ol on T hu r sd a y , Fe b . 1 6 , t h ey we r e p a r t o f a pr og r a m th a t h a d n ev e r r ea c h e d t he S ho r e C o nf e r en c e To u r n a me nt q ua r ter f ina ls in i ts his tor y.

Five-and-a-half days later those Mustangs were celebrating a trip to the Shore Conference Tournament championship game via one of the upsets of the season in the Shore and even throughout the state. Marlboro made school history over the last week in wins over Lakewood, Freehold Township and Ranney, which gave the Mustangs their first ever berth in the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship of the SCT. After knocking off those three highprofile Shore Conference teams, Marlboro is the Week Eight Shore Sports Network Army Strong Team of the Week. For the first half of its round-of-16 win against Lakewood on Feb. 16, Marlboro looked like it might bow out of the tournament on its home court to the No. 11 seed Piners. Lakewood led 23-17 late in the first half and the Mustangs shot an anemic 7for-29 (24 percent) from the floor over the first 16 minutes. The tide, however, turned in the second half as Marlboro’s shooters caught fire to held the Mustangs overwhelm Lakewood, 64-44, to advance to the program’s first ever SCT quarterfinal round. Marlboro’s hot shooting carried over to the quarterfinals at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, where the Mustangs met Class A North division rival and third-seeded Freehold Township. Marlboro dropped both divisional games to Freehold Township during the regular season by a combined four points and

started off cold from the field in both games. The Mustangs had no such trouble on Sunday, when they stormed out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back, beating the rival Patriots, 69-59. Beating both Lakewood and Freehold Township to advance to the program’s first ever SCT semifinal would have cemented this year’s Marlboro team as one of the best in school history, but these Mustangs were just getting started. Against No. 2 Ranney – the No. 6 team in the state heading into the Tuesday’s SCT semifinals – Marlboro jumped out to a seven-point halftime lead and made big play after big play in the final two minutes to stun the Panthers, 50-47, to advance to the SCT final Saturday at Monmouth against No. 1 seed and defending champion Mater Dei Prep. In the win over Ranney, Marlboro took six shots at the basket – two three-pointers and four foul shots – and made all six. Senior Ryan LaRocca hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:58 left and after Ranney tied the game with a little more than 1:30 left, the Mustangs milked a minute of clock before senior P.J. Ringel drove the lane and kicked the ball to classmate Dan Weiss for the go-ahead three from the right wing. Weiss’s Shot Heard ‘Round the Shore gave Marlboro a 46-43 lead with 35 seconds left. Sophomore Dylan Kaufman and Ringel then combined to go 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 20 seconds after the two combined to shoot 4-for-11 in the game leading up to that point. With its run to the SCT final, the Mustangs can capture the program’s first SCT title ever before heading into the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV Tournament on Monday. As the No. 4 seed, the Mustangs eyed the sectional tournament as their chance to hang the program’s first banner, but that chance came about a week earlier than most expected.

Freehold Township Week Six

Brick Township Week Five

Christian Brothers Academy Week Four

Donovan Catholic

Week Three


Week Two

Rumson Fair Haven Week One


FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION Contact: Steven Meyer 732-233-4460 6



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W e e k - 8 2/13/i7

Toms River east Jr .

Trevor Zabilowicz W e e k - 7 2/6/i7

S t. John Vianney S r .


zach moran very week t his reg ular season, Shore Con ference Bask etball fans will have the ir ch ance to vote for the Or th o pa e d ic In s ti tut e of C e n tr a l J e r s ey /S h o r e S po r t s N et wo r k b a sk e tb a l l Pl a ye r o f th e W ee k o n o ur we b s it e.

Holmdel Sr.


he recent Shore Conference Tournament featured a host of big moments, clutch shots and noteworthy performances. This week’s Player of the Week feature pays tribute to the top performers from the SCT, which concluded on Saturday Feb. 25 with Mater Dei Prep capturing its second straight title. In addition to naming a tournament MVP, there are 15 more players who got a nod on the three tournament teams. The SSN Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey Player of the Week Vote will return in the following week. In the meantime, be sure to read up on the top players from the SCT.

SSN Shore Conference Tournament MVP In four tournament wins, Cardaci scored a team-high 68 points, an average of 17 points per game. In the SCT championship game, he went scoreless over the first 23 minutes but caught fire late in the third quarter. From the final minute of the third through the end of the game, Cardaci hit three three-pointers and scored 14 points to help carry the Seraphs to the finish line in a 54-41 win over Marlboro.

Week-9 Mater Dei

A junior transfer from Holmdel, Cardaci was not eligible to play for Mater Dei until Jan. 17, but since he was cleared to play, Mater Dei is 15-0. He is averaging 11.2 points per game and his only two games of 20 points or more both came during the Shore 2/20/i7 Conference Tournament – one a 23-point outing against Prep Jr. Manasquan in the quarterfinals and another a 20-point effort in the semifinal win over Toms River North.

Kyle Cardaci


W e e k - 6 1/30/i7


SSN Shore Conference Tournament

Nick Harris

First Team Elijah Barnes, Mater Dei Prep Dylan Kaufman, Marlboro Dan Weiss, Marlboro Jaden Rhoden, Toms River North Kenny Jones, Mater Dei Prep

W e e k - 5 1/23/i7 Pinelands So.

anthony diaz W e e k - 4 1/i6/i7 Toms River South Sr.

Second Team Ryan LaRocca, Marlboro Bryan Antoine, Ranney Ahmadu Sarnor, Ranney Darrion Carrington, Toms River North Scottie Lewis, Ranney

Third Team Rob Higgins, Middletown North Elijah Mitchell, Mater Dei Prep Devin Jensen, Manasquan P.J. Ringel, Marlboro Sean O’Donnell, Toms River North


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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.

Steve Geis


Back Pain in the Adolescent Athlete By Dr. Jason Coh en - P rofe ssional O rthop ae dic As sociates


ow back pain in the adolescent athlete occurs in approximately 15% of the athletic population. Athletes that are more at risk are those that play football, rugby, gymnastics, figure skating, weight lifting and dance. In this younger population, back pain is usually attributed to a structural issue with the spine rather than a muscle strain or herniated disk. The structural issues generally fall into two categories: Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis. By definition: Spondylolysis: a stress fracture in one of the vertebrae Spondylolisthesis: when the vertebrae starts to shift out of place

The causes for these injuries are sometimes acute, but more commonly they are from overuse, especially hyperextension of the spine which occurs frequently with gymnasts and football lineman. Some athletes are born with a genetic predisposition to these conditions. The physical exam for low back pain includes an extensive history, an orthopaedic evaluation, x-rays and possibly an MRI and/or CT scan. The initial conservative treatment is rest, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and activity modification. When conservative measures fail, surgery may be recommended. During the rehabilitative process, muscle strength, muscle imbalances and flexibility must all be addressed. Returning to play (RTP): the doctor will consider several factors such as skeletal maturity of the athlete and the activity. Other criteria for returing to play include pain-free range of motion, normal strength and a gradual sportspecific progression into their sport. In essence, don’t delay any adolescent that complains of low back pain for more than three weeks. These athletes need a full evaluation by an orthopaedic surgeon to get them back to the sport that they enjoy. If you are suffering from neck or back pain, call Dr. Cohen for an appointment at 732-530-4949.

Jason D. Cohen, MD, FACS Fellowship Trained Orthopaedic Surgeon Board Certified: American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery American Board of Spine Surgery Dr. Cohen has been practicing orthopaedic surgery since 1999. He specializes in cervical, thoracic, and lumbar problems including sciatica, scoliosis, herniated discs and spinal reconstructive surgery. In July of 2008, Dr. Cohen was named Chairman of Monmouth Medical Center’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery by the Hospital’s Board of Trustees. In addition, Dr. Cohen is an Assistant Program director for the Residency program at Monmouth Medical Center where he was awarded the “APPLE” award for teaching excellence several times.




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By Bob Badders – Senior




COULDN ’ T GET ANYTHING GOING AGAINST B ERGEN CATHOLIC ’ S G ERARD A NGELO IN THE 138- POUND NJSIAA STATE FINAL ON S UNDAY NIGHT. A NGELO HAD SHUT DOWN THE O CEAN JUNIOR’S OFFENSE, TAKEN HIM DOWN TWICE AND EVEN TURNED HIM WITH A TILT FOR TWO NEAR-FALL POINTS. Benner was running out of options and time, but in pulling off a move not even he saw coming he stunned the crowd at Boardwalk Hall to become a state champion. Trailing 6-2 30 seconds into the third period, Benner launched Angelo to his back with a pancake for a five-point move that erased the deficit and gave him a one-point lead. Angelo fought off the pin for 1:18 before a restart with five seconds left. Benner then held on through a Granby attempt by Angelo to win 7-6 and claim the state championship.

“I’ve never hit a big scoring move like that in my life,” Benner said. “I’m not a big-point guy, but it was there and I was down so I had to go for it. I had double under (hooks) and he was on his knees so I switched my left arm over and he was still on his knees. I had to take advantage of that.” “That kid (Angelo) does all the freestyle stuff and he’s comfortable there, but what I said yesterday is that when you feel comfortable he feels more comfortable,” said Ocean head coach Cippy Apicelli. “He threw a kid that is known for doing stuff like that. (Angelo) was out of position for a second and Jake capitalized on it, and now he’s a state champ.”

See JAKE page 14




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Managing Editor




HIGH SCHOOL CAREER HE AND THE H OWELL COACHING STAFF FORMULATED A PLAN TO ULTIMATELY GET HIM ON TOP OF THE MEDAL STAND IN ATLANTIC C ITY: GET TO THE STATE TOURNAMENT AS A SOPHOMORE , PLACE IN THE TOP EIGHT AS A JUNIOR AND WIN A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP AS A SENIOR . Mission accomplished. In the 220-pound state final at the NJSIAA Individual Championships inside Boardwalk Hall, Keosseian brought the crowd of over 10,000 to its feet when he pinned Don Bosco Prep’s Peter Acciardi in 2:23 to become the third wrestler in Howell history to win a state championship. Acciardi, the No. 1 seed, went to his go-to move in the second period, a merkle, but Keosseian was ready for it. He caught the leg of Acciardi and drove him to his back where he finished off the pin to claim the state championship in the final bout of his high school career.

“Since last night when we knew we had him we’ve just been practicing for it,” Keosseian said. “I knew right when he slipped the leg in and I got it out I would be able to catch him on his back. I didn’t realize I was going to pin him at the time, but when I did…there’s no better feeling.”

See ERIC page 17


JAKE C o n t i n u e d f r o m p a g e 1 2 Benner is the second Ocean wrestler in program history to win a state title, joining two-time state champion Nick Menditto (2007 and 2008). He was also voted as the coMost Outstanding Wrestler of the state finals with Bound Brook’s Mekhi Lewis. “I was not expecting (to win like) that,” Benner said. “He came at me so hard, he’s such a tough wrestler. This is so awesome.”

“I’ve been coaching multiple sports since 2008 and that’s the best moment of my coaching life ever,” Apicelli said. “It’s absolutely unbelievable. I’m speechless.”

Angelo getting out of bounds stopped the clock with five seconds left and gave the Bergen Catholic junior one last chance to tie the score, but Benner stuck tight through Angelo’s Granby roll even while smacking his nose on the mat, coming out of it with a merkle in place to hold on for the show-stopping victory.

“It was definitely the scariest five seconds of my life,” Benner said. “I looked at Cip and said ‘should I go merkle?’ and he said no, just do what you do on top. He came up and I actually dropped to a merkle and it worked out.” In improbable fashion, Jake Benner is a state champion. He is also the first underclassmen from the Shore Conference to win a state title since Toms River South’s B.J. Clagon won the first of his two championships in 2012. But don’t ask him what it feels like, at least not until tomorrow.

Angelo took a 4-1 lead in the first period with a takedown and two back points off a tilt, but Benner was able to escape to get on the board before the period concluded. It was Benner’s choice of position in the second period and he took defense to give him the opportunity to escape and close the deficit, which he did midway through the period. Angelo, however, scored with another takedown to extend his lead to 6-2 after four minutes.

“I still can’t describe it,” Benner said. “It hasn’t hit me yet.”

Benner is very dangerous from the top position, so Angelo wisely chose neutral to begin the third period. When the two tied up in the center of the mat Benner found the opening he had been waiting for and drove right through it. In throwing Angelo to his back for a takedown and three back points Benner now led 7-6, but there was still over a minute left. Angelo fought valiantly to avoid being pinned but Benner was able to keep him from turning over to his stomach, which was huge.


Bob Badders

Photos by:

“He takes the lead and there’s a minute-10 maybe and we’re watching to see the pin but also looking at the clock because if that kid gets off his back you now have to ride him for 30 seconds,” Apicelli said.

Ray Rich Photography:

Before hitting the throw Benner knew he was losing, but by how much, he wasn’t sure. While his muscles worked to keep Angelo glued to the mat, his overloaded brain was busy trying to figure out the score. “Honestly, I was trying to do the math in my head and I couldn’t figure it out,” Benner said. “I was trying to look at coach Cip and maybe he would read my mind and tell me I had to hold him there, but he was just cheering too much where he couldn’t even say anything. I didn’t know it was 7-6 until the restart.”




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ERIC C o n t i n u e d f r o m p a g e 1 3 Keosseian joins Carlos Fontanez in 1965 and current assistant coach Joey Langel in 2008 as Howell’s state champions. Keosseian and Acciardi had history going back to the summer when they wrestled three times. Keosseian went 2-1, but more important than the offseason victories was the knowledge of Acciardi’s tendencies.

“We knew going into it he was going to come up with merkles,” said Howell assistant coach Rich Gildner, who along with Petey Reilly work extensively with Keosseian. “Eric did a great job staying calm, got two feet behind him, and when Acciardi kept going with it Eric just stuck on top. The kid didn’t realized he was on his back and panicked, and Eric capitalized.”

“This tournament I took it up a level,” Keosseian said. “I’ve been wrestling so much better on my feet, on the mat, everything.” Keosseian finishes his career as a two-time district champion, two-time Region 6 champion and with 133 victories, which is second all-time in program history (Zac Cunliffe, 138). He’ll head to West Point next season to wrestle for the Black Knights of Army. When he walks into the wrestling room for the first time they’ll say ‘this is Eric Keosseian, a New Jersey state champ’.

“It’s great for all the hard work to finally pay off,” Keosseian said. “I finally got here and got that title. It feels even better than I thought it would, especially to win by fall. It’s amazing.”

“He bailed on it, and I didn’t expect that,” Keosseian said. “The last few times we wrestled him over the summer he kept with it. I knew I was going to get the reversal but I didn’t think he was going to his back.” Keosseian took Acciardi down in the opening moments of the bout, which was exactly how Howell wanted the bout to go. When Keosseian is the aggressor he is a different wrestler. “When Eric is offensive you can’t stop him,” said Howell head coach John Gagliano. “We see that kid in practice. When he wrestles like he does in the room you’re not stopping him.”


Bob Badders “We tell him all the time when he’s on and he’s attacking people he’s very difficult to beat,” Gildner said. “That was the plan, try to get a takedown early and just continue to work.”

Photos by:

Ray Rich Photography:


Sky Blue FC enters third year of corporate partnership with Trinity Financial By Kevin Williams - Shore Sports Network Director)


ky Blue FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) officially announced today that it will be entering into the third year of a corporate partnership with Trinity Financial Sports & Entertainment Management Company. Trinity Financial will continue to serve as a financial advisory option for Sky Blue FC players, staff and supporters, and its executive office in Spring Lake, N.J., will function as an alternate corporate hub for Sky Blue FC. “We are happy to continue our relationship with Peter Grandich and histeam at Trinity Financial,” said Tony Novo, Sky Blue FC President and General Manager. “Peter is someone who has been fully engrained in both the financial and athletic industries for anumber of years, which makes him agreat asset for our organization. Along with the services that Trinity Financial offers our team as an advisory option, Peter has also been a key ally to Sky Blue FC by opening doors for us throughout the business community.”Beginning in 2017, Sky Blue FC and Trinity Financial will look to expand upon their relationship, with Trinity Financial providing an even grander platform for Sky Blue FC through its regular athlete appearances and community events. “We at Trinity are very pleased to broaden our corporate partnership with Sky Blue FC as we enter a third year of working together,” Grandich stated. “Sky Blue FC has continually evolved as a key fixture within the New Jersey sports and business landscape. Here at Trinity, we look forward to helping them remain on that same positive trajectory.” Also an established author, Grandich brings a wealth of



Peter Grandich (left) with former world heavyweight title challenger Gerry Cooney and Sky Blue FC President & General Manager Tony Novo knowledge to the financial space. Trinity Financial is a division of his primary business, Peter Grandich and Company, and it provides personal, business, retirement and estate planning services to entertainers, professional athletes and individuals. Trinity Financial additionally boasts an impressive Advisory Board that includes the likes of New York Jets great Joe Klecko, NY Giants SuperBowl hero David Tyree, former world title contender Gerry Cooney, former New York Ranger Nick Fotiu, threetime Stanley Cup winning New Jersey Devil Ken Daneyko and former NFL quarterback Ray Lucas. For more information on Trinity Financial, visit their official website online. Also make sure to visit Peter Grandich and Company online and follow them on social media: @PeterGrandich


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Howell’s Kyle Slendorn Finishes Second in the State to Cap Great Tournament Run

By Bob Badders – Senior Managing Editor


loss in the NJSIAA state wrestling finals can, and often does, leave a wrestler devastated and inconsolable. But after having his Cinderella run end in the 126-pound state championship bout, a smile remained with Howell junior Kyle Slendorn. Slendorn made a great run to the final out of the No. 7 seed by taking out the No. 2 seed and avenging his only prior defeat along the way, but he ran into a buzzsaw in the form of Hanover Park sophomore Nick Raimo, the No. 5 126-pounder in the country, and suffered a 10-4 loss. “I had a great tournament and I can’t walk away from this being mad,” Slendorn said. “That kid is unbelievable. I can’t be mad with how I wrestled today. I took second in the state and I’m happy.” Raimo, who was the state runner-up at 120 pounds last season and entered high school with the rightful tag of “phenom,” took Slendorn down three times in the first period for a 6-2 lead. A reversal in the second period gave him an 8-2 advantage and another takedown in the third period secured him the state championship. All Slendorn could manage was four escapes. He experienced first-hand the hype surrounding Raimo.

Slendorn and teammate Eric Keosseian each reached the state finals, and Keosseian brought home the 220-pound state title to become Howell’s first state champ since current assistant coach Joey Langel in 2008. It put the stamp on a season where the Rebels won their second Shore Conference Tournament title and captured the NJSIAA Group V title for the first time in program history. Gagliano was also selected as the New Jersey Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year. Howell returns seven state qualifiers next season, including Slendorn and sophomore Darby Diedrich, who finished seventh at 120 pounds.

Raimo has various attacks, but he likes to make his opponents come to him, where he ties up and sets up his offense. Slendorn’s plan was to stay away from Raimo’s under-hooks, but it was easier said than done.

Slendorn didn’t change his style in the final just because it was Raimo. He went with what got him there, and that was to stay on the attack.

Kyle Slendorn

“It’s something all of us are going to remember, the 2017 year,” Gagliano said. “The kids, the coaches, it was just an outstanding year.”

“Now I know why he’s ranked where he is,” Slendorn said. “I got in on a shot and he didn’t move. He’s so strong, it’s crazy. The one time he tossed me and just crunched up my whole chest, it was ridiculous.”

“We game-planned to stay out of those and how to get out, but when you get in there it’s a totally different story,” Slendorn said.


“The whole team, just about everybody did they best they could,” Slendorn said. “It was a historic year. In just about every category we set a record. We’re thinking about being the No. 1 public school in the state next year. We’re just going to keep going up.”


Bob Badders

Howell’s Kyle Slendorn was still smiling on the medal stand after finishing second in the state tournament at 126 pounds Photos by:

Ray Rich Photography:

“He likes to stay away and capitalize on under-hooks and stuff like that, so I probably could have stayed away and made it a close match,” Slendorn said. “But I’m in the state finals and I want to win it, and that’s not my game. I couldn’t do that. I had to go out there and wrestle.” After reaching the state tournament as a freshman and then coming within one win of an all-state finish as a sophomore, Slendorn broke through in a big way during Howell’s banner season. He captured his third district title and won a Region 6 championship for the first time, earning a top-eight seed in the state tournament. In the quarterfinals he beat two-time state medalist and secondseeded Shane Metzler (West Morris), 5-4, and then beat Paulsboro’s Anthony Duca, 7-2, to reach the state final. Duca was Slendorn’s only loss to that point, handing him a 20-9 thrashing on opening day. “It was great, especially avenging that loss, and I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than in the state semifinals,” Slendorn said. “He’s such a good kid and works so hard, so to see him achieve a goal of placing and getting to the state final, I couldn’t be happier,” said Howell head coach John Gagliano.


Brick Memorial’s Gianni Ghione Ends Stellar C a r e e r wi t h 3 r d - P l a c e F i n i s h a t N J S I A A T o u r n a m e n t

By Bob Badders – Senior Managing Editor


he disappointment was obvious, and how could it not be? Brick Memorial’s Gianni Ghione was the No. 1 seed at 132 pounds in the NJSIAA Individual Championships and had his eyes set on closing his career with a state championship, but that dream ended with a loss in the semifinals. What Ghione did next, however, should define his career more than the absence of a state title. Ghione battled back to place third in the state on Sunday afternoon at Boardwalk Hall, pinning Pope John’s Robert Garcia in 1:50 in his final high school bout. The 135th and final win of his career, which was also his 98th career pin, cemented a career that will go down among the best at one of the Shore Conference’s most storied programs. “It’s hard to categorize, I’m kind of bummed out,” Ghione said. “It was a long career, a good year and a hell of a way to end it. To finish it off with a win is a really good feeling.” Ghione concludes his career as a three-time state medalist, finishing second at 113 as a sophomore and fourth at 120 as a junior. He is also a three-time district champion and a three-time Region 6 champion. His 135 career wins are third in Brick Memorial history behind Steve Santos (149) and Mike Morales (141). He helped Brick Memorial to arguably its best season in history in 2014 when the Mustangs won the Shore Conference Tournament, the NJSIAA Group V title and had four state finalists to finish No. 2 in New Jersey behind only a top-five nationallyranked Bergen Catholic team.

yourself for the next coupe of years. Just do what you have to do to win.”’ In the wrestleback semifinals Ghione defeated Parsippany’s P.J. Gohn, 3-2, to reach the consolation final. It was there he capped his career by doing something he did in 73 percent of his victories: pin. It was vintage Ghione late in the first period when he hip-tossed Garcia to his back, squeezed him to the mat and walked off for the final time as a winner. His final high school memory will be hearing the ref slap the mat and then pointing up to his parents, Amy and Gerard, as they embraced with pride. “Everything I do, I do for my family, so it was good to end it on a win and see them happy,” Ghione said. Ghione will head to the Ivy League next fall where he’ll wrestle for the University of Pennsylvania Quakers. His goal remains the same: to be a champion. Whether he gets there or not at the conference or national level, or if he can become an NCAA AllAmerican, remains to be seen. He has a shot because of his skills, but mostly because of his heart. “I told myself it happens, people lose,” Ghione said. “I had to win out and it felt good to do that. I’m going to be pushing myself a little harder now that I didn’t get what I wanted.” The great ones always do.

Brick Memorial’s

Gianni Ghione

Ghione’s tournament hit a bump during Saturday night’s semifinals when he lost, 3-2, to New Milford senior John Burger. He had the rest of the night to reflect and get ready for Sunday morning’s wrestleback round six. A win there would vault him into the third-place bout, while another loss would send him tumbling to the fifth-place bout. His brother Joe, a two-time all-state wrestler for the Mustangs who wrestled at Lock Haven and will head to Elizabethtown this fall, helped get him back in the saddle. “Last year when I lost I wasn’t in the same place mentally as this year, I didn’t care if I won or lost,” Ghione said. “ This was like, ‘dude, just take third. You’re not going to wrestle in high school any more and if you don’t take third you’re going to hate



Bob Badders

Brick Memorial’s Gianni Ghione placed third in the state at 132 pds to finish his career as a three-time state medalist.



/ 3/7/17 Photos by:

Ray Rich Photography:





/ 3/7/17

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Getting something to eat before or after a sporting event is

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Shore Sports Network's 2017 NJSIAA Wrestling State Champions

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