Howell is ready for SCT

Howell is ready for SCT

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Howell is ready for SCT

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HOWELL

It was kind of like the first practice of the season for Howell when practice convened on Monday.

“We went back to just doing basics and being focused and being prepared,” Howell coach John Gagliano said.

Those were things Gagliano and his coaching staff felt were lacking last Saturday night when the Rebels were humbled by Phillipsburg.

The two teams Howell wrestled on Thursday night in Shore Conference Tournament matches were not of the same caliber as Phillipsburg, but the Rebels showed the work they put in practice during the week paid off, as they advanced to the SCT semifinals for the fourth straight season.

Howell, the No. 4 seed, rolled to a 43-19 win over No. 5 seed Brick in the quarterfinals and defeated stubborn No. 13 seed Neptune, 37-23, in the round of 16. Brick, which was without two starters and forfeited three weights against Howell, defeated No. 12 seed Manalapan in the round of 16.

Howell (21-2) will meet No. 1 seed Toms River South (20-2) at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River North in the semifinals. Defending champion and No. 2 seed Brick Memorial (18-2) will meet No. 3 seed Jackson Memorial (14-5) in the other semifinal, at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Pine Belt Arena. The championship match will follow at 5:30 p.m.

Senior 145-pounder Ashanti Maurice said he and his teammates did some soul searching after the Phillipsburg match.

“We were completely embarrassed,” Maurice said. “We work in the room for a reason. We work too hard to wrestle the way we did against Phillipsburg.”

In the Phillipsburg match, the Rebels lost two bouts in which they led most of the way, including one on a four-point move off a restart with 7.3 seconds remaining.

The way Maurice — the District 21 champion at 145 last year and the Region VI fourth-place finisher at 145 in 2011 — defeated Brick’s two-time District 23 placewinner Steve Cimmino had to be an encouraging sign for the Rebels, because he won it late.

Maurice tied the bout on a takedown with 25 seconds left in regulation and then recorded a 7-5 win on a takedown with 37 seconds left in the first overtime period.

“It shows everybody we can win those bouts,” said Maurice, who also recorded a 4-3 win over Neptune’s two-time District 23 placewinner Sekou Harris. “We’ve got to show everybody we can go until the third period.”

Maurice said the Rebels’ difficulties late in bouts against Phillipsburg had more to do with a “lack of “mat sense” than they did conditioning.

“We work extremely hard in the (wrestling) room and it looked like we never conditioned in our entire lives,” Maurice said. “We wanted to show everybody in the Shore that (the Phillipsburg match) was just a wakeup call for the Shore Conference and we have to get after it now.”

At the Brick Memorial site

Brick Memorial easily advanced to the semifinals. The Mustangs routed No. 7 seed Raritan 47-17 in the quarterfinals after they cruised to a 50-16 win over No. 15 seed Middletown South in the round of 16. Raritan rolled to a 44-9 win over No. 10 seed Point Boro in the round of 16.

Against Raritan, Nick Costa (195), the District 23 champion at 152 last season and Matt Moore (220) — the state seventh-place finisher at 195 last season — started off the match with pins in a combined 3:07.

Jared Staub (126), a three-time state qualifier when he was at Hamilton West his freshman and sophomore seasons, defeated Anthony Scarcella, the Region VI third-place finisher at 120 last year, 7-3.

The Brick Memorial-Jackson Memorial semifinal will be a rematch of the Mustangs’ dramatic 27-26 win on Jan. 16.

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