POINT PLEASANT BEACH
The Point Beach boys basketball team ensured that there will be a new Shore Conference Tournament champion after Thursday’s round of 16 games.
The No. 2-seed Garnet Gulls not only defeated No. 15-seed and defending SCT champion Neptune, 88-58, but they did it in grand fashion before their home crowd as senior guard PJ Kineavy led four players in double figures with 24 points.
“That was the most-impressive shooting display that we’ve ever played against. They couldn’t miss,” Neptune coach Ken O’Donnell said. “At halftime, they were about 67 percent shooting and I’m sure in the second half, they continued that. They had to shoot way over 50 percent for the game.”
Kineavy led the offensive outburst for the Garnet Gulls (20-2) by nailing a game-high six 3-pointers with three of them coming in the first quarter when he had 11 points and led Point Beach to 28-7 first quarter lead.
“We can shoot the ball. That’s a big part of our game. Our guys work year round at it. We can always put five shooters on the floor, if there isn’t five then there is four,” Point Beach coach Nick Catania said. “We’ve always been able to do that here and that’s shoot the basketball. We work on that a lot in practice. It takes up a lot of our practice plan and that’s something we are confident that we’ll be able to do.”
And the Garnet Gulls did it from start to finish.
They led 47-22 at halftime and Kineavy had 15 points at halftime and junior forward Noah Yates had 10 of his 22 points at halftime. Point Beach made six of their 11 3-pointers in the first half.
“We got back to finally defending the way we are capable of defending. In the first three minutes of the game, we set the tone with our defensive intensity. That was the difference to me,” Catania said. “That’s the way we came out in our first 17 or 18 games when we had our full team and that’s the way we have to continue to come out.”
The Garnet Gulls started the game on an 8-0 run and never trailed and at the end of the third quarter led 70-37.
“That’s what we are built on, defending and rebounding, and that led us out to transition buckets and we got open looks and we can make them when we are open,” Catania said. “That was 100 percent the key and we have to start with that defensive intensity.”
Kineavy and Yates had 24 and 22 points, respectively, while senior forward Riley Calzonetti added 18 points and junior guard Matt Farrell had 11 points. The victory vaulted Point Beach into Sunday’s 4:15 p.m. SCT quarterfinal matchup with No.-10 seed Manalapan.
Neptune senior forward Keith Kirkwood scored 13 of his team-high 19 points in the second half and junior guard Miles Mooney scored seven of his 10 points in the first half.
“We had the worst start we could ever have, we were down 8-0 before you could even blink. They got more and more confident and they are confident at home,” O’Donnell said. “Once you get behind like that, we were running all over the place and we left them open and they kept hitting the shots. They were great.”