With Point Beach senior point guard Matt Farrell leading the way, the Garnet Gulls became the boys basketball team to beat in the Shore Conference this season.
“Matt improved in many areas during his four years. I thought the biggest areas of improvement for him were his overall body strength and improved first step, his pull-up jump shot, and he took his work ethic to the next level often working out twice a day,” said Point Beach boys basketball coach Nick Catania.
Farrell, who stands 6-foot-2, led the Garnet Gulls to a 29-2 record and also led the team in points (19.5 career-high), assists (5.9) and steals (3.9) this season. He was fourth on the team in rebounds (3.8 career-high) and shot 214-for-382 (56.1 percent) from the field, 71-for-161 (44.2 percent) from 3-point range and 85-for-101 (84.2 percent) from the foul line. He was the Garnet Gulls go-to-player this season.
“I just want to be remembered as a point guard that ran the team. I wanted to make sure people were doing the right things. When everybody is working and everybody is doing their jobs, you have good stuff happen,” Farrell said. “I want people to remember me exactly how I played. I scored when I had to and I got other people the ball when I had to as well.”
Farrell, a pass-first point guard, directed the Garnet Gulls up tempo offense this season in which Point Beach only lost to The Patrick School in the Primetime Shootout in February and to Pitman in the NJSIAA Group 1 state semifinals in March. But along the way, he helped Point Beach win the Shore Conference Class B Central division title, the Shore Conference Tournament title (first in school history) and the repeat as NJSIAA Central Group I champions (second NJSIAA sectional title in school history).
“What stands out to me is all the championships we won. All the numbers we put up. You know that’s a tribute to how hard we worked and how hard our coaches worked and how well we played together,” Farrell said. “You can’t do anything better than that except to win the Tournament of Champions, which was one of our goals this year and we thought we had a chance.”
“Matt was instrumental in achieving all of those goals with his ability to make his teammates around him better players and his competitiveness to win everything whether it was a practice drill or a championship game, ” Catania said.
In some of the biggest games of the season, Farrell performed at a high level for the Garnet Gulls.
For example, Farrell amassed 26 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals as Point Beach defeated Jackson Memorial, 57-37, in the Boardwalk Hoop Group Showcase game on Jan. 11 at Long Branch High School. Farrell also had 13 of his game-high 22 points in the first half in that 54-52 loss to the Patrick School on Feb. 9. On March 10 in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I Final, Farrell scored a team-high 20 points in a 67-61 victory over Shore Regional. On March 12, Farrell registered a game-high 18 points in a 47-36 loss to Pitman in the NJSIAA Group I State Semifinals.
“My big thing was winning. People remember you if you win, but they’ll remember you the rest of your life if you win championships,” Farrell said. “That’s exactly what we did.”
For his career, Farrell played in 109 games and finished with 1,431 points (13.1 average), 545 assists (5.0 average), 307 rebounds (2.8 average) and 331 steals (3.0 average). He was also incredibly efficient from the field 496-for-916 (54 percent), from the 3-point line 175-for-417 (42 percent) and from the foul line 188-for-238 (79 percent). He will take his basketball talent to the University of Notre Dame to play for coach Mike Brey.
“Notre Dame. The name speaks for itself. You have tradition and my grandfather went there. My family has also been Notre Dame fans since I was little,” Farrell said. “It is a special place and when Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey came to see me play, it was like wow. He came once and my whole family was there to talk to him. It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
And coach Catania agreed.
“Having our players have the opportunity to go on to the next level is a major goal for our program. We ask a lot of our players and we have been very fortunate to have talented players that also understand the hard work and commitment it takes to play at the division 1 level,” Catania said. “The championships are great but at the end of the day our number 1 goal is to improve every student athlete in our program as much as we can athletically and academically. When you have student athletes that buy into that and use some of what they learned to earn scholarships at the next level, it makes it special.”