The Shore Conference Tournament has reached the semifinal round and action resumes on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at Brookdale Community College.
One side of the SCT bracket went “chalk” while the other side was the “upset special” and now at least three things are guaranteed.
- There will be a new champion this year after defending SCT champion Point Beach lost in the quarterfinal round on Feb. 22
- The streak of the No. 1 vs No. 2 seeds meeting in the SCT final stops at two years consecutive years (2013, 2014).
- A double-digit seed will advance to the Friday, Feb. 27 SCT Final at Monmouth University at 8:30 p.m. The last time the SCT final featured a double-digit seed was in 2011 when Rumson-Fair Haven made it as a No. 13 seed.
Those are the guarantees, now let’s take a deeper look at each semifinal game.
No. 1 seed CBA (19-4) vs No. 4 seed Toms River North (19-4), 6 p.m.
Manalapan’s Kyle Mullen drives to the hoop past CBA’s Jack McGuire. Manalapan vs Christian Brothers Academy basketball. January 6, 2015 Middletown, NJ Doug Hood/Staff Photographer Gannett
The Colts are the most experienced team left in the SCT after they were the SCT runner-up in 2014. Also, CBA has three players (forward Pat Andree, forward Jack Laffey and guard Shaun Belbey) that started the semifinal game last year. The CBA players have made it no secret that this year it was all about winning the SCT after coming so close in 2014. The Colts have added an up-and-coming player in Jack McGuire to their front court and John Salcedo to their backcourt to join their two stars (Andree and Laffey) and Belbey. They aren’t particularly deep (played only seven kids in quarterfinal game on Feb. 22 with guards Connor Aldridge and Derek Leohner logging minutes off the bench) but they are talented and have two of the best forwards in the Shore Conference in Andree and Laffey. Everyone in the starting five can shoot the three-pointer, the forwards (Andree, Laffey and McGuire) are good rebounders and the team as a whole is solid at the free throw line. It is going to take an incredible performance to knock off the No. 1 seed but Toms River North might have the players to do it.
The Mariners key players are guards Evan Martin and Darrion Carrington and forwards Mike Nyisztor, Jordan Craig and Ted Thelemaque. On any given day a different player in the starting five could lead the Mariners in scoring. On Feb. 22, that player was Craig with 22 points but it could easily be someone else on Feb. 25. The Mariners probably won’t take as many three-pointers as CBA will in this game but Toms River North is a decent three-point shooting team with Martin and Nyisztor being the key threats. The Mariners are a little deeper (played nine players in the quarterfinal round) with guards Patrick Marinaccio, Hunter Petrick and Anthony Storino and forward Kevin Blum available for minutes off the bench. The key stats for the Mariners will be rebounding and turnovers. If they win those categories, that should lead to a victory.
THE PICK: CBA 52, Toms River North 47.
No. 10 seed Neptune (15-9) vs No. 11 seed Rumson-Fair Haven (20-4). 7:45 p.m.
The Scarlet Fliers are probably the most dangerous team left in the SCT and they can play at any pace with anyone in the Shore Conference. After struggling in their first 10 games with a 3-7 record, Neptune has won 12 of its last 14 games. Neptune’s key players are twin guards Kerry and Keishawn Kirkwood and Barry Brown and forwards Marcque Ellington and Micah Kerr. Either Kirkwood twin could beat you off the dribble or from the outside with a three-pointer, Brown typically picks his spots and could score in bunches while Ellington and Kerr tend to get their points off rebounds and putbacks. Key players off the bench are guards Sean McMillan, Scott Fields and forwards Jaren Kimbrough and O’Shane Curate. Neptune will be playing a similar team so the Scarlet Fliers can’t afford to a) lose the rebounding battle, b) take too many low percentage shots and c) lose the turnover battle.
The Bulldogs are probably the scrappiest team left in the SCT and they take their cues from their star player Brendan Barry, their leading scorer, and if he finds a way to get open, he’s always got the green light to fire away. Barry is joined in the starting lineup by forward Thomas Famulary, guard Jack Luby, forward Morgan Maguire and guard Alex Geiger. Barry can’t be the only player to score in double figures or it will be a long evening for the Bulldogs. On Feb. 22, Maguire, Geiger and Famulary were aggressive, scoring 12, 11 and nine points, respectively. They’ll need to do that again. Key players off the bench are forwards Elijah McCallister and Kenny Ferrare and guard Mickey Schluter.
THE PICK: Neptune 65, Rumson-Fair Haven 60.
Sherlon’s Pick record through the quarterfinals: 18-3.