It has all the makings of a classic, as top-seeded Mater Dei Prep and No. 2 CBA square off in the Shore Conference Tournament final Saturday night at Monmouth University.
When they met in 1984, Mater Dei scored 19 straight point in the first half to open up a sizable lead, before CBA scored 18 unanswered to open the fourth quarter en route to a 58-51 victory.
It marked the first of CBA’s 16 SCT titles in what was just their second year in the league, while Mater Dei is returning to the final for the first time since that fateful afternoon at Brick Memorial.
There’s always been a certain mystique surrounding Shore Conference title games, whether they were contested at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, old Boylan Gym at what was then Monmouth College, at Brookdale Community College or Pine Belt Arena, the site of Tuesday night’s semifinals.
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Teams go down in history and players become legends.
Here’s a look at some of the more memorable finals ever over the years:
1999 – Red Bank vs. CBA
This was an instant classic.
Maryland-bound senior Tahj Holden sank a pair of free throws with 23 seconds to play to lift Red Bank to a 44-43 victory before a standing room crowd at Brookdale, as the Bucs held the Colts scoreless over the final 4:32 just down the street from the CBA campus.
The 6-10 Holden, who would win a national championship with the Terrapins, finished with 18 points, while Rutgers-bound Sean Axani added 13 points and six rebounds. Ryan Johnson, on his way to St. Peter’s, finished with 10 points.
CBA’s Todd Billet, who would join Axani at Rutgers, was held to 11 points.
2006 – CBA vs. Monsignor Donovan
They’re still talking about this one.
Goliath was once-beaten CBA, with big-men Tim Andree and Dan Werner. David was undefeated Monsignor Donovan, and they collided in front of a packed house at the Ritacco Center.
Except David’s slingshot wasn’t enough to slay the giant on this day, as the Colts emerged with a 65-56 win, despite a game-high 20 points from Donovan’s Randall Stallworth. Andree, who would go on to play at Notre Dame, finished with 19 points, while Werner, who went to Florida, added 17.
The Colts would go on to lose to Seton Hall Prep in the Parochial A final for a second straight season.
1986 – Asbury Park vs. Lakewood
In the semifinals, it was Lakewood ending CBA’s 38-game winning streak, 13 years after the Piners snapped a 37-game streak by the Colts.
But in the final, it was ended the Blue Bishops who came away with their 20th consecutive victory under coach Nate Bruno, as they won their second SCT title. In what was the 50th renewal of the SCT final, it marked the first time it had ever been decided by a single point.
1967 – Neptune vs. Lakewood
Some 2,500 fans packed into Boylan Gym, with 1,500 turned away outside, to see the rematch of what had been an epic regular-season battle a week earlier, when Neptune emerged with a double-over-time win to maintain a record of not having lost on their home floor in the 1960s.
They were not disappointed, as Neptune won its seventh straight SCT title in dramatic fashion. With the game tied with two minutes to play, guard Ken O’Donnell fed Dwight Hammonds for a layup for what proved to be the winning points in a 48-45 victory.
Neptune improved to 22-1, and a month later Lakewood would win the Group III state championship.
1958 – Lakewood vs. Atlantic Highlands
One game earlier, Lakewood big man Jack Ardon had become the state’s first 2,000-point scorer with a buzzer-beater against Red Bank, scoring 52 points in their 74-72 win over Red Bank at Convention Hall in Asbury Park.
In the final, Ardon netted 31 points as the Piners came away with a 59-57 victory. Also in double figures for Lakewood was guard Larry D’Zio, who scored 10 points, as the B Division champs took the lead early in the fourth quarter and never relinquished it. The Piners’ starting five played the entire game.
1989 – Lakewood vs. Neptune
With the Lakewood trailing by a point with seven seconds remaining in regulation, the Piners’ Loren Jackson went to the free throw line for two shots. After missing the first, he sent the game to overtime when his second rattled around the rim and fell through.
In the extra session, it was guard Marvin Goodwine’s layup in the final seconds that gave Lakewood a dramatic 79-77 victory. Goodwine finished with 26 points, offsetting a 30-point, 14-rebound effort by Neptune big man Sonni Holland.
1983 – Red Bank vs. CBA
Welcome to the Shore Conference.
Actually, CBA may have been wondering what they’d gotten themselves into in their first season in the league, as they ran into a Red Bank team for the ages in their initial final.
But the Colts made the Bucs work, with Red Bank escaping with a 61-58 victory as part of a perfect 31-0 season.
Red Bank would eventually defeat Elmwood Park for the Group III crown, while CBA was upended by Paul VI in South Jersey Parochial A.
2007 – Freehold Twp. vs. CBA
The Patriots made the most of their first, and still only trip to the finals by stunning the two-time defending champions, 55-49. Eddie Fischer paced the Patriots with a game-high 22 points and they made their free throws down the stretch to seal the victory, opening up some breathing room in the final minute after what had been a close game throughout.
1968 – Lakewood vs. Ocean
Lakewood actually finished behind Ocean in the Shore Conference’s B Division that season, but came away with the SCT title, 61-55.
But the semifinal was the big news this particular year, as Lakewood, an at-large selection into what was then a four-team playoff, ended Neptune’s run of seven straight Shore Conference titles. The Piners came away with a 62-60 win in front of a sellout crowd in Asbury Park’s Convention Hall.
Jose DeCausey led the scoring for Lakewood in the semifinal with 15 points, while Neptune’s Ken O’Donnell, who would go on to coach the Scarlet Fliers’ boys’ and girls’ teams to state championships, finished with 16 points.
1982 – Neptune vs. Toms River South
This one featured the most storied program ever at the Jersey Shore, against one no one associates with hardwood prowess.
Guess who won?
Toms River South did the unthinkable, as coach Greg Albano’s team knocked off Neptune, 83-80, at Brick Memorial.
The Indians actually dominated the Scarlet Fliers, jumping out to a 20-point lead late in the first half, as 6-5 Ken Tuck and 6-2 Tommy Kay connected from everywhere. It still ranks as the only victory by a Toms River school in the event.
1995 – CBA vs. Lakewood
Current CBA coach Geoff Billet led all scorers with 20 points, leading a fourth quarter comeback as the Colts escaped with a 58-57 win over the Piners at Brookdale.
It was CBA’s third straight SCT title, and they would go on to win the Parochial A title, beating Bergen Catholic in the final, before losing to St. Anthony’s, who they beat during the regular season, in the Tournament of Champions semifinals.
Billet would go on to star at Rutgers, while Greg Gaffney played at Drexel, Frank DiBlasi at Wagner and junior Brian Lynch would end up at Villanova.
1998 – Neptune vs. Red Bank
This one had plenty of drama in front of a standing-room crowd at Brookdale, as Neptune won its first SCT title since the Scarlet Fliers’ perfect season in 1981. But it wasn’t easy, as they needed overtime to beat Red Bank, 55-48.
The fourth-seeded Scarlet Fliers, who lost in double-overtime to St. Anthony earlier in the season, had knocked off top-seeded CBA in the semifinals.
The victory marked the 11th SCT crown, for the Scarlet Fliers. Red Bank would make up for the loss by winning the title the next season.
1988 – CBA vs. Lakewood
As his final act in the area before attending Villanova, CBA’s 6-9 forward Marc Dowdell stole a pass and went in for an uncontested slam dunk to put an exclamation point on the Colts 56-53 overtime win against Lakewood.
While CBA winning – this was their fourth title in five seasons – is never a surprise, this was a very talented Lakewood team coach John Richardson brought to Brick Memorial, featuring Tim Brown and Marvin Goodwine. And it was Lakewood that handed CBA their only loss of the season to that point in the Holiday Jubilee.
1987 – CBA vs. Asbury Park
Entering the game, CBA’s only losses had been to a pair of national powers in the King Cotton Classic in Arkansas. But Asbury Park gave them all they could handle, eventually dropping a 58-55 decision at Brick Memorial.
Point guard John Crotty led a balanced attack for CBA with 17 points, while Asbury Park’s Anthony Wright led all scorers with 20, and Mark Murray, who missed the front end of a one-and-one with nine seconds to play, added 19.
Later that season, CBA was upset by Union Catholic in the Parochial A final, while Asbury Park went on to beat Orange for the Group II crown.
Staff writer Stephen Edelson is an Asbury Park Press columnist: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @SteveEdelsonAPP
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