BOYS BASKETBALL: FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, WALL AND MANASQUAN FALL SHORT IN STATE TOURNAMENT By Mike Ready

Mar 26, 2019 | Basketball, Boys, Freehold Township, Manasquan

BOYS BASKETBALL: FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, WALL AND MANASQUAN FALL SHORT IN STATE TOURNAMENT 

By Mike Ready 
 
TOMS RIVER – Three Shore Conference boys public schools won sectional titles and advanced into the state tournament with two, Wall and Manasquan, bowing out in the semifinals, while Freehold Township’s season came to an end in the finals. 
 
NJSIAA Public Group IV: Newark East Side 70, Freehold Township 44
With a senior-heavy roster, the Patriots completed the most successful season in program history winning its first-ever sectional championship after reaching the finals on six different occasions in head coach Brian Golub’s 24-year tenure, only to fall short each time. 
 
In the Group IV semifinals, four players scored between eight and 10 points, helping them advance into the finals, with senior Seth Meisner scoring a team-high 10 points in their 44-42 win over Cherokee. Senior Zach Barilka added nine points, while Greg Billups and fellow senior Matt Santangelo finished with eight apiece. 
 
The Patriots’ 7-0 fourth-quarter run sealed the win, turning a 36-34 deficit with under three minutes to play into 41-36 advantage with just under a minute to play. 
 
Freehold Township’s Cinderella season came to an abrupt halt in the Group IV final, but not until after the Patriots put a good scare into the superior Newark East Side Raiders. 
 
The game started out promising for the Patriots (24-5), but quickly fell apart in the middle of the second quarter. They held a 16-12 lead after the first quarter and led for most of the first 12 minutes, holding onto a 22-19 advantage with 4:30 left before halftime. Meisner scored all of his 12 points in the first half helping the Patriots get off to the fast start. 
 
The Red Raiders then went on an 11-0 run to pull ahead, 30-22, but after a Cristian Corcione breakaway layup, the Raiders scored seven straight points to stretch their lead to 37-24. Barilka’s 3-pointer right before the half pulled the Patriots to within 10 points, 37-27, heading into the locker room. 
 
However, Newark East Side quickly dashed any hope the Patriots had of a comeback by scoring the first 12 points of the quarter to go up by 22 points, 49-27. Before both teams started emptying the benches, the Raiders blitzed the Patriots with a 40-8 run over a stretch of 12:30 between the middle of the second quarter and the end of the third. 
 
Billups wrapped up his career with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists while Barilka scored all seven of his points in the first half. 
 
The Patriots exceeded all expectations this season, coming off a 9-13 season with virtually the same team. They advanced to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals before losing to No. 1 Ranney and followed that up with the greatest tournament run in program history, finishing ranked fourth in the Shore Conference. 
 
NJSIAA Group III: Moorestown 64, Wall 44
Sophomore Pat Lacey helped Wall to a 26-24 halftime lead, scoring 13 of his team-high 15 points in the first half. Wall used a 14-2 run to go up, 22-16, in the second quarter and took the two-point lead into a locker room. 
 
However, the third quarter was all Moorestown as the Quakers stormed out of the locker room to outscore the Crimson Knights, 24-8, in the third quarter and 40-18 in the second half to put the game away and advance to their first state title since 1960.
 
Freshman Cole Ackerman finished with 14 points for Wall (21-9) while Trey Dombrowski – the lone senior in the Crimson Knights rotation this season – capped off his basketball career with four points and a team-leading seven rebounds. Dombrowski will now turn his attention to baseball as Wall is expected to field one of the top teams in the state.  
 
Not much was expected from Wall this season and the Knights were not even a preseason top 10 selection after posting a 14-13 record a year ago and graduating a 28-point scorer in Steve Geis. 
 
However, they bolted out to a fast start and never looked back and finished the season ranked eighth in the Shore Conference. They won the Class B North division championship for the first time since 2015 then captured the program’s first sectional title in 46 years. 
 
NJSIAA Group II: Haddonfield 53, Manasquan 43
After a dominant run through the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II tournament that produced its second sectional championship in four years, Manasquan’s offense struggled at the worst possible time against the 11th -ranked Bulldogs. 
 
Haddonfield (30-1), the eventual Group II champion, won its 20th game in a row and never trailed after Manasquan (29-4) scored the first bucket of the game. 
 
The Bulldogs used a 12-3 run that bridged halftime to push a 15-14 lead midway through the second quarter into a 27-17 lead two minutes into the third quarter and the Warriors never got any closer than seven points the rest of the way. 
 
Whether it was an off-night shooting or solid defensive play by Haddonfield or a combination of the two, the Warriors just couldn’t get their offense on track all night. 
 
Manasquan’s top two scorers, Alex Galvan (17.8 ppg) and Brad McCabe (15.6 ppg) were held to eight and six points, respectively with Galvan battling foul trouble throughout the game.  
 
Freshman Ben Roy, who had a breakout season for the Warriors, led the team with 11 points. 
 
Although the loss was disappointing, Manasquan produced one of the best seasons in program history. They returned to the Shore Conference Tournament final for the first time since 2005 and if not for juggernaut Ranney, they might not have had to settle for runner-up. 
 
The Warriors also closed out the season ranked second in the Shore and 13th in the state.