Marlboro-SJV advance to SCT semifinal

first_imgRaritan boys hopingto earn another shotat tourney title Raritan boys hoping to earn another shot at tourney title BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff St. John Vianney’s Courtney Calderon scores on a breakaway during the Lancers’ win over St. Rose on Sunday at Brookdale Community College in the Lincroft section of Middletown. After two rounds of the upset-filled Shore Conference Girls Tournament, both top-seeded Marlboro and fourth-seeded St. John Vianney (SJV) entered yesterday’s action still standing tall. The Mustangs and Lancers avoided the rash of the upsets that had befallen other top seeds, and were poised to battle for the right to play for the tournament title. With their 52-44 win over Monmouth Regional at Brookdale Community College Sunday afternoon, the top-seeded Mustangs advanced to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year. Awaiting the Mustangs there was St. John Vianney. Marlboro and SJV played last night in Toms River North’s new Ritacco Center with the winner advancing to Friday night’s final, also at Toms River (tipoff at 7 p.m.). CBA’s Brian Freiberger tries to grab a rebound during the Colts’ SCT second-round win over Marlboro on Feb. 20 in Middletown. St. John Vianney beat St. Rose, 42-30, in its semifinal. The Lancers used a balanced team effort to outlast the Purple Roses in what was a close game early, before SJV took the lead late in the first half and never looked back. The Lancers talented backcourt of freshman Alisa Apo and junior Shantel Brown were the top scorers for SJV with 12 points each, while Kristine Perez added nine. Courtney Calderon also earned praise from her teammates and coaches for her stellar defensive effort against St. Rose’s Liz Imbriacco, who finished with just three points. Yesterday’s matchup had all the anticipation of a heavyweight title fight, with most agreeing that the winner would be a heavy favorite to capture the tournament championship Friday night. The Mustangs had a score to settle with the Lancers. Two years ago, SJV edged the Mustangs in the SCT final, the first of two-straight heartbreaking losses in championship game for the Marlboro girls. Now seniors and playing with a sense of urgency, the Mustangs avoided the pitfalls that befell No. 2 seed and defending champion Red Bank Catholic, and No. 3 seed Rumson-Fair Haven last week. The Caseys lost to Toms River North at Brookdale, 47-43 on Sunday, while Rumson lost at home Friday to Toms River East, 43-36. While the Lancers feature a similar makeup and style as in years past, this is a different Marlboro team than the one that has lost the last two SCT finals. The senior quartet of Cole, Pollack, Jenna Gatto and Christie Kastner are playing like they have nothing to lose, as they did as freshmen. They have used the lower expectations of others as a motivation. They have also gone out of their way to get everyone else involved this year and have been providing encouragement. If the ‘Stangs need to go to the bench this year, they will be bringing in more confident players. Marlboro (20-2) has not lost to a Shore Conference opponent this winter, while Vianney seems to have used a recent loss to RBC as motivation once the postseason began. Meanwhile, the Raritan Rockets are cruising along in the boys tournament, and will make their second straight appearance in the semifinals tonight in Toms River. The Rockets simply dominated St. Rose at Red Bank Regional High School on Sunday en route to a 62-47 quarterfinal win. Using an early season loss to the Purple Roses as their motivation, the Rockets jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, displaying the type of depth and ability that has allowed them to be one of the Shore’s top teams all season. St. Rose simply couldn’t keep up with the Rockets’ multi-pronged attack, which was led once again by Marques Johnson (22 points), Mike Nunez (17) and Joe Reyes (14 points, 12 rebounds). It was the type of effort fans have come to expect from a Raritan team that has continually stepped up in the big spot this year. Next up is third-seeded Manasquan, a 78-73 winner over a good Freehold Township team on Sunday. The Warriors (19-1) were led by senior guard Tom White’s 22 points, while senior forward Kyle Laird added 17. Tonight’s contest is just another in a long line of tough games for the Rockets, who have persevered this year against one of the Shore’s most difficult schedules. They’ve answered every challenge thus far and are anxious to get back to the SCT finals after losing a tough contest to CBA in that spot last year. Speaking of which, the CBA team’s hopes of repeating as SCT champs came to an end on Sunday when they were upset by a red-hot Red Bank Regional team playing on its home court. The Bucs played inspired ball against the fourth-seeded Colts, and managed to hold off a late CBA charge to secure the win. This game was tight the entire way, until RBR used a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter to take charge. CBA (17-6) made it interesting when Dan Gallagher cut the lead to three with a trey with seven seconds left, but RBR managed to run out the clock and earn the trip to the semifinals, where it will face top-seeded Nep­tune, a 60-52 winner over Manchester on Sunday, tonight. This marks only the third time in 22 seasons that CBA has not reached the SCT semifinals. Unlike the girls tournament, in which most people feel the winner of the Marl­boro-SJV game will more than likely claim the conference crown on Friday night, the boys final promises to be a great matchup regardless of tonight’s re­sults. — Tim Morris contributed to this story BY DOUG McKENZIEStaff Writer last_img read more