Local teams play to mixed results in holiday tourneys

first_img JERRY WOLKOWITZ Middletown North’s Jason Krol goes up for a shot during the Lions’ opening-round win over Manalapan at the Jack Kuhnert Memorial Tournament in Manalapan on Wednesday. There’s nothing like the excitement of high school’s postseason basketball tournaments, but the many holiday tournaments that are held this time of year are certainly the next best thing. This year, as always, a number of local teams have taken to the road during their winter breaks to take part in a slew of tournaments, creating some interesting matchups that wouldn’t normally occur during the regular season. The Middletown North boys’ basketball team entered the Jack Kuhnert Memorial Tournament looking to make some noise as the No. 5 seed. In Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup against fourth-seeded Manalapan they did just that, pulling off the lone first-round upset, 53-45. The Lions roared to a 14-point first quarter lead, only to have the Braves tie it in the third quarter on an 18-4 run. The game seesawed in the fourth quarter before Tony Brown put the Lions up 47-45. Six straight free throws in the final 2:00 sealed the win. Jason Krol led the Lions with 19, and Cody Chalmers had 18. From there, they went on to face top-seeded Manasquan in the semifinals and fell 73-57. The Lions stayed with the Big Blue through the first three quarters, but Manasquan’s 25-15 fourth-quarter edge put the game out of reach for the upstart Lions. North was led by 6-4 senior Joe Leone’s 17 points, as well as Krol’s 12 points. The loss dropped North to 2-3 on the year. But several other teams were still alive in their respective holiday tournaments entering last weekend’s play, including Middletown’s Mater Dei Seraphs, who beat Woodbridge in the opening round of the Bayshore Holiday Invitational Tournament at St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, 54-35. From there they beat Rumson-Fair Haven (who beat Matawan 41-31 in the first round) 53-45 on Thursday, Dec. 27, to earn a berth in the tournament final against Monmouth Regional on Saturday. The top-seeded Falcons topped the host Lancers 54-41 in their semifinal game in the tournament. Vianney had topped Middletown South, 66-56, in their opening-round game, but found Monmouth to be too much to handle for the second time this season. Elsewhere, the Raritan Rockets continued their solid play early on by topping Pinelands 65-39 in their opening-round game of the WOBM Christmas Classic at Ocean County College, Toms River. That win earned them a spot in the next round, where they were set to meet Point Borough, a first-round winner over Brick Memorial on Saturday. The Rockets entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, and were hoping to earn a shot at top-seeded Southern so as to continue to gain the respect of the Shore Conference’s top teams. The Keyport Red Raiders were set to play South Amboy Friday, Dec. 28 in the South Amboy Holiday Tournament; a tournament the Red Raiders were capable of winning if they played to their potential. The Holmdel Hornets continued their tradition of playing in a top-notch holiday tournament, entering the Kaylee Scholarship Association Christmas Tournament in Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida. The Hornets earned a first-round bye and were set to face the winner of the Edison (California)-Thomas More (Connecticut) first-round game. And finally, the Shore Conference’s most storied boys’ basketball program, the Christian Brothers Academy Colts, Middletown, headed to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to take part in the Beach Ball Classic and got a first-round 70-47 win over the host team to advance to the next round. On the girls’ side of the action, the Middletown North Lions showed they deserved the top seed in the Bayshore Holiday Tournament, beating Monroe in the opening round, 70-35, before topping Cardinal McCarrick 52-33 behind junior Jesse Chalmers’ 12 points in the second round. McCarrick had upset fourth-seeded Holmdel in their opening round game, 54-32. North’s win set them up to face second-seeded Shore Regional on Saturday in the tournament final. The St. John Vianney Lancers traveled to Delaware to take part in the Diamond State Classic, but were topped by St. John of Washington, D.C., 54-49, on Thursday, despite 14 points from freshman point guard Shantel Brown. They then went on to play in a consolation game against Bullis Prep of Maryland on Saturday morning in an attempt to return to New Jersey with a quality win under their belts. The Middletown South Eagles entered the Point Beach Holiday Tournament on Friday, and were set to face Asbury Park, while the Matawan Huskies faced the unenviable task of taking on top-ranked Marlboro in the opening round of the Kuhnert Memorial Tournament. Matawan played well, but lost to the talent-rich Mustangs, 54-25. The Keyport Red Raiders dropped their opening-round game of the South Amboy Tournament, 62-45, to Spotswood. Meanwhile, the Raritan Rockets topped Toms River North, 63-44, in the opening round of the WOBM Christmas Classic at Ocean County College, Toms River, behind 20 points from sophomore Amanda Harmata. The Lady Rockets, much like their counterparts on the boys’ team, are looking for some respect and would have earned a boat-load with a second-round win over Rumson-Fair Haven on Friday. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 5 in the state, beat Red Bank Regional 56-26 in their first-round game behind 15 points from all-state center Chrissy Fisher. By doug mckenzie Staff Writer last_img