The local and state tournaments are approaching, but there have been numerous performances in the regular season recently by scholastic athletes who are deserve recognition.
On the boys’ basketball hardwood …
Freehold Township High School roared to the Shore Conference A North Division championship Feb. 7.
In the game, Steve Staklinski sparked Freehold Township with 15 points in a 42-41 victory over Marlboro High School. P.J. Ringel led Marlboro in the defeat with 17 points.
Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen saw its undefeated season come to a close when Old Bridge High School sprung the upset with a 62-59 victory. Kyle Parris led Old Bridge with 16 points. Saint Joseph, which dropped to 19-1, was led by Tyree Taganeca-Ford’s 17 points.
In round No. 2 in the showdown between two of the best teams this year in the Shore Conference, Mater Dei Prep evened the series this winter with a 76-72 victory over Ranney School Feb. 6. Ranney, which had won the first game between these two rivals Jan. 12, 58-56, received 28 points from Bryan Antoine.
Derrick Whitaker fired in 35 points to lead South River High School past Keansburg High Schoool, 74-71.
Michael Ugarte put in 28 points when he steered South Brunswick High School past Perth Amboy High School, 52-40.
Keshaun Henry deposited 28 points when he led Woodbridge High School to a 71-67 verdict over North Brunswick Township High School.
Rob Higgins recorded 26 points and six assists when he sent Middletown High School North to a 70-63 victory over Manasquan High School.
Christian Wantong spearheaded Edison High School’s 57-48 victory over Colonia High School when he sank 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Sayreville War Memorial High School relied on a one-two scoring punch to deliver the knockout of New Brunswick High School, 82-65. Ryan O’Leary and Xavier Towns each popped in 22 points to guide the Bombers.
Demonte Crawford registered 22 points and 13 rebounds when he led Bishop George Ahr High School past Middlesex High School, 62-44. Alex Santiago contributed to the triumph with 19 points and six rebounds.
Josh Cohen collected 20 points and eight rebounds when he steered Christian Brothers Academy past Neptune High School, 52-35.
Danny Gaines hit for 19 points to lead Colts Neck High School to a 47-37 victory over Freehold High School.
A look at the girls’ basketball standouts …
Brynn Farrell may be just a freshman, but she has already taken the girls’ basketball scene by a storm. All winter, she has been a scoring machine. But it was Feb. 6 when she established a career standard.
On that day, she poured in 47 points, sinking 27 free throws, and collected 16 rebounds and four steals in sparking Metuchen High School to a 53-44 victory over Highland Park High School. She was also a force in a losing effort two days later when she recorded 37 points and 17 rebounds in Metuchen’s 51-43 setback to Mount Saint Dominic Academy.
Amanda Carney delivered the crucial defensive play when Old Bridge defeated Edison, 65-62. Carney blocked a 3-point shot attempt by Samira Sargent with 2.2 seconds left to play to secure Old Bridge’s victory. She also finished with 15 points, which was one point behind her teammate, Meghan Dowdell. Sargent ended with 23 points to lead all scorers.
Jamyra Maye connected for 22 points to lead John P. Stevens High School to a 50-45 triumph over Piscataway Township High School.
South River wrapped up the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division title with a 53-23 victory over Carteret High School. Tara Beachem paced South River with 12 points. Beachem then came back two days later and hit for 19 points, while teammate Aleah Bass ripped down 18 rebounds in the Rams’ 72-27 triumph over Keansburg.
Sayreville improved to 20-1 on the season when the Bombers defeated New Brunswick, 56-16. Alyissa Pepitone sank 15 points to ignite Sayreville.
State wrestling matches highlighted the action on the mats …
Howell High School achieved its first group championship when the Rebels trimmed Hunterdon Central Regional High School, 28-27, in the Group V title bout Feb. 12 at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River.
The result also enabled Howell to avenge its only setback of the season — another one-point meet when Hunterdon Central nipped Howell, 30-29, during the regular season Jan. 7.
Delivering clutch victories for Howell were Eric Keosseian at 220 pounds and Jess Liptzin at 106 pounds.
Keosseian avenged a defeat during that January bout when he scored a two-point takedown at the buzzer to pull out a 4-3 decision over Victor Lacombe. That crucial victory sliced Howell’s deficit to 24-21 with three bouts to go.
Liptzin then helped seal the victory and the crown with a 13-5 decision over Anthony Romaniello. That result sent Howell to 28-24 edge.
Sandwiched in between those critical late decisions by Howell was heavyweight Jacob Nash’s 7-0 victory.
Jackson Memorial High School advanced to the group championships when the Jaquars defeated Brick Memorial High School, 34-22, in the Central Jersey, Group IV finals Feb. 10.
Carsten DiGiantomasso sealed the victory when he scored a 3-2 decision at 126 pounds — a result that gave Jackson Memorial a 30-12 lead.
Tim Hamann launched the Jackson Memorial drive when he started the championship match with a fall at 152 pounds. David Lemay also scored a fall when he pinned at 220 pounds for Jackson Memorial.
Jackson Memorial was then defeated by West Morris Mendham High School, 30-28, in the Group IV semifinals Feb. 12 at Pine Belt Arena. Mendham eventually fell to Phillipsburg High School, 35-24, in the group final that day.
A showdown between New Jersey heavyweights on the ice …
Two of the top ice hockey teams this winter, Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) and the Delbarton School, skated against each other Feb. 6 at Aspen Ice in Randolph.
Derek Contessa emerged as the hero for CBA when he fired in three goals to spark the Colts to a 3-1 victory over the Morris Township school.
The teams are expected to clash again in the coming weeks during the non-public school state tournament.