Home News Transcript News Transcript Sports Freehold Township scores second victory over Manalapan cagers

Freehold Township scores second victory over Manalapan cagers

Freehold Township scores second victory over Manalapan cagers
Freehold Township High School boys basketball player Joe Lardaro dribbles the ball past Manalapan's Gabe Blackwell at halfcourt during a game played on Feb. 10 in Manalapan. Lardaro scored 11 points to help Freehold Township defeat Manalapan 55-35.

The Freehold Township High School and Manalapan High School boys basketball teams squared off for the second time this winter on Feb. 10 in Manalapan.

The events that transpired after the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 27, a 50-42 victory by Freehold Township, showed the players on both squads how unpredictable this winter is because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Manalapan had to shut down for two weeks after positive COVID-19 cases were reported in the school’s athletic program.

Because other schools shut down due to COVID-19 issues and the snowstorm of a week ago, Freehold Township had to cancel several games.

The Patriots were finally able to schedule a game on Feb. 6 against Barnegat High School. That was Freehold Township’s second game of the 2021 season.

“It’s tough,” Coach Brian Golub said. “You have to take things day by day and hope you are good to go. It’s been tough for the kids. I give them a lot of credit. They are mentally tough and playing hard.”

Manalapan Coach Rick Garretson said his players stayed mentally strong during the break and did their best to get ready when the opportunity came to get back on the court.

“It’s tough when you have a preseason and get into a rhythm and then have to shut it down,” Garretson said. “It’s not an easy thing to come back from.”

Manalapan’s return to action came against Freehold Township on Feb. 10 in Manalapan. The Patriots (2-1) put together a 9-0 run to begin the contest and never looked back as they rolled to a 55-35 victory over the Braves.

“Playing is a great thing and winning is even better. It felt really good for us,” Golub said of the win.

Senior Joe Lardaro led the way for the Patriots with a team-high 11 points. He had a big fourth quarter, scoring seven points, including his second three-point field goal of the game.

“Some people don’t have access to a gym right now because they are shut down, so to play these games means everything,” Lardaro said. “It’s great that we have the opportunity to play. It’s great to be back in the gym and playing with my team.”

Sophomore Jayden Holmes-Cotter scored 10 points for Freehold Township. Through three games, Holmes-Cotter scored 41 points, just behind Lardaro’s team-high mark of 45.

“It feels great,” Holmes-Cotter said of his early season success. “It’s nice playing for the seniors. They have allowed me to play my role and help us win games.”

Senior Zachary Orrico scored nine points for the Patriots in the Feb. 10 victory.

The Patriots had 10 players score at least one point against the Braves. Golub has made it a point this season to get all of his varsity players some minutes during each game, especially his 10 seniors.

“This year we took a different approach where we are doing our best to give everyone minutes in the first half and then cutting it back a bit in the second half by trying to go for the win,” Golub said. “It’s a lot more important to Coach (Todd) Smith and myself for all these kids to get the opportunity to get minutes.”

Junior Gabe Blackwell scored 12 points to lead Manalapan and senior Chris Frontera added six points for the Braves.

Garretson was pleased to see his squad get back on the court after the shutdown. He said his focus this season is not just on wins and losses, but on doing his best to give his players a great experience during a difficult time.

“It’s not only about wins and losses right now. With the pandemic, it’s about helping the kids mature and have a positive experience. The seniors are doing a great job and working hard. We just have to keep getting after it each day,” he said.