PISCATAWAY – As the clock wound down, the final outcome assured, a roar a century in the making rose up inside Jersey Mike’s Arena Saturday night.
Manasquan, one of the Shore Conference’s great basketball programs over the decades, captured its first state championship in dominating fashion, rolling over Caldwell, 62-29, in the Group 2 final.
Manasquan (28-4), which reached the Group 3 semifinals with this team a year ago, was led by sophomore guard Darius Adams’ double-double, pouring in 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, while junior point guard Ryan Frauenheim added 13 points.
'Crazy to be a part of this team'
“It means everything,” Adams said. “First time in history, so it’s crazy to be part of this team and I’m glad I got to do it with this team.”
“It’s great. It’s something we’ve worked for all year, just a great thing,” Frauenheim said.
How good was Manasquan’s season?
Of the four teams they lost to, two won state championships, with Roselle Catholic beating St. Rose, who Manasquan split two games with, in the Non-Public B final, and Union Catholic winning the Non-Public A title.
It’s the first state championship for a Shore Conference public school program since Point Beach won the 2013 Group 1 title. It’s the first by a Shore team since Ranney captured the 2019 Non-Public B title.
“The goal is not that,’ Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau said. “The goal is to have a great experience, to get better every day, be a man 20 years from now, have a great time, have warm, fuzzy kind of Kodak moments about your experience in high school. That’s what we stress. Championships are a byproduct of all those other things.”
And when the team returned to Manasquan Saturday night, the plan was for everyone to head to the beach to do a celebratory polar plunge, coaches included.
“We’re going in,” Bilodeau said. “They’ve been polar plunging every day. I’ve seen some video. It doesn’t look fun. I promised them we would go in if we won.”
Dominating third quarter
After taking a 25-13 halftime lead, Manasquan used an 19-3 run to open the second half to put the game away, with the lead swelling to 44-16 on a Frauenheim tiple late in the third quarter, as Adams poured in eight points in the third quarter.
“I feel like we were shooting too many threes in the first half, so get to the rim and keep battling on the rebounds,” Adams said.
“People like to talk about (Adams’) scoring, I think his rebounding has been outstanding,” Bilodeau said. “He was on the floor a couple times tonight. That’s why he’s a big-time player. That’s why we win, because we just have those guys that are blood and guts.”
Manasquan then turned on the afterburners, continually getting to the basket as the pace increased dramatically, with the lead swelling to 56-22 at one point.
In the first half, Manasquan raced out to an 11-2 lead and was really never challenged once it extended to the lead to double digits in the second quarter.
Manasquan’s only other appearance in the state final was a 2004 loss to Raritan.
And with a young lineup that includes starting lineup that includes two sophomores and two juniors, this team’s run of success is a long way from being over.
Can Manasquan basketball win first state championship? 3 keys vs. Caldwell in Group 2 final
PISCATAWAY – Given all the success Manasquan basketball has had over the years, from the six Shore Conference titles the program won through 1957, to its place as one of the area’s top programs over the past two decades, it’s hard to believe the program has never won a state championship.
That’s how tough it is to accomplish. Point Beach’s victory in the 2013 Group 1 final still ranks as the Shore’s last public school to win one.
But now a young Manasquan team is poised to make history when it faces Caldwell (24-5) in the Group 2 final Saturday (7 p.m.) at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway.
It’s Caldwell’s first appearance in a state final since 1932, while Manasquan made its lone trip in 2004, losing to Raritan in the Group 3 final.
More:Manasquan basketball reaches state final, topping Middle Twp. behind 20 from Darius Adams
Manasquan (27-4) comes off a 46-43 victory over Middle Township, the 22nd win in 23 games for the Shore Conference champion, with the only loss coming in a regular-season ending game at Union Catholic, which defeated St. Peter's Prep for the Non-Public A title Friday night. Manasquan’s three other losses were against Non-Public B champion Roselle Catholic and finalist St. Rose; and Linden, which lost in the Group 4 semifinals Thursday.
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Caldwell got here by knocking off Ramsey, 47-38, at the Dunn Center in Elizabeth. The Chiefs, who opened the season with 13 straight wins, come in having won six straight.
1. Experience matters
The Chiefs have a senior-heavy lineup that knows how to win. Several key players were members of the Chiefs’ football team, which owns the state’s longest winning streak at 28, having gone 13-0 in the fall, beating Rumson-Fair Haven for the first-ever Group 2 championship.
They’ve been building for this moment on the hardwood, having gone 24-4 a year ago before losing in a sectional final.
Senior Ryan Zamloot is their leading scorer at 17.6 points-per-game, while senior Rocco Checchetto led the way with 14 points against Ramsey, and senior Ryan Lawrence, who had a career-high 16 points in the section final, added 13 points. Senior Lorenzo Sozio is the Chiefs’ defensive stopper.
2. Star power
Sophomore guard Darius Adams and junior point guard Ryan Frauenheim have taken turns carrying the team. Adams had 20 points against Middle Township, while Frauenheim hit for 20 in the Central Group 2 final against South River.
But it’s the way the duo have been able to individually take games over at critical points that has been the difference.
In addition, the solid play of Manasquan’s frontcourt, at both the offensive and defensive ends, has been critical. Senior forward Jack Dettlinger had 10 points and five rebounds against Middle Township, and sophomore Griffin Linstra had four rebounds and hit a big 3-pointer to help jumpstart a first-half rally.
3. Rising to the top
This is the moment Manasquan has been building towards. The program has now gone 95-11 since the start of the 2019-20 season, and is 52-10 over the past two seasons, with six of those losses against the state’s elite-level non-publics.
While Manasquan doesn’t have a lineup of upperclassmen, this group has played in a lot of big games, for a program that has a great recent history, and that means something on this kind of stage.