West Long Branch:This past weekend, Shore Regional hosted natural rivals, the Ocean Township Spartans. This matchup has been circled on schedule by both teams from the beginning of the season. Clearly, whoever won, would have bragging rights until the next time they met.
From the onset of this contest, Shore took an early lead. Quickly up 6-2, the Blue Devils’ would never look back. For entire first quarter both teams played an up-tempo, side-to-side, brand of basketball that relied on finding the open player on the perimeter. If that option was not available, both teams went down low to look for the easy lay in and basket. The first period went by quickly, was faced paced, and was dominated by the Blue Devils’, 24-12.
Ocean started out the second period on a 5-point run, 17-24. Unfortunately for the Spartans they were unable to maintain their momentum. After settling down, Shore matched the Spartans point for point for three minutes before pulling away 31-22. Though up by 9, it felt that Ocean was looking to mount a comeback and at times the capacity crowd was hoping it would happen. Wish as they might, Ocean’s turnovers, fouls, and sloppy play allowed Shore to maintain and build on their lead. Shore led by 12, 42-30 at the half.
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The third period was much like the second. Ocean continued to commit too many turnovers and fouls. Though the game was played at a fast pace, Ocean only hurt the team by putting themselves in jeopardy. As shore continued to add to their lead, Ocean looked for ways to stay in the contest. With 4:16 left in the quarter, Shore led 53-36. With 1:19 left in the frame Shore saw their lead begin to erode, 56-42. Was a comeback possible? Ocean thought so and began playing smarter. By clearing out the key, Ocean kicked the ball out to the arc for the open three-point shot. On more than one occasion, Shore committed the ultimate foul on a three-point play, which gave the shooter three free looks at the basket. Furthermore, these free throws began to galvanize an Ocean squad that looked lost for most of the game. Shore was now holding on to a 61-47 point lead going into the final quarter.
With 6:10 left in the game, Shore held a hollow 9-point lead. As Shore began to slow the game down and play with clock management, Ocean began cycling the ball down low looking for high percentage shots. If they were not there, they would kick the ball out to the arc for the open 20-foot jump shot. Once leading by double digits, Shore was holding on to the lead for the remaining three minutes of the contest. Looking for something, anything, Shore finally snapped back into the game and took and 11-point lead, 66-56 with less than 2:00 minutes remaining.
Playing desperate, Ocean began using their fouls to give, forcing Shore to the line. Mainly on free throws, Shore began to pad their lead. Up 71-62 with two-minutes remaining, Ocean’s chances of a monumental comeback were almost over. With 1:01 left in the final period, Shore had a commanding 81-67 lead over the Ocean. Shore ran out the clock, winning the contest handedly, 81-67.
Shore’s next game is on 1/21/14 at home against Holmdel. Tip is 6:30
Ocean’s next game is on 1/21/14 away vs. RBR. Tip is 5:30