Sports Roundup

Southern Boys Basketball Squad Using Solid Defense to Win Games So Far

By David Biggy | Jan 08, 2020
Photo by: David Biggy Southern’s Ben Ridgway drives to the basket for a layup during the Rams’ 37-25 victory over Toms River East on Jan. 3. The Rams are off to a 6-2 start.

Southern Ocean County — By the time the new year started, the Southern Regional boys basketball team had racked up half as many victories as it accumulated all of last season. Of course, there was a reason for that.

“To these kids’ credit, they’ve bought into a boring style of basketball,” said first-year head coach John Pampalone, following his Rams’ 37-25 victory over Shore Conference Class A South rival Toms River East on Jan. 3 “We’ve sold them on defending, sharing the ball and waiting to get the best possible shot. It’s not fun and it’s not pretty, and as a player you have to kind of check your feelings about it at the door. But they’ve bought in and that’s why they’re winning games.”

Case in point: the Rams haven’t scored more than 51 points in a contest through eight games as of Tuesday, Jan. 7, and those were scored in the first game of the season – a 51-44 win over Toms River South. Since then, the Rams have had five more games while allowing their opponents less than 40 points. In the other two games, both losses, Southern gave up 55 and 79 points to non-conference foes Lenape and St. Joseph-Hammonton.

“We’re going to score more as the season goes on,” Pampalone said. “But with only one truly experienced varsity player returning to the team this season, we have to rely on good athletes, who are used to winning, to just fight, defend and do whatever has to be done to win a game. They’re a fun group to be with right now.”

Against the Raiders on “Jim Ruhnke Night” – which also doubled as the Rams’ home opener, for which Pampalone admittedly was “a little nervous out there” – it took Southern a little time to get moving on offense, as it trailed East, 6-5, following the first quarter. The Raider led 14-13 at the half, but the Rams (6-2) stepped on the gas in the third quarter, using a pair of solid runs to not only take a lead but make it a 10-point contest, 28-18, heading into the fourth.

A 9-7 fourth finished off the Rams’ fifth victory of the season, as Jay Silva led the way with 12 points and Ben Ridgway tallied 10 points. Ridgway and Luke Infurna had six and four steals as well.

After falling to St. Joseph on Saturday, the Rams started their divisional matchup against Brick Memorial with an 11-2 outburst in the first quarter and eventually hung on to win, 38-36. Silva finished with 12 points and six rebounds, while Nick Devane delivered seven points and Infurna and Will Devane each added six points.

Barnegat Hoops Squad Off to 5-0 Start

Returning a bunch of starters from last year’s 11-15 squad, the Barnegat boys basketball team was hoping to rise back toward the top of the Shore Conference Class B South standings this winter. So far, so good for the Bengals, who are off to a 5-0 start following a 44-43 victory over division rival Jackson Liberty on Jan. 6.

The Bengals started the game with a 17-11, first-quarter outburst and took a 26-22 lead into halftime before holding on for the win, which for now keeps them atop B South at 3-0. Jared Krey led the charge with 12 points, while Nick Revello hit for 11 points and Isaiah Gerena added nine.

On Jan. 3, Barnegat started the new year a little slow, trailing Donovan Catholic, 36-35, heading into the fourth quarter before a 20-11 run secured the Bengals’ fourth victory of the season, 54-47. Gerena delivered a mammoth effort, burying a trio of three-pointers en route to a 21-point tally and snagged 16 rebounds. Jaxon Baker provided 19 points to the outcome.

To start the season, the Bengals knocked off Lakewood, 56-50, on Dec. 20, before scoring 74-34 and 61-51 wins over Academy Charter and Princeton to win the Bulldog Holiday Classic tournament at Rumson-Fair Haven High School.

Southern, Barnegat Wrestlers Start Season Strong

The Southern Regional and Barnegat wrestling teams are off to strong starts this winter. Following three victories on Jan. 4, the Rams were 5-0, while the Bengals also jumped out to a similar 5-0 start following a victory over Keansburg on Jan. 6.

During its 51-30 triumph on Monday, Barnegat was a pinning crew, as Dante Powell won his 106-pound bout in 4:38, while Alizer Ruiz delivered a pin at 3:02 of the 132-pound contest, and Mike DiPianta took just 1:07 to pin his opponent at 138 pounds. Kevin Fazio (145) delivered a pin at 1:58, James Circle (152) pinned in 2:15, Rashidi Alleyne (195) quickly pinned in 42 seconds, Luis Salto Villanueva (220) needed 1:36 to pin, and heavyweight Griffin Jackstadt took 3:04 before pressing his opponent. The only Bengal not to pin was Timothy Crudup, who won a 10-4 decision at 160.

During a 45-28 victory over Shore Conference Class B South rival Pinelands on Jan. 2, Ruiz won a 5-3 bout at 132, while Fazio pinned in 2:39 at 145, Circle pinned in 1:59 at 152, Mason Bayer pinned in 1:14 at 170 and Jackstadt pinned in 4:47 in the heavyweight contest. For Pinelands (1-6), Mason Livio pinned in 2:50, while Mark Siino scored an 18-7 major decision at 120, Austin Koeppen pinned in 1:12 at 126 pounds, Travis Brown edged DiPianta, 6-5, at 138 pounds, Gavin Stewart win the 160-pound bout over Crudup, 5-1, and Thomas McNeil pinned in 1:41 at 220.

On Saturday, Southern scored a trio of lopsided victories – 54-12 over West Morris, 64-5 against Paramus and 46-14 against Mount Olive. In the first contest of the day against the Marauders, Conor Collins pinned in 1:01 at 106 pounds, while Pat Iacoves won a 7-2 decision at 113, and Nick Bennett pinned in 5:05 at 120 pounds. Eddie Hummel (138) pinned in 3:43, before Cole Velardi (152) pinned in 2:53, and Brock Lefkus (160) won a 5-3 decision. Robert Woodcock (170) scored a 22-9 major, and Gabe Murray (220) and J.T. Cornelius (285) pinned in 1:54 and 1:45, respectively.

Against Paramus, the Rams received pins from Collins, Iacoves, Bennett, Mat Brielmeier (132), Evan Graczyk (145), Velardi and Stephen Jennings (195), while Jayson Scerbo (126) won a 7-2 decision, Colin Boero (160) won a 19-7 major and Lefkus (170) won a 2-1 bout. In the win over West Morris, Collins, Ben LoParo (182), Jennings and Cornelius all pinned their way to victory, and Jason Sari (152) managed a 5-3 decision.

David Biggy

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