By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
Manasquan – The 54th season of the Jersey Shore Basketball League sponsored by Freedom Mortgage, concluded with an exciting championship match-up between Sterns Trailer, who pulled out a close 119-117 victory over Orthopaedic Institute.
All games were played indoors at Manasquan High School in a packed gym. Sterns Trailer, coached by Ron Pastore and assisted by Rich Brunson, earned their third JSBL title with the close victory. Their other two titles came in 2005 and 2012, and they were runner-up in 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The JSBL had one of its best summer seasons in nearly a decade. Two former NBA players, 24 current professional players who have contacts overseas or playing in the G-League, 48 former or active Division 1 NACCA players, and 17 former or current Division 2 scholarship players and several all-star high school graduates.
Shavar Reynolds, who graduated from Manchester High School and played three seasons at Seton Hall University before transferring to Monmouth University was the championship game MVP. He finished with 32 points, five rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals.
Reynolds made first team all JSBL this summer finishing with 210 points, made 20 of 23 foul shots, had nine offensive rebounds, 50 defensive rebounds, 62 assists, 21 steals and blocked three shots. “This game was a really high level of basketball,” Reynolds said. In the past, the league had players just going out for individual stats, but this summer all the players were very involved in team play, and defense.
The championship game featured six former Big East basketball players. Myles Cale, who played with Reynolds at Seton Hall also had a big night for Sterns Trailer. He scored 31 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Three other players for Sterns Trailer scored in double digits. Kessly Felizor, graduate of Hightstown High School and New Haven, had 25 points. He finished with 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block.
Jack Scott, the quietest player in the league scored 13 points. He is a graduate of The Hun School and attends Princeton University. Scott had some very clutch rebounds and baskets at the end of the game to keep Sterns Trailer in the lead. Scott had nine rebounds and one assist.
The last Sterns Trailer player to score in double digits was Rob Ukawuba. He is a graduate of East Brunswick High School and NJIT. Standing at 6’4” he can play guard or power forward for Sterns, and he is powerful. He had 11 points, three rebounds, and two assists.
Sterns Trailer only loss, 123-92, this summer was on July 5, to the WCT Warriors. “We were missing a few that night,” said Pastore. “Reynolds, Cale, Felizor, and Ukawuba.” He praised all his players for their commitment to the league. “It’s not easy for many of these kids. If they are still in school they have camps they must attend, and if out of school they are working and preparing for the next level.”
Leading Orthopaedic Institute in the loss was Louie Pillari. He is a graduate of CBA and Monmouth University. He finished with 28 points, four rebounds, one steal and two blocks.
Jagan Mosely, graduate of St. Anthony’s High School and Georgetown University, scored 26 points, had two rebounds, two steals and one block.
One of the fastest players in the JSBL is Trevis Wyche. He is a graduate of St. Peter’s Prep and Saint Peters University. He had 24 points in the loss, five rebounds, 14 assists, and two steals.
Another St. Anthony High School graduate and Connecticut alumni was RJ Cole. Who played last summer for the NBA Lakers in the G-League, scored 19 points.
Steve Harris who stands 6’7” and played his college ball at East Stroudsburg and plays professional ball in Sweden for Jamtland Basket, had 14 points, nine rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks.
Orthopaedic Institute finished the 2020 season with a 6-5 record. They won the championships back in 2018. They were runner-up in 2019 and 2021.
The JSBL championship trophy is called the Paul Larson Award, as he has sponsored Larson Ford in the league since its inception. Larson Ford also had a total of 10 JSBL titles. They won their first in 1974 and their last was in 2019. Ron Kornegay, the JBSL Commissioner, presented the championship trophy to Fred Stern for the 2020 season.