By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
History was made in West Long Branch on Monday, January 15, 2024. For the very first time in the history of Shore Regional High School they hosted the Colts of Christian Brothers Academy in a Shore Conference basketball game. It was a packed gym at Shore Regional as the host Blue Devils entered the game with a near perfect 10-1 record, while CBA came in at 7-3.
The Colts, which are also known as “CBA” or “The Academy” ran away with the 57-38 victory. For decades the Colts have been one of the top basketball programs in the Shore Conference, with a record of 16 SCT titles. However, the last Shore Conference Tournament championship for CBA was back in 2010. They also have eight NJSIAA state titles, tied for seventh overall in the state.
CBA plays in the A North division of the Shore Conference, where the Rebels of Howell are in first place. The Colts hold the second spot followed by Manalapan, Marlboro and Freehold Township.
Shore Regional, which is having a great season, is in the B Central division. They are on top followed by Donovan Catholic, Ocean Township, Monmouth Regional, Lakewood and Jackson Liberty.
Alex George, one of the senior leaders on the Blue Devils squad, missed most of the season after recovering from an injury he sustained playing football in the fall. He made his return to the hardwood just last week, and the CBA game was his second of the season.
George scored only two points in the loss to the Colts, but they were the first two of the game. You could tell he was not in full basketball condition, but his athletic ability, speed and leadership was needed on the floor.
At the close of the first quarter CBA had a 17-5 lead on the Blue Devils. Dominick DiFore had a basket and Gianni Fiumefreddo had one of his game-high 14 points. He was the only Blue Devil to score in double figures in the game.
The Academy scored an additional 13 points in the second quarter, allowed Shore to add eight, and took a 30-13 lead into the halftime break. One of the biggest problems for the Blue Devils in the first half was turnovers and missed foul shots. CBA had a swarming defense and held a slight height advantage, but Shore just made some bad decisions on passes which you can’t do against a good team. The Colts took advantage of all those turnovers and converted them into points.
The third quarter was the best of the afternoon for the Blue Devils as they were only outscored 12-10 by The Academy. With 2:30 left to play in that quarter, Shore’s Joseph Santi was hit with his fourth foul of the game, and was benched. When the quarter ended, CBA was up 42-23.
The final quarter of the after had both teams scoring 15 points, however near the end of the quarter all the starters for both schools were sitting. Santi was back in the line-up for Shore in the fourth, but received his fifth and final foul with 3:32 to play. He was the second highest scorer for the Blue Devils with eight points.
DiFore finished with four points, Bryce Crowe had three as did Nick Bennett. Scoring two points were Tyler Jackson, Andrew Barham and George. Devils drop to 10-2 on the season. Their previous loss was 47-45 to Henry Hudson on December 19.
January 18, the Blue Devils will host Keyport at 5:30 p.m. They then travel to Toms River South on January 20, for a 12:30 p.m. game. The following week are two divisional games both away. January 23, they are in Ocean Township for a 5:30 tipoff and then on January 26, in Lakewood for a 6:30 p.m. start.
The Academy had three players in double digits. Leading the victors was Justin Fuerbacher with 16, Kevin Pikiell scored 15 and Charlie Marcoullier ended with 11 points. CBA is now 8-3 on the season. Their three losses occurred on December 21, where Red Bank Regional beat them 64-59, December 26 where Randolf won 63-58 and lost to Manasquan at the 2024 Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase where Manasquan won 42-40.
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