LINCROFT, N.J. - A one-point margin separated both the Middletown South and the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball teams during halftime of their huge Shore Conference A-North division showdown on Saturday afternoon. That wasn’t the case by the end of the contest, which saw no stopping the Colts in the second half.
Behind a game-high 18 point performance by Josh Cohen and a terrific second performance by running mate Stephen Braunstein, CBA rolled past Middletown South to a 72-53 victory to improve to 11-2 on the season and move into first place in the division.
“The first half was like a high level high school basketball game,” said CBA boys basketball coach Geoff Billet. “We were making shots. They were making shots. We went into the half knowing we needed to play better defensively. We were able to wear out their guards a bit and only give up 19 points in the second half.”
CBA knocked in a total of six three-pointers in the first half, led by Ryan Mabrey who knocked in three of those shots from downtown and totaled 11 points in the half.
The Colts however, couldn’t slow down Middletown South from making a shot, especially two final second quarter shots that were made by Bobby Pirie.
Receiving a great pass by teammate Luke Albrecht on the block, Pirie drove towards the hoop for the basket and the foul, completing the three-point play at the free throw line to bring Middletown South within one point of CBA going into the second quarter.
With under five seconds in the second quarter, Pirie knocked down a three-pointer from the left corner to cut the CBA lead to 35-34 going into halftime. The junior finished with 13 points in the contest.
“Bobby (Pirie) is a good offensive player and a hidden gem for us,” said Middletown South boys basketball coach Jim Anderson. “He knocked down some big shots for us in the first half. Our team just couldn’t knock down shots in the second half. CBA did. That’s what it comes down to.”
After a slow first half, Braunstein got the three ball rolling again for CBA in the third quarter.
Following Mabrey knocking in his fourth triple of the afternoon, Braunstein followed by banging in two three-pointers, giving him eight points for the quarter and helping put CBA up 46-38 with 3:17 left to play till the fourth quarter.
Michael White swished in his only triple of the game to help extend the CBA lead to 11 with 2:58 to play in the quarter.
Still up 11 with 1:10 to go, Colin Farrell ended the third quarter with a bang, putting together a entertaining 5-0 run with a layup and then knocking in CBA’s fifth three-pointer of the quarter in the final seconds from the right wing to put the Colts up 56-40.
CBA outscored Middletown South 21-6 in the third quarter. The Colts knocked in a total of 11 three-pointers in the contest.
“When we can make our shots from the outside, we are tough to beat,” Billet said. “Teams have to play a lot of zone on us because of the threat of Josh (Cohen) inside or double teaming him. That opens up some chances for our guys to hit shots from the outside.”
Cohen took home the victory for CBA in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his game-high 18 points down the stretch, which included a nice putback jumper off a great pass by Braunstein to put the Colts up 62-48 with three minutes to play.
“Stephen (Braunstein) saw an open under the basket and gave me pass,” said Cohen. “I saw him streaking wide open for a basket earlier. It’s a nice back-and-forth connection we have.”
The senior added in six rebounds and three assists to his line in the win for CBA.
Cohen assisted Braunstein on his first of two slam dunks in the fourth quarter, throwing a nice outlet pass to his fellow senior teammate running up the floor, and Braunstein rose up towards the rim for the two handed slam.
Braunstein finished with 17 points and a team-high nine rebounds in the win.
“Josh (Cohen) gave me a perfect pass to jump up for the dunk,” Braunstein said. “Liam (Kennedy) gave me great pass on the second dunk. Both felt good. This was a nice win for us as we look to accomplish our team goal of winning the division.”
Mabrey scored 16 points in the win for CBA. The Colts are now 7-1 in division play.
Jack Sheridan scored a team-high 16 points for Middletown South, who drops to 9-5 on the season and 6-2 in division play.
The two will meet up again at Middletown South on Thursday.
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports.