Jenkins helps Spartans run past the Renegades

Posted: March 15, 2007

TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Shawnee High's magical boys' basketball season, which featured an NJSIAA Group 3 state championship, came to an end last night when the Renegades fell, 73-64, to speedy Bloomfield Tech in a Tournament of Champions quarterfinal at the Ritacco Center.

Wesley Jenkins, a 6-foot-3 senior guard who has committed to St. Peter's, scored 38 points and was 5 for 10 from three-point range as he led fifth-seeded Bloomfield Tech (29-2) into tomorrow's T of C semifinals against top-seeded Linden at Rutgers.

Shawnee, seeded fourth in the tournament and ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, finished 29-2. Its winning streak ended at 24 games.

"I was worried about their speed, and that's exactly what happened - they're quick and they hit the boards and took us out of our game," said Shawnee coach Joe Kessler, whose Group 3 state champions received 29 points and 13 rebounds from senior Julian Sanders. "Normally, we're a good passing and cutting team, but they blocked the lanes. And we couldn't stop them defensively. [Number] 31 is a great player."

That would be Jenkins, who scored 19 first-half points to steer the Group 1 state champion Spartans to a 39-30 halftime lead.

Shawnee held a 13-9 lead before 6-3 Iona-bound guard Rashon Dwight (19 points, five assists) scored on a pair of fastbreak drives and Richard Hall canned a pair of three-pointers, keying a 10-2 run that gave the Spartans a 19-15 advantage after the first quarter.

Shawnee was guilty of seven first-quarter turnovers against Bloomfield Tech's tenacious man-to-man defense. Tech did not commit a first-quarter turnover.

"They're not just quick and athletic, but they're well-coached and they play sound fundamental basketball," Kessler said. "If they're that good all the time, my hat goes off to them."

Jenkins set the tone by going 3 for 5 from three-point land in the first quarter. Sanders spent part of the time guarding Jenkins in the opening quarter.

"He started hitting, so we went to our 3-2 zone," said Sanders, who was an AAU teammate of Jenkins and Dwight in the summer.

Whether Shawnee played zone or man defense, Bloomfield Tech had few problems getting free for open shots in the second half.

"Every time we made a run," said 6-7 senior Mike Kernan after scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, "they came back and made a run of their own."

The three-point shooting of Eric Kessler (17 points, 4 for 9 on threes) and Sanders (6 for 12 on threes) helped keep Shawnee within striking distance. The Renegades drew within 39-35 with 6 minutes, 43 seconds left in the third quarter.

They did not get any closer.

Bloomfield Tech took a 51-44 lead into the final eight minutes and promptly scored the first 11 points of the quarter, increasing its advantage to 62-44. The lead grew to 66-46 before Sanders sank a three-pointer with 2:26 remaining.

With 57 seconds left and Tech holding a 69-57 lead, Tech coach Nick Mariniello pulled his starters. He reinserted them after a Sanders three-pointer made it 69-60 with 38 seconds to play.

The Renegades converted a turnover into a Kernan follow-up hoop with 26 seconds remaining to get to within 69-62, but that was as close as they got.

"I'm so proud of my guys," Joe Kessler said. "It was a great season."

Notes. Shawnee was 23 for 60 (38.3 percent) from the floor and 10 for 22 from three-point range (45.5 percent). Tech shot 50 percent from the floor (22 for 44) and from three-point land (7 for 14). . . . Shawnee outrebounded the winners, 39-31. . . . Tech outscored Shawnee from the foul line, 22-8. . . . Kernan said that the Shawnee players would receive antibiotics today for a bacterial meningitis scare at the school. "It didn't affect us at all today," he said. . . . Shawnee committed 12 turnovers - three more than Tech.

Bloomfield Tech19 20 12 22 - 73

Shawnee15 15 14 20 - 64

BT: Richard Hall 10, Rashon Dwight 19, Chris Morris 2, Wesley Jenkins 38, Todd Fleming 4.

S: Eric Kessler 17, Mike MacWright 2, Julian Sanders 29, Mike Kernan 14, Doug Holcombe 2.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi

at 215-854-5181


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