Southern Regional Boys Hoops Team Scores First Blowout Win of Season Against Indians
Losing a big guy who scored 2,000 points and a point guard who delivered 1,000 assists during their careers was expected to be difficult to overcome. And while the Southern Regional boys basketball team has been competitive in most games so far this winter, winning games has been a chore. However, the Rams on Tuesday, Jan. 17, snapped a two-game losing skid in a big way, dropping the hammer on Shore Conference Class A South rival Toms River South with a 33-point second half en route to a 55-36 drubbing of the Indians. With the win, Southern improved to 3-10.
After taking a 22-16 lead into the half, the Rams used a 16-9, third-quarter spurt to grab control of the contest, then finished off South with a 17-11 outburst during the final eight minutes.
Mark Valeriani led all scorers with 21 points, which included a quartet of three-pointers. Jake Dubois tallied 12 points and handed out six assists to go along with four steals, while Thomas Foster buried eight points from the foul line and finished with 10. Matt Mershon contributed four rebounds and two steals as well.
Prior to the win over Toms River South, the Rams had won just one of their previous 10 games – a 57-52, overtime win over 2-8 Toms River East on Jan. 10 – after starting the season 1-1. During that victory, Dubois led the charge with 21 points, while Foster hit for 17 and grabbed eight boards, and Valeriani added nine points.
Following the win over the Raiders, Southern dropped a 57-54 contest to Brick on Jan. 12 and a 52-29 decision to Jackson Memorial on Jan. 14.
Still, the Rams haven’t been blown out much so far this season. Four of their losses have been by five points or less and have come during games in which the Rams have scored 55 or more. And in all but one other loss this season, Southern hasn’t lost by more than 10 points in a single game.
Prior to the win over East, the Rams lost a 68-62 contest to Manchester on Jan. 3 and a 71-67, overtime game to Brick Memorial. So, with some better defense against most opponents, it’s easy to believe Southern can grab some more victories before the NJSIAA tournament arrives in February.
So far, only five players – Dubois, Valeriani, Foster, Anthony Cipriani and John Tilton – have played in all 13 games. Connor Ciliberto and Mershon have played in 11 and 10, respectively. Through the Toms River South victory, Valeriani leads the team with an average of 14.8 points per game, while Dubois is averaging 13.9 and Foster is sitting at 10.5 per contest.
— David Biggy