Memorable Mondays: Top 5 Performances
Welcome to MSGVarsity.com's Memorable Mondays, a summer-long series that looks back on the top players, games and moments from the past season and gazes ahead to 2012-13. As the summer goes on, we'll compile all the lists and post them here: www.msgvarsity.com/mondays. New lists will be posted every Monday at noon.
In Week 2 of Memorable Mondays, we look at five of the best individual performances from New Jersey high schools.
Devin Fuller, Old Tappan: Devin Fuller wasn’t ready to watch his high school football career dwindle away, so the electrifying quarterback did what he does best: take matters into his own hands.
Carrying his team through a win-or-go-home situation, Fuller amassed 440 yards of total offense and six touchdowns to guide Old Tappan to a resounding, 46-27 thrashing of Ramapo on November 5.
This highlight-laden performance mirrored what still is the high Division-I recruit’s best -- a 489-yard, seven-touchdown outburst that lifted Old Tappan to a 65-56 shootout win over Paramus last November 20.
Fuller did most of his damage in the first half, during which he racked up 350 yards and five scores. MSG Varsity's Mike Quick weighed in by saying, "it could've been the best individual first half of football I've seen in 24 years."
Samantha Clark, St. Rose: Sam Clark always had game and a well-rounded one at that. But, in the Shore Conference Tournament final against top-seeded Manasquan, the 6-3 senior center from St. Rose made it clear she also possessed quite a bit of pride.
Two weeks prior to the title game, Clark was effectively cocooned by the blanketing defense of Samantha Sullivan and Amanda Hagaman, which limited her to 11 points when Manasquan scored a 43-39 victory in a regular-season encounter in Belmar that drew an SRO crowd. In the rematch at Monmouth University, with much higher stakes as the backdrop, Clark proved she could give as good as she took.
Her play out high on pick and rolls as well as pick and pops kept Manasquan off balance but was also effective because of how physically she carried out her end of the play. She used her rugged frame to get strong seals on in the paint and to create space to command the boards. And, her alertness off the ball, coupled with an awareness of her teammates was never more apparent than when she cut inside the lane for a dish only to deliver a brilliant touch pass to Sarah Kurtz for a wide-open 3-pointer.
Yet, it was her 28 points and 10 rebounds that truly captured the significant impact the Fordham-bound pivot had in driving St. Rose to a decisive 65-56 triumph over the eventual Tournament of Champions winner for the Purple Roses’ first SCT title since 1993.
Billy Nichols, Morris Knolls: After a season rich in thrilling individual performances on the ice, it was hard to narrow it down to just one. Nick Holowko from Randolph scored a goal in every game for Randolph leading to a Public A finals appearance and freshman Shane Brown could have been picked for any number of games he helped carry Morristown to the Public A final as well.
Holowko scored the final goal in Randolph’s season in a 3-1 win over Morristown and Alex Hagerty from Delbarton and Mike Nyitray of Summit capped huge seasons with a pair of goals each in the Non-Public A and Public B finals respectively.
But no one performance was better than that of Billy Nichols’ 5-goal outburst against Bridgewater-Raritan in the quarterfinals of the Public A state tournament. It was the crown jewel of an journey through a season that saw the Morris Knolls senior register 28 goal, many in the biggest of spots. Nichols also got the game-winner in the Mennen Cup finals over rival Randolph and that was after the Golden Eagles had failed to even score in the two teams first two meetings.
Quenton DeCosey, St. Joseph (Met.): Quenton DeCosey had already turned in numerous high-scoring games over the years, yet his St. Joseph of Metuchen squad was largely unable to transform the big performances into victories of statewide significance.
That changed last Jan. 7 when his Falcons, then No. 7 in The MSG Varsity Power Rankings, batted No. 6 and perennial power Seton Hall Prep in the Scholarship Fund for Inner City Children Festival at Kean University in Union.
The 6-5 swing was outstanding from start to finish that day, and particularly effective down the stretch with two big buckets in the final 2:13 to steer St. Joseph to a 61-59 upset win. DeCosey pumped in 33 points and also collected 10 rebounds, five assists and five blocks as he offered a foreshadowing of events in an even bigger moment later in the season.
The Falcons hooked up with Seton Hall again March 10 in the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship, and DeCosey played as if he'd been carrying momentum in his back pocket for two months. The Temple-bound star netted 30 points, pulled down eight rebounds and had three assists to help St. Joseph to its first state title, 77-68.
DeCosey was a First Team All-State selection along with Kyle Anderson of St. Anthony, Sekou Harris of Plainfield, Tyler Ennis of St. Benedict's and Chris Jones of Teaneck.
Scott Bieda, Bridgewater-Raritan: In his previous two state tournament games, standout attackman Scott Bieda was subdued by a combination of shutoffs, double teams and spectacular goaltending of Ridgewood's Noah Pounds.
In the Tournament of Champions final June 9 against Delbarton, something of either natural or motorized proportions would have been required to hold down Bridgewater-Raritan's talented senior.
Bieda set the stage for both an individual highlight and his team's definitive show of dominance when he opened the scoring off a pass from Ryan Hollingsworth 3:06 into the game. He forged a 3-0 lead later in the period, added two more goals in the second quarter and would finish with a career-high six goals (also one assist) to power undefeated Bridgewater to an 11-5 win and a second straight T of C title.
The Manhattan-bound sparkplug was limited to a cumulative one goal and two assists in his prior two games, though that was probably due as much to Bieda's unselfishness and his club's awesome firepower as it was to the stellar defense executed against him.
Still, Bieda wasn't taking chances in the T of C final. His off-ball cuts were precise, his timing with Hollingsworth impeccable and his shooting was hard and accurate. Bridgewater (21-0) extended its winning streak to 36 games and Bieda finished with 60 goals and 47 assists for 107 points and was named to the MSG Varsity All-State team.
Join us throughout the summer as "Memorable Mondays" brings you more top 5 lists:
July 9: Top five Cinderalla stories from 2011-12
July 16: Top five exciting endings from 2011-12
July 23: Top five heartwarming moments from 2011-12
July 30: Top five favorite venues from 2011-12
Aug. 6: Top five coaches from 2011-12
Aug. 13: Top five most memorable games from 2011-12
Aug. 20: Top five teams from 2011-12
Aug. 27: Top five teams to watch in 2012-13
Find them all at www.msgvarsity.com/mondays.