Point Borough Beats Toms River North 48-43; Boro Point Guard Shatters School Record
Shaun Cooke breaks all-time school record for points scored and leads Panthers to a showdown with Shore power Neptune
With his team clinging to a three-point lead and six seconds left on the clock, Point Borough Head Coach Kevin Hynes made it a point during a timeout to reiterate to his team who he preferred to be at the free throw line to send his team to the Shore Conference Round of 16.
“We drew it up to make sure the ball was going to be in Shaun’s hands,” said Hynes, referring to Shaun Cooke.
“If we weren’t able to get to him to him first, we would’ve burned that last timeout, but give our credit to our guys, they found a way to get it to him.”
Cooke delivered, knocking down two foul shots which sealed the deal on a 48-43 victory over Toms River North in the Opening Round of the Shore Conference Tournament in Toms River.
It was a special evening for the senior point guard, who not only scored 26 points and led his team to victory, but also broke the school’s scoring record of 1,169 held by Mike Pouro, who set the mark in 2002.
Cooke broke the record at the end of the first half with two free throws, which gave the Panthers a seven-point advantage going into the locker room.
“It’s a humbling experience, Mike Pouro was a great player. I don’t want to take anything away from him, but this feels great,” said Cooke. “I couldn’t have done this without my teammates and coaches who helped put me in a position to succeed.”
Cooke and the Panthers were able to jump off to an early lead against Toms River due to multiple second and third opportunities created by beautiful offensive rebounding.
Point Borough led by four at the end of the 1st quarter and stretched the lead all the way to 13 before Toms River North was forced to call timeout with three minutes left in the 2nd quarter.
From that point, Toms River continued to chip away at the Point Borough lead due to the strong play of big man Solly Stansbury. The junior forward netted a team high 18 points, and helped the Mariners cut the deficit to six points at the end of the third quarter.
“They are a good team, with good length and good guard play, so you knew that the big lead wasn’t going to stay where it was,” said Hynes. “We knew they were going to make a run, and we knew it was going to be important to hit free throws and make some clutch baskets and we did that.”
The Panthers were able to pull away in the fourth quarter due to not only Cooke, but the solid play of Kevin MacIver who netted a double-double for the Panthers down low and was instrumental in the paint.
Point Borough allowed Toms River North to get back in the game late in the fourth quarter due to a poor effort at the free throw line. The Panthers missed four foul shots, three by Cooke, within the last 90 seconds that could’ve made this game a lot more stress free.
With eight seconds left, Toms River North hit a three-pointer that cut the deficit to 3, but that was as close as the Mariners would get.
“I wanted to make sure I got the ball to ice the game for my team,” said Cooke. “I was upset that I missed a few of those free throws late in the game, but it’s something I’ve practiced so many times before, that I knew would not happen again.”
Up next for the program’s leading scorer and his teammates is a very difficult task. Point Borough will take on Neptune, the third seed in the Shore Conference, on Thursday.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to play a team like Neptune to see what our boys can do,” said Hynes.