MAYS LANDING - The Shawnee High School boys basketball team overcame a subpar shooting night Friday with defense and discipline, and the Renegades beat host Oakcrest 39-34 in their South Jersey Group IV semifinal game.
The seventh-seeded Renegades actually earned a fairly comfortable victory after a close first half that ended with Oakcrest up 15-14. Shawnee (18-10) outscored the Falcons 10-2 in the third quarter and the visitors continued to pull away until their lead was 34-22 with less than two minutes left. Oakcrest, the third seed, finished at 20-6.
Shawnee outscored Oakcrest 20-5 from early in third quarter until a 1 minutes remained.
"We're a disciplined team. We like to take good shots and play good defense," Shawnee coach Joe Kessler said. "Oakcrest is very well-coached and they have good athletes, so we wanted to play at our own pace and take our time. In the third quarter, we made sure our shooters got into their spots and we opened things up. That was the key to the game."
Shawnee can add to its big basketball history Monday when it meets top-seeded Williamstown for the South Jersey Group IV championship. Williamstown, ranked eighth in The Press Elite 11, edged fourth-seeded Lenape 45-42 Friday in the other semifinal.
Shawnee was playing in its seventh straight South Jersey semifinal. The program has nine South Jersey titles, the last being 2007. The Renegades, which were in Group III that year, went on to win the state championship.
Ryan Bodnar, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, led the Renegades with 13 points, including 6-for-7 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
Joe Bodnar, Ryan's senior brother, added 10 points, including consecutive 3-pointers from the left side that made it 24-17 after three quarters. Ryan Bodnar opened the fourth quarter with a drive and a foul shot that gave Shawnee a 10-point lead.
Senior guard Justin Knight led Oakcrest with 17 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. Jeff Skinner added seven points for the Falcons, and Avery Walker had five rebounds.
"They played good defense, with a good man (-to-man) and a little zone," said Knight, 18, a Mays Landing resident. "Neither team really hit their shots but they got the better of us tonight.
"We wanted to make it a running game, but they had three guys back on defense. They stopped us from what we wanted to do."
Both teams came out charged up before an enthusiastic crowd. Both most of the early shots were missed, and the first quarter ended at 7-5 Oakcrest.
Knight hit a field goal late in the quarter, and the senior stole the inbounds pass and scored again just three seconds later to make it 5-3 Oakcrest. Skinner and Dafawn Toombs hit Oakcrest's 3-pointers in the second quarter.
"Shawnee tried to get us to play their tempo, but when we tried to (go) up-tempo, we took bad shots," Oakcrest coach Frank Brown said. "We made a substitution and then (Joe Bodnar) had back-to-back 3s. We had the wrong man on him. We fixed it but then it was a different kind of game. Shawnee did a good job rebounding and getting second shots."
Contact Guy Gargan:
Shawnee 5 9 10 15 - 39
Oakcrest 7 8 2 17 - 34
S-Shea 1 3-5 5, R. Bodnar 3 6-7 13, J. Bodnar 3 2-5 10, Kelleher 0 1-2 1, Chiusano 3 0-1 6, DiVirgilio 2 0-0 4. Totals-12 12-20 39.
O-Knight 7 3-4 17, Walker 2 0-0 4, Price 0 1-2 1, Skinner 3 0-0 7, Toombs 1 2-3 5. Totals-13 6-9 34.
3-pointers-J. Bodnar (2), R. Bodnar O. Skinner, Toombs O.
Records-Shawnee 18-10; Oakcrest 20-6.