Early on, Jaguars look as good as advertised

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

TOMS RIVER — The Jackson High School boys’ basketball team used a balanced scoring attack en route to a 64-42 victory over Central Regional in the opening round of the WOBM Christmas Tournament last Saturday night at the Ritacco Center in Toms River.

Senior center Kenny Simms led the Jaguars with 18 points and 17 rebounds as Jackson improved to 2-0 on the year. Senior lead guard Ryan Mogila added 15 points and eight assists, while junior forward Jed Marquez chipped in with 11 points.

"This team only knows how to play at one speed," Jackson coach Mike Antenucci said. "We used a lot of defensive pressure and looked to move the ball up the floor as quickly as possible. It was good to see the intensity levels were high. I thought we did a good job in both games of distributing the ball. We want as many players as possible involved in the offense."

Jackson now meets St. Rose High School in the second round of the event Saturday at 3 p.m.

"They’re a good basketball team," Antenucci said. "We need to look to take advantage of our quickness and rebounding. If we play defensively the way we have the first two games, we should be okay."

Jackson posted a 56-44 win over Toms River North Friday in a Shore Conference Class A South game Friday night. The Jags led the entire game, letting North close to within seven early in the fourth quarter.

"We never let them get closer than that," Antenucci said. "Our guard play was outstanding that night. We are a very difficult team to press because both Mogila and Tony Boone are terrific ball-handlers. We don’t worry about teams using full-court pressure."

Again Jackson got balanced scoring. On this night, four players ended in double figures for the Jags.

Marquez finished with a team-high 14 points. Simms had 12 but faced a double- and triple-team situation many times.

"We know that teams are going to look to double and triple on our big guy," Antenucci said. "But that is going to leave other players open. Teams that do that are taking a risk. We were fortunate enough to get the ball to the open man. Kenny Simms presents a lot of scoring opportunities for his teammates just by being on the floor."

Boone had 13 points and Mogila added 10 as Jackson jumped out to a 27-15 half-time lead.

Both games took place at the Ritacco Center. Antenucci feels that could prove to be an advantage later in the season.

"It is a beautiful facility and the kids are excited about playing in this place," Antenucci said. "The more we get to play here the more comfortable we’ll become. There will be post-season events held here so we’d like to be familiar with the surroundings. We may get a chance to play as many as five times here before the regular season is over."