There was a buzz in the RWJBarnabas Health Arena in Toms River last night that will likely be duplicated Saturday night inside Monmouth University’s OceanFirst Bank Center.

As fans flocked in for the boys semifinals in the Shore Conference Basketball Tournament I saw many people who had no connection to any of the four teams that would be playing including those I had not seen at a basketball game in years.

The buzz was caused by the top-seeded team in the tournament which features a pair of juniors who are both ranked in ESPN’s Top Ten recruits in the Class of 2019.  Ranney School of Tinton Falls with only 700 students in grades 3-12 has become a basketball power in large part due to Scottie Lewis & Bryan Antoine who lead a high-flying attack which is like nothing I’ve ever seen at the shore.

If you like fast-break and fast-pace basketball with dunks from all directions than Ranney is worth the price of admission.  Lewis poured in 24 points, most on acrobatic jams, to lead the Panthers to an easy 69-53 win over CBA in the first semifinal.  The packed crowd was at times left in amazement by Lewis, Antoine and company who combined for a rim-rattling dozen dunks and were simply too much for the Colts.

The win sends Ranney into the finals for the first time ever against two-time defending champion Mater Dei Prep who coasted past Rumson 70-53 and ended the Bulldogs 18-game winning streak.  Sophomore Jamir Watkins led the Seraphs with 20 points while steady senior Kyle Cardaci added 18.

Mater Dei Prep and Ranney are division rivals who met twice this year with the Panthers winning both but the slate is wiped clean heading into this matchup which was predicted by many before the season even began.

The Shore Sports Network will broadcast both the boys and girls (St. John Vianney-Manasquan) championship games Saturday night beginning at 6pm on 1160 & 1310AM with a live audio stream on