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The Adams Family: Manasquan’s Darius Adams becomes the latest in family to reach Group 2 state final

BERKELEY TWP. (N.J.) - Manasquan sophomore Darius Adams waited his turn.

His sisters, North Carolina forward Destiny Adams and Rowan guard Dakota Adams, reached the NJSIAA Group 2 state final as teammates, and won, in 2019. Destiny was seized of a second opportunity to compete in the state final as the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic unraveled in 2020.

Three years later, their younger brother earned his chance as the Warriors advanced to the Group 2 final with a 46-43 triumph over Middle Township in the state semifinals at Central Regional High School on Thursday night.

"It feels great," Adams said. "My family's everything. They taught me everything so it feels great to be in the same spots they were."

The sophomore scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the second half and tallied a team-high eight rebounds. Adams also took a charge to hand Middle Township's Jamir McNeil his fifth foul. McNeil paced the Panthers with a team-high 15 points, six rebounds and six assists, and kept his team within striking distance.

Whenever Manasquan needed a basket or a key stop, Adams answered the call.

The sophomore with offers from Rutgers, Seton Hall, Syracuse and St. John's fumbled on a drive through the lane, regained possession, missed a reverse layup, and then recovered to convert a second-chance opportunity to create a three-point advantage with only 62 seconds left to play.

Ryan Frauenheim added 13 points, four rebounds and two assists for the Warriors. The junior collected five unanswered points of his own to close the opening half and provide Manasquan with a 20-16 lead.

He also drained a pair of free throws with less than a minute left in regulation to give the Warriors a 44-39 cushion.

But Middle Township didn't go away.

Bubba McNeil nailed a deep 3-pointer and was fouled on the attempt, sending the junior to the charity stripe with 24 seconds left. McNeil's successful four-point play cut the Panthers' deficit to a point.

That's when Adams decided to leave no doubt. His free throws with only seconds left pushed the Warriors into a state final for the first time since 2004.

"We knew they were going to be a tough team," Frauenheim said. "They play defense too. They get coached as well. So they made it hard for us as well. We had to execute well down the stretch and we did. ... Darius responded, hit two clutch free throws and we got a loose ball at the end."

Middle Township concluded its campaign with a 20-12 record. The Panthers won their first sectional title since 2011 under the direction of former McDonald's All-American and two-time state champion player LaMarr Greer.

Bubba McNeil charted 12 points, Anthony Trombetta netted eight and Re'Ale Basquine led the Panthers with seven rebounds.

"I'm super proud of them," Greer said. "We're super proud. Now our program is on the rise. Now it's different. Now we'll be the hunted instead of the hunter. We'll embrace it. This is how Middle basketball is. This is all I know."

The Panthers are slated to return their entire starting lineup next season and will lose only one senior on the roster to graduation. The future is bright in Cape May Court House.

"It's the group of guys, but it's the community they come from," Greer said, "and the parents they have. Even the teachers they have. I get to see all of that. It's us, we're on the forefront, but there's a whole bunch of people behind us that our pushing us that made this happen."

Manasquan will advance to play Caldwell in the Group 2 state final at Rutgers University on Saturday at 7 pm.

Thursday night's victory also marked the first time the Warriors reached a state championship under the direction of coach Andrew Bilodeau.

"It feels great. I mean it was only done one time I think in Manasquan history," Adams said. "I'm happy for our team and I'm happy for our coach.

"He's an interesting guy. He doesn't really show emotion. I know he's enjoying it and I'm really happy for him."

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