BELMAR, N.J. — When the Jersey Shore Basketball League began, the trio of incoming Rutgers freshman guards defined itself with sloppy play, selfishness and a high-school attitude.
But with the regular summer season complete, Myles Mack, Jerome Seagears and Elijah Carter look more like college players. And the Gutter Cleaners, winners of five of their last seven, look more like a college team.
"It must have been hard to watch us when this league started," Seagears said. "It's really crazy how much better we're doing now than when this started.
"We're building chemistry as we go and we're getting dangerous. When we're all on our game, we're dangerous enough to get the ‘W' and that's what you need."
The Gutter Cleaners are 5-5 going into their playoff game Monday night in the opening round.
The regular season finale ended poorly thanks to a strong effort on the opposite end by Dane Miller, but the three Rutgers freshman guards are confident going into the playoffs.
"I think we've shown we can compete with anyone in this league," Mack said. "We've been right in every game except for that first one. We learned a lot from that loss and have been getting better every week."
In a 118-110 win over T&T Coast, the trio played its best cohesive game with all three doing what they do best.
Carter, the best pure scorer of the three, had an explosive second half and finished with 40 points in the victory. Mack played the role of floor general with eight assists and shot well en route to 21 points. Seagears also handled the point for a solid amount of the game. He put up a solid all-around performance with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
"We all played well, but it was great watching Eli do his thing," Mack said. "We're really learning what it means to play like a team. We spend so much time together playing pick-up or hanging out in the dorms. It feels like what a team should [feel like]."
Carter scored 24 of his 40 in the second half and finished with an alley-oop dunk from Seagears as time expired.
"I felt really good coming out, I thought I was going to be a little tight from weightlifting but I felt good," Carter said. "It just feels good. When you're not missing or making every other shot, it just feels like you can't be stopped. My teammates trusted in me."
Carter, who missed the first game of the JSBL to be with Kyrie Irving on draft night, enrolled for the second summer session at Rutgers and said he spends most of his free time with his teammates.
"We're all already friends and it's important we build chemistry now," Carter said. "Once we're done in this Shore league, it's like a month and then we're starting the grind."
Win or lose, the Jersey Shore Basketball League, now featuring 10 Scarlet Knights, ends this week. Then, the next stop is Midnight Madness in a matter of months.
"I can't wait for that day," Carter said of the start of college basketball season. "This has been my dream for the longest time. I can't wait to play with these guys in the RAC, in front of a crowd, with coach [Mike] Rice. It's going to be exciting."
JSBL Building Chemistry Among Freshmen
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