Boys Basketball – NJSIAA Tournament Preview: Groups I and III
The NJSIAA Tournament begins Monday with the Group III and I sections tipping off before Groups IV, I and Non-Public B begin Tuesday and Non-Public A Wednesday. The Shore Conference has plenty of candidates to make a run to a sectional title, although no Shore team is a top seed in any section. We’ll begin by previewing the Groups III and I sections with Shore teams today and IV, II and the Non-Publics Tuesday morning.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 10 Matawan
Defending Champion: No. 7 Colonia
Top Seed: Chatham
The Favorite: Chatham. The Cougars enter the NJSIAA Tournament with one loss and will have home court to try to combat a deep field with plenty of dangerous teams in it.
The Dark Horse: Mendham. Lots of possibilities for this role, but the Minutemen look like a potential threat out of the 13 seed. They gave Chatham two tough games during the regular season.
(1) Chatham over (16) JFK-Iselin
(8) Snyder over (9) Cranford
(5) Cliffside Park over (12) Nutley
(13) Mendham over (4) Rahway
(3) Warren Hills over (14) Barringer
(6) Summit over (11) Voorhees
(7) Colonia over (10) Matawan
(2) Somerville over (15) Governor Livingston
(8) Snyder over (1) Chatham
(13) Mendham over (5) Cliffside Park
(6) Summit over (3) Warren Hills
(2) Somerville over (7) Colonia
(8) Snyder over (13) Mendham
(2) Somerville over (7) Colonia
(2) Somerville over (8) Snyder
This bracket has a chance to be pretty wild, with a battle-hardened Snyder team posing a major threat as the No. 8 seed. The Tigers played top-10-ranked Hudson Catholic to a two-point loss in the Hudson County Tournament and look to be playing well at the right time. The Pioneers, however, have been solid all season and there’s nothing quite like home court in a sectional final.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 4 Lakewood, No. 5 Long Branch, No. 8 Ocean, No. 9 Red Bank, No. 11 Brick, No. 15 Neptune
Defending Champion: No. 1 Ewing
Top Seed: Ewing
The Favorite: Ewing. The Blue Devils have barely missed a beat without 2015 graduate and current Temple University guard Trey Lowe, rolling to the top seed with a 21-4 mark.
The Dark Horse: No. 10 Allentown. The Redbirds played about as tough a schedule as any team in this bracket, which included a trip to Manasquan in a competitive game in early January.
(1) Ewing over (16) Nottingham
(9) Red Bank over (8) Ocean
(5) Long Branch over (12) Lawrence
(4) Lakewood over (13) Westampton Tech
(3) Northern Burlington over (14) Hopewell Valley
(11) Brick over (6) Moorestown
(10) Allentown over (7) Pennsauken
(2) Pemberton over (15) Neptune
(1) Ewing over (9) Red Bank
(4) Lakewood over (5) Long Branch
(3) Northern Burlington over (11) Brick
(10) Allentown over (2) Pemberton
(4) Lakewood over (1) Ewing
(10) Allentown over (2) Pemberton
(4) Lakewood over (10) Allentown
The Piners have great senior influence with Amir Tyler and Sean Barksdale and have the makings of the 2013 team that won SCT and sectional titles. Last year, Manasquan lost to CBA in the Shore Conference quarterfinals and went on to win the Central Jersey Group II championship and Lakewood also lost to CBA in the quarterfinals this season as it heads into the CJ III Tournament. Long Branch will be a tough challenge in the quarterfinals as the Green Wave are coming off a run to the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals. Lakewood won sectional titles three years apart in 2010 and 2013 under coach Randy Holmes and is in year three of its most recent wait between titles.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 4 Point Beach, No. 10 Henry Hudson, No. 11 Keyport, No. 16 Keansburg
Defending Champion: Shore
Top Seed: Bound Brook
The Favorite: Bound Brook. The Crusaders have home-court advantage and although Point Beach has every bit the shot that Bound Brook has, the Garnet Gulls having to go on the road may tip the scares to the Crusaders.
The Dark Horse: Henry Hudson. The Admirals have already beaten the No. 7 (South Amboy) and No. 2 (South River) teams in the tournament, each by a double-digit margin. Florence presents a serious roadblock to the championship game, but Henry Hudson might be a semifinal favorite going into the tournament.
(1) Bound Brook over (16) Keansburg
(8) South Hunterdon over (9) Somerset Tech
(5) Perth Amboy Tech over (12) Middlesex
(4) Point Beach over (13) Dunnellen
(3) Florence over (14) Manville
(11) Keyport over (6) Piscataway Tech
(10) Henry Hudson over (7) South Amboy
(2) South River over (15) Academy Charter
(1) Bound Brook over (8) South Hunterdon
(4) Point Beach over (5) Perth Amboy Tech
(3) Florence over (11) Keyport
(10) Henry Hudson over (2) South River
(1) Bound Brook over (4) Point Beach
(3) Florence over (10) Henry Hudson
(3) Florence over (1) Bound Brook
The Flashes showed against Shore Regional last year that they are ready to compete at the top of this bracket and have a very manageable road to the final. Point Beach, meanwhile, has a legitimate shot at a third title in four years and has been tested quite a bit over the course of the year.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 3 Toms River East, No. 12 Central, No. 13 Pinelands, No. 15 Toms River South
Defending Champion: No. 5 Winslow
Top Seed: Timber Creek
The Favorite: Timber Creek. Quite possibly the overall favorite to win Group III, the Chargers played a beefed up schedule that included wins over Atlantic City, Paulsboro, Washington Township and Cherry Hill East – three South Jersey Group IV contenders and the defending Group I champion.
The Dark Horse: No. 10 Mainland. The draw is everything in a tournament and the Mustangs got a draw that they could potentially take advantage of.
(1) Timber Creek over (16) Delsea
(8) Seneca over (9) Absegami
(5) Winslow over (12) Central
(4) Ocean City over (13) Pinelands
(3) Toms River East over (14) Hammonton
(11) Bridgeton over (6) Cumberland
(10) Mainland over (7) Triton
(2) Highland over (15) Toms River South
(1) Timber Creek over (8) Seneca
(5) Winslow over (4) Ocean City
(3) Toms River East over (11) Bridgeton
(10) Mainland over (2) Highland
(1) Timber Creek over (5) Winslow
(3) Toms River East over (10) Mainland
(1) Timber Creek over (3) Toms River East
The Raiders have a great chance to reach the sectional final this year, which would be a tremendous accomplishment for a team that was just happy to be in the state tournament last. Toms River East has proven to be a versatile, balanced team that can handle tough matchups, which will serve the Raiders well if they indeed take a trip to play top-seeded Timber Creek in the final.