Boys Basketball – NJSIAA Tournament Preview: Groups IV, II, Non-Public
The NJSIAA Tournament opening round continues Tuesday with the Groups IV and II and the Non-Public sections. 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. Monday's preview looked at Groups I and III and today is features the rest of the sections.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 2 Colts Neck, No. 4 Freehold Twp., No. 10 Marlboro, No 11 Middetown North, No. 13 Manalapan
Defending Champion: No. 14 Hillsborough
Top Seed: Hunterdon Central
The Favorite: Hunterdon Central. The Red Devils have a 19-point win over Gill St. Bernard’s to their credit, but may have to survive a quarterfinal game against conference rival Montgomery, which handed Hunterdon Central one of its four losses during the regular season.
The Dark Horse: No. 10 Marlboro. The Mustangs reached the Central Jersey IV semifinals last year and are coming off a respectable showing against Mater Dei in the Shore Conference Tournament and a tune-up loss to St. Anthony, albeit a lopsided one.
(1) Hunterdon Central over (16) Princeton
(8) Montgomery over (9) Sayreville
(5) Old Bridge over (12) Trenton
(4) Freehold Twp. over (13) Manalapan
(3) South Brunswick over (14) Hillsborough
(11) Middletown North over (6) East Brunswick
(10) Marlboro over (7) Hightstown
(2) Colts Neck over (15) West Windsor-Plainsboro North
(1) Hunterdon Central over (8) Montgomery
(5) Old Bridge over (4) Freehold Twp.
(3) South Brunswick over (11) Middletown North
(10) Marlboro over (2) Colts Neck
(5) Old Bridge over (1) Hunterdon Central
(3) South Brunswick over (10) Marlboro
(3) South Brunswick over (5) Old Bridge
This bracket tends to flow in cycles: just when you think the GMC has established itself as the top Central Jersey Conference, the Shore Conference puts two teams in the final four and as soon as that happens, the Skyland shows up the following year. Last year, three Shore teams – Freehold Township, Colts Neck and Marlboro – made the final four and yet it was Hillsborough out of the Skyland that won the championship. All four of those Shore teams again look viable this season, but an athletic South Brunswick squad is playing good ball off its run to the GMC title game. Old Bridge can be somewhat mercurial, but has put forth some strong showings that suggest they can stand up to Hunterdon Central – if, of course, the Knights can beat Trenton and Freehold Township in their likely first two games.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 2 Manasquan, No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven, No. 10 Point Boro, No. 14 Holmdel, No. 15 Raritan
Defending Champion: Manasquan
Top Seed: Bordentown
The Favorite: Manasquan. The defending champions are once again the No. 2 seed and have been even better over the course of this season than the Warriors were last year. Bordentown is the top seed, but Manasquan’s schedule is a little better and both have had similarly successful seasons.
The Dark Horse: Holmdel. This bracket appears to favor the top seeds, so the best dark-horse candidate is probably simply the high-number seed that is playing the best. Holmdel has played Rumson tough twice this season and recently beat Old Bridge in a tune-up setting.
(1) Bordentown over (16) New Providence
(8) Spotswood over (9) Delran
(5) Willingboro over (12) Roselle
(4) North Plainfield over (13) Hillside
(3) Rumson-Fair Haven over (14) Holmdel
(11) A.L. Johnson over (6) East Brunswick Tech
(10) Point Boro over (7) Lincoln
(2) Manasquan over (15) Raritan
(1) Bordentown over (8) Spotswood
(5) Willingboro over (4) North Plainfield
(3) Rumson-Fair Haven over (11) A.L. Johnson
(2) Manasquan over (10) Point Boro
(1) Bordentown over (5) Willingboro
(3) Rumson-Fair Haven over (2) Manasquan
(3) Rumson-Fair Haven over (1) Bordentown
The Scotties knocked off both Lakewood and Rumson on the road en route to a trip to the finals, where they lost at Manasquan. Rumson gets a shot at revenge against Bordentown, but not before getting a chance at revenge against Manasquan, which beat the Bulldogs, 80-77, in a triple-overtime thriller in the SCT quarterfinals. As even as those two Class A Central rivals are, it is hard for one of them to win back-to-back games.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 4 Toms River North, No. 10 Southern, No. 14 Jackson Memorial, No. 15 Howell
Defending Champion: No. 6 Cherry Hill East
Top Seed: Washington Twp.
The Favorite: No. 5 Atlantic City. The Vikings have been building up for another South Jersey Group IV run and just like in past years, the seed does not really tell much of their story. They have tested themselves against the likes of Camden and St. Augustine and will turn their attention to a solid South Jersey IV field.
The Dark Horse: Southern. This bracket is usually good for some upsets, but the top seeds look especially strong this year. Southern could be a problem with its ability to score, particularly Peyton Wejnert, who is only 23 points shy of 2,000 for his career.
(1) Washington Twp. over (16) Egg Harbor
(8) Shawnee over (9) Rancocas Valley
(5) Atlantic City over (12) Williamstown
(4) Toms River North over (13) Cherry Hill West
(3) Eastern over (14) Jackson Memorial
(6) Cherry Hill East over (11) Kingsway
(10) Southern over (7) Lenape
(2) Cherokee over (15) Howell
(1) Washington Twp. over (8) Shawnee
(5) Atlantic City over (4) Toms River North
(6) Cherry Hill East over (3) Eastern
(2) Cherokee over (10) Southern
(5) Atlantic City over (1) Washington Twp.
(2) Cherokee over (6) Cherry Hill East
(5) Atlantic City over (2) Cherokee
Toms River North has to deal with Atlantic City in the quarterfinals and the Mariners will be hard-pressed to avoid their fate from a year ago – which was a quarterfinal loss on their home floor. Washington Township and Cherokee are solid top seeds, but Atlantic City plays at a different speed and that should come through.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 3 Manchester, No. 15 Barnegat
Defending Champion: No. 1 Camden
Top Seed: Camden
The Favorite: Camden. The Panthers are loaded and should be considered the Group II favorite after coming up short in the overall Group II final last year against Newark Tech. A matchup against either Manasquan or Rumson – or Bordentown for that matter – could be a great group semifinal.
The Dark Horse: No. 6 Haddonfield. Manchester could have its hands full in the quarterfinals in its home gym with a Haddonfield team that won at Timber Creek and has a very good state tournament pedigree.
(1) Camden over (16) Oakcrest
(8) Pleasantville over (9) West Deptford
(5) Cinnaminson over (12) Cedar Creek
(4) Woodstown over (13) Pennsauken Tech
(3) Manchester over (14) Collingswood
(6) Haddonfield over (11) Sterling
(10) Audubon over (7) Medford Tech
(2) Middle Twp. over (15) Barnegat
(1) Camden over (8) Pleasantville
(5) Cinnaminson over (4) Woodstown
(3) Manchester over (6) Haddonfield
(2) Middle Twp. over (10) Audubon
(1) Camden over (5) Cinnaminson
(2) Middle Twp. over (3) Manchester
(1) Camden over (2) Middle Twp.
Manchester has a very tough road to a sectional title, with Haddonfield, Middle Township and Camden all standing between the Hawks and the gold. Camden’s athleticism, experience and the addition of sophomore Corey Greer makes them the Group II favorite and while Middle Township is a worthy adversary, the Panthers look primed for a fifth straight sectional title.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 2 CBA, No. 7 Donovan Catholic, No. 8 St. John Vianney, No. 13 Red Bank Catholic
Defending Champion: CBA
Top Seed: St. Joseph Metuchen
The Favorite: No. 3 St. Augustine. The Hermits have already defeated CBA this season and St. Joseph – while led by two high major guards in Tyus Battle and Breein Tyree – has not been quite as dominant as the roster might have suggested once Battle transferred there. St. Augustine acquitted themselves well against St. Anthony and look like a serious threat to reach the Tournament of Champions, although the Hermits will have to get through both CBA and St. Joe’s to do it.
The Dark Horse: No. 6 Union Catholic. St. Augustine got no favors with its draw, which includes just missing out on a bye, having to go play at CBA in the semifinals, and this quarterfinal matchup against a Union Catholic team that has plenty of talent and plays in the most competitive county in the state.
(9) Paul VI over (8) St. John Vianney
(5) Bishop Eustace over (12) Pingry
(4) Notre Dame over (13) Red Bank Catholic
(3) St. Augustine over (14) Bishop Ahr
(6) Union Catholic over (11) Camden Catholic
(7) Donovan Catholic over (10) Gloucester Catholic
(1) St. Joseph Metuchen over (9) Paul VI
(4) Notre Dame over (5) Bishop Eustace
(3) St. Augustine over (6) Union Catholic
(2) CBA over (7) Donovan Catholic
(1) St. Joseph Metuchen over (4) Notre Dame
(3) St. Augustine over (2) CBA
(3) St. Augustine over (1) St. Joseph Metuchen
As previously mentioned, the Hermits have a brutal road to the championship, but they are also the most proven team in the field. For the second straight year, CBA will have to overcome a disheartening Shore Conference Tournament final loss, but the Colts showed the necessary resilience last year when they won the entire section and advanced to the Non-Public A Final. CBA has a better chance to win the overall Non-Public A title this year, but the South Jersey bracket will probably be a little bit tougher with St. Joe’s back to prominence this season.
Shore Teams in the Field: No. 4 Ranney, No. 6 Mater Dei Prep, No. 13 St. Rose
Defending Champion: No. 5 Roselle Catholic
Top Seed: Patrick School
The Favorite: Patrick School. Two of the best teams in the state will likely square off in the sectional semifinals, which would be the fourth matchup between the Patrick School and Roselle Catholic. The Celtics just beat Roselle Catholic in a Union County Tournament final for the ages, so most people are expecting something similar in the semifinals to determine which will ultimately get a crack at St. Anthony in the Non-Public B final.
The Dark Horse: Mater Dei Prep. Every now and again, a team makes the power points system look silly and Mater Dei is certainly one of those teams. The Seraphs are 24-1 and a bounce away from being 25-0, having just rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to beat CBA and win the program’s first ever Shore Conference Tournament title. Mater Dei got a great draw in that the two best teams in the field – Patrick School and Roselle Catholic – are on the same side of the bracket, but Trenton Catholic and Gill St. Bernard’s still won’t be easy games in arguably the toughest section in the state this year.
(1) Patrick School over (16) Timothy Christian
(8) Rutgers Prep over (9) Holy Spirit
(5) Roselle Catholic over (12) St. Joseph Hammonton
(4) Ranney over (13) St. Rose
(3) Trenton Catholic over (14) Koinonia
(6) Mater Dei Prep over (11) Doane Academy
(10) St. Mary Elizabeth over (7) Wildwood Catholic
(2) Gill St. Bernard’s over (15) Immaculata
(1) Patrick School over (8) Rutgers Prep
(5) Roselle Catholic over (4) Ranney
(6) Mater Dei Prep over (3) Trenton Catholic
(2) Gill St. Bernard’s over (10) St. Mary Rutherford
(1) Patrick School over (5) Roselle Catholic
(6) Mater Dei Prep over (2) Gill St. Bernard’s
(1) Patrick School over (6) Mater Dei Prep
At this point, it might be foolish to count out this Mater Dei team, but Patrick School’s size would be an awful lot to contend with. Not that it would be a favorable matchup, but Mater Dei might be better off against Roselle Catholic , especially if the Lions were coming off a huge win at the gym of the top-seeded Celtics. Mater Dei should be able to top Trenton Catholic in the quarterfinals, at which point they’d have to win a very challenging game at Gill St. Bernard’s. After that performance in the Shore Conference Tournament final, a run to the sectional final would be a fitting end to the best season in school history.