Boys Basketball – SCT Watch
The Shore Conference Tournament is a little more than a week away, which means we are a little more than a week away from figuring out what in the world is going on in this year’s Shore Conference. It’s not unusual for a few teams to have a claim to the No. 1 seed, but the depth of teams that could end up winning this tournament is pretty staggering, if one believes that the top teams are indeed as vulnerable as they have appeared so far.
Below is both a reference and a projection: the résumés of all teams either in or with a chance to get into the Shore Conference Tournament by Saturday's cutoff, placed in order of projected seeding according to my evaluation of those résumés. The key components are overall quality of wins while still acknowledging winning percentage, with head-to-head results and common opponents serving as a separator for teams whose résumés are comparable.
The field is set at 25, which means the top seven seeds will all get first-round byes. With the way some of the teams in the early-and-mid-twenties are playing, getting a pass through the first round will be a relief to seven teams.
But enough of all that. It’s time to stop talking about the talking and get to more talking.
Updated Feb. 14
1. Christian Brothers Academy (17-4, 13-1)
Division Wins: Freehold (2), Howell (2), Manalapan (2), Marlboro (2), Middletown North (2), Middletown South (2), Freehold Township
Division Losses: At Freehold Township
Non-Division Wins: Moses Brown (R.I.), Brighton (Mass.), vs. Central, vs. William Floyd (N.Y.)
Non-Division Losses: Don Bosco, vs. Cardinal McCarrick, St. Anthony
Why They’re Here: It's probably down to two teams for the No. 1 seed and it's the same argument we had last year for the No. 2 seed. CBA won that argument and won the Shore Conference Tournament semifinal, so CBA seems to be the favorite to get the nod again.
2. Lakewood (17-3, 14-0)
Division Wins: Barnegat (2), Central (2), Donovan Catholic (2), Jackson Liberty (2), Manchester (2), Pinelands (2), Point Boro (2)
Division Losses: None
Non-Division Wins: Newark Tech, Bartram (Pa.), vs. Point Beach
Non-Division Losses: Neptune, Trenton Catholic, Teaneck
Why They’re Here: Class B South has been good enough outside the division to make Lakewood more than comfortable as a top-two seed. The more interesting argument is whether or not Lakewood has the rightful claim to the No. 1 seed. The Piners are 9-1 vs. teams in the tournament, while CBA is 8-1, with Lakewood losing to the No. 8 team and CBA losing to No. 7. With Point Beach beating Toms River North, Lakewood's non-division win over the Garnet Gulls looks stronger than CBA's over Central. CBA has an edge in that A North has been a little better overall than B South outside the division, but even that is pretty close. I could be talked into either team at No. 1, but we'll see if the committee feels the same way.
3. Red Bank (14-5, 10-4)
Division Wins: Long Branch (2), Matawan (2), Ocean (2), Wall (2), Colts Neck, at Neptune
Division Losses: Red Bank Catholic (2), at Colts Neck, Neptune
Non-Division Wins: Vs. Freehold, vs. Shore, vs. St. Joseph Metuchen, vs. Rumson-Fair Haven
Non-Division Losses: At Shore
Why They’re Here: While Red Bank appears to be trying to drop, they keep going up because the body of work is just too good. Although the Bucs just lost to Shore, it's worth remembering they also beat the Blue Devils in the Buc Classic in December and then beat St. Joseph Metuchen a round later in that tournament. Throw in a home win over Rumson and a sweep of B North champion Wall, and Red Bank is still as strong an option as there is for the No. 3 spot.
4. Wall (16-5, 11-3)
Division Wins: Colts Neck (2), Matawan (2), Neptune (2), Ocean (2), Red Bank Catholic (2), at Long Branch
Division Losses: Red Bank (2), Long Branch
Non-Division Wins: Atlantic County Tech, Pemberton, at Marlboro, vs. Freehold, Mount Olive
Non-Division Losses: Oakcrest, at Central
Why They’re Here: The Crimson Knights have been the story of the regular season and they closed that story by winning their first division title in 41 years. The Knights are a solid 9-3 against teams in the field with two wins each against the No. 9 (Neptune) and No. 10 (Colts Neck) teams. The Crimson Knights were in a Holiday Tournament that Southern won, but Wall has a better collection of wins than Southern.
5. Toms River North (17-4, 12-2)
Division Wins: Brick (2), Jackson Memorial (2), Lacey (2), Toms River East (2), Toms River South (2), at Brick Memorial, Southern
Division Losses: Brick Memorial, at Southern
Non-Division Wins: Vs. Middletown South, vs. Manchester, vs. Toms River South, vs. Red Bank Catholic, vs. Monmouth
Non-Division Losses: At Ridge, Point Beach
Why They’re Here: The Mariners have been trending in the wrong direction since losing at Southern and they took another spill Saturday against Point Beach, one night after needing a shot in the final seconds to beat Jackson Memorial to win Class A South. Perhaps that's a defense for Toms River North: the Mariners clinched the division title on Friday night and possibily had little motivation to play the following afternoon, certainly not as much incentive as Point Beach had. When taking everything into consideration - body of work, recent play, strength of division - Toms River North might have a tougher time to get into the top four than it might have a week ago.
6. Manalapan (14-5, 9-5)
Division Wins: Freehold (2), Freehold Twp. (2), Middletown South (2), at Howell, Marlboro, Middletown North
Division Losses: CBA (2), Howell, at Marlboro, at Middletown North
Non-Division Wins: Carteret, at Matawan, Old Bridge, at Holmdel, vs. Shore
Non-Division Losses: None
Why They’re Here: The Braves have been the Shore Conference’s best defensive team by points per game and have played well heading into the tournament to boot. The Manalapan vs. Freehold Township argument is a fascinating one because while Manalapan beat the Patriots twice, Freehold Township has the only Shore Conference win over No. 1 CBA and won the A North public division title over Manalapan by one game. The non-division work is also very similar, so it basically comes down to whether or not the division standing and win over CBA matters more than Manalapan beating Freehold Township twice.
7. Freehold Township (16-5, 10-4)
Division Wins: Freehold (2), Howell (2), Middletown North (2), Middletown South (2), CBA, Marlboro
Division Losses: Manalapan (2), at CBA, at Marlboro
Non-Division Wins: Toms River East, Brick Memorial, Toms River South, vs. Rumson-Fair Haven, vs. Long Branch, vs. Holmdel
Non-Division Losses: Red Bank Catholic
Why They’re Here: Howell losing to Manalapan probably sealed Freehold Township's fate when it comes to a top-five seed. Wall had a better record vs. a common opponent and Howell finishing up its regular season with only one win vs. the tournament field took some value away from Freehold Township's two wins over the Rebels. Once two teams are next to one another in the seeding, head-to-head is typically the tie-breaker, although the CBA win and non-public division title in favor of Freehold Township complicate the argument. This is another argument in which you could sell me on the position opposite the one I picked.
8. Neptune (12-9, 7-7)
Division Wins: Colts Neck, at Long Branch, at Matawan, at Ocean, at Red Bank, Red Bank Catholic
Division Losses: Wall (2), At Colts Neck, Matawan, Ocean, Red Bank, at Red Bank Catholic
Non-Division Wins: Vs. Bloomfield Tech, at Paterson Charter, Lakewood, at Manasquan, vs. Monmouth
Non-Division Losses: Vs. Marist, Plainfield
Why They’re Here: Lakewood is at its strongest as a possibility for the No. 1 seed, which only helps the one team that beat the Piners. Neptune has been up-and-down and was not able to beat Wall, but there are still wins over No. 2 and No. 3 in the field, as well as a win over No. 12. It may also be worth noting that all of those wins are away from home, which is often the sign of a team built for a tournament.
9. Shore (14-4, 9-2)
Division Wins: Holmdel (2), Manasquan (2), Monmouth (2), Raritan (2), St. John Vianney
Division Losses: Rumson-Fair Haven (2)
Non-Division Wins: At J.F. Kennedy-Iselin, Roselle, Middletown North, at Long Branch, vs. Red Bank
Non-Division Losses: At Red Bank, at Manalapan
Why They’re Here: Two wins over Mansaqsuan were impressive enough to seriously consider a push for Shore to be in the top 10, and the win over Red Bank Saturday finishes the job. Before the Red Bank win, Shore looked like the weakest of the A Central teams, but there was so little separating them that a win like the one Shore picked up Saturday pushed the Blue Devils over the top.
10. Colts Neck (12-6, 9-5)
Division Wins: Long Branch (2), Ocean (2), Red Bank Catholic (2), at Matawan, Neptune, Red Bank
Division Losses: Wall (2), Matawan, at Neptune, at Red Bank
Non-Division Wins: Fairborn (Oh.), James Madison (Va.), vs. Point Beach
Non-Division Losses: Cherokee (Ga.)
Why They’re Here: The Cougars now have five very good divisional wins after a huge home win over Red Bank, and are yet another team that benefits from Point Beach's win over Toms River North. Although the Cougars did not beat Wall to grab a share of the Class B North title, Colts Neck still has a 6-5 mark against tournament teams, which includes a win over No. 4 Red Bank. Although the committee might not like that Colts Neck will be playing without Lloyd Daniels, the team's second leading scorer, the Cougars can counter that the Red Bank win came with Daniels out. Even if the Cougars are a little short-handed, this team should still be view as a threat.
11. Manasquan (16-4, 10-2)
Division Wins: Holmdel (2), Monmouth (2), Raritan (2), Rumson-Fair Haven (2), St. John Vianney (2)
Division Losses: Shore (2)
Non-Division Wins: Brick, Manchester, vs. Middletown North, at Bishop Ahr, Matawan, vs. St. Rose
Non-Division Losses: Toms River South, vs. Neptune
Why They’re Here: As of Saturday, Manasquan had the best track record of any A Central team outside the division, but that became less of a certainty once Shore took down Red Bank. Throw in Shore's two wins over of Manasquan and the Warriors are now the second team in the A Central pecking order. On the bright side, A Central earned a little cache with the Shore win, so Manasquan moves up by virtue of that.
12. Red Bank Catholic (11-9, 7-7)
Division Wins: Long Branch (2), Ocean (2), Red Bank (2), Neptune
Division Losses: Colts Neck (2), Wall (2), Matawan, at Neptune
Non-Division Wins: Jackson Memorial, Donovan Catholic, Freehold Twp., Ramapo
Non-Division Losses: At Toms River North, St. Mary’s Elizabeth
Before the Cutoff: None
Why They’re Here: Season sweeps at the hands of Colts Neck, Wall and Matawan offset a lot of the good work RBC has done (two wins over Red Bank, one over Freehold Township). Another problem with some of the losses are the lopsided nature of many of them, although the more recent losses to Colts Neck and Wall were both one-point heartbreakers. Margin of victory/defeat has a limited amount of weight, but it’s better for RBC that the Caseys have at least been competitive during their recent swoon, which was not the case during a three-game skid earlier in the year. It is going to be hard to look at an 11-9 record and keep RBC this high, but there are too many quality wins.
13. Rumson-Fair Haven (17-4, 10-2)
Division Wins: Holmdel (2), Monmouth (2), Raritan (2), St. John Vianney (2), Shore (2)
Division Losses: Manasquan (2)
Non-Division Wins: Vs. Bard, vs. Ocean, Point Beach, vs. Middletown South, vs. Jackson Memorial, vs. Fort Hamilton (N.Y.), Sayreville
Non-Division Losses: At Freehold Twp., at Red Bank
Why They’re Here: If margin of defeat were weighed more heavily, Rumson would have a case to be a top-eight seed. The Bulldogs have lost four games by an average of five points and one of those was an eight-point loss to Freehold Township in overtime. Rumson has been more consistent than Red Bank Catholic, but the Caseys’ schedule is markedly more difficult and RBC is 3-0 against Red Bank and Freehold Township while Rumson is 0-2 against those two. A case in favor of Rumson would have the Bulldogs coming in ahead of Toms River North because of opposing results against Point Beach, but Toms River North is 6-2 against the field, while Rumson is 3-4, which is why Toms River North is still in the running for a top-five seed.
14. Southern (16-5, 11-3)
Division Wins: Brick (2), Jackson Memorial (2), Lacey (2), Toms River East (2), Brick Memorial, at Toms River North, Toms River South
Division Losses: At Brick Memorial, at Toms River North, at Toms River South
Non-Division Wins: Vs. Atlantic County Tech, vs. Oakcrest, vs. St. John Vianney, at Millville, Bridgeton
Non-Division Losses: St. Augustine, at Newark Arts
Why They’re Here: Southern really needed Toms River North to remain a strong team on paper and the Mariners losing to Point Beach damaged Southern more than any other team. The Rams are 2-2 against teams in the field, and while it should be taken into account that they have played a handful of good teams from outside the Shore Conference, the teams Southern beat have enough question marks surrounding them that they don't tip the scale.
15. Point Pleasant Beach (15-7, 13-1)
Division Wins: Asbury Park (2), Henry Hudson (2), Keansburg (2), Keyport (2), Mater Dei Prep (2), Ranney (2), at St. Rose
Division Losses: St. Rose
Non-Division Wins: Colonia, at Toms River North
Non-Division Losses: At Rahway, at Lakewood, Rumson-Fair Haven, at Colts Neck, vs. Dunellan, St. Joseph Metuchen
Why They’re Here: Point Beach welcomed back guard Jimmy Panzini Saturday and pulled out its biggest win of the season, knocking off Toms River North on the road. The résumé still isn't loaded, but beating Toms River North gives the Garnet Gulls an edge over Toms River South and Manchester. Last year also shouldn't matter, but it's hard to forget that just one year ago, the Garnet Gulls won the SCT title.
16. Toms River South (14-6, 11-3)
Division Wins: Brick (2), Brick Memorial (2), Jackson Memorial (2), Lacey (2), Toms River East (2), Southern
Division Losses: Toms River North (2), at Southern
Non-Division Wins: Marlboro, Manasquan, vs. Middletown South
Non-Division Losses: At Toms River North, Freehold Twp., at Donovan Catholic
Why They’re Here: Like Southern, Toms River South takes a dive with Toms River North's loss to Point Beach. The Indians have more good wins than Point Beach, but the Garnet Gulls have the win over the common opponent. Toms River South also loses the common opponent argument to Manchester 4-2 to 3-4, although one of the three wins is against Manasquan, which is a better win than Donovan Catholic or Lacey.
17. Manchester (13-5, 11-3)
Division Wins: Barnegat (2), Central (2), Donovan Catholic (2), Jackson Liberty (2), Point Boro (2), Pinelands
Division Losses: At Lakewood (2), at Pinelands
Non-Division Wins: Lacey (2)
Non-Division Losses: At Toms River North, Manasquan
Why They’re Here: Manchester has a case to get the 16 vs. 17 home game against Toms River South in this scenario based on the aforementioned common opponent argument, but the quality of common-opponent wins comes into play. Add this to the list of arguments that could go either way and considering this one could have an impact on home-court advantage and perhaps a difference in second-round matchup, this will take some sorting out.
18. Central (11-8, 9-5)
Division Wins: Barnegat (2), Jackson Liberty (2), Pinelands (2), Point Boro (2), Donovan Catholic
Division Losses: Lakewood (2), Manchester (2), at Donovan Catholic
Non-Division Wins: York (Ont.), vs. Wall
Non-Division Losses: Kamiak (Wa.), Scripps Ranch (Ca.), at CBA
Why They’re Here: If Central could have finished off Manchester on the road in the second meeting between the teams, the Golden Eagles would be a lock for a home game because of their home win over No. 4 Wall. Since Central can't jump Manchester because of the head-to-head, the Golden Eagles also stay behind Point Beach and Toms River South along with the Hawks.
19. Marlboro (10-8, 7-6)
Division Wins: Freehold (2), Howell (2), Freehold Twp., Manalapan, Middletown South
Division Losses: CBA (2), at Freehold Twp., at Manalapan, at Middletown North, at Middletown South
Non-Division Wins: Brick, Middletown South, vs. St. John Vianney
Non-Division Losses: Toms River South, vs. Wall
Why They’re Here: The Mustangs have played more games against top 10 teams (7) than any other team in the field outside of B North and won two of those games. On top of two games each against CBA, Freehold Township and Manalapan and a home game against Wall, the Mustangs also played No. 11 Toms River South in the WOBM Classic. Although Donovan Catholic has an edge in common opponent, Marlboro has wins over Freehold Township and Manalapan, both of which are ranked ahead of Donovan Catholic's win over Toms River South.
20. Matawan (11-9, 8-6)
Division Wins: Long Branch (2), Ocean (2), Red Bank Catholic (2), at Colts Neck, at Neptune
Division Losses: Red Bank (2), Wall (2), Colts Neck, Neptune
Non-Division Wins: Vs. College of Staten Island-McKown (N.Y.), vs. Tottenvlle (N.Y.), vs. Holmdel
Non-Division Losses: Vs. Manalapan, Manasquan, at St. John Vianney
Why They’re Here: This season has been a roller coaster for the Huskies and relative to expectations, it has been a disappointing season as well. Ultimately, though, Matawan is in and there is enough good in the body of work to climb a little higher if the circumstances fall in Matawan’s favor. No. 19 will probably be the highest Matawan can go, as the four teams ranked directly ahead of the Huskies have an edge in record vs. common opponent.
21. Howell (10-10, 6-8)
Division Wins: Freehold (2), Middletown South (2), at Manalapan, Middletown North
Division Losses: CBA (2), Freehold Twp. (2), Marlboro (2), Manalapan, at Middletown North
Non-Division Wins: Atlantic County Tech, vs. Ocean, at Point Boro, at Brick Memorial
Non-Division Losses: Absegami, Pemberton
Why They’re Here: Howell is also a tough team to seed because the Rebels have been a different team since the return of Aaron Trimble in late January. The Rebels have not really taken off since Trimble's return, but they just took CBA to the wire before losing to Manalapan on Saturday.
21. Donovan Catholic (10-7, 6-7)
Division Wins: Jackson Liberty (2), Point Boro (2), Central, at Pinelands
Division Losses: Lakewood (2), Manchester (2), Barnegat, at Central, Pinelands
Non-Division Wins: St. Rose (2), Brick Memorial, vs. Toms River South
Non-Division Losses: Red Bank Catholic
Why They’re Here: One of the several Jekyll-and-Hyde teams in the conference. On Friday, Donovan Catholic launched itself into the top-16 discussion with a win over Toms River South and also opened some eyes as to how good Class B South is compared to the rest of the Shore. Later in the week, that B South division bit the Griffins again when Pinelands beat Donovan Catholic for the first time in the history of its program and Central beat the Griffins to earn a season split. A win over Toms River South and a couple wins over St. Rose keeps the Griffins ahead of Pinelands.
23. Pinelands (12-8, 7-7)
Division Wins: Barnegat (2), Jackson Liberty (2), at Donovan Catholic, Manchester, Point Boro
Division Losses: Central (2), Lakewood (2), Donovan Catholic, Manchester, at Point Boro
Non-Division Wins: Jackson Liberty, vs. Raritan, at Keansburg, vs. Brick, at Asbury Park
Non-Division Losses: St. John Vianney
Why They’re Here: If near wins against the best of the best count for anything, Pinelands has two of them. The Wildcats lost twice to Lakewood by a margin of three points, and also has wins over Manchester and Donovan Catholic. ON division record and weighing the win over Manchester heavily, Pinelands has a case to go ahead of Donovan Catholic. Although St. Rose's win over Point Beach is a stronger win than the best win Pinelands has, the Wildcats have an edge in common opponents 5-3 to 5-4.
24. St. Rose (15-8, 13-1)
Division Wins: Asbury Park (2), Henry Hudson (2), Keansburg (2), Keyport (2), Mater Dei (2), Ranney (2), at Point Beach
Division Losses: Point Beach
Non-Division Wins: Vs. Lincoln, at Raritan
Non-Division Losses: Donovan Catholic (2), Jackson Memorial, Point Boro, vs. St. John Vianney, vs. Holmdel, at Manasquan
Why They’re Here: Now that a win over Point Beach carries some more weight, the Purple Roses will have a case to move up in the seeding. The common opponent argument could present a problem in moving ahead of Pinelands and Donovan Catholic still has two convincing wins over the Purple Roses, which will probably prevent a move up.
25. Asbury Park (9-8, 9-5)
Division Wins: Henry Hudson (2), Keansburg (2), Keyport (2), Ranney (2), Mater Dei
Division Losses: Point Beach (2), St. Rose (2), at Mater Dei
Non-Division Wins: None
Non-Division Losses: At Pequannock, Mountain Lakes, vs. Pinelands
Why They’re Here: Asbury Park is in after beating Mater Dei on Thursday. While that is good news for the Blue Bishops, it further damages their résumé because now that Mater Dei is out, Asbury Park doesn't have a win over a team in the tournament.