Boys Basketball – SSN Top 10, Feb. 19
The Shore Conference Tournament results probably have the most say when it comes to the top 10 and with only three games left in the tournament, the chances to make a mark among the Shore’s best teams is running out. Of course, there is still the NJSIAA Tournament, but for the moment, the second half of this top 10 is very likely to be the final order, unless a team looking for a higher spot can go on a team state playoff run.
As for the top four, those spots are still in the balance. Ranney has looked the part of No. 1 seed while Mater Dei has been in survival mode so it appears as though the No. 1 and 4 spots are likely to remain the same while Mater Dei and Rumson will be playing for the No. 2 ranking on Thursday.
1. Ranney (22-4, 14-0) Last Week: 1
After two convincing Shore Conference Tournament wins, Ranney remains the favorite heading into the semifinals Thursday against CBA. Championships are rarely won without a close call so it’s quite possible one of the remaining three challengers takes Ranney to the wire – which Mater Dei has already done once this year.
2. Mater Dei Prep (20-4, 12-2) Last Week: 2
The Seraphs won two hard-fought games without Kenny Jones and Adam Afifi and are hoping to have both when they play Rumson on Thursday. It’s hard to see a shorthanded Mater Dei team getting by Rumson and even at full strength, this could well be Mater Dei’s toughest Shore Conference Tournament game of the last three years.
3. Rumson-Fair Haven (21-1, 12-0) Last Week: 3
Now on an 18-game winning streak, Rumson will try to get to 20 by winning its second Shore Conference Tournament in four years and it sure won’t be easy. Mater Dei should its toughness getting by Ocean and Manasquan without its point guard and center and is not giving up its title without a fight.
4. Christian Brothers Academy (17-6, 12-2) Last Week: 5
The last couple weeks have seen CBA and Neptune jostle for the No. 4 spot and Neptune comes out on top this week after edging the Scarlet Fliers in the SCT quarterfinals on Sunday. Both times CBA beat Neptune, the Colts were able to get Jared Kimbrough in foul trouble and after again taking advantage of Neptune’s top player being on the bench for the final 1:45, they will get a shot at top-seeded Ranney.
5. Neptune (18-5, 13-1) Last Week: 4
Neptune is not necessarily relegated to the No. 5 spot for the rest of the year after losing to CBA. The Scarlet Fliers will be among the contenders in the NJSIAA Group III Tournament and if they can win their way to a shot against state-ranked Timber Creek, they will have their chance to not only make their case to be ranked higher at the Shore but also crack the state top 20.
6. Manasquan (19-5, 12-2) Last Week: 7
After reaching the SCT quarterfinals for the seventh straight year, Manasquan battled Mater Dei for 32 minutes and had a chance to tie the game on the final possession before coming up short. It was a tough pill to swallow for a Manasquan team that has bowed out against Mater Dei in each of the past three tournaments, but the Warriors should benefit from the experience when they navigate through a tough draw as the No. 2 seed in Central Jersey Group II.
7. Point Pleasant Beach (16-8, 10-4) Last Week: Not ranked
The Garnet Gulls catapult back into the top 10 after beating Colts Neck on the road in the SCT round of 16. The stumble at Central in mid-January was the reason for their drop from the top 10 and scoring a road win and reaching the SCT quarterfinals is enough for Point Beach to jump back into the fold, even after a one-sided loss to Rumson.
8. Colts Neck (16-5, 10-4) Last Week: 6
The Cougars are the higher ranked of the two top-10 teams that did not make it to Toms River for Sunday’s quarterfinal and the only one that lost at home in the SCT. Colts Neck still has a win over Toms River North and while that was all the way back in early January with Holden Petrick sidelined for the Mariners, it still has to count for something.
9. Toms River North (21-4, 14-0) Last Week: 8
The Mariners have a case to be a spot or two higher after a respectable showing vs. Ranney that spiraled out of control over the last 10 minutes. They might be playing better than Colts Neck at the moment, but the head-to-head loss against the Cougars, plus the fact that 16 of Toms River North’s wins have come against A South teams with five others over Highland, Raritan, Bayonne, St. Rose and Marlboro are not enough to overpower Colts Neck or Point Beach. A few wins in South Jersey Group IV could change that.
10. Marlboro (12-9, 8-6) Last Week: 9
A Cinderella run through the SCT was not in the cards this year, but the Mustangs are capable of making some serious noise in Central Jersey Group IV this year after losing to Sayreville at home in last year’s sectional quarterfinals. With wins over Manasquan and CBA, plus some very competitive losses to top-10 teams on its resume, the evidence points to Marlboro being dangerous when the state tournament starts next week.
Matawan (18-4, 12-2) Last Week: 10 – A home loss to Brick blindsided the Huskies and knocked them out of the top 10. Matawan was a very difficult NJSIAA Tournament opener at home against Lincoln of Jersey City in Central Jersey II.
On the Bubble
Ocean (15-10, 8-6) – A win over Lakewood and a narrow loss at No. 2 Mater Dei was a good SCT showing for Ocean, which will be a darkhorse in the Central Jersey Group III bracket next week.
Red Bank Catholic (15-9, 9-5) – The Caseys will have to figure out a way to play CBA closer if the two teams meet for a third time in the South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals. First, however, RBC has to get past St. John Vianney.
Middletown North (11-11, 8-6) – The Lions had Rumson on the ropes after beating Howell in the first round of the SCT, a sign that they are rounding into form at the right time after a roller-coaster season.
Lakewood (14-9, 11-3) – The Piners have played well since a Jan. 20 loss to Medford Tech and will get another shot at Ocean in the CJ III first round after the Spartans beat the Piners, 42-38, in Lakewood to open the SCT.
Barnegat (18-6, 10-4) – The Bengals saw a nine-game winning streak end at the hands of No. 1 Ranney, but a win over Middletown South was the first SCT win in program history, which was followed by a regular-season win over Monmouth to tie a school record for wins (18).