Boys Basketball – Top 10, Jan. 18
1. Christian Brothers Academy (10-2, 6-0) Last Week: 1
The Colts made a pretty profound statement this past week by beating Middletown North, Middletown South and Bergen Catholic by at least 25 points each, including Saturday’s dismantling of a Bergen Catholic team ranked in the NJ.com top 20. It will still be hard to keep Mater Dei at bay when it comes to the top spot in the conference, but the Colts have done enough for now and still have some chances to solidify their spot at the top.
2. Mater Dei Prep (9-1, 6-0) Last Week: 2
If not for CBA convincingly beating Bergen Catholic, this might have been the week that Mater Dei broke through and hit the top spot. The Seraphs overwhelmed Ranney on Tuesday and handled St. Peter’s Prep on Saturday. Mater Dei is a bounce of the ball away from being 11-0 and transfers Kenny Jones, Maleek McKnight and Marvin Pierre will be joining the team Tuesday against Asbury Park.
3. Manasquan (12-0, 5-0) Last Week: 3
While CBA and Mater Dei are hitting the showcase trail, Manasquan has simply been dominating the Shore. The Warriors were tested during a four-game stretch during which they beat Toms River North, Allentown, St. John Vianney and Point Beach with fourth-quarter comebacks, but the last couple of wins were double-digit victories over Holmdel and Neptune.
4. Toms River North (10-1, 5-0) Last Week: 5
The Mariners break up the top-five monotony a little bit by jumping to the No. 4 spot this week by continuing to dominate opponents. Other than a loss to Manasquan and a seven-point road win over Southern, Toms River North has disposed of every opponent by double-figure margins, including a solid win over Rancocas Valley on Saturday.
5. Lakewood (8-2, 6-0) Last Week: 4
The Piners drop a spot despite an unbeaten week, as Toms River North has been knocking on the door to the top four every week. Lakewood had to scratch and claw to hold off Point Boro on Friday and the Panthers were playing without leading scorer John Venturi, who tore his ACL against Howell on Jan. 9. Lakewood also beat Donovan Catholic by eight with the Griffins missing second-leading scorer Mike Boice, so at post time, the Piners are not quite as proven as Toms River North – at least as far as résumés go.
6. Rumson-Fair Haven (9-3, 4-2) Last Week: 9
Not only is this a different Rumson team than the one that lost two games without Brendan Barry to open the season, but it’s a different team than the one that went 1-1 at the Bulldawg Classic with Barry on the floor. Rumson has been dominant since the calendar turned to 2016 and with convincing wins over Freehold Township, Gill St. Bernard’s, Raritan and Barringer, the Bulldogs appear to have returned to SCT finalist form.
7. Ranney (11-1, 5-1) Last Week: 6
If the Panthers have hit a wall – which could be the case in light of a 14-point loss to Mater Dei, a lackluster first half against Henry Hudson and a narrow four-point win at Raritan – it’s not the end of the world for a young Ranney team. A 9-0 start was a little too good to be true in some respects, but if they can get through the next week without slipping up, the Panthers should be ready to a second wind as February approaches with an inside track at a top-eight Shore Conference seed.
8. Long Branch (9-2, 6-0) Last Week: 7
A narrow loss at Neptune and a mauling at the hands of John F. Kennedy of Paterson appeared to cool off Long Branch, but the Green Wave have responded by winning six in a row. While it hasn’t all been easy – including close calls at Red Bank and Freehold Borough – it has been pretty impressive. A 25-point win over an Ocean team that entered on a seven-game winning streak was the highlight of the week for Long Branch.
9. Southern (6-4, 3-2)
Outside of a 19-point loss to top-20-ranked Bergen Catholic, the Rams have been in every game and are starting to find ways to win them after a 2-3 start. Peyton Wejnert has been a man possessed lately and is up to more than 31 points per game, which is second in the state only to LEAP Academy scoring machine Donovan Guess (40.4 points per game). He scored 49 in a road win over Toms River East – Southern’s biggest win to this point.
10. Colts Neck (7-3, 4-2) Last Week: 8
The Cougars had a rough go last week with losses to both Red Bank and Point Pleasant Beach and a narrow win at 3-8 Red Bank Catholic. Despite recent struggles, Colts Neck still has a win over No. 6 Rumson with Brendan Barry in the lineup and only recently saw a seven-game winning streak come to an end.
Toms River East (6-2, 4-1) Last Week: 10 – The Raiders will have a chance to climb back in against Toms River North when the two finally meet, but a loss to Southern knocks them out for now.
On the Bubble
St. John Vianney (8-4, 4-1) – The win over Barry-less Rumson isn’t carrying much weight, but the Lancers have been just solid enough to warrant serious consideration.
Freehold Township (7-5, 4-2) – At this point, Freehold Township is the second-best team in A North, although that seems to change daily.
Donovan Catholic (7-3, 5-1) – Mike Boice is still limited by a broken hand, but he is back and brings a lot to the table for the Griffins as they try to hang around in the division race.
Point Pleasant Beach (5-5, 3-3) – The Garnet Gulls overcame a slow start last year and appear to be building toward another good postseason push after beating Colts Neck n Saturday.
Manchester (8-2, 5-1) – Manchester’s best wins are over Point Boro and Marlboro, so despite a very good record, the Hawks have some work to do to crack the top 10. A shot at Lakewood on Tuesday is a great opportunity.
Brick (5-3, 4-2) – With a win at the buzzer of No. 9 Southern, the Green Dragons still deserve a mention.