Boys Basketball – Top 10, Jan. 25
The second half of the division schedule is underway for most Shore Conference teams and the top 10 still somewhat resembles the same one that opened the season. CBA, Mater Dei, Manasquan and Rumson-Fair Haven are all still in the top five and Toms River North has been in the top five since the Holiday tournaments.
The top five remained consistent since the beginning of the new year, but this week marks the first shakeup to that stability in the wake of Lakewood’s loss to Manchester. What’s left is a new top five and a couple of teams jumping back into the rankings after a little time away.
1. Christian Brothers Academy (11-2, 7-0) Last Week: 1
The Colts endured another first-half scare from Howell, but once again, they had little trouble prevailing against an A North opponent in the second half. CBA is halfway home to a perfect season in the A North division and in order to keep the No. 1 spot in the conference, the Colts will probably have to finish the job.
2. Mater Dei Prep (11-1, 8-0) Last Week: 2
The Seraphs have done almost everything they can to be the No. 1 team in the Shore short of winning every single game. Mater Dei got deeper this week by adding three more transfers to the roster and the result has been a spectacular offense to go with a defense that has been suffocating.
3. Rumson-Fair Haven (10-3, 5-2) Last Week: 6
The Bulldogs have won nine straight and look close to a finished product now that Brendan Barry is back and the rest of the rotation seems to have defined roles now. With a win over previously unbeaten Manasquan, Rumson might be making a move toward the top if either of the top two teams slip up.
4. Manasquan (13-1, 6-1) Last Week: 3
Dropping a spot after one little loss could be a harsh move, but because Rumson’s win over Manasquan just happened and Manasquan beat Rumson with Brendan Barry out, the Bulldogs get the nod for now. The Warriors, however, still own a one-game lead in the division and if they hold on for the A Central title, they will go ahead of Rumson in Shore Conference Tournament seeding.
5. Toms River North (12-1, 7-0) Last Week: 4
Rumson’s surge drops Toms River North a spot, but the Mariners have a firm grasp on a top-five spot at the moment. Like CBA and Mater Dei, the Mariners are unbeaten in their division and have a strong résumé outside of A South to strengthen their cause.
6. Ranney (13-1, 7-1) Last Week: 7
At this time, there is a pretty big gap between No. 5 and No. 6. The Panthers survived by the skin of their teeth a couple times against Raritan and St. Rose, but remain a one-loss team that still has a load of potential. There are still a bunch of big games left for Ranney during the regular season, so this No. 6 ranking is not set in stone by any stretch.
7. Freehold Township (9-5, 5-2) Last Week: Not ranked
The Patriots return to the top 10 thanks to a big road win over Long Branch, which entered on a seven-game winning streak. Freehold Township was on the cusp of a ranking last week and winning two more games and beating a streaking Green Wave was a good kick to knock down the door.
8. Manchester (11-2, 7-1) Last Week: Not ranked
Not only does Manchester’s win over Lakewood get the Hawks back into the Top 10, but it also gives Freehold Township a push as well thanks to a head-to-head win for the Patriots over Manchester. The Hawks also have a loss to Donovan Catholic, which keeps them from making a run at No. 6 for the moment and also puts Donovan on the cusp of a ranking.
9. Lakewood (9-3, 7-1) Last Week: 5
Despite watching its 45-game winning streak against Class B South opponents end at the buzzer at Manchester, the Piners still control their destiny in B South and have a solid collection of results. The last time Lakewood lost a division game was early January in 2013 and the Piners went on to win the Shore Conference Tournament.
10. Long Branch (10-3, 7-0) Last Week: 8
Although the Green Wave lost to Freehold Township on Thursday, they remain one of the four Shore Conference teams that are unbeaten in division play (CBA, Mater Dei, Toms River North). With a non-divisional win over St. John Vianney, Long Branch has just enough in the body of work to stay in the top 10.
Southern (8-4, 5-2) Last Week: 9 – The Rams fall out through no fault of their own, but some big wins by teams on the fringe last week moved the needle just enough to push a couple of teams out.
Colts Neck (8-3, 5-2) Last Week: 10 – Like Southern, Colts Neck did not do anything wrong last week. The Cougars have the win over Rumson in December that could be a trump card if Colts Neck makes a run at the B North title.
On the Bubble
Donovan Catholic (9-3, 7-1) – With a win over Manchester, the Griffins have to be in the discussion for a top 10 spot. The losses are to No. 4 Manasquan, No. 7 Freehold Township and No. 9 Lakewood.
Toms River East (8-2, 6-1) – While the Raiders have been impressive, they still lack that real eye-opening win to get them back in the top 10. With Toms River North on tap this week, that could change in a hurry.
St. John Vianney (9-4, 5-1) – Now that Rumson beat Manasquan, the Lancers are back in the division race and could be a real sleeper in A Central.
Point Pleasant Beach (6-6, 4-4) – A lopsided loss to Mater Dei shouldn’t totally halt Point Beach’s recent resurgence.