Shore Conference Girls Basketball Top 10 (Dec. 19)

1-St. John Vianney (2-0, 2-0)

Senior point guard Sarah Karpell of St. John Vianney (Photo by Paula Lopez)

For the second straight season, the Lady Lancers begin at No. 1. An appreciated gesture for sure and one merited on a senior-laden cast with impressive credentials. Yet, where they start will matter very little for a group playing with a chip on its shoulder and an eye towad finishing the year in the same position as where it began.

St. John Vianney cruised in its first two outings, downing Middletown North and Matawan. Perhaps more notable than the 72 points its averaging is the 21.5 the defense is conceding. Balance, versatility and length are among the many qualities the Lady Lancers boast.

Senior forwards Sajada Bonner and Brelynn Bellamy supply muscle and touch in the frontcourt and senior point guard Sarah Karpell offers poise and vision operating the system.

2-Manasquan (2-0, 2-0)

Senior guard Lola Mullaney of Manasquan (Photo by Paula Lopez)

The defending Tournament of Champions winner takes its cues from seniors Faith Masonius and Lola Mullaney. Masonius has posed a matchup nightmare at both ends, averaing 24.5 points, 13.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 steals in wins over Raritan and No. 10 Rumson-Fair Haven.

Meanwhile, Mullaney opened in mid-season form, knocking down seven triples en route to 32 points in the victory against Raritan. Junior forward Kate Leturgez, a 5-10 transfer from Point Boro, has acclimated quickly as a force on the glass (7.5 rpg.).

3-St. Rose (2-0, 2-0)

Senior guard Lauren Lithgow of St. Rose (Photo by Paula Lopez)

The Purple Roses, the reigning Non-Public A state champions, already have the biggest win of any team in the poll after toppling No. 5 Red Bank Catholic, 55-42, on Monday night.

Brynn Farrell, a 5-11 junior swing who transferred from Metuchen, has made a full recovery from the wrist injury she suffered a year ago, evidence by her explosive start (26.0 ppg.) Seniors Lauren Lithgow and Sam Mikos, along with sophomore guard Abby Antognoli, keep the pace brisk through hounding defense (34.0 ppg.) and textbook ball movement.

4-Manchester (2-0, 2-0)

Manchester (Photo by Paula Lopez)

An already-strong ensemble got even more potent with the arrival of Leilani Correa, a 6-0 senior guard who transferred in from Rutgers Prep. The West Virginia-bound standout as fit right in and made an immediate impact (17.5 ppg., 7.0 rpg., 2.5 apg.).

The Hawks, the two-time defending South Jersey, Group 2 champions, have been downright overwhelming, combining their speed, length and scoing depth exploit both Lacey and Pinelands. The numbers of senior forward Dakota Adams (12.0 ppg., 6.0 rpg.), junior point guard Kemari Reynolds (13.5 ppg., 5.0 apg.) and sophomore swing Destiny Adams (13.0 ppg., 5.5 rpg., 3.0 apg., 2.5 spg.)  speak for themselves and attest to a team dominating on both ends and clicking on all cylinders.

Manchester will begin defense of its WOBM Christmas Classic crown on Saturday as the top-seed.

5-Red Bank Catholic (1-1, 1-1)

(Photo by Paula Lopez)

The Caseys have a delicate blend of experience and promising youth that got an early baptism under fire in its gritty performance against No. 3 St. Rose. Red Bank Catholic rallied from a 25-4 deficit to whittle the gap to four before ultimate bowing, 55-42.

Senior guard Julia Setaro (6.5 ppg.), junior swing Fab Eggenschwiler (6.5 ppg.) and sophomore guard Sophia Sabino (8.5 ppg.) have all played under the spotlight of the big game while exciting freshmen Ally Carman (15.0 ppg.) , a 6-4 center who opened the year with 23 points during a 73-27 decison against Shore, and 6-2 guard Justine Pissott (10.0 ppg., four 3-pointers) have acclimated quickly.

6-Middletown South (2-0, 2-0)

Beware of the Eagles. This is a seasoned group primed to be the team all others in the A North will be chasing.

South picked up double-digits triumphs over Manalapan and Howell, using a tenacious defense (41.5 ppg.) and an offense predicated on unselfishness. Senior guard Isla Brennan (13.0 ppg.), senior center Eve Pirie (10.0 ppg.), senior forward Samantha Keenan (7.0 ppg.), junior guard Stephanie Mayerhofer (10.5 ppg., 5 3-pointers) and junior swing Kayla Richardson (10.5 ppg.) share the basketball and dig in on defense.

7-Jackson Memorial (2-0, 2-0)

Few teams have started off hotter and even fewer players have enjoyed an opening week quite like junior guard Kristina Donza.

The Jags stormed past Brick and Brick Memorial, scoring at a 75.0 rate while limiting their opponent to 35.0. In the process, Donza backed a career-high 37 points and 11 rebounds during an 85-32 showing against Brick with 17 points and 11 rebounds in Jackson Memorial's 65-38 win over Brick Memorial.

But, this is no one-man show. Sophomore guard Rachel Capua (12.5 ppg., 6.0 rpg., 3.5 spg.), junior guard Bianca Giordano (6.5 ppg., 5.5 rpg., 8.5 apg., 3.5 spg.) and senor guard Dani Evans (14.0 ppg., 7.5 rpg.) have instantly meshed to thrive at both ends of the court.

8-Toms River North (2-0, 2-0)

Senior point guard Brielle Bisogno (18.0 ppg., 3.5 rpg., 4.0 apg., 4.5 spg.) and senior swing Jenna Paul (13.0 ppg., 11.5 rpg.) set exemplary tones for the Mariners through their hustle and work rate.

The Mariners interchange between man and a 2-3 zone but have seen no distinguishable dropoff in their resistance (30.0 ppg.). Junior Kristina Johnson (8.0 ppg.), a 5-10 swing, is carving a niche as a long-range specialist by utilzing her size to shoot over perimeter defender. Freshmen Brandi Manna, Sydney Howell, Faith Wavershak and Jaclyn Benvenuto give Toms River North reliable depth.

9-Red Bank (1-0, 1-0)

The Bucs disperse the offensive wealth and feverish battle on the boards, points emphasized Friday night when they opened by downing Wall, 73-46.

Red Bank cleaned up on the glass, collecting 32 rebounds, and demonstrated the dynamic athleticism within its lineup. Senior guard Meghan Murray amassed 16 points, nine rebounds and eight steals, sophomore guard Chloe Teter buried three triples en route to 17 points to go with eight boards and sophomore guard Caitlyn Decker added 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and eight steals. This is a team stacked with multi-taskers.

10-Rumson-Fair Haven (1-1, 1-1)

The Bulldogs hung tough for No. 2 Manasquan on Monday before the Warriors gradually pulled away to seal a 50-35 triumph.

Rumson-Fair Haven is a work in progress, redefining itself through offensive balance and gritty defense. Junior forward Lucy Adams (9.0 ppg., 9.0 rpg.) supplies presence in the paint while sophomores Grace Munt (4.5 ppg.) and Cortland McBarron (9.0 ppg.) team with junior Sophia Passalaqua (9.0 ppg.) within a formidable, maturing backcourt.

On the bubble

Marlboro (2-0): Figured to be the one team that could give Middletown South a run for its money in A North, the Mustangs are humming on offense (82.5 ppg.) and stifling defensively (39.5 ppg.)

Colts Neck (1-0): Camryn Foltz, a 6-0 junior guard, netted 17 to pace the Cougars past Ocean, 58-30, in their season opener.

Neptune (2-0): Entrusting a nucleus of newcomers in high-profile roles, the Scarlet Fliers have started fast with lopsided wins against Matawan (46-23) and Ocean (60-39). Junior Macy Bracket and freshmen guards Ahjanae Young and Amaya Evans fuel Neptune.

Toms River South (2-0): The sleeper in A South, the Indians showed their grit in wins over Southern (38-31) and Central (36-34).

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