15 Can’t-Miss Games in Shore Conference Boys Basketball in 2022
The high school basketball season returns in full for 2021-22 and, as usual, there are a slew of must-see games involving Shore Conference teams. Below is a look at some of the top non-division and non-conference games on the Shore boys basketball schedule, followed by five divisional showdowns that could carry some weight in 2022.
10 Shore Conference Games to Watch
Manasquan at Bergen Catholic, Jan. 2, 4 p.m.
After finishing No. 2 in all of New Jersey last season, Manasquan is a much, much different team in 2021-22. The Warriors graduated four starters and lost reigning two-time Shore Player of the Year Ben Roy to a torn ACL, which means it will be a young, inexperienced lineup at Manasquan this season. While Ben Roy will not take the floor, the Warriors will play the schedule that was put together with him in mind, which includes some monster matchups. Bergen Catholic is as big as it gets on Manasquan’s schedule, as the Crusaders return most of last year’s roster, led by standout senior Will Richardson (18 points per game in 2021), classmate Julian Brown (14.8 PPG) and talented sophomore Elliot Cadeau (11.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists).
Marlboro vs. Red Bank Catholic, Jan. 8, 1 p.m. at Brookdale College
This could very well be the second of two meetings in 10 days between two of the Shore’s best, with Marlboro and Red Bank Catholic seeded Nos. 1 and 2 in the WOBM Christmas Classic. Marlboro returns its four regular starters in Jon Spatola, Jack Seidler, Jay Ratner and Zach Molod, plus Vinny Spatola is back with some starting experience as well. Red Bank Catholic, meanwhile, brings back four starters (Alex Bauman, C.J. Ruoff, Cyril Arvanitis and Zach Meeks), plus athletic sophomore Gioacchino Panzini and Manchester transfer Wyatt Haselbauer. By the second full week of January, it’s possible the No. 1 spot in the Shore Conference could change hands twice with these two matching up so early.
Ranney vs. CBA, Jan. 8, 2:40 p.m. at Brookdale College
After Marlboro and RBC clash at 1 p.m., Ranney and CBA take the floor for what will likely be another matchup of Top 10 teams during the Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase. The two squads met twice in the shortened 2021 season, with Ranney routing the Colts in the Shore Conference championship pod consolation game to sweep the series, 2-0. The two teams both lost a fair amount of talent, so it will be a test in which team can replace what it lost. Ranney will do so with its deep 2021 bench, with Charles Anyichie, T.J. Braswell, Zack Davis and Drew Buck taking on bigger roles alongside returning starters Isaac Hester and Brandon Klatsky. CBA, on the other hand, will push junior Will Bradley into a starting role with returnees Pat Latauto and Joe White and lean on the program pipeline for the rest.
Freehold Twp. at St. John Vianney, Jan. 15, 1 p.m.
This game could be significant for a lot of reasons, perhaps most importantly for seeding in the Shore Conference Tournament. Both the Patriots and the Lancers figure to be in that 6-to-10 range of the Top 10, which means avoiding an SCT road game – which the top eight seeds in the tournament have the privilege of doing – could be in play. It’s also a critical game for St. John Vianney because it is the first scheduled game the Lancers have against a team likely to start the year in the Top 10. There is a very good chance SJV draws Manasquan early in the WOBM Classic, so that game could end up being the Lancers’ first big opportunity within the Shore, but the Jan. 15 showdown with a quality Patriots program will be an opportunity for both teams to make a statement.
Red Bank Catholic at CBA, Jan. 15, 2 p.m.
The Founder’s Cup is back on the regular-season schedule in 2022 after we almost missed the matchup entirely last year. Thankfully, CBA and RBC matched up in the first round of the Shore Conference Playoff championship pod, although RBC might not be so thrilled that the matchup came to pass. CBA turned in, perhaps, its best performance of the season to roll through the Caseys and while there are some key members of that team gone, the Colts hope that game serves as a blueprint for how this new-look squad can deal with Red Bank Catholic’s experienced, physical, athletic roster.
Ranney at Red Bank Catholic, Jan. 22, 11:30 a.m.
You will be seeing Red Bank Catholic in a lot of big games this season, so it’s best to get used to it now. The Caseys have one of their most talented teams ever this season and will be put to the test against the Shore’s best throughout the season. After playing at least one game against a battle-tested Marlboro team, RBC will run into Ranney when the Panthers pay a visit to the Eck Center in late January.
Newark East Side at Rumson-Fair Haven, Jan. 22, 1 p.m.
Some injuries to key players could lead to a slow start for Rumson, but by the time Jan. 22 rolls around, the Bulldogs should be full strength. They will need to be to contend with one of the best programs in Group IV. East Side returns most of its production from a year ago, led by senior point guard David Olaniyi, who posted 19.8 points per game in 15 games as a junior. An additional layer to this game is that Randy Foye – East Side’s most high-profile basketball alumnus – has worked closely with the Rumson program since Chris Champeau took over as head coach back in 2009.
Red Bank Catholic vs. Rutgers Prep, Jan. 29, 4:30 p.m. at Central Regional
We’ve already touched on three big Shore Conference games for Red Bank Catholic, so how about one outside the Shore. The Jimmy V Classic returns to Central for its sixth go-round, and the tilt between RBC and Rutgers Prep will be the marquee matchup. RBC will have to contend with an Argonauts team that will have a different look with the graduation of Noah Harris, but still returns four players who averaged between seven and 12 points on last year’s team, plus the addition of senior Ryan Zan, who averaged 9.1 points and eight rebounds at Ranney last year.
Manasquan vs. West Side Newark, Feb. 5, noon at Toms River North
Manasquan’s non-conference slate includes Rutgers Prep, Bergen Catholic, St. Joseph Metuchen, Roselle Catholic and Union Catholic, not to mention whichever Shore Conference heavyweights the Warriors run into during the WOBM Classic. So why is the West Side game one to watch? Beyond being part of a loaded lineup at the Metro Classic in Toms River, this will be the stage of the season when it could be make-or-break time for Manasquan. The Warriors have a young team that will lean a lot on sophomore Ryan Frauenheim and freshman Darius Adams, so it is likely they will have taken some lumps by this point. Still, with a manageable Shore Conference division schedule, Manasquan should still be very much in the postseason picture and this game could be a chance to show some growth against another perennial Group II contender after battling some major non-public behemoths in December and January.
Jackson Memorial at Jackson Liberty, Feb. 12, 10 a.m.
There are a whole bunch of in-town rivalry games on the Shore Conference schedule for 2021-22: Freehold Township-Freehold Boro, Brick-Brick Memorial, Middletown North-Middletown South, Point Boro-Point Beach, St. John Vianney-Matawan, Red Bank-Red Bank Catholic, plus the Toms River battles. There is something, however, about the Jackson rivalry that stands out this year. Both teams are on the come-up under second-year coaches, with Jackson Liberty returning three starters from a team that went 8-7 under Don Connor and Jackson Memorial now looking like a real A South contender under longtime Lakewood coach Randy Holmes. Jackson Memorial had COVID issues and had to wait on two key transfers for most of 2021, but now that the Jaguars are at full strength and the Lions have had a taste of winning – including one over Jackson Memorial last year – this rivalry should hit a level it has not yet been to during Jackson Liberty’s short existence.
Five Huge Division Showdowns
CBA at Marlboro, Jan. 25, 4 p.m.
Last season, CBA handed Marlboro a humbling, 33-point defeat in the first meeting between the two teams in Marlboro, so this game will be a return to the scene of the crime. Marlboro, however, bounced back by beating CBA in Lincroft and went on to the unofficial Shore Conference Championship game, nearly upsetting Manasquan in an overtime loss. The Mustangs roll into 2022 on a mission and with plenty of firepower to meet the challenge, but they will first want to get through the Class A North division. This game will likely be a huge hurdle to clear for Marlboro, which has not won an outright Class A North title despite its recent success.
Red Bank Catholic at Rumson-Fair Haven, Jan. 31, 7 p.m.
Rumson was no match for Red Bank Catholic last year, but the Bulldogs had some injuries and a COVID stoppage that made it hard for them to get going, particularly for their two games vs. RBC. The Bulldogs bring back Scott Gyimesi and Geoff Schoeder with some experience around them and while both are nursing ankle injuries as the season approaches, the duo should be settled in for the second meeting between the rivals – one that could carry major Class A Central title implications.
Ranney at Mater Dei Prep, Feb. 8, 6:15 p.m.
Since Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis were juniors in 2018-19, Ranney has dominated the Class B Central division, with the exception of last season, when the Panthers were part of a pod with some bigger-name programs like Manasquan, Neptune and Wall. Ranney will still be among the Shore’s best this season and Mater Dei Prep has its own talent to replace, but Ranney’s depth is more like it was early in the Lewis-and-Antoine era and, of course, without Lewis and Antoine. That could leave the door open for a B Central upset and Mater Dei will be the last team with a chance to pull it off when the teams meet during the final week before the SCT.
Central at Brick Memorial, Feb. 8, 6:30 p.m.
There are a lot of different ways the Class A South division race could shake out. Southern had the best season of the lot last year and brings back two key starters. Toms River North is just two years removed from owning the division for the better part off six seasons. Jackson Memorial, as previously mentioned, is a program on the rise with Respect Tyleek and Samir Padilla now as entrenched members of the team. Ultimately, though, the best rosters appear to be that of both Central and Brick Memorial. Both teams return imposing big men – Central will All-Shore forward Justin Soranno and Brick Memorial with 6-7 senior Luke Braaten, who missed most of 2021 with a back injury after starting his junior year off strong – with a solid army of guards and wings to complement them.
Manchester at Lacey, Feb. 10, 6:30 p.m.
Lacey’s run at a 2022 Class B South title took a hit when 6-6 forward and walking double-double Carson Howard opted to transfer to Archbishop Wood near Philadelphia. Manchester also lost its big man, Wyatt Haselbauer, to Red Bank Catholic, but did pick up guard Amari Ayala-Petty from Donovan Catholic. Manchester appears closer to the finish line given that its top players – Petty, Savon Myers, D’Amaari Brown, Jordan DuPont and Evan Weiner – are seniors while Lacey all-division returnees Troy Buxton and Chris Venturoso are juniors. That being said, if Lacey can hang in the race, it will get to host Manchester in the division finale between the two teams.