Basketball – Shore Conference Reveals Pods, Postseason Plans for 2021
The Shore Conference has realigned the divisions for the upcoming 2021 high school basketball season and will end the year with a fragmented version of the Shore Conference Tournament, according to an email sent to the schools and provided to Shore Sports Network.
Under the updated plan, the 47 Shore Conference teams will be split into eight pods - seven six-team pods and one five-team pod - and each team will play every other team within their pod twice. In order to minimize exposure, teams will play the same divisional opponent twice in the same week.
During the final week of the season, from March 1 to March 6, the Shore Conference teams will be seeded and placed in one of six pods. Five of the pods will have eight teams and one will have seven and each will be conducted as a three-round tournament with consolation brackets for teams that lose during the tournament - giving each participating team three teams during the final week of the season.
The Shore Conference football season concluded with four-team, playoff-style pods, with the top four teams being placed in a championship pod. It is expected one of the end-of-season basketball pods will be an unofficial championship pod as well. There is not currently, however, a concrete selection process to determine the postseason pods.
The 2020-21 basketball season was due to feature a realignment that increased the number of Shore Conference divisions from six to seven prior to the postponement of the start date from Dec. 21 to Jan. 26, 2021. The expansion from seven to eight pods will give teams an opportunity to schedule at least two regular-season games outside of pod play.
The NJSIAA announced earlier this month as part of its winter sports plan that the basketball season cannot exceed 15 games for any member school. The season is scheduled to run from Jan. 26 to March 6.
The new pods create some regular-season matchups that were not part of the initial 2020-21 season. Manasquan and Ranney - two of the top returning rosters in the conference - have been placed in a pod along with two other likely Shore Sports Network Top 10 teams in Wall and Neptune.
Randy Holmes recently stepped down from his longtime position as Lakewood head coach to take the Jackson Memorial job and is now set to face his former team twice this season.
The shuffling of the divisions does not change as much on the girls side, with Manasquan and St. Rose still in the same division, Red Bank Catholic and Rumson-Fair Haven still matched up and St. John Vianney and Manchester heavily favored to dominate their respective pods.
Here are the eight pods for the 2021 season.
CBA (Boys)/Trinty Hall (Girls)
Red Bank Catholic
St. John Vianney
Mater Dei Prep
Toms River East
Toms River North
Toms River South