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It comes a year later than planned, but the Class C North division will make its first appearance in the Shore Conference this season – marking the first time in nine years the Shore Conference will have seven divisions instead of six. The first thing that jumps out about Class C North is that it is now home to Manasquan, which is 73-5 over the past three seasons – tough news for the four C North teams in the division that were not in Manasquan’s Class A Central division two years ago.

Manasquan’s roster will be young and inexperienced this season, so there may be an opening for the rest of the field to compete with the Warriors and that field is a mix of Monmouth and Ocean County schools. Point Pleasant Boro and Jackson Liberty are the two teams from Ocean and will have the most back from last year, while St. Rose, Monmouth, Wall and Ocean have a lot to replace as well.

This group of teams is an unusual mix compared to what they are all used to but you can be sure some rivalries will develop this year, just in time for a new realignment in 2022-23.

In predicted order of finish

Manasquan

Over the past three seasons, no Shore Conference team has done more winning than Manasquan – not even a Ranney program that won the Shore’s first Tournament of Champions title in 2019. When you have so much, though, you have even more to lose and Manasquan has also lost a lot over the last three years. They lost a shot at playing Camden when the Panthers were the top team in the state in 2020. They missed a chance at a full season with a team that went 12-0 and finished No. 2 in the state during the 2021 season. Finally, Manasquan lost two-time Shore Sports Network Player of the Year Ben Roy for the 2021-22 season to a torn ACL.

As one might expect, there are plenty of basketball people at the Shore who feel bad for Roy, but those people don’t feel quite so bad for Manasquan. Despite some bad luck over the past three years, Manasquan has also had plenty to be happy about and this year’s roster feeds into that sentiment. Although the Warriors won’t have Roy and graduated the other four starters from last year’s 12-0 team, they will run out a young lineup that has potential to make noise within the Shore Conference and be a statewide threat over the next several seasons. The two returnees among this year’s group are senior forward Matt Solomon and sophomore guard Ryan Frauenheim, who will bump up into the starting lineup after coming off the bench a year ago.

Manasquan is set to start one other sophomore to join Frauenheim in the lineup, as well as a pair of freshmen. Alex Konov is a 6-7 sophomore who can shoot the ball and play at the four spot, which should complement Solomon’s interior play. Freshman Darius Adams – the younger brother of former Manchester star and current University of North Carolina freshman Destiny Adams – is the headline freshman and will play off of Frauenheim in the backcourt. Griffin Linstra, another freshman, will be another versatile young player to add to Manasquan’s exciting starting lineup, with a deep, older group coming off the bench to back them up.

With a loaded schedule that includes Bergen Catholic, Roselle Catholic, Rutgers Prep, St. Joseph of Metuchen and Union Catholic, Manasquan’s young roster will be thrown right into the fire. With a division schedule, however, that does not include a team that went better than 8-7 in the Shore Conference last year, the Warriors should still win plenty of games while getting some valuable experience against top competition.

Manasquan junior Matt Solomon. (Photo by Ray Richardson)
Manasquan senior Matt Solomon. (Photo by Ray Richardson)
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Head Coach: Andrew Bilodeau, 14th season
2021 Record: 12-0 (5-0 in Pod H)

Projected Lineup

RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player

Ryan Frauenheim, So., 5-10, Guard (R)

Darius Adams, Fr., 6-2, Guard

Matt Solomon, Sr., 6-6, Forward (R)

Alex Konov, So., 6-7, Forward

Griffin Linstra, Fr., 6-2, Forward

Key Losses

Ben Roy, Sr., 6-2, Guard (Injured; out for season)

Casey Mulligan, 5-10, Guard

Jack Collins, 6-5, Guard/Forward

Connor Walsh, 6-6, Forward

Andrew Solomon, 6-6, Forward

Off the Bench

Brett Patten, Jr., 6-1

Quinn Peters, Jr., 6-5

Dan Hyland, Sr., 6-1

Cole Kozlowski, Sr., 6-3

Jack Dettlinger, Jr., 6-3

Jhamier Howard, Jr., 6-3

Mike Flanagan, So., 6-1

Luke Damen, Sr., 5-11

 

Point Pleasant Boro

Point Boro has alternated winning and losing seasons over the past four years, with last year’s campaign ending at 4-8. With no seniors on last year’s squad and some close losses to learn from, all signs point to Point Boro following last year’s losing record with a winning mark this year. The new Class C North division will have a giant at the top in Manasquan, but the rest of the field is filled with teams that have either been around Point Boro’s level, below Point Boro’s level or better than Point Boro, but losing a lot to graduation.

With those conditions laid out, the Panthers will run out a squad that has a good mix of size, skill, athleticism and physicality. That last element would be somewhat new, as Point Boro’s style under Kevin Hynes demands tough, physical players, but did not have the fully developed athletes last year with so many underclassmen. Colton MacGlashan, Stephen Mellett and Dan Coughlan were contributors last season and are a year better. In the backcourt, Matt Lee is a fourth-year starter who can shoot it from deep, while Kai Messeroll showed he can score and handle the point as a junior in 2021.

With a whole roster back, the Panthers will also be deeper this season, with 12 players who could legitimately see time at one point or another. Most good teams settle into a seven-man or eight-man rotation, but Hynes will have options and alternatives throughout the year. Shooting for a division title would be ambitious considering Manasquan is standing in the way, but with some experience on hand, Point Boro might be the team best suited to make the Warriors sweat in divisional play.

Point Boro junior Matt Lee. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Point Boro senior Matt Lee. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
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Head Coach: Kevin Hynes, 27th season
2021 Record: 4-8 (3-4 in Pod C)

Projected Lineup

RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player

Kai Messeroll, Sr., 5-10, Guard (RS)

Matt Lee, Sr., 6-3, Guard (RS)

Colton MacGlashan, Sr., 6-4, Center (RS)

Stephen Mellett, Jr., 6-2, Forward (RS)

Dan Coughlan, Jr., 6-3, Forward (RS)

Key Losses

None

Off the Bench

Noah Knauf, Jr., 5-10 (R)

Jayden Levonoskie, Sr. Guard

Shane Ryan, Jr., 5-8 (R)

Connor Newsome, Sr., 6-1 (R)

Chris Herrman, Jr.

Alex Venturoso, So.

Jake Venturoso, So.

 

Jackson Liberty

The Jackson Liberty program took a huge hit after the 2018-19 season, when the Lions won their first Class B South division title with All-Shore standout Daniel Sofield leading the way. As it turns out, Jackson Liberty was only down for a year, as the Lions following up a 3-22 campaign in 2019-20 with an 8-7 showing under first-year head coach Don Connor that included noteworthy wins over Jackson Memorial, Long Branch, St. John Vianney and Colts Neck.

There will be some quality players to replace from last year’s scrappy squad, but the Lions also bring back some key pieces. That list starts with Phanique Dupree, who was the team’s top scorer and also led the Shore Conference in blocked shots (3.2 per game). Dupree is a game-changing talent with his ability to defend the rim on one end and finish around it at the other. He’ll also have a pair of quality guards back in the fold, with Dallas Weisse and Dahkario Pritchett back off solid 2021 seasons. Dylan Teopaco will slide into the starting lineup as a sophomore and Channing Williams is in line for the fifth starting spot, with a host of seniors and a pair of underclassmen in Lucas Latvys and freshman Jayson King providing the depth.

It might have been interesting to see how Jackson Liberty would fare in a traditional Class B South division instead of having to contend with Manasquan twice, but with Dupree leading the way, the Lions are still in good enough shape that they will make a realistic run at a top-three finish in the division, a spot in the Shore Conference Tournament and a chance to win a postseason game.

Head Coach: Don Connor, second season
2021 Record: 8-7 (3-4 in Pod C)

Projected Lineup

RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player

Dylan Teopaco, So., 5-7, Guard

Dahkario Pritchett, Sr., 6-0, Guard (R)

Dallas Weisse, Sr., 5-11, Guard (RS)

Channing Williams, Sr., 6-1, Forward

Phanique Dupree, Sr., 6-5, Forward (RS)

Key Losses

Dubem Emunuga, 6-1, Forward

Jayden Ramirez, 5-9, Guard

Ryan Fatovic, 5-10, Guard

Jake Hickman, 6-0, Forward

Tyler Cunningham, 5-10, Guard

Off the Bench

Connor Gallagher, Sr., 6-2

Nick Catanes, Sr., 5-11

Justin Bailey, Sr., 6-0

Cooper Yorke, Sr., 6-2

R.J. Vashey, Sr., 6-3

Lucas Latvys, So., 6-0

Jayson King, Fr., 5-9

 

St. Rose

Last season, St. Rose got the toughest draw in the Shore Conference by getting thrown into a last-minute pod with Manasquan, Ranney, Wall and Neptune – four of the top 10 teams in the Shore Conference both at the beginning and end of the 2021 season. The Purple Roses were just 1-6 heading into the final week of the season, but those losses came against Manasquan (twice), Wall (twice), Ranney and St. John Vianney. St. Rose even played Manasquan, Ranney and Wall competitively once each, with Wall and Manasquan each blowing St. Rose out one time as well.

St. Rose could feel better about some of that progress last year if the Purple Roses did not lose so much production and leadership to graduation, but they do return some experience and welcome in a decorated new head coach. Brian Lynch was a standout at CBA before playing at Villanova and authoring a successful professional career overseas – experience that should serve him well in his first high-school coaching job. He will have guard Nick DiNatale and 6-foot-5 forward Luke Farrell back in the starting lineup, with Colin Westhoven also returning with significant game experience.

The rest of the roster will look to grow and gel quickly, but there is some intriguing size and athleticism among the senior class, as well as a pair of sophomores – Luke Roman and Jack Tiernan – to watch along the way in 2022. Assuming Manasquan is a cut above in Class C North, the race for second should be a heated one that includes St. Rose and after last year’s respectable showing against an older, more dominant Manasquan team, the Purple Roses won’t be conceding anything to any team this season.

Head Coach: Brian Lynch, first season
2021 Record: 3-7 (0-5 in Pod H)

Projected Lineup

RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player

Nick DiNatale, Sr., 6-1, Guard (RS)

Colin Westhoven, Sr., 6-1, Guard (R)

Chris Tallarico, Sr., 6-0, Guard

Chris Sayuk, Sr., 6-0, Guard

Luke Farrell, Sr., 6-5, Forward (RS)

Key Losses

Tom Turnbach, 6-4, Forward

Frank DiNatale, 6-2, Guard/Forward

Morgan Fahy, 5-10, Guard

Trevor Donnelly, 6-6, Forward

Off the Bench

Jackson Gordon, Jr., 6-3

Jeff Guilfoyle, Sr., 6-3 (Transfer from Point Boro)

Tim Kelly, Sr., 6-5

Jack Lang, Sr., 6-3

Tim Lang, Sr., 6-4

Sean Lattimer, Jr., 6-0

Luke Roman, So., 6-3

Jack Tiernan, So., 6-0

 

Monmouth

With a handful of quality seniors on hand, Monmouth was hoping for a full season to have a chance to play in the Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA Group II Playoffs. Instead, the Falcons had to settle on a truncated schedule and never quite got going despite the experienced roster. Although the Falcons lose two players to graduation in A.J. Po and Kiran Desai who accounted for 52 percent of their scoring during the 2021 season, Monmouth does have experience coming back in the form of some capable athletes.

Aiden Denton was the team’s third leading scorer last season and returns to the backcourt along with new starter Brandon Ligon and an experienced guard off the bench in Gerald Wiggins. The frontcourt also brings back some game experience, with Kevin Telesford and junior Ta’haj Wiggins back in the starting lineup and Nelson Harris-Thomas jumping into the lineup with significant size and strength at the center position. Denton will likely get more touches and Wiggins and Telesford, in particular, should add some interior scoring, with Wiggins offering some versatility as well.

Last year’s missed opportunity could serve to fuel this year’s team, which will also be very senior-influenced to go along with a serious junior breakout candidate in Wiggins. Scoring will be a question given what Monmouth lost, but there are some quality candidates to cover those losses and some additional size and athleticism for Monmouth to use against some evenly-matched Class C North teams.

Head Coach: Jeff Sfraga, fifth season
2021 Record: 5-9 (2-4 in Pod G)

Projected Lineup

RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player

Brandon Ligon, Sr., 5-10, Guard (R)

Aiden Denton, Sr., 6-2, Guard (RS)

Nelson Harris-Thomas, Sr., 6-4, Center (R)

Kevin Telesford, Sr., 6-4, Forward (RS)

Ta’haj Wiggins, Jr., 6-3, Forward (RS)

Key Losses

A.J. Po, 6-3, Forward

Kiran Desai, 6-2, Guard

Brian Yadlon, 6-1, Forward

Jake Marcincak, 5-10, Guard

Keontae Wiggins, 6-2, Forward

Off the Bench

Gerald Wiggins, Sr., 6-0, Guard (R)

T.J. Thomasson, Jr., 6-2

Joe Setaro, Sr., 6-0

Jeremiah Robles, Sr., 5-10

 

Wall

The leadup to Wall’s 2021-22 season looks eerily similar to that of Manasquan. The Crimson Knights are coming off, arguably, the best three-year run in program history, graduated three important starters from last year’s team and, unfortunately, also lost their best player for the season due to a torn ACL. Colin Ackerman was diagnosed with the season-ending knee injury last week and unlike with Manasquan, Wall does not have a loaded, varsity-ready group of underclassmen ready to step in.

Instead, Wall will lean on a group of program players who are just about all seniors and juniors. Chris Mitchell was a starter and a role player who did not have to do much scoring with players like Ackerman, Pat Lacey, Logan Peters and Tom Palluzzi leading the way, but Mitchell will have to contribute in the scoring column this year. Ryan Molloy and Zach Veitch are two more seniors with some varsity experience who will be looking to step up, while Colin McDermant held his own as a sophomore on varsity last year and should be ready to take on a bigger role in 2021-22.

That group of returning talent lacks size, so juniors Matt Eisenberg and Jack McNulty could be important in helping the Crimson Knights match up along the front line. Eisenberg is slated to start and even with him on the floor, Wall’s tallest starter projects to be 6-2. Over the years, though, Wall’s players are always tough and play bigger than their on-paper heights and anything this group lacks in proving scoring, it will likely make up for with hard-nosed play.

Head Coach: Bob Klatt, fourth season
2021 Record: 8-7 (2-5 in Pod H)

Projected Lineup

RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player

Chris Mitchell, Sr., 6-0, Guard (RS)

Ryan Molloy, Sr., 6-0, Forward (R)

Zach Veitch, Sr., 5-10, Guard (R)

Colin McDermant, Jr., 6-0, Forward, (R)

Matt Eisenberg, Jr., 6-2, Forward

Key Losses

Pat Lacey, 6-2, Guard

Tom Palluzzi, 6-2, Guard/Forward

Logan Peters, 6-1, Forward

Colin Ackerman, Sr., 6-0, Guard (Torn ACL; out for season)

Off the Bench

T.C. Taylor, Sr., 6-0 (R)

Keegan Tu, Sr., 5-9

Kyler Gerber, Sr., 5-9

Will Jankowski, Jr., 6-0

Joe Tvrdik, Jr., 5-11 (R)

Gabe Cavazzoni, Jr., 5-10

Jack McNulty, Jr., 6-5

 

Ocean

At first, Ocean drew the short straw by having to play in a pod with Manasquan, Ranney, Wall, Neptune and St. Rose, but COVID stoppages by multiple teams in the division led to Ocean playing exactly zero games against those teams in its assigned pod. Because of that, the Spartans – who were in a sort of rebuilding mode under now-second-year head coach Ryan Pringle – got to play a schedule that better fit their current talent level and had their share of success doing it.

A year later, Ocean will be even less experienced than it was a year ago, although this season, the division draw is more manageable, Manasquan notwithstanding. Not a single starter returns from last year’s 7-8 squad and the starting lineup will be comprised of two seniors, a sophomore and two freshmen. Ethan Brawer and Justin McMahon will be the veterans in the starting five, with rookies Zayier Dean and Ron Richardson joining sophomore Juelz Mendez in the up-and-coming lineup. Dean will make an instant impact as a top scoring option and Richardson will battle down low.

Underclassmen will play a big collective part on this year’s Ocean team and how the Spartans fare over the next three-to-four years will depend on how the players from the 2024 and 2025 classes develop. With Wall and St. Rose losing a lot of production and Monmouth coming off a five-win season, there is definitely a lane for Ocean to jump into the top four of the C North division, even with such an untested roster.

Head Coach: Ryan Pringle, second season
2021 Record: 7-8 (0-0 in Pod G)

Projected Lineup

RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player

Zayier Dean, Fr., 5-10, Guard

Juelz Mendez, So., 6-1, Guard

Ethan Brawer, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Ron Richardson, Fr., 6-4, Forward

Justin McMahon, Sr., 6-3, Guard/Forward

Key Losses

Matt Shaw, 6-0, Guard

Evan Peters, 6-1, Guard

Jamal Cetoute, 6-0, Guard

Jack Savare, 6-4, Forward

Aidan Tisony, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Off the Bench

Cord Birzin, Sr., 6-4

Brandon Loughlin, Jr., 6-5

Shane Garrett, Jr., 6-2

Devon Simms, So., 6-4

Keith Allen, So., 6-0

Paul Destin, Sr., 5-10

Jack Zabarsky, Sr., 5-11

Kylensky Miracle, Jr., 6-0

James Sobieski, Fr., 5-8

Noah Nguyen, Fr., 5-8

 

Division Starting Five

Matt Lee, Sr., Guard, Point Boro (12.9 points, 25 3-pointers)

Ryan Frauenheim, So., Guard, Manasquan

Kai Messeroll, Sr., Guard, Point Boro (8.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals)

Matt Solomon, Sr., Forward, Manasquan (1.75 points, 1.3 rebounds)

Phanique Dupree, Sr., Forward, Jackson Liberty (13.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 blocks)

In the Rotation

Dallas Weisse, Sr., Guard, Jackson Liberty (28 3-pointers, 2.3 assists)

Aiden Denton, Sr., Guard, Monmouth (7.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists)

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Darius Adams, Fr., Guard, Manasquan

Alex Konov, So., Forward, Manasquan

Ta’haj Wiggins, Jr., Forward, Monmouth

Nick DiNatale, Sr., Guard, St. Rose

Colin McDermant, Jr., Forward, Wall