Boys Basketball – 2021 Season Preview: Barnegat
In the seven years since head coach Mike Puorro took over, Barnegat has made major strides as a program, winning 18 or more games in three of the past four seasons and 20 or more in two of the last three. The Bengals showed they could successfully rebuild by graduating an accomplished senior group that won 22 games in 2017-18 and getting back to 20 wins just two years later. One thing the Bengals have not done in that time is win a division championship – something they won’t technically be able to do this season as there are no official Shore Conference divisions for 2021.
What Barnegat can do is finish first in the Shore’s lone five-team pod, which includes a talented Manchester team, perennially-tough Point Pleasant Boro and rebuilding squads Jackson Liberty and Pinelands. To get to the top of the heap, Barnegat will rely on an athletic-but-small overall roster that will be running out speedy, guard-heavy lineups throughout the season. Senior Jaxon Baker leads the group after pacing the Bengals in scoring as a junior in 2019-20, with classmates Tyler Quinn and Jared Krey are also back after playing significant rotation roles last year with a stretch of starts for each as well.
Three players are up for the other two starting spots. Laurence Davis, who missed the last two seasons while recovering from not one, but two torn ACL injuries, adds even more speed and athleticism to the starting five. Logan Armstrong and Andrew Vernieri are two more seniors vying for a spot, with Armstrong bringing a bit more size at 6-foot-2 and Vernieri offering Puorro the option of a true four-guard look. It is a senior-heavy first-six with some underclass talent waiting in the wings, so this year could be a chance for Barnegat to strike before reloading again for 2022.
Head Coach: Mike Puorro, seventh season
2019-20 Record: 20-7 (9-5, tied third in Class B South)
2020 Postseason Performance: Lost in Shore Conference Tournament first round (Matawan); lost in South Jersey Group II first round (Pleasantville)
Disclaimer: Projected lineups listed in the 2021 Shore Sports Network Preview are not necessarily directly from coaches. Some are, while others are projections from Shore Sports Network staff. In either case, the projected lineup is fluid and could change leading up to the start of the season and beyond. Check back for periodic updates to every team's projected starting lineup on shoresportsnetwork.com.
Tyler Quinn, Sr., 6-1, Guard (RS)
Jaxon Baker, Sr., 6-0, Guard (RS)
Laurence Davis, Sr., 6-1, Guard (R)
Logan Armstrong, Sr., 6-2, Guard (R)
Jared Krey, Sr., 6-2, Forward (RS)
Isaiah Gerena, 6-5, Forward
Brendan Revello, 5-10, Guard
Nick Revello, 6-0, Guard
Ty’zon Jackson, 6-0, Guard/Forward
Off the Bench
Andrew Vernieri, Sr., 6-0, Guard
John Hudak, Jr., 5-10, Guard
Shikeith Gordon, So., 5-11, Guard
Gabe Terry, So., 6-3, Forward
RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player
Player to Watch: Jaxon Baker
Baker had a strong showing as a sophomore, but his junior year campaign was his real breakout. He emerged as the top scorer on the Bengals with 14.3 points per game and added dimensions to his scoring after mostly roaming the three-point arc as a sophomore. Barnegat will need to find some creative ways to get the other four starters involved in the scoring but Puorro at least has the luxury of a go-to option as a centerpiece.
Big Shoes to Fill: Tyler Quinn
Quinn got better and better as last season carried on and by the end of his junior season, he was logging important minutes while earning 15 starts. Now that Quinn is an established varsity player, Barnegat will need him to take another step forward this year as the Bengals look to replace two productive guards in Brendan and Nick Revello, as well as an often-dominant big man in Gerena. On a small team with no one over 6-3, Quinn will have to do the work of a forward from time-to-time as well.
Impact Newcomer: Gabe Terry
Terry and fellow sophomore Shikeith Gordon are the key cogs in Barnegat’s future and both can be of service to the Bengals this season in their varsity debuts. Terry, in particular, will be an important piece because of his size at 6-3 and Barnegat’s lack of frontcourt depth. Those factors will likely lead to Terry getting plenty of early looks on the floor.
X-Factor: Laurence Davis
Davis is a difference-maker for the Bengals now that he is finally healthy. Two ACL tears wiped out his sophomore and junior seasons on the court, but he made enough of an impression as a freshman that he was a serious candidate to start prior to both seasons before getting hurt.
Jan. 26 at Pinelands, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 vs. Pinelands, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 at Brick, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 vs. St. Rose, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 6 vs. Freehold Twp., 11 a.m.
Feb. 9 vs. Manchester, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 at Manchester, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 16 at Point Boro, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 vs. Point Boro, 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 19 at Toms River East, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 23 vs. Jackson Liberty, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 25 at Jackson Liberty, 6:30 p.m.