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From the overhead view, the 2019-20 season was one of the more disappointing campaigns by a CBA basketball team considering the Colts’ high standards: they lost 13 out of 28 games, dropped the Founder’s Cup rivalry game vs. Red Bank Catholic for the first time, finished third in the Class A North division and were forced to withdraw from the Shore Conference Tournament because they played one too many games ahead of the cutoff. Both because of and despite all that, CBA’s players are dying for another bite at the apple this season, with plenty of talented players coming back to correct the shortcomings.

CBA effectively played just two seniors last year and none of its regular starters were seniors, meaning that whatever hardship the team endured, it was at least partially the product of a young team growing up together. Ryan Mabrey has been a noteworthy name at CBA since he started as a freshman and his transfer to Indiana power La Lumiere does take away some of CBA’s potential, but the Colts played for a good part of last year without the 6-foot-4 point guard due to injury. They also have to replace versatile 6-4 wing Ryan Cremen, who has opted not to play this season.

While the number of losses from the starting lineup is greater than the Colts anticipated, the return of three starters – Colin Farrell, Mike White and 6-8 center Dane Moran – give CBA plenty of experience upon which to lean. Farrell and White are all-division guards and Moran has size that no team in CBA’s pod (Marlboro, Freehold Township, Freehold Boro, Middletown South and Manalapan) can match.

The Colts also have some younger and less experienced players that should fill out the rotation and bolster the depth in 2021. Junior Pat Lautato also missed significant time in 2019-20 and is ready to jump into the starting five. Senior guard John Staley has the early edge in the competition for the open starting spot and will be a key rotation piece in whichever role he earns. Sophomore Will Bradley, meanwhile, got a taste of the varsity game as a freshman – rare for first-year players at the Academy – and should provide a jolt to the team as a sophomore. Another sophomore, Joe Brown, will be in the mix for that fifth spot in the lineup and important minutes. After turning in a spirited effort in last year’s NJSIAA Tournament, CBA is a senior-laden squad ready for a bounceback year as one of the contenders to finish in the Shore’s top spot.

CBA senior Mike White. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

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.

Head Coach: Geoff Billet, 14th season
2019-20 Record: 15-13 (9-5, third in Class A North)
2020 Postseason Performance: Did not participate in Shore Conference Tournament; reached NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinal (lost to Camden Catholic)

Projected Lineup

Colin Farrell, Sr., 6-1, Guard (RS)

Pat Lautato, Jr., 6-1, Guard (R)

Mike White, Sr., 6-3, Guard (RS)

John Straley, Sr., 6-1, Guard (R)

Dane Moran, Sr., 6-8, Center (RS)

Key Losses

Ryan Mabrey, Jr., 6-4, Guard  (transferred to La Lumiere, Ind.)

Ryan Cremen, Sr., 6-4, Forward (opted out)

Charlie Ruoff, 6-3, Forward

Off the Bench

Will Bradley, So., 6-2, Forward (R)

Joe White, So., 6-3, Forward

Dillon Kneucker, Sr., 6-4, Center

Jake Buckelew, Sr., 6-5, Center

James Durney, Jr., 5-8, Guard

Owen Pegler, Jr., 6-1, Guard/Forward

RS – Returning Starter

R – Returning Varsity Player

CBA senior Colin Farrell. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Player to Watch: Colin Farrell

CBA had three players in 2019-20 who could effectively run the point in Farrell, White and Mabrey and Farrell was the most reliable, as well as the best scorer of the trio over the season’s 28 games. He led the Colts with 14.5 points per game to go with three assists and 1.4 steals per night. Playing the point with Mabrey sidelined last year gave Farrell a good sense of what his role will be this season, which should benefit both him and his team.

Big Shoes to Fill: Pat Lautato

Coach Geoff Billet was not afraid to throw Lautato into the fire last year, which he did when Lautato started the second game of the season against Hudson Catholic before sustaining an injury that cost him a chunk of his sophomore season. Now a junior, Lautato will be a key piece for the Colts – another shooter at the guard spot for which opposing teams will need to account.

Impact Newcomers: Will Bradley and Joe White

With Cremen and Mabrey gone prior to their graduation years, CBA has two unexpected holes to fill in the starting lineup that it wasn’t thinking about filling a year ago. With Lautato, the Colts have a simple answer to one of those openings but replacing Cremen – a well-rounded player on both ends – on relatively short notice will be the tough one. Straley is the senior who is ready to go, while Bradley and White both provide some upside as sophomores who will take the torch for the for the program in the years to come.

CBA senior Dane Moran. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

X-Factor: The Senior Difference

With no senior starters last season, CBA had the talent but none of the senior urgency that often fuels great teams. This year, Farrell, White and Moran are seniors and when the best three players on the team are seniors, there is bound to be a different tone than when the entire starting lineup is made up of juniors and sophomores. If CBA is playing for a championship in the final days of the season, it will be the seniors that get them there.

Schedule

Jan. 26 at Hun, 5 p.m.

Feb. 2 vs. Freehold Boro, 6:45 p.m.

Feb. 4 at Freehold Boro, 5 p.m.

Feb. 6 at Ranney, 1 p.m.

Feb. 8 vs. Middletown South, 6:45 p.m.

Feb. 10 at Middletown South, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 13 at Marlboro, 11 a.m.

Feb. 16 at Freehold Twp., 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 18 vs. Freehold Twp., 6:45 p.m.

Feb. 20 vs. Marlboro, 1 p.m.

Feb. 22 at Manalapan, 3:45 p.m.

Feb. 24 vs. Manalapan, 6:45 p.m.