Boys Basketball – 2021 Season Preview: Central
Since a breakthrough, 22-win season in Mike Clemente Jr.’s second year as head coach, Central has had some teams that entered the year with high expectations but has not yet been able to get back to the brink of a division title. The shortcomings of the Golden Eagles have been understandable given how young its core has been since then and now that the starting lineup is beginning to feature more upperclassmen, this could be the year Central makes a move to the top of its field – in this case, a six-team pod with Jackson Memorial, Howell, Lakewood, Brick and Brick Memorial.
While Clemente will have some options at his disposal when it comes to which configuration to use in the starting lineup, it is most likely going to be a starting five that includes three seniors. Forward I-Meer Johnson is one of the Shore’s best athletes and all-around players after putting up 11.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game as a junior. Guard Marvin Goodwine Jr. has been a regular contributor since he was a freshman and classmate Kwesi Bekoe is another guard high up in the rotation. Senior forward Jeremy Bruner gives Clemente a chance to play an imposing lineup, with Brunner one of two 6-foot-6 options in the rotation.
The other 6-6 big man is junior Justin Soranno, who is another double-double threat and a proven, polished post scorer through his first two years of high school basketball. Central’s other likely starter outside of the senior class is sophomore John Truhan, who is pushing to take over at point guard for the next three years. Freshman wing Miles Chevalier will also be a factor in the rotation, potentially as a starter, and junior Anthony Musso is back in the mix after enduring an injury-marred sophomore season. It all adds up to a deep collection of talent and in a relatively-even pod, it might be enough to get the Golden Eagles an elusive first-place finish.
Head Coach: Mike Clemente Jr., sixth season
2019-20 Record: 8-15 (6-8, tied fourth in Class A South)
2020 Postseason Performance: Did not reach postseason
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.
John Truhan, So., 5-10, Guard (R)
Marvin Goodwine Jr., Sr., 5-10, Guard (RS)
Justin Soranno, Jr., 6-6, Forward (RS)
Jeremy Bruner, Sr., 6-6, Forward (RS)
I-Meer Johnson, Sr., 6-3, Forward (RS)
Eugene Brown, 6-4, Forward
Cody Blocker, 6-3, Guard
Off the Bench
Miles Chevalier, Fr., 6-3, Guard/Forward
Kwesi Bekoe, Sr., 5-10, Guard
Anthony Musso, Jr., 6-3, Forward
Gianni Smith, Jr., 5-11, Guard (R)
Shane Sajewicz, Jr., 6-1, Guard
Grant Tillet, Jr., 6-3, Guard
RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player
Player to Watch: Justin Soranno
After an impressive debut as a freshman, Soranno had a quieter season than many expected but he still put up 12.2 points per game. The 6-6 post man has a polished offensive game and he should benefit from playing with a more experienced supporting cast, as well as benefit from another year of development.
Big Shoes to Fill: Jeremy Bruner
Eugene Brown was one of Central’s most productive players and filling his spot in the starting lineup will be the biggest challenge during the early part of the season. At 6-6 and with some starting experienced during a stretch of last season, Bruner brings a lot of attributes to the court that should help the Golden Eagles pick up some of the rebounding and interior scoring and defense that Brown provided.
Impact Newcomer: Miles Chevalier
Clemente cited Chevalier’s poise as a freshman, which will put him in the year-long running for a spot in the starting lineup. At the very least, he should find his way onto the court for key minutes and with the Golden Eagles boasting some strong juniors and a promising sophomore point guard, a talented freshman is a big addition when it comes to the program’s potential beyond this year.
X-Factor: John Truhan
Speaking of that sophomore point guard, Truhan could very well be the key to Central’s season. Although only a sophomore, Truhan already got important minutes as a freshman and is in line to take over at point guard during his sophomore year. With plenty of skill and athleticism in the front court, Central could use a jolt from its back court and a solid, steady season from Truhan would be a great starting point.
Jan. 26 at Washington Twp., 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 26 at Brick - Canceled
Jan. 28 vs. New Egypt, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 vs. Brick - Canceled
Feb. 1 at Jackson Memorial, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 vs. Jackson Memorial, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 vs. Donovan Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 at Lakewood, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 vs. Lakewood, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 vs. Howell, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 17 at Howell, 3:45 p.m.
Feb. 19 vs. Toms River North, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 23 vs. Brick Memorial, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 25 at Brick Memorial, 6:30 p.m.