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The initial Shore Conference realignment set for 2020-21 moved Freehold Boro out of the top-heavy Class A North division and into a division in which the Colonials could have made some noise. With the shortened season, however, they move back into a pod with a few old rivals and will test themselves against some of the Shore’s best teams. The Colonials look like a team ready for the challenge too, with four starters back from a team that, despite losing 21 games, competed with a number of quality teams and even scored a big win over rival Freehold Township.

On top of bringing back four senior starters in Ryan Neely, Jiasion Carpenter, Mike Sikaras and Mario Rivera, Freehold Boro will have a healthy Tyler Ochojski – a 6-foot-2 junior forward who will round out the lineup and provide some more size and strength inside with the 6-6 Carpenter. Neely is playing his fourth varsity season and is coming off a season in which he averaged 9.3 points and 3.4 assists, while Rivera and Sikaras bring well-rounded games to the back court.

A talented young bench could also help the Colonials, with sophomore returnee Joe Caleo and classmates Mike Bisaha and Chris Lang – as well as freshman Christian DiGiso – leading the youthful wave. Navigating the treacherous waters of a pod that includes Christian Brothers Academy, Marlboro, Freehold Township, Manalapan and Middletown South puts the Colonials back in a bind as far as the schedule is concerned, but this is the most equipped they have been to handle the A-North-style schedule in some time.

Freehold Boro senior Jiasion Carpenter. (Photo by Candy Neely, provided by Freehold Boro boys basketball)

Head Coach: Ben DiBiase, 11th season
2019-20 Record: 6-21 (3-11, seventh in Class A North)
2020 Postseason Performance: Did not reach Shore Conference Tournament; lost in NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III first round (Somerville)

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.

Projected Lineup

Ryan Neely, Sr., 6-1, Guard (RS)

Mario Rivera, Sr., 5-10, Guard (RS)

Mike Sikaras, Sr., 6-0, Guard (RS)

Jiasion Carpenter, Sr., 6-6, Forward (RS)

Tyler Ochojski, Jr., 6-2, Forward (R)

Key Losses

Bekim Krkuti, 6-4, Forward

Allen Rahanoff, 5-7, Guard

Off the Bench

Joe Caleo, So., 5-10, Guard (R)

Christian DiGiso, Fr., 5-11, Guard

Mike Bisaha, So., 5-7, Guard

Chris Lang, So., 6-1, Forward

RS – Returning Starter

R – Returning Varsity Player

Jiasion Carpenter throws down a dunk vs. Freehold Twp. (Photo by Candy Neely, provided by Freehold Boro boys basketball)

 

Player to Watch: Jiasion Carpenter

At 6-6 with a versatile skill set, Carpenter is an emerging star in the Shore Conference with some highlights already on his resume. His performance vs. Freehold Township (21 points, 14 rebounds, six steals and three blocks) propelled the Colonials to the upset last year and was the headline game in a junior season that saw Carpenter average 12.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Heading into his senior season, Carperter is drawing interest from multiple NJAC programs, according to coach Ben DiBiase.

Big Shoes to Fill: Tyler Ochojski

Bekim Krkuti was a reliable scoring source last season and stepped up when Ochojski got injured early last season. Strangely enough, after Krikuti did a solid job filling in for Ochojski, it is now Ochojski who jumps back into the lineup to help pick up the production left behind by Krkuti. One of the Shore’s top tight ends and pass-rushers on the football field, Ochojski is a difference-maker on the court with his athleticism and with a healthy six weeks, he should be primed for a big season as the junior in an otherwise senior-packed lineup.

Impact Newcomers: Mike Bisaha and Chris Lang

Joe Caleo showed promise as a freshman last season and Freehold Boro will put its developmental chops to the test by calling on Bisaha and Lang to join him as sophomore depth pieces. With Marlboro, CBA and Freehold Township all set to employ deep, talented rosters, any team hoping to compete with them will have to have options off the bench and the sophomore trio plus DiGiso will be tasked with backing up the senior-laden starting lineup.

X-Factor: Experience

Even with 37 combined losses over the past two seasons, Freehold Boro scored a big win in each one – Middletown South in 2019 and Freehold Township last year – as it attempted to lay the groundwork for a breakout 2021. With those big games to draw upon, the Colonials are now going through the grind in trying to make those types of wins a more regular occurrence while playing against a schedule that won’t be any more forgiving. Running with similarly veteran teams in CBA, Marlboro and Freehold Township will be difficult, but the Colonials might be well-situated to beat everyone else while still having a chance to knock off one of the favorites.

Schedule

Jan. 27 at Middletown South, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 29 vs. Middletown South, 5 p.m.

Feb. 2 at CBA, 6:45 p.m.

Feb. 4 vs. CBA, 5 p.m.

Feb. 6 at Point Boro, 1 p.m.

Feb. 8 vs. Manalapan, 5 p.m.

Feb. 10 at Manalapan, 3:45 p.m.

Feb. 16 vs. Marlboro, 5 p.m.

Feb. 18 at Marlboro, 4 p.m.

Feb. 22 vs. Freehold Twp., 5 p.m.

Feb. 24 at Freehold Twp., 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 26 at Colts Neck, 5:30 p.m.