Boys Basketball – 2021 Season Preview: Keyport
In climbing to 13-10 and with a .500 winning percentage in the Shore Conference Class B Central standings, Keyport carved out a definitive spot in the pecking order within the small-school division of the Shore Conference. The Red Raiders could not get past Point Beach, got wacked by non-public powers Ranney and Mater Dei Prep, but handled the bottom of the division (Asbury Park, Henry Hudson and Keansburg). This year, the Red Raiders bring back the vast majority of their key cogs and will be looking to make the leap to the next level.
Junior D.J. Thomson leads a starting lineup that is likely to feature two other juniors – part of top six that also features three seniors. Forwards Troy Alvarez and Damon Jones and guard Jake Mitchell are the three senior leaders on the team and will be a driving force in making sure Keyport is making the most out of this year’s opportunity behind its talented junior trio of Thomson, Anthony Longo and George Mitchell. Thomson is a wing with the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, Longo is a third-year starter at point guard and Mitchell is coming off a strong sophomore season as an athletic forward who allows Thomson to play away from the basket more.
This season will be the first of two big shots Keyport takes at authoring a memorable season and that there is no Group I Tournament is a disappointment for a team that could have made noise in 2021 postseason. Hopefully for everyone involved, there is a 2022 state tournament and in the meantime, Keyport will attempt to show that it can compete with Mater Dei Prep in at least one of the games and finish the season strong in crossover pod play during the one-week postseason to end the year.
Head Coach: Phil Recco, 16th season
2019-20 Record: 13-10 (6-6, fourth in Class B Central)
2020 Postseason Performance: Lost in Shore Conference Tournament first round (Wall); reached NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I quarterfinals (lost to Middlesex)
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.
Anthony Longo, Jr., 5-8, Guard (RS)
D.J. Thomson, Jr., 6-4, Guard (RS)
Troy Alvarez, Sr., 6-0, Forward (RS)
George Mitchell, Jr., 6-5, Forward (RS)
Damon Jones, Sr., 6-2, Forward (RS)
Chris Johnson, 5-8, Guard
Off the Bench
Jake Mitchell, Sr., 5-8, Guard (R)
Trevor Ahmed, Jr., Guard, 5-10
Max Judson, So., Forward, 6-2
Terek Mimes, So., Forward, 6-0
Ean Hospital, Sr., Guard, 5-8
Zyaire Treadwell, Jr., Guard, 5-7
Kymir Britt, So., 5-7, Guard
RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player
Player to Watch: D.J. Thomson
Thomson has been a scoring machine from the time he first took the court as a freshman two years ago and as a sophomore, he finished third at the Shore with 21.6 points per game. That number is also the best of any player returning in the Shore Conference and with eight games against Point Beach, Keansburg, Asbury Park and Henry Hudson, Thomson is the unofficial favorite to win the Shore Conference scoring title again in 2021.
Big Shoes to Fill: Damon Jones and Jake Mitchell
Keyport’s lone loss from last year’s rotation was guard Chris Johnson, who produced 10 points and four boards per game. Coach Phil Recco has a couple different options in replacing Johnson in the starting lineup, which could be a bigger player in Jones or a true guard in Mitchell who more resembles Johnson as a player. Regardless of which player starts, Keyport will need both players to significantly contribute as role players who come back with big-game experience.
Impact Newcomer: Trevor Ahmed
If all goes according to plan, the starting five and sixth man will get almost all the minutes for Keyport this season but it is also important for the health of the program – especially if the Red Raiders want to take their big swing in the state tournament next season – that some of the varsity newcomers step up and make an impact when possible. Ahmed is a junior who can jump in as another option off the bench, with sophomores Max Judson and Terek Mimes also looking at a chance to contribute.
Health is a given x-factor for a basketball season played during a pandemic, and in most other seasons played under normal circumstances for that matter. For Keyport, though, the Titans would be hard-pressed to have the kind of season they would like to without keeping their top six players healthy. It could actually be a blessing in disguise to get deeper rotation players work in preparation for an even bigger 2022 but as far as this year’s team goes, the Red Raiders want to ride their starters.
Jan. 28 vs. Point Beach – Canceled
Jan. 28 vs. Ocean, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 at Roselle Park, 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 1 vs. Mater Dei Prep, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 at Mater Dei Prep, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 4 at Point Beach, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 vs. Henry Hudson, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 at Henry Hudson, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 at Asbury Park, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 17 vs. Asbury Park, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 22 vs. Koinonia Academy, 6 p.m.
Feb. 23 at Keansburg, 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 25 vs. Keansburg, 5:30 p.m.