Boys Basketball – 2021 Season Preview: Long Branch
Last year is likely to go down as the worst year in the storied history of the Long Branch program. The Green Wave won just one game all season and lost its last 20 games after starting 1-1, ending up with the Shore’s worst record at 1-21. There are some starters to replace and also some key contributors back but regardless of what the talent level is to open the season, Long Branch is out to redeem itself in any way possible.
To get back to playing like the Long Branch of year’s past, the Green Wave is turning to a notable figure from its past. Darnell Tyler was a standout center on Long Branch’s back-to-back state championship seasons in 1997 (Group II) and 1998 (Group III) and he takes over the program with the intention of building toward another successful run by starting with spark this winter.
Tyler inherits a team with some experience back from a year ago, including 2020 leading scorer and six-foot guard Josiah Evans. Evans will pair with senior forward Mason Alexander as an experienced returning duo to the starting lineup, with Alexander providing some versatility with his size and athleticism. Senior Morgan Priester and junior Christian Rodriguez will step into bigger backcourt roles this season and senior Ba-Sean Fraser – a standout wide receiver on the gridiron – brings an element of toughness and explosiveness to the lineup as a first-year starter. It won’t happen overnight but there are a number of seniors on the team who want to go out on a high note and put 2020 behind them.
Head Coach: Darnell Tyler, first season
2019-20 Record: 1-21 (0-14, eighth in Class A North)
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.
Christian Rodriguez, Jr., 5-7, Guard (R)
Josiah Evans, Sr., 6-0, Guard (RS)
Morgan Preister, Sr., 5-10, Guard (R)
Ba-Sean Fraser, Sr., 5-10, Forward
Mason Alexander, Sr., 6-2, Forward (RS)
Lucas Telles De Sa, 6-1, Forward
Tamir Reed, 5-10, Guard
Ivan Navarro, 5-9, Guard
Jarell Sherin, 6-0, Guard
Qwalee Showers, 6-2, Forward
Jayon Farrar, Sr., 5-10, Guard – Transferred to Donovan Catholic
Off the Bench
Mehki Priester, Sr., 5-10, Forward
Marwan Dismuke, Sr., 5-7, Guard
Bruce Gooding, So., 6-0, Forward
Sekou Kemou, So., 5-10, Forward
Jyshon Presley, Jr., 6-1, Forward
RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player
Player to Watch: Josiah Evans
Evans started last season strong and will try to maintain that throughout 2021 as the go-to scoring option for the Green Wave. Playing with three returning players in the starting lineup, plus getting some new blood in to help should give Evans a chance to lead a team motivated to bounce back.
Big Shoes to Fill: Mason Alexander
After a productive junior season, Alexander will be one of two returning Long Branch starters along with Evans. While he is not replacing anybody in the lineup, it is essential for Alexander to be a dependable presence in the front court for a Long Branch team that does not have a whole lot of size, but does have some athleticism with Alexander and Fraser in the lineup.
Impact Newcomer: Ba-Sean Fraser
Just like he did on the football field, Fraser will be a replacement for All-Shore wide receiver Jayon Farrar, who transferred to Donovan Catholic. Tyler will call on Fraser to be a more physical player than the slasher Farrar, but Fraser is a multi-talented athlete who can help in a number of different ways.
X-Factor: Survive the first half
To clarify, that’s not the first half of games, but rather the first half of the season. Long Branch has the hardest possible start to the season for a team in its pod, with its first six games coming against Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven and Red Bank – likely the three favorites to finish at the top of a pod that also includes Monmouth Regional and Shore Regional. It is quite possible Long Branch starts 0-6 and if that happens, it will be important for the Green Wave players to remain upbeat heading into a second-half schedule that will give them better opportunities to win.
Jan. 27 vs. Red Bank Catholic, 5:15 p.m.
Jan. 29 at Red Bank Catholic, 6:45 p.m.
Feb. 2 vs. Rumson-Fair Haven, 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 4 at Rumson-Fair Haven, 7 p.m.
Feb. 8 vs. Red Bank, 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 10 at Red Bank, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 vs. Matawan, 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 16 at Shore, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 vs. Shore, 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 20 vs. Jackson Liberty, 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 22 at Monmouth, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 24 vs. Monmouth, 5:15 p.m.