Boys Basketball – 2021 Season Preview: Manasquan
Last year’s Manasquan team made a strong case as the best in school history and might have earned a spot in the conversation with the best public-school teams in the history of the Shore Conference if given a chance to finish the season. The Warriors were preparing to play an NJSIAA Group II semifinal showdown against Camden – the No. 1 team in the state to end the season – when the Manasquan Board of Education announced that its boys basketball team would be withdrawing from the tournament due to concerns over COVID-19.
The disappointing end right before the biggest game in the history of the program does not take away from what Manasquan did accomplish last year, which was to set a standard for the program and public-school programs throughout the state. The Warriors won their first Shore Conference Tournament in 63 years by dominating the championship game against Toms River North – a common thread in most of Manasquan’s games vs. Shore Conference teams, with the exception of two tight wins over Holmdel, which Manasquan defeated four times during the season. The last of those four victories came in the NJSIAA Central Group II championship game, giving Manasquan its second straight sectional title.
While the expectations are as high as they can be for Manasquan during this shortened season, the Warriors will have some roster questions to answer after last year’s historic run. The team’s two biggest players – 6-foot-7 All-Shore forward Alex Galvan and 6-8 center Tim McEneny – moved on and took a significant advantage in skilled size with them. Kieran Flanagan is also a major loss in the back court, although Manasquan has the returning talent to reload at the guard position. Reining Player of the Year Ben Roy is primed for a huge junior season while senior Casey Mulligan handled the dirty work last year while stepping up as a scorer when needed.
The key to Manasquan’s season could very well be how well 6-5 seniors Jack Collins and Connor Walsh perform after stepping up as juniors last year – mostly off the bench but with plenty of starts as well. Both are versatile athletes and Collins can stretch the floor as a shooter as well. Those four returnees – Roy, Mulligan, Walsh and Collins – will drive Manasquan and if the Warriors can get strong interior play from Andrew Solomon and Matt Solomon, the rest of the Shore will again struggle to keep up with the defending champs.
Head Coach: Andrew Bilodeau, 13th season
2019-20 Record: 31-1 (14-0, first in Class A Central)
2020 Postseason Performance: Won Shore Conference Tournament championship and NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II championship
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.
Ben Roy, Jr., 6-2, Guard (RS)
Casey Mulligan, Sr., 5-10, Guard (RS)
Jack Collins, Sr., 6-5, Guard/Forward (RS)
Connor Walsh, Sr., 6-5, Forward (RS)
Andrew Solomon, Sr., 6-6, Forward (R)
Alex Galvan, 6-7, Forward
Kieran Flanagan, 6-1, Guard
Tim McEneny, 6-8, Forward/Center
Off the Bench
Matt Solomon, Jr., 6-5, Forward
Dan Liggett, Sr., 5-11, Guard
Joe Petrulla, Sr., 5-11, Guard
Liam Haag, Jr., 6-1, Forward
Pat Woodford, Jr., 5-10, Guard
Ryan Frauenheim, Fr., 5-9, Guard
Shayne Leddy, Sr., 6-1, Forward
Ben Ryder, Sr., 5-11, Guard
Dave Frost, Sr., 6-2, Forward
Cole Kozlowski, Jr., 6-2, Forward
RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player
Player to Watch: Ben Roy
Roy averaged 18.1 points and 2.5 assists for his sophomore season and highlighted his Player-of-the-Year campaign by dropping 31 points in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game against Toms River North. The scary part is he is just scratching the surface and could be primed to become an unstoppable scorer now that he is the leading man on the offensive end. A 2,000-point career might have been a possibility were it not for a shortened 2021 season, but he still has a chance to rewrite the Manasquan record books. Roy is up to nine Division I scholarship offers, a list that includes Nebraska, Penn and Monmouth.
Big Shoes to Fill: Connor Walsh
In many ways, Walsh already proved he could hold his own last year, when Manasquan needed him to raise his game while Alex Galvan was out for two separate injury stints. This year, Walsh will be Manasquan’s top interior player – one who can also guard wing players and step out on the perimeter on the offensive end as well.
Impact Newcomer: Matt Solomon
Manasquan should have plenty of perimeter scoring and defense with its four standout athletes returning to the starting five, but Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau will be on the lookout for someone to seize that fifth spot. Solomon will jump into the conversation as a junior and first-year contributor at the varsity level. The blueprint for the younger Solomon could be Walsh, who made his varsity debut as a junior last season and proved to be a huge addition to the roster.
X-Factor: Frontcourt play
Once again, Manasquan’s guard play is going to be as good as any team at the Shore and most other places, but the questions surrounding the Warriors are in the paint. Walsh has experiencing battling down low and if the Solomons can work the glass, make opposing big men work and finish around the rim, that will be more than holding up their end. Size won’t be a problem, but the players who have the size (beyond Collins and Walsh) simply haven’t proven themselves yet.
Jan. 27 vs. St. Rose, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 at St. Rose, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 2 vs. Ranney, 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 4 at Ranney, 5:45 p.m.
Feb. 8 at Ocean, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 10 vs. Ocean, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 16 vs. Wall, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 at Wall, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 19 vs. Patrick School, 6 p.m.
Feb. 22 at Neptune, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 24 vs. Neptune, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 27 at Bergen Catholic, 2 p.m.