Boys Basketball – 2021 Season Preview: Southern
As a team from Class A South not named Toms River North, Southern flew under the radar within the Shore Conference but still had a strong showing in 2019-20. Coming off a second-place finish in the Shore Conference Class A South, the Rams return three starters from a team that really slowed the pace during last year’s schedule and played to its strength – which was its physicality.
With 6-foot-5 senior Jay Silva back at forward, Southern will still be a physical team but the guard play has a chance to elevate the Rams to the next level by giving them a chance to open up the game a little bit more in 2021 – something second-year coach John Pampalone expects to see. Luke Infurna was the team’s best offensive playmaker as a junior and returning junior guard Nick Devane gives the Rams some stability in the back court. Add in Donovan Catholic transfer Jaden Anthony and out-of-state transfer Bruk Paul and Rams should have an extra gear this season.
The additions of Anthony and Paul will keep senior Jake Barbieri in a bench role, but with a year under his belt, the 6-1 forward will be an important cog in the rotation. The Rams are heavy on frontcourt depth and junior Noah Schubiger is an early candidate for backcourt minutes off the bench – although with four perimeter players in the starting lineup, Southern might be more likely to use its bench to give Silva help down low.
In addition to more exciting offense, Southern has an exciting opportunity to finish atop what could be a wide-open pod that includes the three Toms River public schools, Donovan Catholic and Lacey. Toms River North has dominated Class A South for the last six years but is as vulnerable as they have been since last finishing outside the top spot in 2013-14. The door is open and Southern is in a position to kick it in.
Head Coach: John Pampalone, second season
2019-20 Record: 16-10 (11-3, second in Class A South)
2020 Postseason Performance: Lost in Shore Conference Tournament first round (Lakewood); lost in NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV first round (Clearview)
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.
Nick Devane, Jr., 6-1, Guard (RS)
Luke Infurna, Sr., 6-0, Guard (RS)
Jaden Anthony, Jr., 6-1, Guard (Transfer from Donovan Catholic)
Bruk Paul, Sr., 6-1, Guard (Transfer from Mount Vernon, N.Y.)
Jay Silva, Sr., 6-6, Forward (RS)
Ben Ridgway, 6-5, Forward
Will Devane, 5-6, Guard
Cole Robinson, 6-2, Forward
Noah Wasacz, 6-5, Forward
Off the Bench
Jake Barbierri, Sr., 6-1, Forward (R)
Nick Desiderio, Sr., 6-1, Forward
Tristan Author, Jr., 6-2, Forward
Max DiPietro, So., 6-2, Forward
Nolan Schubiger, Jr., 6-1, Guard
Ryan Dale, Sr., 6-0, Guard
Logan Van Liew, Sr., 5-8, Guard
RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player
Player to Watch: Jay Silva
A First-Team Class A South player as a junior, Silva returns as Southern’s muscle on the inside after averaging 11 points and 5.5 rebounds as a junior – leading the Rams in both categories. A standout football player as well, Silva has the athleticism to fit in well in any style, so if the Rams do opt to get out and run more, it will suit the 6-5 senior just fine.
Big Shoes to Fill: Jaden Anthony
Injuries stalled Anthony’s sophomore season at Donovan Catholic but the athletic 6-2 guard started as a freshman for a solid program and should provide a major boost on both ends of the floor for his new team. Southern’s biggest loss from last year was versatile 6-5 forward Ben Ridgway and with a more guard-heavy lineup in 2021, Anthony will likely be asked to wear multiple hats as a 6-2 player with some strength to guard forwards and athleticism to operate on the perimeter.
Impact Newcomers: Jaden Anthony and Bruk Paul
Anthony was the second-leading scorer on Donovan Catholic as a freshman so he will make an impact on both ends for Southern. Paul – a transfer from Mount Vernon, N.Y. – adds another athletic guard to the projected starting lineup along with Silva in the middle and some size and toughness coming off the bench.
With just two weeks of practice and one scrimmage before the season starts, every team is going to have to quickly build cohesion but for a team with two additions from outside the program that will likely alter the style they play, chemistry is going to be a major key. Having three starters like Silva, Infurna and Devane back to stabilize the starting five should help but the Rams will have to jump right into the fight with an opener at Toms River North.
Jan. 26 at Toms River North, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 vs. Toms River North, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 at Lacey, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 vs. Lacey, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 at Donovan Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 vs. Donovan Catholic, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 vs. Toms River South, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 17 at Toms River South, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 19 vs. Pinelands, 6 p.m.
Feb. 22 at Manchester, 7 p.m.
Feb. 23 vs. Toms River East, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 25 at Toms River East, 6:30 p.m.