Formerly the Class C North division, the Shore Conference chose Class B Coastal as the new name for a division that might as well be called the Champions Division. Manasquan and Ranney have combined for five of the last six Shore Conference Tournament championships and no team in the conference has won more Shore Conference Tournament championships or NJSIAA sectional titles than Neptune has.

This year, Class B Coastal is home to the heavy favorite to finish No. 1 in the Shore Conference in 2023-24 and it is neither of those three teams. St. Rose authored one of its best seasons in program history in 2023-24 and is set up to dominate the Shore Conference for at least the next two seasons.

The Purple Roses and Manasquan split their season series and shared the Class C North championship a season ago, with Manasquan winning the race for No. 1 by winning the Shore Conference Tournament championship and the overall Group II title. While Manasquan lost four players with starting experience – two to graduation, one to transfer and one to injury – St. Rose brings everyone back from last year and, as a result will be the heavy favorite in a division with three other teams (Ranney, Point Pleasant Boro and Neptune) that graduated three starters.

The new schedule arrangement in the Shore Conference matches Class B Coastal up with Class A Coastal, which was Class A Central a season ago. That crossover will create some good tests for teams in both divisions: Matawan has a talented junior core; Holmdel is set up to have a bounceback season; Raritan lost its starting five but is coming off a trip to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals; St. John Vianney maintains a deep, talented roster; and Freehold Boro is ready to break through with an experienced group.

St. Rose will remain the considerable favorite to finish the season on top, but between the rest of teams in A and B Coastal, the Purple Roses will have to earn it.

St. Rose junior Matt Hodge. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
St. Rose senior Matt Hodge. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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In predicted order of finish

1. St. Rose

In one season, St. Rose went from a program that had never reached the Shore Conference Tournament semifinal and had not played for an NJSIAA group championship in a decade to one of the best teams in all of New Jersey. Brian Lynch took over the program in 2021-22 and in his second season, the way of high-level talent arrived to produce a 24-win campaign that included the aforementioned SCT final four trip and South Jersey Non-Public B championship.

Even though last season was an unprecedented one for St. Rose, there was a feeling among the Purple Roses that some business was left unfinished. They suffered a stunning loss to Ranney in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals, lost the second of two meetings against Manasquan and lost to Roselle Catholic in the NJSIAA Non-Public B championship – the second loss of the season to the No. 1 team in New Jersey. With every single rotation regular back from last year, St. Rose enters the season with a chance to state its case as the best team in Shore Conference history.

St. Rose junior Gio Panzini skies for a layup over Roselle Catholic senior Mackenzie Mgbako. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
St. Rose senior Gio Panzini skies for a layup over Roselle Catholic's Mackenzie Mgbako. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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After committing to Villanova in the fall, Matt Hodge returns for his senior season after an All-Shore debut in 2022-23. The 6-foot-8 point forward is at the center of what St. Rose does and will be one of two seniors and one of two Hodge brothers leading the way for the Purple Roses. The other Hodge is sophomore Jayden Hodge, who is primed for a big season after an impressive debut as a freshman. The other senior, meanwhile, is Gio Panzini, who made a major impact as a defender, rebounder, shot-blocker and finisher once he became eligible a month into last season.

St. Rose is loaded with skilled guard play thanks to the presence of juniors Bryan Ebeling, Peter Mauro and Evan Romano on top of the Hodge brothers. Ebeling played the entire season as a standout guard on both ends of the floor, while Mauro and Romano gave the lineup a jolt once eligible in mid-January of 2023. With the full roster – which includes returning sophomore Tyler Cameron and skilled 6-4 freshman Avery Lynch – available from day one, St. Rose will have a chance to compete at the Jordan Classic, Boardwalk Showcase and the Metro Classic in hopes of making a play for the No. 1 spot in the state by March.

St. Rose freshman Jayden Hodge. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
St. Rose sophomore Jayden Hodge. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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St. Rose at a Glance

Head Coach: Brian Lynch, third season
2022-23 Record: 24-5 (9-1, tied first in Class C North)
Key Losses: None

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Matt Hodge, Sr., 6-8, Forward

Jayden Hodge, So., 6-5, Guard

Gio Panzini, Sr., 6-6, Forward

Bryan Ebeling, Jr., 6-3, Guard

Evan Romano, Jr., 6-3, Guard

 

Off the Bench

Peter Mauro, Jr., 6-0, Guard

Tyler Cameron, So., 6-1, Guard

Avery Lynch, Fr., 6-4, Forward

Luke Roman, Sr., 6-4, Center

Brennan Sherman, Sr., 5-11, Guard

Andrew Romano, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Matt Alexis, Sr., 5-11, Guard

Matt Breen, Jr., 6-4, Center

 

2. Manasquan

Two years ago, Manasquan lost its All-Shore senior guard to a torn ACL prior to the season and overcame the loss to once again eclipse 20 wins, reach the Shore Conference Tournament final for the fourth straight year and win a third straight NJSIAA sectional championship. Two years later, the Warriors find themselves in an almost-identical position: senior point guard and First Team All-Shore selection Ryan Frauenheim suffered a torn ACL during the summer and will miss his final season at Manasquan, just as former two-time Shore Sports Network Player of the Year did as a senior in 2021-22.

Ryan Frauenheim (left) and Griffin Linstra celebrate Manasquan's win over Middle Twp. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Ryan Frauenheim (left) and Griffin Linstra celebrate Manasquan's win over Middle Township. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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Roy was set to led the Warriors as one of two seniors in the starting five and instead embraced the roll of mentor to the rest of the team, particularly the then-sophomore Frauenheim. This year, Frauenheim will have a chance to mentor a promising underclassman and provide the same guidance that Roy gave him. Freshman Rey Weinseimer moves into the open backcourt spot in the lineup and will try to pick up as much as he can in order to fill the void left by Frauenheim’s absence.

Of course, Manasquan won’t be exclusively leaning on another talented freshman. Junior Griffin Linstra and senior Alex Konov both enter their third year as starters and are both capable of stepping up their offensive games after playing supporting roles alongside Frauenheim and Darius Adams – the latter of whom transferred to La Lumiere in Indiana after winning the 2023 Shore Sports Network Player of the Year Award. Linstra has been a lockdown defender since his freshman season and will run the point on offense. Konov, meanwhile, is one of the Shore’s smoothest shooters and a difficult match-up at 6-7.

Seniors Jason Larnad, Ryan Mulvaney and Luke Roy will see major minutes – Larnad on the wing, Mulvaney in the paint and Roy on the perimeter. Sophomore Jack O’Reilly is already a physical presence inside, giving coach Andrew Bilodeau a chance to run out lineups that can prioritize defense and rebounding. This Manasquan team will have to do it much differently than the last five Manasquan teams have done it, but the Warriors still have the pieces to be the Shore’s best public school team this season while challenging for yet another sectional title.

Manasquan junior Alex Konov. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Manasquan senior Alex Konov. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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Manasquan at a Glance

Head Coach: Andrew Bilodeau, 16th season
2022-23 Record: 28-4 (9-1, tied first in Class C North)
Key Losses: Quinn Peters (6-5, Forward), Jack Dettlinger (6-5, Forward), Mike Flanagan (6-2, Forward); Darius Adams (Jr., 6-3, Guard) – transferred to La Lumiere (In.)

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Griffin Linstra, Sr., 6-5, Guard

Alex Konov, Sr., 6-7, Guard

Jason Larned, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Ryan Mulvaney, Sr., 6-4, Forward

Rey Weinseimer, Fr., 6-1, Guard

 

Off the Bench

Luke Roy, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Mike Nitto, Sr., 6-4, Forward

Jack O’Reilly, So., 6-4, Forward

D.P. McManus, Jr., 6-0, Guard

Matteo Chiarella, Jr., 6-0, Guard

Jack Lattimer, So., 6-0, Guard

Ryan Frauenheim, Sr., 5-9, Guard (Injured; out for season)

 

3. Ranney

A month into the 2022-23 season, Ranney was mired in what appeared to be its worst season since coach Tahj Holden took over in 2015-16, with the possibility of the Panthers missing the Shore Conference Tournament altogether in play. Then, they welcomed transfer Jahlil Bethea into the lineup in mid-January, ironed out the wrinkles and finished the season with their most inspired stretch of basketball since they won the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions in 2019.

Ranney junior Drew Buck shadowed by Manasquan sophomore Darius Adams. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
Ranney senior Drew Buck shadowed by Manasquan's Darius Adams. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
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Following a season in which it reached the Shore Conference Tournament championship game with a huge come-from-behind, overtime upset of St. Rose in the semifinals, Ranney returns one of its big three from 2023-24 and will look to build a capable lineup around him. Senior Drew Buck stepped his game up when Ranney needed him to as a junior and returns as one of the Shore’s top all-around players. The Panthers also bring back starting point guard MeSean Williams, who came up with big shots and key plays throughout Ranney’s rampage to the SCT final. Shaan Nayer also got key minutes off the bench as a freshman and returns ready for an expanded role as a No. 2 scoring option alongside Buck.

Juniors Justin Buck and Josh Engal move into the starting five and senior J.T. Cook returns with experience in big games from a year ago. Colin Bradley and Scott Huang will also be seniors coming off Ranney’s bench, while the rest of the rotation consists of a group of talented freshman, led by 6-foot-3 Brody Mauro – who is also a promising baseball player. While another upset of St. Rose would be even more shocking than what Ranney pulled off last season, the Panthers will have a chance to finish higher in the standings this season and, with a favorable draw, could make another deep run in the SCT behind Buck and a skilled supporting cast.

Ranney sophomore MeSean Williams eyes a shot attempt with Manasquan junior Ryan Fraeunheim trailing him. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
Ranney junior MeSean Williams eyes a shot attempt with Manasquan's Ryan Fraeunheim trailing him. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
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Ranney at a Glance

Head Coach: Tahj Holden, ninth season
2022-23 Record: 17-11 (4-6, fourth in Class C North)
Key Losses: Isaac Hester (6-0, Guard), Jahlil Bethea (6-1, Guard), Glen Cantalupo (6-0, Forward)

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Drew Buck, Sr., 6-3, Forward

MeSean Williams, Jr., 5-8, Guard

Justin Buck, Jr., 6-2, Forward

Josh Engal, Jr., 6-0, Guard

Shaan Nayar, So., 5-10, Guard

 

Off the Bench

Colin Bradley, Sr., 6-2, Forward

Scott Huang, Sr., 6-2, Forward

J.T. Cook, Sr., 6-0, Forward

Andrew Mardahaev, Fr., 6-1, Guard

Alex Heyser, Fr., 5-9, Guard

Ben Schaeffer, Fr., 6-0, Guard

Brody Mauro, Fr., 6-3, Forward

Bryce Haney, Fr., 5-9, Guard

J.J. Santullu, Sr., 5-10, Guard

J.D. Leidersdorf, Jr., 5-11, Guard

 

4. Point Pleasant Boro

Being thrown into the lion’s den that is the Class B Coastal division (formerly the Class C North division) did not seem like a particularly welcome development for Point Boro, but last season, the Panthers made the most of the opportunity by playing their hearts out against some of the Shore’s best competition. They nearly shocked St. Rose in a 30-28 loss, hung tight with Manasquan at home and split a tightly-contested season-series with Ranney during divisional play. Point Boro also picked up wins in both the Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA Central Group II Playoffs before losing to two dominant teams – St. Rose in the SCT and South River in the state playoffs.

Point Boro brings back one full-time starter from last year’s team and another who earned his way into the lineup. Senior Jake Venturoso was a big-game performer as a junior and will lead the Panther’s back court, while 6-4 junior Thomas Turner opened eyes by thriving in every role he played last year, including as a starting forward at the end of the season. Drew Cardia and Hudson Griffin will also move into the lineup as juniors, with Griffin and sophomore Jovin Steinmetz both giving coach Kevin Hines a 6-3 presence to go with Turner.

Senior Alex Venturoso and T.J. Jordan will be key cogs off the bench and freshmen Hunter Hynes and Landon Hoyle are among a talented underclass group that could earn minutes as the season progresses. It will be challenging for this younger, less-experienced group to replicate what last year’s team did in winning 16 games against one of the tougher schedules in the conference, but the expectations have been set and there is enough leadership remaining for Point Boro to remain a very tough opponent every night.

 

Point Boro at a Glance

Head Coach: Kevin Hynes, 28th season
2022-23 Record: 16-10 (5-5, third in Class C North)
Key Losses: Shane Ryan (5-9, Guard), Stephen Mellett (6-4, Forward), Dan Coughlan (6-5, Center), Noah Knauf (6-1, Forward)

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Jake Venturoso, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Thomas Turner, Jr., 6-4, Forward

Drew Cardia, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Hudson Griffin, Jr., 6-3, Forward

Jovin Steinmetz, So., 6-3, Forward

 

Off the Bench

Alex Venturoso, Sr., 5-9, Guard

T.J. Jordan, Jr., 6-0, Forward

Hunter Hynes, Fr., 6-2, Guard

Nick Carmino, So., 5-10, Guard

Sean Morrison, Jr., 6-2, Forward

Logan DeAngelis, So., 6-2, Forward/Center

Dean Cardia, So., 5-9, Guard

Griffin Dennis, So., 6-2, Forward

Landon Hoyle, Fr., 6-4, Forward/Center

 

5. Wall

Replacing the talent Wall graduated following the 2021 season was hard enough, but to get stuck in a division that included Manasquan, St. Rose, Ranney, Point Boro and Neptune made winning games over the last two seasons a painstaking task for the Crimson Knights. Wall was a perennial championship contender in Central Jersey Group III at the start of coach Bob Klatt’s tenure and over the past two years, Klatt has developed a new core that has been through the growing pains of a rebuild and is showing signs of turning the corner.

While replacing the scoring of 2023 graduate Matt Eisenberg will present a challenge from the jump this season, Wall brings back a trio of contributors who helped the cause in multiple ways a year ago. Senior Bo Pepe is an athletic, hard-nosed guard who can score the ball, while junior Demitri Tu joins him in the back court as a smooth scorer and distributor. Tom Eckberg is the top returning scorer after asserting himself as a top rebounder and offensive player as a sophomore.

Connor Dudas joins the starting five as Wall’s biggest starter at 6-3, while sophomore Liam Killea will be its smallest at 5-7, not to mention its youngest. Even with so much teaching an developing over the last two seasons at Wall, the Crimson Knights still have a young roster, so while they are primed the improve again this season, the Knights’ best days appear to be in the not-to-distant future.

Wall at a Glance

Head Coach: Bob Klatt, sixth season
2022-23 Record: 6-18 (1-9, sixth in Class C North)
Key Losses: Matt Eisenberg (6-2, Guard), Joe Tvrdik (5-11, Guard), Jack McNulty (6-5, Forward)

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Bo Pepe, Sr., 5-11, Guard

Tom Ekberg, Jr., 6-0, Forward

Demitri Tu, Jr., 6-1, Guard

Connor Dudas, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Liam Killea, So., 5-7, Guard

 

Off the Bench

Quentin Ambrozy, Sr., 5-11, Guard

Nick Olsen, Jr., 6-3, Forward

Andrew Olsen, Sr., 5-10, Forward

Brian McKenna, So., 6-1, Guard

Aiden O’Sullivan, Jr., 6-1, Forward

Jake DeBrito, So., 5-11, Guard

Isaac Irasquin, Jr., 6-0, Forward

Andrew Wheeler, Jr., 6-2, Forward

Dylan Pratola, Sr., 5-9, Guard

Tom Hennon, Sr., 5-11, Guard

 

6. Neptune

By Neptune standards, the 2022-23 season was a struggle for the Scarlet Fliers, but Neptune’s roster scrapped against some of the top teams in the area and turned in some memorable performances. The Scarlet Fliers knocked off Ranney and held a lead on Manasquan in the fourth quarter before the Warriors pulled out the victory. Whatever the composition of the roster, coach Joe Fagan will get a lot out of the group and will give at least one prominent team a good scare, if not an upset loss.

Neptune is trying to get back to the level that saw the Scarlet Fliers hold down a spot as one of the Shore’s best teams and with an inexperienced roster that also lacks size, this looks like more of an underdog Neptune team than an imposing Neptune team. Six players who saw heavy minutes are gone, either through graduation or transfer, while will challenge five players to step up as first-year starters. Point guards tend to thrive at Neptune and under Fagan, so expect a solid season from junior Cameron Stukes in his first year running the show. Classmates Jayvion Rogers and Jayden Myrthil will also play in the Neptune back court, with junior David Boone also in the mix for big minutes.

Senior Aaron Lawson and junior Darren Fonrose slide into the starting five as Neptune’s biggest players and with the two players standing at 6-1 and six-foot, respectively, the Scarlet Fliers will not be relying on sheer size to win games. Size will be a shortcoming for Neptune to overcome against a rugged division schedule, but the Scarlet Fliers will still be able to unleash speed against their opponents as they try to climb back toward the top of the Shore’s most talented division at the top of the standings.

Neptune at a Glance

Head Coach: Joe Fagan, 10th season
2022-23 Record: 6-15 (2-8, fifth in Class C North)
Key Losses: Anthony Banks (6-2, Guard), C.J. Argilagos (5-6, Guard), Daniel Charles (6-1, Guard), Davionne Pearson (6-3, Forward); Andrew Petry (Jr., 6-4, Forward) – transferred to College Achieve Asbury Park; James Atkins (Jr., 5-8, Guard)

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Aaron Lawson, Sr., 6-1, Forward

Darren Fonrose, Jr., Forward, 6-0

Jayvion Rogers, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Jayden Myrthil, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Cameron Stukes, Jr., 5-6, Guard

 

Off the Bench

David Boone, Jr., 5-9

Diondre Matos, Jr., 6-1

Marc Alston, So., 6-2

Phillip Singleton, Jr., 5-9

Maxim Kifner, Jr., 6-0

Daaron Lynch, Fr., 6-0

Jeremiah McCleave, Fr., 5-8

Kyan Scott, Jr., 6-0

 

Class B Central Starting Five (With 2022-23 Stats)

Matt Hodge, St. Rose (14.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.75 steals, 1.4 blocks)

Jayden Hodge, St. Rose (12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.96 steals)

Drew Buck, Ranney (13.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 81.8 FT%)

Griffin Linstra, Manasquan (7.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists)

Gio Panzini, St. Rose (10.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.56 blocks)

 

Class B Central Starting Five: Pt. II

Brian Ebeling, St. Rose (9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals)

Peter Mauro, St. Rose (8.3 points)

Evan Romano, St. Rose (7.4 points)

Alex Konov, Manasquan (7.0 points, 2.8 rebounds)

Jake Venturoso, Point Boro (9.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals)

 

Class B Coastal Breakout Players to Watch

Shaan Nayar, Ranney

Rey Weinseimer, Manasquan

Thomas Turner, Point Boro

Tom Ekburg, Wall

Cameron Stukes, Neptune

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