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Boys Basketball Shore Conference Tournament

Opening Round

No. 26 Keansburg at No. 7 CBA, 5 p.m. | Streaming Link

CBA has fallen prey to a tournament upset once already this season when the Colts lost to Red Bank in the Buc Classic in December. Their antennas will be up from the jump in this tournament and there is not much evidence – at least on paper – that Keansburg has a team that can send the CBA packing early. The Titans do have a senior-heavy roster and nearly knocked off Point Beach earlier in the year, but CBA will be a different beast altogether. The Pick: CBA, 72-45

No. 25 Keyport at No. 8 Freehold Twp., 5:30 p.m. | Streaming Link

Both teams enter Tuesday hoping to welcome back a dominant big man to the lineup. Freehold Township can feel more at-ease with that prospect after star senior Jayden Holmes-Cotter missed Saturday’s game due to illness – a game Freehold Township still won by 24 points without him. Keyport, meanwhile, is hoping 6-foot-8 sophomore Nas Hart is just about ready to return after a hip-flexor knocked him out of action during the second game of the season. Both players might be a little off after their respective absences, but Holmes-Cotter figures to be closer to full form. Keyport will need an off-night from the Patriots big man to have a shot, but presented with an opportunity, the Red Raiders have the pieces to do damage. The Pick: Freehold Twp., 66-50

No. 23 Matawan at No. 10 Colts Neck, 5:30 p.m. | Streaming Link

When it comes to springing a first-round upset, Matawan could be catching the right team at the right time. Colts Neck senior standout and 1,000-point scorer Will Surdez aggravated an ankle injury at the end of last week against Brick Memorial and sat out Saturday in a win over Hillside with the purpose of being ready to play on Tuesday, according to coach Steve Jannarone. It sounds like Matawan will be facing a full Colts Neck lineup, but the Cougars could be hobbled, which leaves the door open for a Matawan team that has a trio of sophomore starters and a solid senior scorer in Colin Haluska. The Huskies have been inconsistent, but have played the likes of St. Rose and Ranney tough and beat a solid Holmdel team twice. If Matawan can deal with the physical nature of Colts Neck’s style, the Huskies can present some problems. One unwritten rule of making picks is you have to find at least one upset and I’m picking up a scent here. The Pick: Matawan, 53-50

No. 17 Ocean at No. 16 Southern, 5:30 p.m. | Streaming Link

Not a lot of teams mired in the funk in which Southern finds itself end up with a first-round home game, so that should tell you how well Southern was playing in mid-January. The Rams earned a home game by defending their home court against both Jackson Memorial and Toms River North, but faltered over the last two weeks in going 1-7. Ocean, meanwhile, does not have a lot of experience, both in the age of the players on the team and against top competition. The Spartans have wracked up 15 wins against a rather modest schedule, but did take on Jackson Memorial in January – a game the Jaguars won by 10. Ocean will be facing a struggling Southern team, but a senior-led Southern team that will lean on the home-court advantage and look for any opportunity to get its confidence back. The Pick: Southern, 46-41

No. 21 Point Beach at No. 12 Central, 6 p.m. | Streaming Link

When Central lost a 47-44 game to Lacey on Jan. 27, there was a chance things could really go south for the Golden Eagles. Instead, Central turned in three impressive performances in the final week before the tournament, hammering Barnegat, Brick Memorial and Manalapan by double-digits to head into the SCT playing their best ball of the season. Point Beach will be walking into the gym of a confident team, and while the Garnet Gulls have a standout point guard in Kevin Burns and some good shooters, the Golden Eagles have a pair of dominant perimeter scorers in Miles Chevalier and Jaycen Santucci – both of whom should feast in this one. The Pick: Central, 70-57

No. 19 Shore at No. 14 Brick Memorial, 6 p.m. | Streaming Link

Brick Memorial is another team facing some injury questions heading into the SCT, with high-energy senior forward Jeremiah Crispin missing a significant stretch of time that has adversely impacted the Mustangs. Shore is an experienced team that does not boast a wealth of athleticism and a player like Crispin could give them trouble. Instead, Brick Memorial will lean on the scoring prowess of Josh Michigan, the length of Dorian Alston and the play-making ability of Brian Starrett and hope that its experienced core can outfox Shore’s experienced group. Brick Memorial has shown some big-game chops over the last two years and is due some better fortune. The Pick: Brick Memorial, 52-45

No. 18 Manalapan at No. 15 Point Boro, 6 p.m. | Streaming Link

With all of its losses coming against teams seeded no worse than No. 11 in this tournament, Point Boro would figure to be in good shape against a Manalapan team that has not beaten anyone in the field. The Panthers, however, will likely have their hands full against a Manalapan team that has shooters who can spread out Point Boro’s defense and, potentially, make this a higher-scoring game than the Panthers would like. Above all else, Point Boro has shown an ability to adapt: they can keep up when the game climbs into the 60’s and they can certainly grind it to a halt and win a first-to-30 game as well. Manalapan has lost some close games to good teams and will be motivated and capable, but Point Boro has been resilient in matchups like this one. The Pick: Point Boro, 57-55

No. 24 Monmouth at No. 9 Rumson-Fair Haven, 6:30 p.m. | Streaming Link

By the never-reliable basketball transitive property, Monmouth Regional should have no shot against Rumson since the Falcons lost to Donovan Catholic, 50-22, and Rumson put up 93 in a 35-point win over the Griffins. While that could wind up being the case, the Bulldogs will have to be on high-alert against a Falcons team that boasts one of the Shore’s best athletes in double-double machine Ta’haj Wiggins, as well as a dangerous shooter in sophomore James Curley and a tough all-around senior in T.J. Thomasson. The Bulldogs will counter with Luke Mikolajczyk against Wiggins and unleash its stable of shooters, daring Monmouth to keep up. Monmouth will likely try to slow the game down, but Rumson is always adept as manipulating tempo in its favor. The Pick: Rumson, 62-47

No. 22 Lacey at No. 11 Ranney, 6:30 p.m. | Streaming Link

Lacey showed twice in an eight-day span that it could be a very dangerous opponent in the first round by knocking off Central and falling by only three to third-seeded Toms River North – both on the road. Then, the Lions drew a first-round opponent that is almost identical, but with higher-level backcourt talent. Isaac Hester, Jahlil Bethea and Drew Buck make up a backcourt trio that is as good as any in the Shore Conference and Lacey’s trio of Troy Buxton, Dylan Hall and Chris Venturoso will have to play the game of their lives while hoping for a cold night out of Hester. Ranney can definitely be exploited with size inside, but that is one area in which Lacey is lacking. Ryan Fitzgerald and Venturoso can make an impact inside, but they might have to completely dominant for Lacey to pull off the stunner. The Pick: Ranney, 82-68

No. 20 Donovan Catholic at No. 13 Red Bank Catholic, 7 p.m. | Streaming Link

Coming off a home loss to Shore in overtime and 35-point loss at Rumson-Fair Haven, Donovan Catholic doesn’t seem like a major threat to beat a Red Bank Catholic squad that has four wins over top-10 seeds this season (No. 5 Middletown South, No. 7 CBA, No. 9 Rumson-Fair Haven and No. 10 Colts Neck) and a two-point loss at No. 2 St. Rose. Donovan Catholic, though, is one year removed from pulling off a big round-of-16 upset over fourth-seeded St. John Vianney. The Griffins will need to account for three dangerous shooters – Colin Cavanaugh, Ryan Prior and Sean Saxton – while also dealing with 6-6 bruiser Tyler Burnham. Senior forward Peter Farlekas will need to have a huge game on both ends to try to negate Burnham and Donovan Catholic will need to find some unexpected offense – or coax RBC into a miserable shooting game. The Pick: Red Bank Catholic, 65-56

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