Shore Conference Tournament Championship

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024

At OceanFirst Bank Center, Monmouth University

2 p.m.

No. 1 St. Rose vs. No. 3 Manasquan

Admission: $10; Tickets go on sale at the OceanFirst Bank Center box office at 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning


St. Rose (24-2, 11-0 in Class B Coastal division plus A Coastal crossover)

Head Coach: Brian Lynch, third season
Prior SCT Final Appearances: None
Prior Championships: None
Road to the Final: Defeated No. 16 Freehold Boro, 94-46; No. 8 Rumson-Fair Haven, 61-35; No. 5 CBA, 76-38

Projected Starters

15Bryan EbelingGuard6'3"Jr.
33Jayden HodgeGuard6'5"So.
3Matt HodgeGuard/For6'8"Sr.
22Gio PanziniForward6'6"Sr.
35Evan RomanoGuard6'3"Jr.


Off the Bench

1Tyler CameronGuard6'1"So.
21Avery LynchForward6’4”Fr.
25Luke RomanForward6'4"Sr.



Manasquan (19-5, 9-2 in Class B Coastal division plus A Coastal crossover)

Head Coach: Andrew Bilodeau, 16th season
Prior SCT Final Appearances: 22 (2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2005, 1980, 1972, 1960, 1957, 1955, 1954, 1952, 1945-48, 1939-43)
SCT Championships: 9 (2023, 2021, 2020, 1957, 1955, 1948, 1947, 1945, 1941)
Road to the Final: Defeated No. 14 Marlboro, 80-30; No. 6 Toms River North, 65-60 (OT); No. 7 Holmdel, 66-43

Projected Starters

2Rey WeinseimerGuard5'10"Fr.
12Griffin LinstraGuard6'5"Jr.
3Jason LarnedGuard/For6'3"Sr.
10Luke RoyGuard6'0"Sr.
24Alex KonovForward6'7"Sr.


Off the Bench

14Ryan MulvaneyForward6'5"Sr.
11Jack O’ReillyForward6’5”So.
1Brandon KunzGuard6'0"Jr.


Recent Head-to-Head History

As nearby schools with basketball tradition, Manasquan and St. Rose have locked up nearly every year for decades, so the overall history goes way back. It was not until 2018-19, however, that the Warriors and Purple Roses shared a division and, unfortunately for St. Rose, that coincided with Manasquan’s rise from a NJSIAA Group II contender to a state power.

While Manasquan was hitting its stride, the Purple Rose were transitioning from longtime head coach Dennis Devaney to Frank Carmody, and while the Carmody Purple Roses had their share of successes, they were not able to compete with the Manasquan machine. From the 2018-19 season through 2021-22, the two teams played six times and Manasquan won by an average of 25 points, with St. Rose getting no closer than 18 points.

St. Rose senior Matt Hodge defended by Manasquan junior Griffin Linstra. (Photo: Thomas Pantaleo)
St. Rose senior Matt Hodge defended by Manasquan junior Griffin Linstra. (Photo: Thomas Pantaleo)

Manasquan’s dominance of St. Rose ended in 2022-23, which marked the second season with coach Brian Lynch in charge. Brothers Matt and Jayden Hodge – both top 100 prospects in their respective graduating classes nationally – moved to Belmar from Belgium, point guard Bryan Ebeling arrived from Italy, and Gio Panzini, Evan Romano and Peter Mauro all transferred after starting for other accomplished programs around the state.

Even with the three in-state transfers ineligible to play in their December 2022 meeting with Manasquan, the Purple Roses beat the Warriors for the first time since the 2010-11 season. That win, however, did not mark the changing of the guard just yet, as Manasquan won the rematch in Manasquan and went on to both win the Shore Conference Tournament and finish No. 1 in the conference at the end of the year.

This year, St. Rose has indeed been the dominant team. Manasquan played the Purple Roses closer than any other Shore Conference team has this season and St. Rose still won comfortably, 63-44. While that game solidified St. Rose as the clear No. 1 team in the Shore Conference, the Purple Roses still need to win the big one Sunday to officially make it their year within confine of the Shore, which they have yet to do despite their rich program history.


St. Rose Strengths

You Name It

Other than a true post player on offense, St. Rose has everything – and a post player might just slow this particular team down. The Purple Roses have five starters who all defend, can all shoot, can all put the ball on the floor and all excel in the open floor. While they don’t have a seven-footer, they have two rim-protectors in 6-foot-8 Matt Hodge and Panzini at 6-6. On top of that, Jayden Hodge is 6-5 and if the play takes him into the paint, he becomes a shot-blocker as well.

St. Rose’s length is not limited to the Hodge brothers and Panzini. Ebeling and Romano are both 6-3 and all over the passing lanes in the backcourt, while sophomore Tyler Cameron is deceptively long at 6-1 and a tenacious defender coming off the bench. At all times, St. Rose can boast a defensive lineup that shuts down every square inch of the court – both horizontally and vertically.

St. Rose senior Gio Panzini. (Photo: Tom Smith |
St. Rose senior Gio Panzini. (Photo: Tom Smith |

St. Rose is more of a good shooting team than a great one, but that is just on the aggregate. On a given night, the Roses can light it up from deep with any team in the state and have seven players who are dangerous from beyond the arc, which including sophomore Tyler Cameron and freshman Avery Lynch off the bench. Jayden Hodge has improved his shot and gained confidence over the course of the season and Panzini has gone from a player opponents would let shoot to one who has burned multiple teams this season with three-point barrages. Throw in Matt Hodge becoming one of the best shooters in the state at 6-8, and the Roses have a team of shooters who have all gotten markedly better in the last year.

In addition to the length on defense and the shooting prowess, St. Rose has become a more cohesive unit on the offensive end. Every player on the floor can play on the perimeter and all of them can score in the paint as well. Ebeling is the only player you won’t see operate much on the interior, but he is the quickest player on the team with the ball in his hands and he can finish.

The elements were in place a season ago for St. Rose to win its first SCT title, but things unraveled for the Purple Roses in the semifinal loss to Ranney -- a loss they have been referencing without provocation all season long. The St. Rose players know they let an opportunity slip away last year and have been obsessive in making sure the things that led to their downfall a season ago don't lead to the same results this season.

St. Rose junior Evan Romano. (Photo: Tom Smith |
St. Rose junior Evan Romano. (Photo: Tom Smith |

St. Rose Weaknesses

The Unknown

St. Rose has never played in the SCT championship game as a program, so stepping on the floor at Monmouth University will be a new experience for its players. Beyond that, though, there is the question of whether or not teams have pulled out every single stop to beat St. Rose and if Manasquan will find a formula that works better than what everyone else has tried. It sure seems like teams have tried everything, but Manasquan has a top-notch coaching staff that is not afraid to get out of its comfort zone, so there may be another angle that hasn’t been explored. If Manasquan can find something that works well enough to throw St. Rose off and keeps the game close, then it becomes a race for St. Rose to adjust in time to get the game back in its favor. The Purple Roses have managed to do that a few times this year, so this one might be a reach, especially considering they later played in the Non-Public B championship game at Rutgers against the No. 1 team in New Jersey (Roselle Catholic) to close out the season 2022-23 season.

St. Rose junior Bryan Ebeling. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
St. Rose junior Bryan Ebeling. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)

Contagious Disease

Ebeling missed Wednesday’s semifinal win over CBA with the flu and St. Rose did not miss a beat, so it’s debatable that any illness-related absences could stop St. Rose. It is still not an ideal time to have the flu going around and when Manasquan beat St. Rose last year, the Purple Roses were dealing with a bout of the flu as well. This potential disadvantage goes out the window once everyone is suited up and ready to go on Sunday, but if you are looking for any possible vulnerability, the overall health of the team something to monitor leading up to tipoff.

Free-Throw Shooting

The only area on the court in which St. Rose is not exceptional is free-throw shooting, which was its undoing in last year’s Shore Conference Tournament semifinal loss to Ranney. The Purple Roses were 8-for-20 in the loss, including 6-for-17 during the fourth quarter and overtime in that loss and while that was a year ago, it is almost the exact same cast of players returning to the floor. Like the shooting overall, St. Rose’s free-throw shooting has improved this year, but it reared its ugly head in the win over Manasquan. A 5-for-22 performance from the line by St. Rose kept Manasquan in the game. St. Rose can probably survive a poor shooting game from the free-throw line, but the numbers in those two losses are beyond poor.

(Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
(Photo: Ray Rich Photography)

Manasquan Strengths


Manasquan has been hammered by injuries this season, but not decimated by them. Beyond losing All-Shore senior point guard Ryan Frauenheim to a torn ACL for the season, senior starters Alex Konov, Jason Larned, Luke Roy Ryan Mulvaney have all been dealing with and playing through ailments. Despite that, Manasquan is playing its best basketball at the right time and a lot of that is just a reflection of the singular focus on competing and winning. Manasquan does it as well as almost any team in the state year-in and year-out and that’s why it’s no surprise the Warriors are the team from the Shore that kept it the closest vs. St. Rose and why they are the team opposing the Purple Roses in the championship game.


This is a little broad, but Manasquan has a very good defensive team in broad terms: the Warriors play well as a team and they have individual players who can man-up against singular players and take them out of the game. The challenge is that St. Rose has five players who can burn opponents, so Manasquan runs out of defensive stoppers, even if junior Griffin Linstra, Larned and Roy are exceptional defenders who can slow down one of the St. Rose players. That is where the team concept will have to come into play: St. Rose creates dilemmas on every possession and in order to counter that, the Warriors will have to stay on the same page for 32 minutes.

Manasquan senior Jason Larned. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
Manasquan senior Jason Larned. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)


Not only does Manasquan have players who played at Monmouth in last year’s championship win over Ranney; the Warriors have a tradition that does seem to carry over from year to year. While none of these players were on the 2018-19 team that pushed Ranney in the SCT championship game or the 2019-20 team that won it, there is a connection with those teams that the current players do feel in a way that few current players feel with past teams at their school. That loss to Ranney in 2018-19 figures to be a blueprint worth exploring for coach Andrew Bilodeau, whose team faced a similar challenge that year against the eventual Tournament of Champions winner. Brad McCabe hit nine three-pointers in a 33-point performance and Manasquan was within four points early in the fourth quarter before eventually falling, 70-60. If there is a McCabe on this team, it is Konov, who can get red-hot shooting the ball, but will have to get open enough to get those shots off. More likely than now, it will have to be a dual effort from Konov and freshman Rey Weinseimer – the two foremost three-point threats on the floor for Manasquan.

Manasquan Weaknesses


Manasquan has good size for guards and Konov is a legit 6-7, but the Warriors are going to be giving up size and length at just about every spot on the floor. That team toughness will help the Warriors mitigate that to a point, but St. Rose has a hard-working group as well.

(Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
(Photo: Ray Rich Photography)

Point Guard

Linstra is a capable point man for Manasquan and there are multiple quality ball-handlers on the team, but the Warriors would benefit from him playing off the ball more and he might have to bring the ball up more than Manasquan would like. Although the Warriors are in the SCT final for a sixth straight year and will be the favorite to win the Central Jersey Group II section in the NJSIAA Tournament, they still miss Frauenheim dearly and his presence would give Manasquan a legitimate shot in this game, were he healthy.

The Element of Surprise

Or lack thereof, in this case. It could be that Manasquan has something for St. Rose to through the No. 1 seed off, but these two teams are familiar with one another and, perhaps more importantly, St. Rose understands it is not infallible after last year’s meltdown vs. Ranney. Ironically, St. Rose’s understanding that it can be beaten has made St. Rose almost impossible to beat. Had the Roses been on a two-year rampage through the Shore Conference, Manasquan might have a chance to surprise St. Rose with something, but it’s hard to see that happening. Manasquan will compete and will have a plan, but based on everything we have seen this year, St. Rose will have an answer.

Manasquan junior Alex Konov. (Photo: Tom Smith |
Manasquan senior Alex Konov. (Photo: Tom Smith |

The Pick: St. Rose, 70-52


Semifinal Picks Record: 2-0

2024 SCT Picks Record: 19-5

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