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Sports around the U.S. are on hold right now but behind the scenes, the groundwork is being laid for the next season in high school basketball.

Barnegat is in the works to join the ranks of showcase hosts in 2021, with the Inaugural Battle of Barnegat scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. The eight-game slate will pit the Shore Conference against the Cape-Atlantic League in each matchup.

The planned showcase will be an all-day affair, tipping off at 10 a.m. and closing with a scheduled 8:30 p.m. tip-off. Below is the tentative schedule.

Freehold Boro vs. ACIT, 10 a.m.

Red Bank vs. Absegami, 11:30 a.m.

Howell vs. Cedar Creek, 1 p.m.

Freehold Twp. vs. Egg Harbor, 2:30 p.m.

Toms River North vs. Middle Twp., 4 p.m.

Southern vs. Millville, 5:30 p.m.

Barnegat vs. Mainland, 7 p.m.

Marlboro vs. Wildwood Catholic, 8:30 p.m.

The premier game of the showcase is slated to be Marlboro vs. Wildwood Catholic. The Mustangs finished the season ranked No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 and return four starters from a team that lost at the buzzer to South Brunswick in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV championship game.

Wildwood Catholic won the South Jersey Non-Public B championship by knocking off Rutgers Prep before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Crusaders will have graduated senior stars Taj Thweatt (heading to West Virginia) and Jahlil White (Temple).

The showcase will also feature Shore Conference Tournament runner-up Toms River North and Egg Harbor Township - two teams that met in one of the 2020 NJSIAA Tournament's most noteworthy games. Egg Harbor stunned top-seeded Toms River North as a No. 16 seed in the first round and made it all the way to the South Jersey Group IV semifinals.

The two teams will not play one another, however, with Egg Harbor taking on a Freehold Township squad that is slated to return its entire 2019-20 lineup and will be only two years removed from reaching the Group IV final. Toms River North - which graduated five starters but returns a proven guard in junior-to-be Jaiden Fraser - will play Middle Township.

Host Barnegat is set to return top scorer Jaxon Baker and will take on a Mainland. Freehold Boro, Howell and Southern also expect to return most of their respective cores in 2020-21 and show marked improvement.


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