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Ben Roy has had a high school basketball career that begs the question every athlete wants to avoid: what could have been?

Yet, simultaneously, the Manasquan senior has accomplished so much in three oft-interrupted high-school years that while his latest obstacle effectively cuts his Shore Conference career short, it does not at all change his bright outlook at the next level and the legacy he left behind at his hometown school.

Roy confirmed Wednesday that he suffered a torn ACL while playing in a fall showcase at Roselle Catholic and will have surgery in the coming weeks to repair the injured knee. The injury typically requires at least nine months to heal, which would knock Roy out for the entire 2021-22 high school basketball season -- which was to be his swan song at Manasquan.

Should Roy's recovery progress on or ahead of schedule, he would be ready to return to the court in the fall of 2022 when he heads to Boston University -- where he recently committed to play his college ball.

Manasquan junior Ben Roy. (Photo by Chris Rice)

Even though it ended prematurely and without what would likely have been an exceedingly impactful senior season, Roy's high school career was a memorable one within the context of New Jersey high school basketball and one of the better ones in the history of the Shore Conference. He was the Shore Sports Network Player of the Year in both 2020 and 2021, a First Team All-State guard by NJ Advance Media in 2021, led Manasquan to its first Shore Conference Tournament championship in 63 years in 2020 and to an unbeaten 12-0 season and unofficial Shore Conference championship in a shortened 2021 campaign.

In each of the past two seasons, Manasquan finished ranked in the top five in the state, including No. 2 to end 2021. In three seasons with Roy, the Warriors have a gaudy 72-5 record, including 43-1 over the last two seasons with only a two-point loss to Roselle Catholic on the right-hand column of their won-loss record.

In his three seasons, Roy personified durability, playing in all 77 of Manasquan's games during its unprecedented three-year run as a program. In those three seasons, he scored 1,174 points for an average of 15.2 per game and while that might not seem like a whole lot, consider that 65 of those games played by Roy came as an underclassman and 43 percent of them (33) were as a freshman.

As Manasquan barreled its way to a second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II championship in early March of 2020, Roy appeared poised for a record-breaking career at Manasquan and his next game was a chance for him and his team to shock the state: a showdown with a powerhouse Camden squad in the Group II semifinal at RWJ Barnabas Health Arena in Toms River.

In the 48 hours between the sectional championship game and the scheduled game vs. Camden, however, the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. went from a concern to a panic. Manasquan and Camden officials agreed to cancel the game and end their tournament pursuits and while several girls teams played in empty gyms that evening, the NJSIAA canceled the remainder of the state tournament upon the completion of those games.

The COVID-19 pandemic cost Roy at least one more game in his sophomore season and likely knocked 20 off his junior campaign in 2021. The last high school basketball season was significantly condensed due to protocols and safety measures put in place by the NJSIAA in conjunction with the N.J. Department of Health. Teams were limited to a maximum of 15 games and Manasquan managed to get in only 12 after the Warriors were shut down for two weeks due to a case of the coronavirus among their team.

In 12 games, Roy and his team did as much as they could to leave their mark. Manasquan went 12-0 with regular-season wins over Don Bosco Prep, Montclair Immaculate, Life Center Academy and Trenton Catholic, then captured the unofficial Shore Conference championship by topping Marlboro in overtime to close out the perfect season.

In coasting to his second straight SSN Player of the Year season, Roy averaged an even 24 points per game to lead the Shore Conference and crossed the 1,000-point threshold during the first half of the fifth game of his junior season.

Had Roy's junior season not been significantly reduced and his recent injury been avoided, he would have steamrolled to the No. 1 spot on Manasquan's all-time scoring list and likely into the 2,000-point club as well. Only eight Shore Conference players have reached 2,000 points and with a big enough senior season, Roy might have joined contemporaries Bryan Antoine (Manasquan) and Rob Higgins (Middletown North) among the conference's all-time top-five scorers.

Even without the many more things Roy could have done with proper junior and senior seasons, his career was a memorable one. He put up the numbers of a star player over the past two seasons and, more importantly, he helped elevate Manasquan from one of the Shore's most consistent public school programs into one of the state's best programs, period.

While Roy's career on the court at Manasquan is effectively over, he will have a chance to mentor this year's young, inexperienced Warriors team before heading to Boston, where his comeback story will reach its apex. These last two unfortunate seasons aside, we haven't seen the last of Ben Roy.