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For the past four years, Central Regional has been one of several high schools around New Jersey to host a Coaches-vs.-Cancer showcase, but for the last two, the showcase has hit much closer to home.

Central coach Mike Clemente was diagnosed with Mediastinal Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2017 and has been in remission for two years and his experience has understandably brought a different perspective than when Central first hosted the showcase in 2017.

Meanwhile, the showcase itself continues to trend upward. The Golden Eagles hosted Ranney - the No. 1 team in the state - in 2019, then featured a pair of games between Shore Sports Network Top 10 opponents in 2020 when Christian Brothers Academy took on Mater Dei Prep and Toms River North squared off vs. Wall in the final game.

In 2021, the showcase is returns for a fifth year as the Jimmy V Classic set to feature some of the Shore's top teams, as well as an early contender for the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title later that spring.

CBA junior Colin Farrell. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
CBA junior Colin Farrell. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

CBA vs. Rutgers Prep will be the headline game on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, which will feature a team likely to be ranked close to the top of the Shore Conference taking on an Argonauts squad that could realistically make a play for a T of C title with all the talent it has coming back.

Rutgers Prep is led by 6-9 swingman Trey Patterson, currently rated the No. 2 prospect in N.J. in the Class of 2021 behind Patrick School junior and Congo native Jonathan Kuminga, who said he is likely to transfer out of state for next season. Patterson is joined by point guard, classmate and Manalapan native Noah Harris and athletic 6-3 guard Otega Oweh from the Class of 2022.

On the other side of the matchup, CBA is slated to return its entire starting lineup and all but one player from its regular rotation in 2019-20, which saw the Colts go 15-13 against a difficult schedule and finish No. 8 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10. Guards Colin Farrell, Mike White and Ryan Cremen, as well as 6-8 big man Dane Moran, all made significant progress as juniors in 2019-20, while current sophomore Ryan Mabrey will be looking to put together a full season after missing a significant portion of this past season due to two different injuries.

Wall junior Pat Lacey, tracked by St. John Vianney sophomore Nate Williams. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Wall junior Pat Lacey, tracked by St. John Vianney sophomore Nate Williams. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Wall and Toms River North return to next year's showcase facing different opponents - both of which are Monmouth County non-public squads. Wall brings back starters Pat Lacey, Colin Ackerman and Logan Peters, as well as sixth man Tom Palluzzi next season and will face off against Red Bank Catholic at the Coaches-vs.-Cancer showcase. The Caseys return a solid Class of 2022 core that features 6-5 forward Alex Bauman and guards Cyril Avanitis and C.J. Ruoff.

Toms River North will look much different next season after reaching the Shore Conference Tournament final this past February for the first time since 1996. The Mariners will graduate the First-Team-All-Shore duo of Jakari Spence and Najae Hallenbeck, as well as fellow starters Colin Baker, Mike Van Sprang and Jarrod Pruitt. That leaves talented guard Jaiden Fraser and 6-3 forward Lamir Mitchell, both currently sophomores, to step up as returnees next season.

Toms River North sophomore Jaiden Fraser. Photo by Ray Richardson)
Toms River North sophomore Jaiden Fraser. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

The Mariners will square off against St. John Vianney, which will be led by Class of 2022 guard Nate Williams coming off a solid sophomore campaign for a Lancers team that won 18 games for the first time in 15 years.

Freehold Township returns to the Central showcase and will bring back its entire starting lineup and the vast majority of its regular rotation from 2019-20. Seniors-to-be Jayce Schapiro, Zach Orrico, Joe Lardaro and Anthony Barthel were all significant contributors in 2019-20, current sophomore Bobby O'Brien was a key piece off the bench and 6-5 center Jayden Holmes-Cotter was impressive as a freshman. The Patriots will take on Hightstown in the third game of the showcase.

The host team is hoping for a breakout season and will put their squad on display in the fifth game of the day vs. Woodbridge. Central is set to return Justin Soranno as a junior after the 6-5 forward averaged double-figure scoring in each of his first two high-school seasons. The Golden Eagles also bring back athletic 6-3 forward I-Meer Johnson and point guard Marvin Goodwine Jr. as seniors.

Donovan Catholic junior Amari Petty. Photo by Paula Lopez)
Donovan Catholic junior Amari Petty. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Donovan Catholic and Matawan will open the showcase, with Donovan Catholic looking to take advantage of more experience this season Matawan trying to reload after graduating most of its team. The Griffins are set to bring back Amari Petty, Jaden Anthony, Alex Melon and Dallas Weise as juniors, as well as Trevor Pruitt as a senior. Guard Andre Wells is the lone returning member of Matawan's rotation after starting as a junior.

Matawan junior Andre Wells. Photo by Paula Lopez)
Matawan junior Andre Wells. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Here is the order of games for the showcase with times still to be finalized.

Fifth Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Showcase

Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021

At Central Regional High School

Donovan Catholic vs. Matawan

Toms River North vs. St. John Vianney

Freehold Twp. vs. Hightstown

Wall vs. Red Bank Catholic

Central vs. Woodbridge

CBA vs. Rutgers Prep


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