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Like the rest of the head basketball coaches in the Shore Conference, Ed Goodman does not know when his first practice with his team will be, what it will look like or if there will even be a 2020-21 season to prepare for - or at least one resembling every other high-school basketball season.

All Goodman knows is that he is not letting the COVID-19 pandemic get him down. He is still set to get married in August and after seven years as an assistant at Toms River East, the Toms Rive North alumnus has a head coaching job - and a noteworthy one at that.

Goodman was named the new head boys basketball coach at Point Pleasant Beach High School on May 18, making him the successor to the most successful coach in the program's history.

"I'm so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity," Goodman said. "These are strange times, obviously, but we're going to get to work. I talked to the kids over the phone an they're excited. Their parents are excited. I'm excited and I can't wait to get together with them for the first time, whether it's in a gym or a park or anywhere."

Nick Catania stepped down from his position at the end of March after leading Point Beach to three NJSIAA sectional championships, an overall Group I championship in 2013 and a first ever Shore Conference Tournament in 2014. On top of the team success, the Point Beach program was a source of Division I talent under Catania, with Division I athletes like Matt Farrell (Notre Dame), Jarelle Reischel (Rice/Rhode Island), Dom Uhl (Iowa) and Noah Yates (Yale) passing through.

Of those three, only Yates is a native of Point Pleasant Beach and Goodman plans to lean more on the players within the town's boundaries during his tenure. As a choice school - a school that accepts students from outside sending districts who pay tuition - Point Beach has benefited from talented players either transferring into the program or traveling from other towns to join the program as freshmen. While Reischel and Uhl both came all the way from Germany to play for the Garnet Gulls, Farrell and Danny Frauenheim - the top two assist leaders in program history - entered the program as freshmen.

"My emphasis is going to be on the Point Beach kids," Goodman said. "I want this program to have a community, family-type feel to it and that means prioritizing the kids who live in the community and grow up playing together in the feeder programs."

That is not to say Goodman does not want to attract talent from outside the town.

"We have resources here and we're going to use everything at our disposal," Goodman said. "If there are kids from out of town who want to come to Beach for the best education in Ocean County or they want to be part of our program, that's great. We want to be a school and program that kids want to be a part of, but we're always going to do it the right way and that's by putting the community first."

Goodman is taking over a Point Beach squad coming off a 14-13 season in 2019-20, which followed a shockingly-difficult season in 2018-19 considering the standard the program had set. After the Garnet Gulls won the Central Jersey Group I championship in 2018, they graduated most of their rotation, endured a wave of injuries and finished 1-21 the following season.

Last year's bounceback, winning season puts the team in good position to grow in 2021. Although Goodman and his new team will have to replace top senior Jake Clark - the team's No. 1 scorer and assist-man, as well as a starter on the 2018 championship team - the rest of the roster is back.

Chris Venturoso is coming off an all-division season in the Class B Central division of the Shore Conference and junior Joe Coakley was also a top rebounder and interior scorer as a junior in 2019-20.

"Sectional championships and state championships are the goal," Goodman said. "That's how it has been at Beach and that's going to be the program's ultimate goal year-in and year-out. I'm not thinking about the Shore Conference (Tournament). I know Beach has won that too, but as a Group I school, that opportunity is not going to come very often, but we can always compete in our Group and that's going to be our expectation."

When Goodman and his team finally do take the court, they will share a division with Ranney and Mater Dei Prep - two teams that have accounted for four of the last five Shore Conference Tournament championships. Both finished in the top 10 of the Shore Sports Network Top 10 in 2019-20 and while Ranney was not the dominant force it was when the Panthers won the 2018-19 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title, it returns its whole roster from a team that finished 12-0 in divisional play.

"Those are two of the best programs in the Shore and those are the quality of teams I want to test our team against," Goodman said. "Obviously, they do things differently as a program compared to other schools in the Shore Conference and that makes it hard to compete with them year-in and year-our from a talent standpoint, but it's a great opportunity to play teams like that. You want to test yourself against the best so that you are prepared for the postseason and Ranney and Mater Dei are two of the best in the area."

Six of Goodman's seven seasons as a Toms River East assistant came under Jim Dempsey, who last year coached as an assistant at Barnegat. The Raiders reached the semifinals of the South Jersey Group III Playoffs in 2016 and in 2019, they won a road game in the same bracket in the final season with Dempsey and Goodman on the bench.

"Coaching with Dempsey, the number one thing you learn is preparation," Goodman said. "The level of preparation we did every day, whether it was preparing for practice, preparing for games, scouting teams, was a big part of it. One thing about those teams at East, we got better as the year went on and it was because we learned how to prepare."

Goodman did not work on a staff last season, but instead made the rounds scouting teams around the area and familiarizing himself with the programs he might have a chance to take over or face as a head coach.

"I spent last year scouting a game or two pretty much every night," Goodman said. "I really wanted to spend some time gathering as much knowledge as I could - about the players, the coaches, the programs and some of the strategy that is out there. When you are coaching your team, you don't always get to see as much of what other people are doing and I think getting out and seeing games really prepared me for this opportunity."

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