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It has been just about six years since the Christian Brothers Academy basketball team has been the No. 1 team in the Shore Conference. The Colts started the season as the No. 6 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 and after winning the first five games of the season, the sixth was a matchup against the current No. 1 team -- six days ahead of the next set of SSN Top 10 rankings are released.

When Monday comes, CBA may or may not be the No. 1 team once again, but it will hard to argue that any team has done more than the Colts have to seize the No. 1 spot in the conference.

With wins over Rumson-Fair Haven and Ranney to cap a championship at the Albert E. Martin Buc Holiday Classic and a huge 66-60, overtime win over No. 1 Marlboro to ring in the New Year, CBA is the hottest team in the Shore Conference to start the 2021-22 season and the first Jersey Mike's Boys Basketball Team of the Week for 2022.

Photo by Steve Meyer
Photo by Steve Meyer
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Although it has been a solid half-decade since CBA has positioned itself as the No. 1 team in the Shore Conference, the Colts have remained a staple in the Top 10 as one of the area's most consistent programs. This year, their ability to reload has again been tested and coach Geoff Billet's program has again come through with a young, athletic lineup that has been clicking during the early going of 2021-22.

With just two starters back -- senior Pat Lautato and junior Joe White -- from a team that graduated its top three scorers, CBA has already beaten four teams ranked in the SSN Preseason Top 10, including three that were ranked ahead of the Colts to open the year.

CBA entered the start of the Buc Classic 2-0 with impressive, double-digit wins over Holmdel and Freehold Township -- the latter of which was ranked No. 7 in the conference to open the season. The Colts battled past an upset-minded Red Bank squad in the first round, then outlasted No. 5 Rumson-Fair Haven in the semifinals, 52-48.

In the Buc Classic championship, the Colts matched No. 4 Ranney basket-for-basket, pushing the game into overtime, where the Colts finished off a 55-49 win over the Panthers in which CBA limited Ranney to 19 points over the last 20 minutes.

Lautato was named MVP of the Buc Classic with his 17 points in the championship game and was even better Tuesday against Marlboro. CBA's lone senior starter posted 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists -- including eight points in overtime -- while also guarding Marlboro leading scoring Jack Seidler and limiting him to 14 points on 4-for-16 shooting.

Lautato has been one of the many catalysts for CBA in the early going, with fellow senior James Durney stepping up as sixth man, White and fellow junior Will Bradley making an impact as two-way players, and sophomore Peter Noble and freshman Justin Fuerbacher providing immediate help as underclassmen.

CBA will try to finish off a perfect week Thursday at home against Manalapan and Saturday against No. 6 St. John Vianney at the Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase at Brookdale Community College.